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The Highlands | The North | The East | The South | The West

Tulear to Fort Dauphin 


map Tulear to Taolagnaro
  © University of Texas

To Anakao  |  To St. Augustin  |  Saint Augustin  |  Anakao  |  Coastal trail to Fort Dauphin |  Itampolo  |  Lavanono  |   Betanty  |    Inland route to Fort Dauphin  |  Betioky  |   Ejeda  |  Ampanihy  |   Ambovombe    Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin)       


By boat to the Anakao region

To explore the south region of Toliara it is better to have a couple of days at one’s disposal. You can get to Anakao driving along a horrible track or you can take a boat, which is much faster and comfortable.  Boat departures are mainly only possible in the early morning. As soon as the boat leaves the polluted waters of Toliara’s harbour, water surface becomes clearer and clearer. A large wrecked cargo ship warns about the dangers of both tides and reef. We pass a dense mangrove area and reach finally the small Vezo-village of Sarondrano with its legendary cave and its beach lined with brightly coloured pirogues and covered with meter-high white dunes. 
For further information about boat and taxi-brousse prices, companies and timetables visit our section Transportation in Tulear

Anakao
© Madagascar Travel Guide

With a car to St. Augustin

To get there from Tulear, follow the RN7 back to Tana and then turn onto a track to the right, just after passing the airport.

La Mangrove Hotel
Phone: +261 20 94 936 26
Web: http://www.hotelsud-tulear.com
Of the same owners than Chez Alain in Tulear (transfers can be organised from there).
The hotel is located on the runway just before reaching Sarondrano, 15 km south of Toliara. The nice maintained bungalows overlook the bay. There restaurant prepares excellent dishes. The hotel has no beach, but there is wooden pier overlooking a pool of natural freshwater.

Five bungalows with shower for Ar 33,000, four doubles with private facilities for Ar 54,000 and two triples for 62,000. A meal costs Ar 19.000.

The hotel has a diving school too and is a good base for exploring the nearby islands (like Nosy Ve). Unfortunately, the diving equipment is not very well maintained. You can also rent mountain bikes to explore the nearby villages of Sarondrano and St. Augustine.

  • Miary sacred banyan tree

The sacred banyan tree of Miary is located in the royal village of the Masikoro clan on the way to St. Augustin. The tree, which is protected by a wooden fence, is so large that resembles a forest itself! Malagasy usually come there to worship their ancestors and deposit offerings. It makes it very easy to taxi. The sacred character of the place, which is also depositary the clan’s laws and legends, is easily perceived in the quiet environment that invites visitors to meditation.

  • Sarondrano

The Sarondrano cave is one basin filled with clear, blue fresh water, under a rocky overhang. Nearby are several springs and a natural swimming pool, where bathing is fady, so do not get tempted! The source of the water comes from a place called “seven lakes”, which is 70 kilometres away. The entrance to the cave is found 4 km after passing Mangrove hotel. The path there leads up through spiny forest where wild ring tailed lemurs and Southern endemic birds can be seen.

There is a story about this cave too which tells about a fisherman who once had the unexpected visit of a tromba (spirit). The spirit told him to join all villagers in the cave and celebrate the tromba rite there. When the feast was over, a white cow with a black head and her black calf with white head appeared at the bottom of the cave, that were the fisherman’s reward for having obeyed the instructions of the spirit. Since then villagers still come here to make wishes. 

Chez Andrea
Mobile: + 261 (0) 32 02 258 43
Ten simple but adequate rooms in the middle of a wonderful landscape spattered with dunes.


Saint Augustin (Anatsoano)

The small village of Saint-Augustin, located in a bay inlaid between two huge rocky walls that plunge vertically into the waves, was founded by a company of puritans in 1645, but the original trading settlement only lasted 18 months, and they finally abandoned the place. Here, in the perfect circle formed by the surrounding cliffs, the Onilahy river, one of the most majestic of Madagascar, flow into the sea. The wonderful bay was sought as shelter by pirates and slaves traders, and Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, found inspiration in this fabulous setting for several for his writings. In the 19th century, the descendents of the Androvela royal family settled in Saint Augustin, being one of their best known kings the so called king Baba, who reigned from 1833 to 1849 and let oxen every three days to feed his dogs. The solemn Fitampoha ritual of the bathing of the relics is held every ten years. The last celebration was in June 2003. 

