The Baobab route

The west is the best region in which to see Madagascar's most striking landscape - the Tsingy, an  impenetrable ''forest'' of limestones of spikes. Clamber its well constructed steps, ladders, cables and bridges. Marvel at giant baobabs and finish of with some days along the beautiful west coast.

Drop off your rental car at Morondava and fly back to Tana, or drive the same route back via Miandrivazo and the charming colonial town of Antsirabe (2 full days of driving). Have the time? Do the Grand Circuit. Continue south along the west coast to Tulear and make your way up again via the RN7 to the capital.   

Scroll down below to see the day-to- day route with tips on places to stay. These are lodges we like to stay when we are roadtripping ourselves; small-scale, good price-quality ratio and owner-managed when possible.

Check the day to day itinerary

Day 1 of 9

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 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. 

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. 

180 km | 4,5 hours

Roadtrip Madagascar's favourite places 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 (pizza, lively), Trianon ( classic French), Vatolahy (classic French). 

Day 2 of 9

We leave the RN7 behind and switch to the RN34. Also an asphalt road but with more putholes. You probably have the road to yourself... Miandrivazo is a small, sleepy inland town, where it can get very hot. 

220 km | 5 hours 

Our favourite place to stay in Miandrivazo 

Mid-range: Princess Tsiribihina, pool,  € 30 

Day 3 of 9

Drive to Kirindy Reserve via Morondava and the Avenue de Baobabs. It is 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. A recommended place to have lunch is Cafe Baobab or La Capannina.

Continue some 2 hours | 65 km on a rough dirt track to Kirindy. Enroute, you will pass the Avenue de Baobabs and the Baobabs Amoureux. 

Places to stay in Kirindy: 

Budget: Bungalows in the Reserve, cold water and pretty basic. But the only option if you want to do a night walk in the park ( recommended). 

Mid-range: Camp Amoureux, 20 min south of Kirindy. 13 tents in the forest with en suite bathroom. Guided night walks are organised. 

 

Day 4 of 9

Kirindy Reserve (not to be mistaken by Kirindy-Mitea National Park close to Belo sur Mer), is a pretty special reserve. It is the only place where you can see the giant jumping rat dig their burrows in the soft, red soils. The jumping rate is Madagascar's largest rodent, and looks like a strange kangaroo-rabbit crossbreed with a rat's tail. Another local endemic is the mouse lemur, the world's smallest primate. Another special treat of 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

On the road to Bemahara.  It is 2 hours to the ferry point and some 45 min by ferry to the village of Belo-sur-Tsiribihina. Make sure to have lunch at Mad Zebu, some travellers say 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 Bemahara is around 6- 8 hours on a rough dirt road. 

Roadtrip Madagascar's favourite hotels in the Tsingy de Bemahara: 

Budget: camping near the park office and the Grand Tsingy trail head 17 km further ahead ( 1 hour)

Mid-range: Olympe de Bemahara

Deluxe: Soleil des Tsingy Lodge

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 of 9

There is nothing else on earth like the limestone pinnacles of de Tsingy, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Given the time and effort needed to get to Bemahara, 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 Ferrata’s ( fixed cables routes), rope bridges and ladders.  

 

 

Day 7 of 9

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 piroque trip up the Manambolo River makes a nice relieve form the heat in the Tsingy. 

 

 

Day 8 of 9

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

Roadtrip Madagascar’s favourite picks in Morondava:

Budget: Trecigogne €22

Mid-range: Chez Maggy, pool  € 38

Deluxe: Pallisandre, pool  € 135

Our favourite restaurant: La Capannina and Baobab Café

Day 9 of 9

Recharge at Morondava before you make your way back to Tana by car ( 2 full days of driving via Miandrivazo and Antsirabe). 

Or head down south to Belo sur Mer ( 4 hours off road driving on sandy tracks), to enjoy the most beautiful stretch of beach along the west coast, before you drop off your vehicle at Morondava and fly back to Tana. 

  

What to expect on this roadtrip to the West of Madagascar?

When to go & what to see

Possible to travel from May till beginning of November. 

First stop is the charming colonial town of Antsirabe, the perfect place to explore by pousse pousse (Malagasy version of the rick-shaw). Next stop is the sleepy village of Miandrivazo, where you could do a piroque trip on the Tsiribihina river. Say goodbye to the asphalt. Continue to Kirindy Reserve, enroute you will see many giant baobabs. Kirindy is a good reserve for a night walking safari and home to a number of species which you can only find there, such as the fossa and giant jumping rat. Drive to Bekopaka and enjoy its many well constructed circuits in the Tsingy de Bemahara. 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

Possible to travel from May till beginning of November. 

The Nissan Double Cab is required for the baobab route. There's quite some off road driving on bumpy, dusty roads. The road up to Miandrivazo is asphalted and in reasonable condition. The road to Kirindy and Bekopaka is off road driving. 

We can deliver / pick up the car in Morondava. The costs are forwarded to the hirer. This is € 185 ( 3 days driver fee, bus ticket, fuel) + 2 additional car rental days. 

When flying back from Morondava, a minimum of 9 car rental days are needed to cover this route. Add a few days if you drive back and / or want to enjoy the beach at Belo sur Mer. It's a long 2 day drive from Morondava to Tana. We recommend that you break it up and have an overnight stay in Miandrivazo and Antsirabe. 

Go to Travel time and road conditions

Prices

Rest of year | May, June, October, November 

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

Price includes 9 day car rental, airport pick up, one-way drop-off fee. 

Want to do the Baobab route with the company of a driver & guide? Add € 225. 

  Nissan Double Cab 
Per car  1,274

Peak season | July - September  

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

Price includes 9 day car rental, airport pick up,  one-way drop-off fee. 

Want to do the Baobab route with the company of a driver & guide? Add € 225. 

  Nissan Double Cab 
Per car  1,384

Create & Book

Follow the baobab route as described, or use it as a starting point, and adjust it to your liking.

Secure your roadtrip car

Included in your roadtrip

Included

  • Airport transfers
  • Comprehensive car insurance
  • Mobile phone with local SIM
  • Roadmap and Bradt Travel Guide
  • Electrical fridge
  • One way rental fee

Optional

  • Camping gear
  • Driver-Guide