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Fort Dauphin (Taolagnaro)

History   |   What to see   |   Tour operators   |   Where to sleep  |  Where to eat   |  Nightlife  |  Shopping  |   Transportation  |   Practical guide   |  What to see in the surroundings   

Situated in the deep south east of the country, with its is setting amongst crescent shaped beaches under high forest-clad mountains and atmosphere of steady decay, Fort Dauphin has an undeniable charm and it is, therefore, no wonder that it has developed into the centre of a prosperous tourist industry. The city is dominated by splendid mountain chain, the chain of Anosy and the Peak St. Louis, on the north side of the city, which offers a unique and unspoiled view of the area. On the north, east, and south the bright azure colours of the Indian Ocean take over the magnificent view. The town offers the visitor a variety of pastimes like strolling through the markets, lazing on the fine sandy beaches, enjoying the marvellous cuisine or exploring the sensational dry-forests of the surroundings.


Map Fort-Dauphin
Historic map of Fort Dauphin drawn by Flacourt in 1650

Even before the formal ratification, in March 1642 an expedition of the French East India Company embarked for Madagascar, under the command of Jacques de Pronis. They initially settled down in the Sainte Luce, where Pronis, hoping to curry favour with the Malagasy, married the daughter of a local chief. His marriage with a black woman was deplored by his men. The addition of another hundred Frenchmen to the fort created food shortages and general discontent. In addition to this, the insalubrities of the area provoked a lethal fever to many men, and the company was forced to move to the drier “Tholongar” peninsula. The new settlement was named Fort Dauphin in the honour of the future King Sun of France, Louis XIV. The Catholic members of the troupe do not accept, however, to be governed by a Protestant. A rebellion broke out. Pronis is taken prisoner and then released with the help of a new vessel. In an act of revenge, he humiliates the rebels and deport to the Bourbon island. After the arrival of Etienne de Flacourt late in 1648, he left to conquer other lands.

Flacourt, naturalist, was more interested in exploring in depth the vast island than dealing with the natives, whose intrigues and attacks kept him in continual harassment during his entire term of office. He could, however, restore the order among the mutinied soldiers and was the first European to have recorded knowledge of the elephant bird of Madagascar when these amazing bergs possibly still existed. His numerous surveys will be published in its famous History of Madagascar.

Meanwhile, Pronis returned to Fort Dauphin to retrain his authority, but the destiny of the colony was already in danger. A night of revelry, a drunken man sets fire to a roof: the town is reduced to a pile of ashes. But Pronis is stubborn. And, supported by a priest, he decided to rebuild the colony. A new fire and a new reconstruction follow. Exhausted, he died at the age of thirty six years. Flacourt perish f off Lisbon, while his ship, the Holy Virgin, is sunk by the Turks. In Fort Dauphin, the indigenous revolt continues. The surviving settlers were finally evacuated in 1674 after a terrible massacre perpetrated by the local Antanosy people on the white settlers. Rebels, infuriated by the abuses of the colonists, burst onto the midnight mess on Christmas Eve and killed fifty eight of the seventy mass attendants. The survivors were evacuated and Fort Dauphin was abandoned thirty years after its foundation.

What to see

  • Colonial architecture

The city still preserves some vestiges of colonial architecture. One beautiful example is the big white house of the Kaleta family, near the hotel Dauphin, which is surrounded by a garden. Ochre buildings, colonnades and remnants of a long past time can still be admired everywhere.

  • Fortins

Behind the mosque you will find a very old stone constructions emerging between newer buildings. These are the remains of forts built in the seventeenth century.

  • New Mosque

The new mosque, in the Indo-Pakistani borough, overlooking the Lobanona beach, reflects the important role played by this community.

  • Anosy Museum

This fort hosts a museum of the Anosy region and the route to India, depicting history and culture of the peoples of the region.

  • Libanona beach

Libanona beach is certainly the most beautiful, secure and popular of the city.

  • Fort Flacourt

This fort, named after the second governor of Fort Dauphin, dates back to 1643. Unfortunately, the fort is undergoing rehabilitation and is closed at the moment.

  • Pic Saint Louis

Climbing on the 529 m high Pic Saint Louis is extremely recommendable for those who want to enjoy a spectacular view of Fort Dauphin  From the top you can see from east to west, Sainte Luce, Lokaro Islands, the tip Evatra, Cove Dauphine, the tip Libanona, false Galions Bay, Cape Ranavalona, Lake Andriambe ... Access: two trails leading to the summit. The first from the factory SIFOR, (bush-taxis can drop) is the shortest way, but obviously the steepest (ascent in 1 hr 30 approx.). The second option starts at Marillac and borrows on the road crests (2 to 3 hours walk). For security reasons, it is better to be accompanied by authorized guides.