Saint Augustin is located 37 south of Toliara and can be reched by taxi-brousse that leaves Tulear’s station at 13 pm.

A small wooden building is the home of local tromba (spirit), and also the place where all worship objects are kept. Visits are possible under request to the local chief (descendant of King Revino). If he agrees to receive you, you should observe the local fady, go barefoot, wear a lambaoany, make an offering and bring two bottles of rum.

Auberge des Corsairs
(At Glover)
Mobile: + 261 (0) 32 04 645 12
10 rooms at Ar 10000 with cold water and common facilities.

Anakao

What to see  |  Where to sleep  |  

The village of Anakao is located nearly 40 km south of Tuléar in a desert area with an amazing turquoise sea with emerald tints. In this corner of the island, where time seems to have stopped a few decades ago, some 1500 Vezo gathered together and settled on a small portion of land that has turned now into a captivating destination among all those who accept the tyring effort to get here on boat, which is the only means of transport, as there is no bridge over the Onilahy river.

Nosy Ve
Snorkelling is considerably better than in Ifaty with some diving sites with a deep from 8 m to 23 m where myriads of fish can be seen. Unfortunately, once superb snorkelling is already gone due to the strong bleaching that has reduced the shallow reef to a vista of dead coral.

But marine fauna is not the only thing affected by tourism. Anakao’s rapid tourism development has already impacted on the people’s attitudes towards the visitors and the traditional authentic hospitality of the Malagasy has been spoilt by groups of children following tourists asking for money. According to some experts, Anakao’s prosperous tourist industry could develop into a second Varadero, but still the daydreaming indolent character of the town does not show, that this might occur soon. If you are fond of nightlife, better stay in Tulear or in Ifaty.

A short walk south of Anakao will lead you to some tombs, and to a peninsula on fossil seekers which fragments of eggshells of the world's largest bird, the Aepyornis, can still be found (it is illegal to take them out of Madagascar).
During the austral winter, Anakao is an ideal spot to observe the dance of whales when they along the coast, near Nosy Ve.

What to see

  • Nosy Ve

A 3 km of Anakao, this long island plate lined with sandy beaches is now deserted. Nosy Ve is a sacred spot for the Vezo people, who annually sacrifice zebu. The place has a dark past too. It was long time used as slaves’ exit port and as refuge for pirates. An anchor of impressive size and some tombs of French settlers still give testimony of these turbulent times. Now, the main attraction of this inhabited islet, 4.5 km offshore, are its 75 pairs of nesting red-tailed tropicbirds that attract ornithologists from all parts of the world.  The birds allow a close approach, as they are left unmolested by local people due to a taboo. Apart of the birds’ colony, there is very good snorkeling on the pristine coral reef encircling the island, which makes the small islet a lovely day-trip. The superb white strand invites to idleness. To access the natural sanctuary of Nosy Be an entrance fee of Ar 2000 per person is require

  • Nosy Satrana

Nosy Satrana is a small, almost deserted island half-hour from the mainland, whose main inhabitants are herons, and, according to the local believes, also the spirits of ancestors than live under the shading branches of a large tamarind tree on the north of the island. At low tide, a great walk allows the approach of the island on foot, following cattlemen that drive their herds of zebu. If you are lucky, you might even find some pieces of fossilized eggshells of the giant aepyornis bird, the largest bird that has ever existed, that are littered on the seabed.

  • Diving sites

Many of the best sites are off Nosy Satrana, a good half-hour boat-ride away. Mangoro, is superb, a labyrinth of arches, tunnels and caves which shelters large shoals of squirrelfish and the ubiquitous crayfish. Butterfly fish and damsels abound and anemone fish aggressively guard their territory. Similar topography is to be found at Les Grottes where a vast porcupine fish is the star attraction.

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

Budget Middle-class  |  High-end

Budget accommodations

Chez Emile
6 basic and clean bungalows next to the village by the beach. Very friendly atmosphere, popular with the locals (Malagasy owner). There is also a small restaurant.

