Diary blog Madagascar: Tulear, Isalo and Ranomafana!

Oops, here I am, at a beautiful campsite on a lake in Kenya. We’ve been out of Madagascar for over a week, but I’m hopelessly behind with blogs … So now I have to dig a little deeper into my memory to write this diary blog of our last two (amazing and full) weeks in Madagascar.Ambatamilo

Off-road tripping from Morondava to Tulear

As I described in the previous diary blog, we spent two days in Belo Sur Mer and it is now time to drive on. Today we are driving in a collone, together with a nice group of pensionados from France.

I soon see on the map that we are not driving entirely according to the route. An hour later we drive through the savannah and the road is barely visible. Occasionally we hit a heap of termites (which are a lot harder than they look) and when we then drive straight through a bush fire, we know for sure, this is a very crazy route! From the cheerful Malagasy guides, we later understand that this is indeed not the normal route, but so many peages (toll points) have been added on the normal route that they did not feel like it. After six hours we still arrive at our final destination: Manja.Roadtrip Tulear to Morondava

The next day is also a travel day, with a spectacular ferry trip: the engine of the ferry doesn’t work and 20 Malagasy men are in the water, pulling the ferry. But that is not even the most exciting part, back on the quay we get stuck in the thick, loose sand. Five euros later, the same swimmers push us over the quay. But this difficult route is totally worth it when we arrive in Andavadoaka a few hours later.Andavadoaka

Andavadoaka: rocks and a beautiful hotel!

Andavadoaka is beautiful, with a rugged coastline full of bays surrounded by white rocks. With the blue water, it looks like a Greek island! We arrive late in the afternoon and sleep our first night in hotel Coco Beach, nothing special. Yesterday, while driving, we met Leoni, Michael and Jules. Leonie and her husband Michael are from South Africa and travel all over the world for their work in the hotel industry. They work for Mantis Collection Group, a company with the most beautiful hotels. Jules is the owner of Olo Be Lodge, a brand new resort in Andavadoaka, part of the Mantis Collection Group. It is built on top of the rocks and is so stylish! The decoration of the rooms is a combination of a luxury safari tent and a stately English mansion. A combination that, funnily enough, works very well!

Olo Be LodgeOlo Be Lodge

Olo Be Lodge

When we wake up in hotel Coco Beach we have received a message from Leoni and Jules with the invitation to spend the night at Olo Be Lodge. Of course, we don’t say no to that and so just a few hours later we are welcomed by the sweet Leoni. We enjoy this beautiful lodge all day long, kayaking and swimming in the private bay of Olo Be Lodge and drinking a glass of wine with a view of the setting sun in the evening.

The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, we take a bath in our giant outdoor bathroom and have a few pleasant hours before we travel further. Our stay at Olo Be Lodge was wonderful, thanks to Jules, Leonie and Michael for the warm welcome!Olo Be Lodge

Ambatamilo and Salary

In the early afternoon, we continue to Ambatamilo, where we sleep in a cosy wooden hut on the beach, very different from the luxurious Olo Be Lodge. The next day it is only an hour to our next place to sleep in the village of Salary. Here we lie on the beach for most of the day. Reading, playing cards and doing nothing!

Read here everything about the self-drive itinerary from Morondava to Toliara by 4wd!


And then it is already the last day of this part of our road trip! After having driven through loose sand for four hours, there is suddenly an asphalted road. We drive past bigger villages with real shops! After a short stop in Tulear to buy fresh pain au chocolat, we arrive at the beautiful Bakuba Lodge. Bruno, the owner, is also the architect of Olo Be Lodge, and you immediately recognize his style by the shapes of the buildings and all sorts of funny details.

We work a bit, lie by the pool and have a bite to eat with Bruno and Patricia in the evening. They both grew up in Congo, but have Flemish parents, so they speak a little Dutch. It’s such a cosy night! The next morning we sleep in and leave in the afternoon for our next destination: Isalo National Park.Bakuba Lodge

Read about all the hotels in Madagascar we can recommend!

Ring-tailed Maki in Isalo National Park

The road from Tulear to Isalo is beautiful, from the fertile land near the coast, we drive through a desert landscape where only bright yellow flowers seem to grow, with big mountains in the background. Isalo National Park is slowly appearing for us. Once there, we arrange a guide for the next day and then look for a hotel for the next two days. Once settled we decide to catch the sunset at La Fenetre. This place is named after big rocks that lie on top of each other in such a way that a window is created, in which you can see the sunset.

The next day we make two beautiful hikes in Isalo National park, soon a blog will be online with more information about this beautiful but touristy place. One of the highlights here was seeing the ring-tailed lemurs, also known as King Julian from the Madagascar movie!

Wondering if a trip through Madagascar is expensive? Read more in our Madagascar budget blog!