  • Saiadi Botanic gardens

The access is on the road to Sainte-Luce, near the Nahampoana reserve. The walk through the gardens will take at least half a day., All  species of Madagascar's superb flora are represented. Lemurs live here too, as well as crocodiles and a countless number of birds

  • Nahampoana Reserve

Nahampoana Natural Reserve is situated 7 km to the north of Fort Dauphin (about 15 minutes by road). It is a small private reserve of only 67 ha, but serves as an alternative to the overpriced Berenty, when it comes to a close encounter with Sifaka's and other lemurs. This park has four species of habituated lemurs, ring-tailed, red-fronted brown and bamboo lemurs as well as sifakas, which are the stars of the park. Their small, white, fuzzy head, with a black face and snout balances graciously when they move over the ground in their famous “dance”. The well-kept gardens show a good sample of Madagascar’s dry plants with their three-cornered palms, spiny Desiderata trees and stands of bamboo. In the forest there are waterfalls and natural swimming pools that offer quiet and secluded picnic sites. One can also make a short excursion by pirogue through the mangroves.

You can reach the park by taxi (8 € per person return, when two people are sharing). The entry fee costs 8 €, a guide is included.

Tour operators

Air Fort Services
BP 159 Fort-Dauphin 614 - Madagascar
Tél/Fax (+ 261) 20 92 212 24 - 20 92 212 34

Web : http://airfortservices.com
They offer excursion to every interesting place in the surrounding area: Nahampoana Private Reserve (owned by this company), Sainte Luce, Ankapaky Cavern, lake Anony, Andohahela National Park, etc.
They also hire a wide range of vehicles ( cars, jeeps, buses)

Anne et Eric Marmorat - B.P. 329
614 Fort-Dauphin – Madagascar
Phone: +261 (0)33 12 517 03
Web: http://www.lavasoa.com/
Same owners as Hotel Lavasoa. They organise trips to less touristic places in the surroundings and are specialised on kitesurf trips. They also own an Eco lodge on Lokaro Peninsula (Camp Pirate) and offer transfer and stay together. The Pirate Camp Lodge is beautiful, peaceful and well equipped, and it is located in a really wild environment. They also have a blog with their promotions and water sports: http://hotel-lavasoa-fort-dauphin.over-blog.com

Safari Laka
Phone: 92 212 66
Professional operator located next to Hotel Gina which offers a wide selection of excursions (you will not find some of them in other agencies) and adventure trips (mountain bike, trekking, canoeing)

Phone: 92 21 238
Same owner as Hotel Miramar and Dauphin and Berenty Reserve (if you are planning to visit it this is the only option). They mainly offer package holidays to the main attractions around Fort Dauphin.

Mobile: + 261 (0) 32 07 601 22
Motorcars and Quad rental

Fort Dauphin attracts too an increasing number of surfers. The best place is surely the bay of Vivaly Kely. You can require further information at Club Akoba, contact@ankoba.com, web: www.ankoba.com.

Where to sleep (Hotels in alphabetical order, prices from 2013)

Budget   |   Middle-class   |   High-end

Budget accommodations

Age D’Or
6 simple but pleasant rooms, some with private facilities. Nice staff and cheap!

Chez Anita
Phone: 92 213 22
8 rooms and 6 bungalows in the middle of a fantastic and peaceful garden. Friendly and quiet atmosphere, excellent food and home made tea!
Price between 25,000 Ar and 35,000 Ar, depending on the facilities.

Chez Jacqueline
Phone: 92 217 68
8 simple rooms with private facilities. Very friendly atmosphere (popular with backpackers). Basic meals.
Price for a room 20,000 Ar

Hôtel Mahavoky
Phone: 033 14 007 45
12 renewed, large and quite comfortable rooms, with hot water and shared bathroom. Good and inexpensive food.
Price for a room from 17,000 Ar

Mahavoky Annexe
Phone: 92 213 97
9 rooms in the main street with hot water and private bathroom, some with sea views. The food is cheap and tasty.
Price for a room between 25000 Ar and 27000 Ar

Sahil Hôtel
Phone: 92 216 04
7 basic but comfortable rooms with hot water, private facilities and sea views. Restaurant serves good food but no alcohol! Good value.
Price for a room from 27,000 Ar