Chez Stoick
Phone: 032 02 041 06
6 simple bungalows near the village in a peaceful and nice setting. Shared toilets and cold water only. Good food and friendly staff.


Middle class hotels

Chez Solange
Phone: + 261 20 94 920 63
Mail: soalazy@yahoo.fr
3 charming and nice furnished bungalows and 3 comfortable rooms right on the beach. Peaceful and beautiful location and very friendly staff. Some excursions are offered.
Price for two people between 33,000  and 42,000 Ar 

Hôtel La Reserve
Phone: 032 02 141 55
8 simple, welcoming and clean bungalows with hot water and some with private toilet located 5 km south from Anakao, on a quiet and beautiful beach. Very good food. They offer some activities and trips.

Lalandaka
Phone: 20 94 914 35
Web: http://www.lalandaka.com
Mail: lalandaka@moov.mg
Charming bungalows on a magnificent location by the beach. Wide range of sea activities offered (try Kit-Surf!). Peaceful and friendly. Very good food.
Price for two people from 20 € to 25 €, depending on the season

Longo Vezo
Phone: 20 94 437 64
Web: www.longovezo.org
Mail: longo.vezo@yahoo.fr
8 basic, large and comfortable bungalows with hot water and private facilities on a beautiful beach surrounded by a huge garden. Very friendly staff and atmosphere. There is a good dive centre that organises all kind of sea activities and excursions. Nice bar and excellent restaurant with sea views. Good price-quality relationship. Recommended.
Price for two people from 21 € to 28 €

Safari Vezo
Phone: 94 413 81 / 032 02 638 87
Mail: safarivezo@moov.mg
Web: http://www.safarivezo.com
23 comfortable and pleasant bungalows by the beach not far from the village. Agreeable and green setting, nice restaurant serves good food. There is a very good dive centre (Club Nautique) next to the hotel, and several activities are arranged.
Price for two people from 16 € up to 52 €


High end accommodations

Anakao Ocean Lodge & Spa
Phone: + 261 20 94 919 57
Web: www.anakaooceanlodge.com
E-mail: anakaooceanlodge@gmail.com
23 luxurious, large, well furnished and decorated bungalows with all comforts perfectly integrated into the beautiful environment. The beach is huge, the garden marvellous, the food excellent, the service professional and friendly. A lot of activities organised: sailing, fishing, diving, whale watching, excursions…It is maybe one the best accommodations in the south of Madagascar!
Price for two people from 100 €. Menu 22 €

L´altra faccia della luna (Chez Diego)
Phone: +261 (0) 20 94 903 70
Mail: laltraluna@hotmail.it
Web: http://www.laltraluna.it
Small brand new ecolodge situated just opposite Nosy Satrona on an idylic place. The two rooms, two lodges and one bungalow are just superb: the decoration is magnificent and everything is impeccable. The minumun stay is 3 nights and full board is included. 
The bungalow costs 52 €, a room 43 € and a lodge 68 € (all prices per night and person)

Prince Anakao
Phone: + 261 20 94 902 00
Web: http://www.hotelprinceanakao.com
Mail: prince.anakao@gmail.com
28 high standard, very well furnished and decorated bungalows and 6 rooms on a wild and stunning setting. Satellite TV, safe, live music. Excellent service and meals. All possible sea activities are offered.
Price for a room for two people 23 €, a bungalow for two people between 33 € and 57 €

The coastal trail to Fort Dauphin

The trail along the south western coast from Anakao to Beheloka, Itampolo and Lavanono is simply magnificent and mostly in an apparent better shape than the inland track. It is therefore no wonder that the number of adventure tourists longing for a really off the beaten track experience that venture in a multi-day 4x4 drive into the deep South is slowly increasing.
spiny forest by Itampolo
Spiny forest by the sea  © Madagascar Travel Guide

But the possibilities of exploring this remote region are still limited, since there is no public transportation service, so that most travellers opt to chose one 4x4 package offered by some agencies of Tulear. An alternative would be hiring a Vezo pirogue and slide over the waves along the coast until Beheloka. The idyll can be however deceptive: the ocean is treacherous and many Vezo fishermen lose their lives in the sea every year. Expect to pay about Ar 20.000 per person and ask for further information at Chez Emile.

