Explore the RN7 - 12 day Madagascar roadtrip

The RN7 is a classic and Madagascar's most famous route. This one-way itinerary will whisk you from Antananarivo down to Tuléar on a smooth asphalt road. Your roadtrip will include:

  • Passing highland villages, rice paddies and rainforest-covered hills
  • Spectacular mountain scenery in Andringitra National Park
  • Desert plains and canyons in Isalo National Park
  • Relaxing at the beach in Tulear

Scroll down below to see our day-to-day itinerary with realistic driving times, route directions, and travel tips for Madagascar. Need advice on accommodation? Then check out our Madagascar Hotel Guide, which includes our favourite lodges and hotels in Madagascar from budget to luxury. 

This Madagascar itinerary is recommended as a one-way rental trip. Want to make a roundtrip instead? Count around 16 rental days. If you need help with planning your round-trip, we're happy to help you. Just send us a message.

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Day-to-day itinerary | The RN7

Day 1

Day 1 of 12

Start: Ivato
Destination: Andasibe
Drive: 150 km | 5 hours

Your roadtrip starts on the RN2 to Andasibe. You bypass Antananarivo city centre via the ring road. The RN2 is a smooth asphalt road and the most important road in Madagascar, connecting Tana with the port of Tamatave, so it can be busy with slow trucks. Be aware of dangerous overtaking on the windy roads. It is a lovely drive, through rainforest covered hills. Coq d'Or in Moramanga is a good coffee stop (try their eclairs!) for a lunch break. 

Restaurants: Feon' Ny Ala, especially their Chinese dishes

Day 2

Day 2 of 12

Enjoy: Andasibe

Andasibe is the prime location to search for the Indri Indri. With its 'surprised teddy bear' face it looks more like a gone-wrong panda than a lemur. Even if you don't see them (99% chance you will), you will definitely hear them. They make an eerie, wailing sound that carries for kilometres. Each Indri Indri only cries up to three times a day as it costs them so much energy. It really is mind blowing to witness this ritual. 

Day 3

Day 3 of 12

Start: Andasibe
Destination: Antsirabe
Drive: 300 km | 7 hours 

Today is a long drive to Antsirabe via Antananarivo, from where you'll start your roadtrip on the famous RN7. Expect windy roads passing rice paddies and small, highland villages. You can have a terrific lunch stop at Coin de Foie Grass in Behenjy, the foie gras centre of Madagascar. Or try a really good paella (we're not kidding), at El Torro in Ambatolampy.

Restaurants: Chez Jenny  (best pizza), Trianon (classic French), Vatolahy (classic French) and Conterno (pastries, baguettes)

Day 4

Day 4 of 12

Enjoy: Antsirabe

Explore Antsirabe town and surroundings. Take a pousse pousse (the Malagasy version of the Asian rickshaw) tour to the craft workshops, which arehard to find on your own. Hike or mountain bike around Lake Tritriva, an emerald-green crater lake.

Antsirabe is considered the pousse pousse capital of the country. There are three major ''species''. The basic model is a cart pulled by a man. It may feel uncomfortable to be towed around by someone in this fashion, who may even be barefooted. But this is the driver's living, so your pay is most welcome. The cyclo-pousse, in which the cab is attached to a bicycle, is a step up, at least as far as the driver is concerned. And on top of the food chain is the kinga, the motorised pousse-pousse. 

Day 5

Day 5 of 12

Start: Antsirabe
Destination: Ranomafana National Park
Drive: 227 km | 5 hours

It's another lovely windy road, passing highland villages, rice paddies and rainforest-covered hills. Ambositra makes for a good coffee stop. For those interested in community tourism and highland culture, this is an interesting region to linger around for longer. The easiest way to Ranomafana National Park is via the RN7 and branch off at Alakamisy onto the RN45.

Restaurant: Manja

Day 6

Day 6 of 12

Enjoy: Ranomafana 

Ranomafana is a small but lively tropical town with a stunning riverside setting surrounded by rainforest-covered hills and the lovely scent of flowers in the air. It's the place to search for the golden bamboo lemur, only discovered in 1986. Park entrance costs €16 pp plus €31 per guide for a group up to four. Half of the proceeds go to the guide. A tip is still appreciated.

We were lucky on our hike, as we spotted a greater bamboo lemur, of which there are only two in the park. We also saw the golden bamboo lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, Sifaka Eduardo, leaf-tailed gecko, brookesia chameleon, paradise bird, queen fisher, a snake and leeches... 