Middle-class accommodations

Hôtel Nepenthes
Phone: + (261) 20 92 211 43
Mail: lenepenthes@yahoo.fr
13 pleasant and comfortable bungalows with hot water and private bathroom in a nice setting. Restaurant, conference room and transfers arranged. Very good price-quality relationship.
Price for a double room 22 €  and for a triple 27 €, full board 7 €

Hôtel Panorama
Phone: 92 216 56
4 pleasant and comfortable bungalows with private facilities and hot water right on the beach with great views of the bay. Better to book in advance.
Price for two people from 32,000 Ar

Le Tournesol
Phone: + (261) 20 92 216 71 / 033 12 513 16
8 nice rooms centrally located with TV, hot water, private bathroom and fan. There is a beautiful garden and the views are incredible! The food is good and reasonable priced. Many excursions arranged. Good value.
Price for two people 20 €

Hotel Gina Village
Phone: + (261) 20 92 918 09 / 033 07 987 66
Mail: ginavillage@yahoo.fr
10 comfortable and charming bungalows recently rebuilt and 3 smaller and cheaper rooms, surrounded by a beautiful garden. Friendly staff and quiet location. Several excursions in the area organised.
Price for two people about 23 €, depending on the season and the facilities.

Soavy Hôtel
Phone: 92 213 59 / 032 40 657 16
15 rooms and 6 bungalows, all welcoming, spacious and very comfortable set on a beautiful location with a big garden. Very good and inexpensive restaurant.
Price for two people between 33,000 Ar and 66,000 Ar, depending on the facilities.

Village Petit Bonheur
Libanona BP 210
Phone: + 261 20 92 212 60
Web: http://www.hotelfortdauphin.com
Mail: petitbonheurfd@hotmail.fr
Clean and comfortable bungalows, rooms and appartments with hot water, AC, TV, mini-bar and private terrace in a beautiful location and not far from the beach. Excellent and inexpensive meals. They organise different trips and activities. Good value.
Bungalows for 43,000 Ar, rooms 62,000 Ar and appartment for 90,000 Ar

High-end accommodations

Azura Hôtel & Spa
BP 284 - Fort-Dauphin
Tel : (261 20) 92 211 17  / (261 20) 92 211 36 / (261 20) 92 211 23
Fax : (261 20) 92 211 38
E-mail :
azura.hotel@moov.mg Cette adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir.
Web :
This luxurious new hotel and spa complex offers 17 high standard rooms and 2 suites, all of them with plasma TV, Ac, mini bar, wifi, etc. They offer and arrange all kind of activities in the area. There is a cocktail bar ( Le Blue Lagoon) and a restaurant  called Piment Verd, where guests can taste exquisite fish, seafood and meat.
A double room costs 52 € and a suite 83 €, day menu for 10 €

Bungalows Lavasoa

B.P. 329  614 Fort-Dauphin
Phone:+261 (0)33 12 517 03
Web: www.lavasoa.com
Mail: info@lavasoa.mg
5 charming and very nicely furnished bungalows with private terrace on a fantastic beach. The location is stunning and the views are great. Excellent service and friendly staff. Many excursions offered. There is a bar which serves only breakfast. Booking is compulsory.
Double room for 42 €, double bungalow 48 €, studio with kitchen 58 € and familiar bungalow  for 5 people 73 €

Croix Du Sud
Phone: 92 211 56
Web: www.madagascar-resorts.com
Mail: croixsud@madagascar-resorts.com
33 new and luxurious rooms with  satellite TV, AC, safe, fridge, telephone, Internet connection. Beautiful setting  next to Le Dauphin (same owner) and professional service. All range of excursions organised.
Double room from 57 to 60 €, triple from 64 to 70 € and familiar 80 € (breakfast included)

Kaleta Hotel
Phone: + 261 20 92 212 87
Mail: kaletaresa@moov.mg  kaletadir@moov.mg
Web: www.kaletahotel-fortdauphin.com
This luxurious hotel belonging to the Colbert Hotels was opened in 2008 and has 30 high standard rooms and 10 luxury suites with all comforts and great views over the sea for clients looking for comfort and service. The hotel has a spa, a pool, a lounge bar and a restaurant serving great meals.
Rooms from 67 €, suites between 115 € and 140 €

Le Dauphin
Phone: 92 217 58
Web: www.madagascar-resorts.com
Mail: ledauphin@madagascar-resorts.com
25 high standard rooms and bungalows with all comforts surrounded by a huge and beautiful green area. There is a conference room, a boutique, cafeteria, casino, a beautiful restaurant. Transfers and all kind of excursions organised. Same owner as Croix du Sud  and Berenty Reserve.
Double room / bungalow for 50 €, triple for 59 € and familiar for 67 € (breakfast included)

Sunny Hotel
Phone: 92 902 14
Web: www.sunnymada.com
New hotel belonging to the Sunny Hotel chain in Madagascar. Large and very comfortable rooms with all comforts: TV, fridge, telephone, Internet. There is big pool and a nice restaurant. Not far from the airport.