  • Andrangy

Nomadic fishermen usually camp here

  • Maromena

This is the first Vezo village you will pass on your way to the far South. There is a small grocery facing the blue lagoon.  

  • Befasy

Befasy is even a bigger village. Here daring visitors can go with the fishermen on their daily outings for capturing turtles and sharks.

  • Beheloka

Further south, the village of Beheloka is the most important of this solitary region. It is also the basis for the development program promoted by FAO and the terminus of the sand track that loops to Tsihombe. The occasional visitors can overnight at Chez Bernard, who offers some bungalows with private facilities and organizes transfers to Tulear. You can enquire more information at Chez Alain in Tulear.

Chez Bernard / La Canne a Sucre
Phone: 94 437 21
4 comfortable bungalows with private toilet and 16 modest and cheaper rooms. Camping possible. Very good food.

Hôtel Fianitra
6 basic rooms on the beach with common toilet, no electricity and basic meals. Really cheap.

  • Tsimanampetsotsa national park

See under Tsimanampetsotsa National Park

  • Itampolo

Itampolo is truly a unique site. Visitors can overnight at the hotel owned by the same people than Chez Alain in Tulear. The place is called Sud-Sud and it offers double rooms for Ar 22000 and more comfortable bungalows for Ar 35000 including warm water heated by solar panels. If you are bringing your tent with you, camping is also allowed at a fee of Ar 5000. The restaurant prepares some delicious food (of course, the speciality is fish) at Ar 15000 for a three-course meal. For more information enquire at Chez Alain in Tulear. 

Gite d’Etape Sud Sud
Phone: 94 415 27
Mail: c.alain@moov.mg

Chez Nany
1 simple bungalow and a camping 2 km from the village, in a quiet and wild setting right by the beach. Basic meals served. Ideal for relaxing and swimming, and very cheap.

  • Lavanono

The goal of this journey seems really reachable from this point. Sainte-Marie cape, the southern tip of Madagascar, is only 20 km from here. Lavanono has acquired international fame because of its gorgeous waves, which attract surfers from the whole world. You can overnight at Chez Gigi (mobile: + 261 (0) 32 43 288 38, e-mail: gigi@lavanono.com, web: www.lavanono.com), a big house with a veranda, a library and a restaurant. Accommodation is in 14 bungalows. There is no water or electricity and facilities are shared. A simple and only choice around!

  • Betanty

The sand track to Betanty skirts some baobab groups and passes through corn fields with big Antandroy tombs. Visitors are likely to be approached by villagers trying to sell them Aepyornis fossilized eggs, but remember, exporting these fossils is strictly forbidden! Betanty is a small village of palm-thatched huts facing the crystal-clear Indian Ocean on a 20 km long white beach. During the winter months humpback whales on their way to the Comoro islands are occasionally spotted from the coast. 

Aepyornis Eggshell
An increasing number of Aepyornis eggshells is found in the nearby beaches. Some of the shells are rebuilt by the villagers and reach a respectable size of 3 meters!

You can sleep at the Hotel le Cactus, at Ar 15000 for a double bungalow. Showers and toilets are shared. There is no electricity but the whole place is rather pleasant.

A second option is the Libertalia hotel (e-mail:
madalibertalia@yahoo.fr,  Web: www.madalibertalia.com/). The seven bungalows on the seashore cost around € 30 for two people. Kajaks and bikes are offered for rent to the guests and enable a deeper exploration of the wonderful surroundings. Whale-watching tours are offered during the season. A three-course meal costs € 10 p. person.

