Explore the beaches of Northern Madagascar - 10 day roadtrip
Do you love beach holidays but are you not a fan of mass tourism and resort towns? Then this Northern Madagascar self-drive itinerary is definitely for you!
This roadrip is a great add-on or replacement for your beach holiday at Nosy Be and involves modest driving hours and lots of variation.
- Clamber the well-constructed steps, ladders, cables and bridges in the Tsingy in Ankarana National Park.
- Explore the hiking trails and waterfalls of Montagne d'Ambre.
- Enjoy a coastal road trip along the peninsula of Ramena, a popular kitesurfing spot with several spectacular bays.
Scroll down below to see the 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.
Day-to-day itinerary | Northern Madagascar
Day 1 of 10
Start: Ankify (ferry point Nosy Be)
Destination: Ankarana National Park
Drive: 156 km | 3 hours
A colleague of Roadtrip Madagascar will hand over your 4x4 at Ankify Harbour, the ferry point to Nosy Be Island. You first cross Ambanja, a pleasant town bustling with bicycles and tuk-tuks. Palma Nova Hotel is a nice place for a lunch break. When you approach the entrance gate of Ankarana National Park, you'll find a number of hotels.
Restaurant tip: Le Relais de ‘l Ankarana with simple but good meals.
Day 2 of 10
Explore: Ankarana National Park
Tsingy is the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes”, the impenetrable labyrinth of limestone pinnacles justifies this name. Ankarana National Park is a limestone massif of tsingy and forest, intersected by caves and canyons. There are many hiking trails ranging from one hour to a fullday hike. For more info, check out our guide to the most beautiful national parks in Madagascar, which also features Ankarana.
The main entrance to this reserve is on the east side, at Mahamasina, just off the RN6. Many species of lemur can be seen, as well as beautiful birds and if you are lucky (or not..) also crocodiles.
Day 3 of 10
Start: Ankarana National Park
Drive: 109 km | 3 hours
En route to Joffreville, the gateway town to Amber Mountain National Park (Montagne d'Ambre), you can first pay a visit the Red Tsingy ( Tsingy Rouge). Joffreville, a former retreat for French officers now in a state of disrepair, is the entry point to the park. Guides can be arranged at the ANGAP office or via local hotels.
Day 4 of 10
Explore: Montagne d'Ambre National Park
Montagne d'Ambre (Amber Mountain) is an isolated patch of montane rainforest that rises from the surrounding dry region. This scenic park is famous for its waterfalls, crater lakes, and chameleons. Aloso lemurs are frequently seen. There are clear hiking trails, and much of the path is nicely shaded by trees. In the dry season, vehicles can drive right up to the picnic area.
The park ranges from 850 to 1500 meters and has its own microclimate. This means you should prepare for everything: warm and humid to wet and cool. The best time to visit is September to November or May to August.
Park guides can be arranged at the ANGAP office or via local hotels.
Day 5 of 10
Destination: Madiro Kitamby
Drive: 70 km | 3 hours
Pstttt we have a true hidden gem to share. Madiro Kitamby is an unpretentious pearl at the unspoilt beaches of Baie du Courrier. You can pitch your own tent or stay in an affordable bungalow. Their restaurant serves great seafood.
Day 7 of 10
Enjoy: Madiro Kitamby
From Madiro Kitamby, you can arrange a day trip to Nosy Hara Marine National Park. Snorkel around the small islands to see the beautiful coloured corals and, if you're lucky, dolphins or turtles.
It's also possible to stay overnight and wild camp at Nosy Hara Island. Contact Madiro Kitamby for the possibilities.
Day 8 of 10
Start: Madiro Kitamby
Destination: Ramena beach & surroundings
Drive: 40 km | 3 hours
En route you pass Diego Suarez, a deep sea port city, which is nice to wander around and have lunch. Located 20 kilometres east of Diego Suarez is Romena, a laid-back beach town where you find some simple restaurants offering the freshest seafood. On weekends, locals often head to the beach for picnics, barbecues, and a game of football.
Day 9 of 10
Explore: Les Trois Baies
If you're a kite surfer, Ramena is the perfect place to stick around for a few more days. Or put your swimming suit on, jump in the car, switch on the 4x4, as it's time to explore the famous '' Trois Baies'' on your beach road trip in the North of Madagascar: Sakalava Bay / Pigeons Bay / Dunes Bay
The waves make for hours of fun in the water, and you'll probably have the beaches all to yourself.
Day 10 of 10
Drive: 270 km | 7 hour
Before heading back to Diego Suarez, you can consider visiting the Emerald Sea (Mer d'Emeraude), a shallow lagoon with nice warm water, perfect for snorkelling and spotting turtles. It's just a short boat ride from Ramena or Antsiranana.
Depending on where your return flight to Antananarivo or your next destination departs from (Diego Suarez or Nosy Be), you can either return your car at Diego Suarez or drive back to Ankify harbour (7 hours driving).
Northern Madagascar in 10 days | This is what you need to know
Travel time and road conditions
Road conditions are good in Northern Madagascar, and you will hardly encounter any other tourists. A unique travel experience guaranteed!
To start your drive off easily, we offer you the option of renting your 4x4 from Ankify (ferry point to Nosy Be) at no extra cost. Passenger boats (30 mins) and car ferries (2,5 hours) depart daily between Nosy Be and Ankify.
There are several ways to compose your North Madagascar roadtrip:
- We recommend starting your holidays by driving the famous RN7 first. Fly from Tulear to Nosy Be, where you can collect your car and continue your exploration of the northern region. Wrap up your trip by returning the car in Diego and flying back to the international airport of Antananarivo. Alternatively, opt for a circular route, driving back to Ankify, and savour a few extra days on Nosy Be before heading home.
- Another appealing option is to start your rental from Ivato, taking a one-way trip to the North. Add 2 nights to this itinerary in Ankarafantsika National Park and a stopover night in Antsohihy town, providing a refreshing break during the drive to Ankarana National Park. Be prepared for challenging road conditions between Ambondramamy and Ambanja, with speed restrictions of 30 km/h. Beyond Ambanja, the road is well-repaired and maintained.
Domestic flights depart from Ivato or Tulear to Nosy Be, and return flights take off from Diego Suarez or Nosy Be to Ivato—additional flight details can be found here.
The best time to visit Northern Madagascar
The overland route to Nosy Be and Diego Suarez is fine to travel year-round and offers a pleasant and warm climate.
Around Nosy Be, humpback whales can be seen from mid-August until the end of October. Turtles and dolphins are regular visitors year-round.
For kitesurfing enthusiasts conditions are good all year round at Ramena, with a steady peak between January and March.Book your roadtrip
Create & book your self-drive adventure in Northern Madagascar
Explore the beaches of Northern Madagascar in a 4x4 and drive your own adventure.Let's go!