 Where to eat

Miami Jo
Esoaka Very popular hotely ideal for lunch.

Snack Gasy  
Bazarikely Another typical place for meet locals and tasty real gasy food.

Madame du Coq´s
Next to the market, it serves tasty snacks all day around. It gets really crowded.

Chez Vivie
Bazarikely, next to Alliance francaise. Nice and popular restaurant, they serve fantastic Malagasy food at good prices.

Avenue Gallieni. Small restaurant which serves local and international dishes, hamburgers are excellent!

Les Chausseurs
Opposite to the hospital not far from taxi-brousse station. Popular restaurants with expats, it serves tasty meals (seafood, pizzas, steaks) at reasonable prices.

Louis XIV
Route Nationale 13. Nice decorated bar & restaurant, with live music, international dishes and friendly and relaxing atmosphere.

Chez Perline
Esoaka. This welcoming restaurants serves delicious and inexpensive meals, specially seafood. Good choice!

Chez Georges
Beautiful location by Libanona Beach. Nice decoration, fantastic views and tasty food (fish and seafood specially). It is an ideal place for having lunch if you are spending a beach day.

Las Vegas
Next to Hôtel Gina, they have international and local food, fresh juices and sometimes live music. Good prices.

  Practical Guide

Fort Dauphin Tourist Office
Bazaribe 614
Tél: 92 213 59 / 032 11 508 02
Pretty new office with well-prepared staff. They will arrange every king of activity or excursion you are willing to do.

Alliance Francaise
Phone: 92 902 99 / 032 43 67 575
Mail: sobaf@fortnet.net

French Consulat
Phone: 92 211 32

Police Station
Phone: 92 213 69

ANGAP Office
Phone: 92 212 68

N. G. O. Azafady
B.P. 318  Tolagnaro 614
Tel / Fax: + 261 20 92 212 65
lisa@azafady.org   info@azafady.org
Web: http://www.madagascar.co.uk/
This excellent organisation is developing many regional projects to help local people. They do not organise trips but can provide equipment, local guides, transportation. Collaborating with them you are helping locals and improving their living standards.

You also can find further information about Azafady on our section Community tourism

N.G.O. Andrew Lees Trust
BP 293 Libanona,
Fort Dauphin 614
Tel: 00 2612 0 92 90240

Web: www.andrewleestrust.org
This English-based organisation conducts environmental, educational and social projects in the southern part of Madagascar.


BFV – Société Générale
Rue Maréchal Foch
Phone: 92 21 286

Rue Maréchal Foch
Phone: 92 21 218

Avenue Flacourt
Phone: 92 211 15

Rue Maréchal Foch
Phone: 92 21 691


The main nightclub of Fort Dauphin is Le new Panorana, opened in 2010. On the same road there are two bars well worth citing. Aux bons amis and Chez Gina (opposite to Las Vegas), which usually organize life music every two firdays.


The biggest market of the town is found in Tanambao, on the exit of the city. You can find some good gem works on the avenue Flacourt, at Hirjee Jewelry.

At a place called "Au Bout du Monde" you can find a wide range of artisan products.


There are two means of reaching Fort Dauphin. You can go there directly by plane, or by taking the national route 13 from Ihosy. This road, which traverse all the desert, is not up to scratch and you need a pickup truck for your trip. Nevertheless, it is worth taking because by following it you will see and enjoy the magnificient desert.

What to see in the surroundings of Fort Dauphin

  • Sainte Luce  

Sainte Luce also called Maniafiafy offers a wild beauty. The village is nested in the middle of filaos and coconut trees and it is bordered by a splendid beach of fine sand and a beautiful large bay where the Saint-Alexis, the first French galleon, landed in 1638. At the present time, a historical museum commemorates this event. The French built a fort there in 1643 and it was also here where Étienne de Flacourt wrote his Histoire de la Grande Isle de Madagascar in 1661. To get there, take the coastal road towards Manantenina. After passing the village of Mahatalaky, take the track on your right that will lead you directly to the ocean. The track presents some difficult passages and passes through a lush vegetation full of carnivorous plants.