Day 7

Day 7 of 12

Start: Ranomafana National Park
Destination: Andringitra National Park
Drive: 110 km | 4 hours 

Drive to Andringitra National Park. Perhaps the most scenic drive thus far, especially beyond Ambalavao when the highland plateau gives way to deserted grassland with big sandstone massifs and distant horizons. Ambalavao is an interesting village to stop in and a base from which several community tourism initiatives are offered. 

Day 8

Day 8 of 12

Enjoy: Andringitra

If you like hiking, this is a breath taking area. Several hikes can be organised from the camps in this area, ranging from a few hours to multiple days. We did the real Andringitra, a tough full day walk up to the peak. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat, as the sun is remorseless. Consider factoring some extra days to complete the Imarivolanitra trekking (2-3 days). 

Day 9

Day 9 of 12

Start: Andringitra National Park
Destination: Isalo
Drive: 255 km| 5 hours 

Once you're out of Andringitra National Park again, the drive to Isalo is a smooth journey on good asphalt. No more windy roads, but far horizons and deserted grasslands with some rocky peaks. Bring packed lunch as there are no places to buy or eat something en route! 

Day 10

Day 10 of 12

Enjoy: Isalo National Park

The combination of sandstone rocks cut by deep canyons, waterfalls and natural pools, with all sorts of native plants make Isalo Madagascar's most visited national park. The piscine and cascade hiking trail can become crowded during high season. Consider a more off the beaten track experience with Momo Trek, who organise multiple-day hikes with camping into remote sections of the park. Further activities include horse riding or climbing the Via Ferrate (enquire with Relais de la Reine).

Day 11

Day 11 of 12

Start: Isalo National Park
Destination: Tulear
Drive: 237 km | 4 hours 

It's an easy 4 hour drive to Tulear. On the way, you'll pass through sapphire ''boom'' towns. We found it impressive and thought-provoking. At Ilakaka you can take a tour through the mines with Color Lines. 

The beach at Ifaty/Mangily, 24 km north of Tulear, is nicer, but we prefer the vibe at St Augustine's Bay, south of Tulear. For the best beaches in Madagascar, you have to go North (Nosy Be), East (Ille Sainte Marie) or West (between Salary Bay and Belo sur Mer). 

Day 12

Day 12 of 12

Spend a few days at the beach around Tulear before you fly back to Tana, and perhaps onwards to another beach destination (Nosy Be, Ile Sainte Marie, Mauritius, Seychelles). Continue your roadtrip along the West Coast of Madagascar (see the Grand Circuit) or go to Anakao.

To visit Anakao by boat: 
You can take a boat from Tulear. If you notify us in advance, we can arrange safe parking, and a driver can pick you up from your hotel.

To visit Anakao by car:
There used to be a ferry from St. Augustin, but this ferry has been out of service for years. Anakao is still accessible by car, but it’s a long journey. You have to drive via the RN10 to Betioky. South of Betioky, you turn west. You can Lac Tsimanampetsotsa along the way. It is a beautiful lake with flamingos, and tourists hardly visit it.

Explore the beauty of Madagascar. Watch our Classic RN7 road movie.

The RN7 in 2 weeks | This is what you need to know

Travel time and road conditions

We recommend at least 11 car rental days for this RN7 one-way itinerary.

The RN7 is a tarmac road and not difficult to drive. However, it's good to be aware that the roads are poorly maintained. Expect washed-away stretches and many potholes to occur during your roadtrip. 

When renting a car via Roadtrip Africa, you can return your vehicle at the endpoint in Tulear. You can select this option in the booking form. The extra costs for collecting and returning the car to Ivato will be charged to the main driver. 

If you have time and want to avoid spending money on expensive domestic flights, you can also drive the RN7 as a circuit. There are so many things to do along the way that your journey down south to Tulear will be a totally different experience from your drive north to Antananarivo. We recommend at least 16 car rental days for the RN7 Circuit. 

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When is the best time to travel the RN7 in Madagascar?

The RN7 is possible to travel all year round. To prepare for weather conditions, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Peak season It's good to be aware that July - October is peak season, and cars and hotels are booked months in advance. Travelling with camping gear? Then you have flexibility on your side and there is no need to book accommodation ahead of time. 

Rainy season Rainy season in Madagascar starts in January and ends in March. As the west and east coasts are generally most affected by rains and cyclones, travelling along the RN7 and Northern Madagascar offers no issues. 

Coldest time of year Madagascar's coolest months are June and July. Winter daytime temperatures are still very pleasant and even warm along the coast, but at night, temperatures drop to 5-10C in the highlands (Antananarivo, Andasibe, Antsirabe). 

For more info, you can check our blog on weather conditions, accessibility, and tourist seasons here.

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