The Baobab route

The west is the best region to see Madagascar's most striking landscape - the Tsingy limestone pinnacles. Clamber the well-constructed steps, ladders, cables and bridges in the UNESCO-protected Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, marvel at giant baobab trees and finish off with some beach days along the beautiful west coast.

We recommend doing the Baobab route as a one-way roadtrip. Drop off your rental car at Morondava, and before you take a domestic flight back, enjoy a few days at Belo sur Mer, a remote destination with a stunning coastline. The town of Belo sur Mer can reached by boat from Morondava. Alternatively, do the Baobab route as a round circuit, and drive the same way back to Ivato. The only places to stay overnight are in Miandrivazo and Antsirabe. From Morondava, its 4 hours to Miandrivazo. It's possible to skip Miandrivazo on your way back and continue straight to Antsirabe. But then it's an intense travel day of 8 hours of non-stop driving. From Antsirabe to Ivato is another 5 hours. 

Scroll down to see this trip's day-to-day route itinerary with tips on where to stay. We like to stay in these lodges when we are roadtripping in Madagascar ourselves; they are small-scale, good price-quality ratio and owner-managed when possible.

Check the day to day itinerary

Day 1 of 9

Start: Antananarivo
Destination:
Antsirabe
Drive: 190 km | 5 hours

On the road to Andasibe, a nice colonial town. Expect a windy asphalt road passing through rice paddies and small highland villages. You can have a good lunch stop at Coin de Foie Grass in Behenjy, or try an authentic paella (we're not kidding) at El Torro in Ambatolampy. 

Take a pousse pousse (the Malagasy version of the Asian rickshaw) tour to the craft workshops which are otherwise hard to find on your own. 

Restaurants: Chez Jenny (pizza, lively), Trianon (classic French), Vatolahy (classic French) 

Day 2 of 9

Start: Antsirabe
Destination:
Miandrivazo
Drive: 220 km | 4 hours 

The only road to take to Miandrivazo is the RN34. The RN35 takes much longer, and at time of writing (Oct 2023), the bridge on the RN35 is broken, so the road is not accessible. There are no plans to repair the bridge anytime soon. Google Maps will suggest to first follow the RN7 up to Malambandy (which takes a full day, and there is no proper accommodation to be found along this route), and then drive north, joining the RN34 at Miandrivazo. Don’t follow Google Maps.

Miandrivazo is a small, sleepy inland town where it can get very hot.

 

Day 3 of 9

Start: Miandrivazo
Destination:
Kirindy Reserve
Drive: 6 hours 

Drive to Kirindy Reserve via Morondava and the Avenue de Baobabs. It's around 4.5 hours on the RN24, an asphalt road in reasonable state, to the seaside resort of Morondava. There are many nice places to eat - recommended places to have lunch are Cafe Baobab and La Capannina.

Continue for 2 hours / 65 km on a rough dirt track to Kirindy. En route, you will pass the Avenue de Baobabs and the Baobabs Amoureux. 

 

Day 4 of 9

Enjoy: Kirindy Reserve

Kirindy Reserve (not to be mistaken for Kirindy-Mitea National Park, close to Belo sur Mer) is a pretty special reserve. It's the only place in Madagascar where you can see giant jumping rats dig their burrows in the soft, red soil. The jumping rat is Madagascar's largest rodent, and looks like a strange kangaroo-rabbit crossbreed with a rat's tail. Another local inhabitant is the mouse lemur, the world's smallest primate. Another special treat in Kirindy is the fossa (see picture), Madagascar's largest carnivore. You will be unlucky not to spot them around the campsite, searching for leftovers. Day visitors will see far less than those able to observe wildlife at dawn or dusk. A night time stroll is highly recommended. Local tourist guides are constantly updated by the international research center.

 

 

Day 5 of 9

Start: Kirindy Reserve
Destination:
 Tsingy de Bemaraha
Drive: 8 hours 

On the road to Bemaraha. It's 2 hours to the ferry point and 45 min by ferry to the village of Belo-sur-Tsiribihina. Make sure to have lunch at Mad Zebu - some travellers say this is the best meal in the country. The Malagasy chef used to work at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in France and now runs a restaurant in the middle of nowhere - pretty surreal!

