4x4 bush camp adventure into the Makay

4x4 bush camp adventure into the Makay

If you like 4x4 driving, hiking and wilderness - then this bush camping trip is for you. There are few places on earth which are still so untouched as the Makay Massif. The first part of the roadtrip up to Isalo National Park, can still be done as as self-drive trip. Then our driver-guide joins you from Ranohira, Isalo onwards and guides you for 6 days driving and hiking through the maze of canyons across the vast Makay. You end at the beach of Tulear. A great place to unwind. 

 

Check the day to day itinerary

Day 1 of 13

Your start on the famous RN7. Expect asphalt, 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 grass center of Madagascar. Or try an authentic paella ( we're not kidding) at El Torro in Ambutulampy.

180 km | 4,5 hours

Our favourite picks in Antsirabe: 

Budget: Camping allowed at Green Park and Madalief (out of town) 

Mid-range: Trianon € 26, Madalief € 26

Deluxe: Couleur Café € 37

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

Day 2 of 13

Explore Antsirabe town and surroundings. 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. 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 welcomed. 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. Explore Antsirabe town and 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.

Day 3 of 13

Drive to Ranamofana National park. It's again a lovely windy road, passing highland villages, rice paddies and rainforest covered hills. Ambositra makes a good coffee stop. For those interested in community tourism and highland culture, this is an interesting region to linger around for longer or on your way back again. If you do, stay at Betsileo Country Logde ( mid-range), or Grand Hotel or Motel Violette (both budget).

227 km | 6 hours

Our favourite picks in Ranamofana: 
Budget: Camping allowed at park entrance, Ihary bungalows € 15
Mid-range: Setam Lodge € 30-50
Restaurant: Manja

Day 4 of 13

Ranamofana is a small and lively tropical town with a stunning riverside setting surrounded by rainforest covered hills and the lovely scent of flowers in the air. It is the place to search for the golden bamboo, only discovered in 1986. 

We were lucky on our hike, as we saw the greater bamboo lemur, of which there are only two in the park. Furthermore, we saw the Golden bamboo lemur, Red fronted brown lemur, Sifaka Eduardo, Leaf tailed gecko, Brookesia chamelon, Paradise bird, Queen fisher, a type of snake and, leeches :)

Day 5 of 13

Drive to Andringitra National Park. Perhaps the most scenic drive thus far, especially beyond Ambalavao when the highland plateau give sway to far horizons, deserted grassland with big sandstone massifs. 

The exit to Camp Catta and Tsara Tented Camp is 20 km after Ambalavao. Than its 1 hour off road driving towards the park with some rough parts, so drive carefully. 

153 km| 5,5 hours 

Our favourite picks: 

Budget: Camping allowed at Camp Catta 

Mid-range: Camp Catta, has a natural pool  (€27-€55), Tsara Tented Camp € 40, Varangue Betsileo € 47 ( close to Anja National Park) has a pool. 

Day 6 of 13

If you like hiking, this is a breath taking area. Several hikes are 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 the peak. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat, as the sun is remorseless. Consider spending an extra night, to complete the Imarivolanitra trekking ( 2-3 days). 

Day 7 of 13

In case you were on a self -drive trip thus far, today you will meet your driver-guide at Ranohira. You're bush camping adventure starts! Say good-by to asphalt, showers and toilets and restaurants...You will camp at the foothills of Isalo National Park.  

212 km| 4 hours  

Day 8 of 13

Today we drive to Beroroha, a village at the Mangoky river deep in Isalo National Park. The scenery consist mainly of grassland area with rock formation. We will camp at the outskirts of the village or close to the river bedding. 

6 hours 

Day 9 of 13

The destination of today is Berororo, a settlement deep inside the Makay. Its a full day driving. The scenery is dominated by rock formations, canyons and river beddings. 

This is where we will set up our camp for the next few days. 

 

Day 10 of 13

Day hike into the wild Makay.  

Day 11 of 13

Day hike into the wild Makay. 

Day 12 of 13

We take a local ferry to Fanjakana, at the other side of Isalo. From here its a day drive to Sakahara, dominated by beautiful panomara's swamps and primary dry forest. Again, a beautifuk road. 

Day 13 of 13

The wilderness experience has come to an end. It's a smooth 2 hours drive to Tulear. Enjoy the beach and the comfort of a clean shower and nice bed, you probably have a lot to digest and talk about.

You will hand-over the vehicle to your driver-guide and fly back. Or if you have the time, continue your journey and do the Grand Circuit. 

Our favourite picks in Tulear:

If you want to spoil yourself, there is no better way to do thisthan at Bakuba Concept ( see picture), pool € 115-175.  

Mid-range: Famata Lodge, pool € 35, Residence Eden Lodge in Sarodrano fishing village, € 35

 

 

 

What to expect on this 4x4 bush camping adventure

Travel time and road conditions

A minimum of 13 day car rental is recommend for this trip to arrive at Tulear. In case time is not on your side, you can speed up the first part from Tana to Isalo, and cover this in three days with only a stop in Antsirabe and and Ambalavo. 

The part in the Makay ( 6 nights ) cannot be shortened, but we can extend it to include more hiking days if you wish. And we can imagine that you might want to add a day or two at the beach in Tulear, before you fly back to Tana. 

The RN7 is a smooth asphalt road, the dirt tracks in the Makay are bumpy and challenging with many shallow river crossings and rocky surface. 

 

Go to Travel time and road conditions

When to go & what to know

It is possible to do this trip between May and November. 

This is not a fully catered trip. Our guides are very helpful with setting up camp and helping out with cooking, but you're a team and do it together.  It's your own responsibly to stock up supplies and cater for your meals. We will brief you carefully what to buy and where. 

Included in this trip is the car rental from Antananarivo to Tulear and the costs to bring back the car from Tulear to Tana, rooftop tent with all full set of camp gear, an experienced driver-guide for the Makay part and local guides and porters for the hikes into the Makay. There are no other companies that organise such wilderness experiences for couples/duo's only, and at this price. 

Go to When to go & what to know

Prices

Rest of year | May, June, October, November  

Price in euro's per vehicle. The Nissan Double Cab fits up to 4 adults, including driver. 

Price includes 13 day car rental, airport pick up, one-way drop-off fee, 7 days driver-guide, local guide and porters in the Makay, rooftop tent with camp gear. 

Want to do the entire trip with driver - guide? Add € 125.

  Nissan Double 
per car  3,775 

 

Peak season | July - September 

Price in euro's per vehicle. The Nissan Double Cab fits up to 4 adults, including driver. 

Price includes 13 day car rental, airport pick up, one-way drop-off fee, 7 days driver-guide, local guide and porters in the Makay, rooftop tent with camp gear. 

Want to do the entire trip with driver - guide? Add € 125.

  Nissan Double 
per car  3,925 

Create & Book

Make this road trip yours. Hire a 4x4 and Drive Your Own Adventure.

Reserve your roadtrip vehicle

Included

  • Camping gear
  • Mobile phone with local SIM
  • Roadmap and Bradt Travel Guide
  • Airport transfers
  • Comprehensive car insurance
  • Electrical fridge
  • Driver-Guide

Optional

  • Bed & Breakfast