  • Sainte Luce Private Reserve  

The Sainte Luce Private Reserve is a new privately protected area located on a peninsula near Fort Dauphin. There recently opened reserve has been founded by Brett Massoud, founder of the British and Malagasy NGO Azafady (see more infos about Azafady above on this site). Sainte Luce Private Reserve protects 26 hectares of primary forest, part of the 420 hectare coastal protected area, where various species of lemurs, chameleons and even sweet water crocodiles can be found. Visitors can explore Sainte Luce during day and night walks or with long pirogue rides through the wetlands' channels.  A whole day visit including transportation (excluding gas) from Fort Dauphin costs 100 Euros. Camping is allowed for 10 Euros per night. There are also a small number of high quality tents which can be rented on the spot. Accommodation in bungalows  available since 2010.

Website: http://sainteluce.moonfruit.com/
Email: dadamanga@live.com 

  • Lokaro Bay

This is no doubt the most popular excursion from Fort Dauphin and it is not uneasy to guess why. The site is truly amazing! The most agreeable way to reach this place is hiring a boat from Lac Lanirano, located 5 km from Fort Dauphin, on the road to Sainte-Luce. All travel agencies in Fort Dauphin will be pleased to arrange this daytrip for you. The departure time is usually 8 am. First you get on a motor boat drive until Evatra, a village of 1,500 inhabitants. Of course it would be much preferable if you would take an ordinary pirogue (this is by the way also cheaper). The magnificent lush aquatic vegetation made of pandanus and ravenala trees is best enjoyed in the traditional (and more uncomfortable) mean of transport. If you have missed the chance of exploring the Pangalanes channel, this is much like it! In Evatraha you will have to get out of the boat and walk the three kilometres to Lokaro bay, where a fantastic spectacle will await you. The aroyos lead on Lake Ambavarano and it may land near the small fishing village of Evatra. Then a journey on foot from 2 hours can be achieved by a scenic trail along the coast, the Bay of Lokaro.

Lokaro is located at approximately 40 km on north east of Tulear. If this place is not paradise, it certainly looks very much like it. The stunning beautiful beaches, the breathtaking sunsets, the rocky islets reflecting their shadows on the shallow turquoise waters… every picture is a postcard. Visitors to this remote place are literally struck by the fabulous scenery: pristine littoral forests, rushing streams, green hills, inland waterways, natural swimming ponds, palm-fringed lakes. All these stretch from the mountains on the horizon down to the long stretches of fine white sand. Additionally to this, Lokaro boasts the only substantial coral habitat in the southeast of Madagascar and offers superb snorkelling opportunities.

If you still could manage to survive so much beauty, you will get back to Evatraha, where lunch is usually served. The return time to Fort Dauphin is between 4pm and 7pm. But of course you can also stay overnight in this magic place…

Air Fort Services offers guests several basic bungalows at the village of Evatraha. Another option is staying at Lavasoa’s Eco Lodge the "Piarate Camp" directly in Lokaro.

  • Fort of Portuguese

This fort is located some 10 km to the west of Fort Dauphin. It is the oldest building built by Europeans in Madagascar and offers a testimony of a Portuguese presence that dates back to 1504. Originally the settlement was composed of the ten survivors of a shipwreck that sought shelter on a small island known as "Santa Cruz". These men built a fort to protect themselves from the aggressive natives. Despite this measure, all settlers were killed in 1535. In 1616, a Portuguese mission tried to settle on the same island of Santa Cruz, but king Tsiambany refused to give them permission, so that the Jesuits had to leave in 1617.

  • Vinanibe Lake (Ambinanibe)

Vinanibe Lake is located at 8 km from the city. It is an immense lake, bordered by a village of hospitable fishermen and smiling children. Windsurf lovers will enjoy their time here. Nature lovers will love the magnificent white sand beach. The Malagasy call this place "Ambinanibe", which means “big pass”, since for accessing the place, the river Efaho, fringed by swamps and rice paddies must be crossed.
It is possible to reach this place also on foot (about 1,30 h). Do not forget to climb the dunes to enjoy the beautiful panoramic view on the lake, the village and the surrounding mountains at sunset.

Vinanibe Lodge
This lodge, belonging to SHTM Group (Madagascar Resorts) was situated just on the lake shore but it was closed in 2008.

  • Andohahela national park

See under Andohahela National Park

  • Mandrare valley

The valley of Mandrare is colonized by immense sisal plantations with the rectilinear lines as far as the eye can see. These plants are planted for their fibers.

  • Anony Lake

This lake is a beautiful seaside lake with filaos lined beaches, located in the small town of Amboasary some 85 km West of Fort Dauphin amid the vast sisal plantations (1994 sapphire was found in the area, a fact that contributed to the definite economic drive of the town).    

  • Berenty private reserve

See under Berenty Private Reserve