Total travel time from Kirindy to Bemaraha is around 6-8 hours on a rough dirt road. 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 of 9

Enjoy: Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

There is nothing else on earth like the limestone pinnacles of the Tsingy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Given the time and effort needed to get to Bemaraha, we recommend that you spend two full days at the minimum to enjoy the various circuits that have been put in place with phenomenal expertise, consisting of Via Ferratas (fixed cable routes), rope bridges and ladders.  

 

 

Day 7 of 9

Enjoy: Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

There are more than a dozen circuits, ranging from an hour to a full day hike. For the most dramatic views, you need to do the difficult Ankeligoa circuit in the Petit Tsingy and the Andamozavaky in the Grand Tsingy. For both, you need to be fairly fit and have no fear of heights. A pirogue trip up the Manambolo River provides a nice relief form the heat in the Tsingy. 

 

 

Day 8 of 9

Start: Tsingy de Bemaraha
Destination:
Morondava
Drive: 8-10 hours 

Return to Morondava; a full day of off-road driving (8-10 hours). Morondava is a lively seaside resort with plenty of small restaurants and bars.  

Our favourite restaurants: La Capannina and Baobab Café

Day 9 of 9

Recharge at Morondava before making your way back to Antananarivo by car (2 full days of driving via Miandrivazo and Antsirabe), or drop-off your car in Morondava and fly back to Tana.

Alternatively, head down south to Belo sur Mer to enjoy the most beautiful stretch of beach along the west coast. It's either 4 hours off-road driving on sandy tracks (pisteur or driver required) or a short boat trip.

What to expect on this roadtrip to West Madagascar

When to go & what to see

This trip is only possible to book from May to the beginning of November.  

Your first stop is the charming colonial town of Antsirabe, the perfect place to explore by pousse pousse (Malagasy version of the rickshaw). Next stop is the sleepy village of Miandrivazo, where you can do a piroque (small boat) trip on the Tsiribihina river. Say goodbye to the asphalt. Continue to Kirindy Reserve, where you'll see many giant baobabs en route. Kirindy is a good reserve for a night walking safari and home to a number of species which can only be found there, such as the fossa and giant jumping rat. Drive to Bekopaka and enjoy its many well constructed circuits in the Tsingy de Bemahara National Park. Return to Morondava and end with a few days relaxing at the beach in Belo sur Mer. 

Go to When to go & what to see

Travel time and road conditions

This route is possible from May till beginning of November. 

The Nissan Double Cab is required for the Baobab route. The road from Tana to Miandrivazo is asphalted and in reasonable condition. The road from Morondava to Kirindy and Bekopaka is off-road driving. 

When flying back from Morondava, a minimum of 8 car rental days are needed to cover this route. If you drive back, please note there are NO possible shortcuts: the way back to Tana is the same route as going there, which is with an overnight stay in Miandrivazo and Antsirabe. 

If you want to fly back, Roadtrip Madagascar can arrange to pick up your rental car in Morondava. The costs are forwarded to the hirer: € 242 (3 days driver fee, bus ticket, fuel) + 2 additional car rental days. 

Go to Travel time and road conditions

Prices

Rest of year | May, June, November 

Price per vehicle, in Euros. 

Price includes 8 car rental, car delivery to the airport or your hotel in Ivato, one-way drop off fee (Morondava).

Want to do the Baobab route with the company of a driver-guide? Add €240 to your total trip amount. 

  Nissan Double Cab 
Per car  € 1442

Peak season | July - October 

Price per vehicle, in Euros. 

Price includes 8 car rental, car delivery to the airport or your hotel in Ivato,one-way drop off fee (Morondava).  

Want to do the Baobab route with the company of a driver-guide? Add €240 to your total trip amount.

  Nissan Double Cab 
Per car  € 1542

Create & Book

Follow the Baobab route as it is, or use it for travel inspiration and adjust the itinerary to your liking.

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Included in the Baobab route roadtrip

Included

  • Car delivery to your hotel or airport
  • Comprehensive car insurance
  • Roadmap and Bradt Travel Guide
  • One way rental fee

Optional

  • Camping gear
  • Electrical fridge
  • Driver-Guide