Morondava to Tuléar

The road from Morondava to Tuléar cuts inland via Manja and rejoins the coast at Morombé. This road is only passable in the dry season (usually from April to October) and it takes three bone-shaking days – more if you linger along the towns of the Northern Reef. The taxis-brousses that do the route are 4WD bâchés (small, converted pick-up trucks) or camions-brousses – even more uncomfortable than normal taxis-brousses. Whichever way you travel, the reward is an adventure that’ll be worth telling the grandkids, with beautiful landscapes, remote villages, makeshift ferries and heavenly beaches.

  • Day 1: Morondava to Manja (six to eight hours) The tracks here are less rough than those further south, but there are five wide, shallow rivers to cross and numerous streams to ford. Your prize at the end is Manja, a lively provincial town with a pretty church. The only place to stay is Manja Hotel, a friendly spot with a surprisingly good restaurant, but basic rooms with shower water that barely trickles from the wall. Toilet seats seem optional. Try to avoid weekends when the downstairs bar bumps and grinds until the wee small hours. At around 2am, we gave up trying to sleep and went down to join them…
  • Day 2: Manja to Morombé or Andavadoaka (10 hours) This is a long, punishing day of off-road driving with a rickety vehicle ferry crossing at Bejoavy (per vehicle Ar10,000). You’ll have to set off at first light and carry a picnic lunch.
  • Day 3: Morombé or Andavadoaka to Tuléar (eight to 10 hours) This splendid stretch of coastline hugs Madagascar’s Great Reef, with the toughest section of the road a 30km, baobab-lined stretch of sand south of Andavadoaka. There are numerous gorgeous hotels and lots of good snorkelling and diving, so you may well want to split this into two days.