The train from Fianarantsoa to Manakara
A trip not to be missed if you have enough time and especially if you are very patient.
The only passenger train line still operating in Madagascar will depart in a metal squeal of another age, the so-called "Jungle Express" corresponds to times long past.
With a cruising speed of 20 km/h, it leaves you time to admire the lush panoramas of the very different landscapes that are crossed.
You will cross a long forest corridor of extraordinary biodiversity: grandiose landscapes of the eastern rainforest, waterfalls, steep cliffs, rice fields, ravinalas as far as the eye can see...
The train makes regions accessible to which there are absolutely no road connections, it is therefore vital for the survival of the population living there.
It must be clearly stated that it is a freight train with first class wagons and that the length of each stop at the official stations as well as somewhere in between is and remains unpredictable as it is determined by the loading and unloading of the goods.
At the time of Lychee harvest For example, it is impossible to drive the whole route because the train will transport only the fruit day and night and will not drive the whole route.
Discovering landscapes of rare beauty is a tremendous experience in itself, but also getting a glimpse of customs and life of the isolated rural population of a traditional and authentic Madagascar is worth the effort.
The ride from Fianarantsoa to Manakara with the "small train of the cliffs" is an expedition not to be missed.
The railroad was built between 1927 and 1936 mainly by Chinese workers.
The rails come from Alsace, they are from Krups steel were built in Germany at the end of the 19th century (they bear an engraving "Krups "1894) and were laid in Alsace which at that time belonged not to France but to Germany, the French took them away from the Germans after the First World War.
In the early 1930s, the rails were dismantled in Alsace and shipped to Madagascar.
It is an "adventure", rich in discoveries, emotions, a little exhausting, but unique. As everywhere in Madagascar, it is a little problematic to know the exact departure times. Everything depends on many things (especially the cargo).
The train calls at 17 villages between Fianarantsoa and Manakara
From Fianarantsoa to Manakara: Departures on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 7 am.
From Manakara to Fianarantsoa: Departures on Wednesdays and Sundays around 6.45 am.
Approximate driving time: theoretically from 8 to 12 hours for 163 km... But we can also warn you, it can take up to 24 hours, over 30 hours have also happened!
The local population depends on this train, which is their only contact with the outside world. This gives the transport of goods its full significance: The stops in the stations are therefore based on what there is to load and unload.
Agencies are increasingly reluctant to offer adventures, a delay of one day can cause a huge mess in planning your entire trip, which is often tied to the day.
We plan at least two days more time if you want to try the adventure, so it is important to express your wish already in the planning phase of the trip.
The best plan is in Sahambavy stop and in the Lac Hôtel to spend the night: The train passes there around 8 am and you're there.
We offer the tour only from Sahambavy on request.
History of the so-called "Jungle Express
Built from 1926 by the French settlers, the present FCE line is put into service in sections.
The first section, which Manakara via Ambinany with Manampatrana connection, was put into operation on July 24, 1934.
Then on July 1, 1935 the line was opened to Tolongoina and finally served in its entirety on April 1, 1936C 1.
The total line is 163 km long, passes through seventeen stations all designed by the French architect De Cantelou were designed, sixty-five bridges and forty-eight tunnels exist on the route.
The longest is the Ankarapotsy tunnel with a length of 1,074 m.
Self-propelled car ZM 516 Micheline in the depot of Fianarantsoa station.
The FCE has received rolling stock from several private Swiss railroad companies. Donors include NStCM, which disposed ofA 1 of classes Gk 33, 37 and 39 in 1999, and LEB, which disposed of its B 18 material in 2001 and B 17 and B 1.2. in 2004.
It is a German-language Swiss daily newspaper that reveals the existence of two trains of the brand "Madarinli" that left the German city of Bonn to be transported to Antananarivo.
In the Swiss capital Bern was announced the future host country of the two trains, still robust and forty-five years old, which were finally ceded by the authorities.
The local daily newspaper "Berner Zeitung" published the article: "Le Madarinli travels to Madagascar„.
According to the article of January 13, 2020 from the "Berner Zeitung", the Madarinli are "on their way to Antananarivo from the German city of Bonn".
"The Fianarantsoa line on the east coast is to receive equipment of German brands.
A convention written so far mentions a batch of three wagons and another batch of four wagons. These wagons are intended for passenger transport and are coupled after the locomotive.
However, I would like to point out that the locomotives promised by the President of the Republic and confirmed by the Minister of Transport are of Spanish origin and will arrive in March 2020.
The "Micheline"-the very special experience
A special feature of the company is that it is one of the last to have a Micheline (rubber-tired railcar) has.
It is the self-propelled Fandrasa railcar ZM516.
The little train like no other...Revolutionary invention of the 30s, this bus-like vehicle is a bus running on rails, which owes its name to the French tire manufacturer Michelin.
Do you want to admire the splendor of the landscapes of the Red Island while traveling in the past?
This driving museum piece, heritage of Madagascar, is available to your also for private purposes:
- For private hire (on estimate) there is nothing like it to mark your events with a unique experience: Outings with family or friends, group or club outings, reward your best employees or customers, surprise birthdays, weddings, outings, ...
The Micheline "Viko Viko" is an authentic jewel.
It was restored thanks to its precious preserved original accessories that were replaced.
You will find: 19 wicker chairs and 01 folding seats, a bar area in the back formerly reserved for luggage, a toilet, a bamboo floor. The sales staff will take care of your comfort: reception, on-board service (drinks, snacks), advice.