Air Madagascar flies daily between Tamatave and Antananarivo (€227, one hour) and three times weekly to Île Sainte Marie (€227, 30 minutes). Other services connect Tamatave with Maroantsetra (€227, 1¼ hours) and Sambava (€227, two hours). Be forewarned that during the vanilla season (June to October), flights in the northeast fill up quickly.
Madagasikara Airways, which commenced operations in late 2015, has between one and three flights a week to Antananarivo (€104, one hour). There is also a weekly service to Île Sainte Marie (€101, 30 minutes).
Air Madagascar has a weekly flight (€262, 1¾ hours) and Air Austral flies three times weekly (€332) to St-Denis on Réunion.
To Île Sainte Marie If you are heading to Île Sainte Marie via Soanierana-Ivongo, your boat company will provide a shuttle service from Tamatave.
To the northeast Cargo boats without set schedules also ply the waters of the northeast. This type of travel is generally slow and uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous, particularly during cyclone season (December to March); always check forecasts and ask local advice before travelling. Those prone to motion sickness should not attempt it. Standards vary widely; cabins are sometimes available, but on most boats you can expect to be bedding down on deck, and you will need to bring your own food and water. If you’re still interested, ask any pousse-pousse driver to take you to the bureau of boats going to Mananara or Maroantsetra. This is an obscure shed by the port that you will never find on your own.
By Sea to Réunion & Mauritius
For an interesting itinerary twist, consider this ocean voyage. The mixed cargo and passenger ships MS Mauritius Trochetia and Mauritius Pride (www.croisiere-madagascar.com/en/indian-ocean-cruise) depart Tamatave once every two weeks or so for the islands of Réunion and Mauritius. One-way/return fares to Réunion (24 hours) are €295/420 per adult, and €360/490 to Mauritius (36 hours). More expensive deluxe cabins are also available. Tickets are available from Tropical Service.
- The taxi-brousse station at the northwestern edge of town serves Antananarivo, as well as points north as far as Soanierana-Ivongo (Ar10,000, four hours) and south as far as Mahanoro (Ar20,000, four hours).
- Minibuses and coaches run along the RN2 throughout the day to Moramanga (Ar15,000, seven hours) and Antananarivo (Ar20,000 to Ar23,000, at least seven hours). It is best to leave early to ensure that you reach your destination during daylight hours.
- If road conditions permit, you may be able to find a camion-brousse (truck) or similar large vehicle heading towards Mananara (Ar60,000) or Maroantsetra (Ar90,000, two to three days). A 4WD to Mananara or Maroantsetra will likely cost Ar2 million (one or two days).
Taxi-brousse company Mbola Tsara Voyage rents private 4WDs for travel on the RN5. Published prices for car and driver from Tamatave include Mananara and Maroantsetra (Ar2 million) but with any luck, aggressive bargaining might reduce this.
A slow passenger train departs Moramanga every Monday at 7am, arriving in Tamatave at 4.50pm (Ar10,000). It returns on Tuesday at 8.20am, arriving in Moramanga at 6.55pm. It is always wise to check the schedule with Madarail ahead of time, either at the station (best), or online.