Hiking in the Andringitra Mountains

After the heat and drought in Isalo, we are ready for a different landscape. We drive to the Andringitra Mountains, a region that looks a bit like the Swiss Alps! We spend the next three nights in a tent on the cosy Camp Catta campsite. A tent with a real bed in it, but still, it feels like real camping. The first evening we immediately get to know a group of nice Dutch people and the next day a group of Flemish people. Fun to play cards with them in the evening, during the day we go out with just the two of us (and a guide) to climb the different mountains.

The first hike, in particular, is a major challenge, after hours of climbing we are faced with a scary descent in which we descend with ropes down the steep mountain ridge. More about these two hikes (and how I even shed a few tears at a certain moment) in this blog that covers the Andringitra Mountains.

Our last days in Madagascar: Ranomafana

We have already entered our last week in Madagascar. After three nights in a tent in Andringitra , we decide not to drive straight to the next national park, but to relax in the nice city of Ambalavao. A hot shower, Netflix evening and a good night of sleep later, we get back in the car to travel through a constantly changing landscape to Ranomafana.

This is the last national park that we visit and it is known for the rare Golden Bamboo Lemur. After a search for an hour with our guide, we do spot the animal. Unfortunately, we are not the only one, this park is enormously touristy and after having hardly seen any tourists for seven weeks, that is a bit disappointing. Before we drive back to Ivato (Tana), we spend the night in Antsirabe, where we eat delicious French food at hotel-restaurant Trianon. And then we are back in Ivato, the place where our adventure began 8 weeks ago.Ranomafana

Off to Kenya!

One last time we sleep in Meva Guesthouse, where we cook a nice dinner (finally a healthy salad, it’s delicious!) And a nice last lunch with Peter from Roadtrip Africa, it’s time to leave Madagascar. On to our next adventure, off to Kenya! But more about that in the next diary blog!

Read all bout our South Madagascar itinerary for a 3 week road trip! 

Where did we sleep these two weeks in Madagascar:

  • Manja: Kanto Manja, the only hotel here, not nice, not completely clean but with okayish food. €13 a night.
  • Andavadoaka: Coco Beach, cheap but not recommended, €17.30 per night. Olo Be Lodge, that food, the room and oooo that outdoor pool! Olo Be Lodge is amazing! €100 per night.
  • Ambatamilo: Le Pirate Amoureux, cute wooden houses without electricity on the beach. €20 a night.
  • Salary: Chez Francesco, very basic houses, not really clean, not recommended. €24.50 per night.
  • Tulear: Bakuba Lodge, beautiful rooms in a great style where we immediately feel at home. Inc swimming pool and very good food! €90 per night.
  • Isalo (Ranohira): Chez Alice, nice little cottages with nice beds. The food is good. €11 per night.
  • Andringitra Mountains: Camp Catta, a campsite in the middle of the mountains, with a natural swimming pool, the food is expensive and not that tasty. No wifi. €15 per night for a tent with beds.
  • Ambalavao: La Residence du Betsileo, beautiful colonial house with hot showers. €12.25 per night.
  • Ranomafana: Hotel Manja, ok rooms with wifi. €18 per night. Hotel Grenat, quaint rooms but with a nice bed and good food. €17 per night.
  • Antsirabe: Chez Billy, funny hostel with great rooms, right in the centre. €14 a night.
  • Ivato: Meva Guesthouse, after five nights it really feels a bit like home here! Near the airport. €30 per night.

Olo Be Lodge

Statistics for these two weeks:

↠ Number of hours in the car / bus / boat: +/- 40 hours
↞ Number of km travelled: 1535 km
↠ Number of times stuck in the mud: 2 times
↞ Number of crying while hiking: 1 time … Mount Andringitra, I won’t forget you soon!
↠ Number of dolphins spotted: 7!

Madagascar highlight:

This time a highlight from Ries and not a shared experience (I didn’t feel quite well and stayed at the hotel). During our last morning in Andavadoaka, Ries is invited to take a boat trip with Jules, the owner of Olo Be Lodge and other friends. Fortunately, the water is pretty calm (the sea can be quite rough here). They sail past sandbanks that look like a little paradise from above. Ries plays with the drones from Jules, the newest DJI Mavic Pro 2 (yes, I feel a new purchase is coming) and makes really cool photos. If seven dolphins turn up alongside the boat and swim along for a long time, the experience is complete.Olo Be LodgeOlo Be Lodge

Madagascar lowlight:

During the last night in the Andringata Mountains, I get a fever. I am freezing and shivering in my sleep apparently so hard that I wake up Ries. Madagascar sounds like a hot destination, but here in the mountains, it is only 5 degrees at night. Oh and we sleep in a tent. The next morning I feel good again and the fever is gone!

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1 Comment

  1. by Sande on 23 August 2019  12:35 Reply

    Really it's so interesting to have atour in Madagascar

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