  • Cap Sainte Marie (Tanjona Vohimena)

 See under Cap Sainte Marie Special Reserve


The inland route to Fort Dauphin

The inland route from Toliara to Fort Dauphin is by far not so exciting as the coastal trail and it does not offer -apart of the interesting funerary art of the Mahalafy tribe- so many attractions on the way. It might be therefore only recommendable for those who bring lots of time and patience, are especially interested for tombs and feel an immense fascination for semidesertic and vast no man land populated by dense dry forest patches full of baobabs and tamarind trees
Though the track is not the best of Madagascar it however is secure, or at least, all secure that a Malagasy track can be. There is taxi-brousse connection from Tulear to Fort Dauphin, check the Toliara's transportation section for more information.
baobab  © Madagascar Travel Guide

Advice: The hotels and hostels on the road are of very basic Malagasy standard


  • Betioky

After a 5-hour drive from Toliara, Betioky is the first village on the road to the South and it is also a stop for taxi-brousses. It takes an entire day to drive from Tulear, less than 100 miles, passing through rock-escarpment valleys, cactus-and-baobab savanna, spiny chaparral and, finally, the low pine and scrub of this sandy dune beach. It has a quite animated market, where local produced gold and silver work is sold. 

Mahafaly tomb Mahafaly Artist
Mahafaly tomb with Alolay
© Andre Magnin 
Mahafaly artist
© Andre Magnin 
The town is also an excellent basecamp to explore the nearby Mahafaly tombs. The Mahafaly bury their dead inside square enclosures of wood or stone. Giant stone structures either sculpted or painted can reach the unbelievable height of 12 meters! The number of zébu horns deposited as offering on foot of the funerary steels is a sign of the prestige of the deceased. The tombs are decorated with sculptures (aloaly) featuring all kinds of objects, from houses, to airplanes and zebus. Originally available only to the nobility, aloalo could later be purchased by wealthy Mahafaly. Aloalo traditionally displayed a combination of nude human figures and birds or zebu, representing prosperity. The memorials now function more as commemorative sculptures, depicting scenes from the deceased's life, or desirable material possessions. The method and location of manufacture and the ritual slaughter of animals ensures the sculpture is imbued with the sacred spirit. The mpisoro (spiritual leader of a clan or dynasty) gathers the village men to select the wood for the sculpture and also acts as mediator between the carver and the person commissioning the piece. The workshop is located outside the village, maintaining separation between the worlds of the living and the dead.To honour the memory of the ancestor, the visitor has to spilt some drops of rum in front of the grave. It is advisable to be accompanied by a local guide from Toliara who will instruct you about the local fady. Some operators in Toliara offer a day excursion to visit three tombs. Due to the large distances, this daytrip is however a little hasty, so better take more time to enjoy the charms of the region.

Always an even number, turned to the East, they are planted according to a strict order on the platform of stones, amid bucranes. It is the whole pole with its succession of geometric shapes topped with a real "image of Epinal" sometimes very busy which made its success even in Western art galleries.
"Life on Earth is only one route" is this adage that one can say that Madagascar, moral almost always refer to death.

16 km south of Betioky near a place called Ambotry, you can follow the junction track leading after 100 km to the coastal village of Beheloka.

Mamirano Hotel 
Simple and clean rooms with shared facilities. A band plays on some Saturday nights gathering the young people of the vilage together for a frantic dancing.

Hôtel Mahasoa
4 rooms and 4 bungalows with shared facilities, very cheap

Hôtel-Restaurant Chez Fafa
Simple accommodation and local meals at good price

  • Reserve de Beza-Mahafaly

See under Beza-Mahafaly Reserve

  •  Ejeda

 Ejeda is a pleasant little town where a local market is held every Friday, attracting the visits of many locals from the nearby villages. Though it is not certainly the colourful market with its painted zebu charts what has made the name of this unsignificant town well known. There are gold and rubie mines some 5 kilomeres south of the village which have been worked for over a century. The abundance of precious minerals has attracted the attention of a countless number of gold seekers from all parts of the country, There is a petrol station in the town too.

  • Ampanihy

Ampanihy is just another nowhere place on the long road to Fort Dauphin. It has its market every Saturday, lots of bars, restaurants and pretty much animation. The market is a good place to discover the local artisan products, which are offered to the rare visitors that wander through these arid places. 

There are everal hotelys in Ampanihy,  the Hotel Angora is the best one: clean, comfortable and cheap. Camping possible.

Near Ampanihy the trees that grow on the banks of the Menarandra river a home to many lemurs. 7 Km before Ampanihy coming from Tulear, there is a path leading to a pleasant surprise: a fantastic baobab of gigantic size, one of the biggest specimens in the world.

The track between Ampanihy and Tsihombe is horribly potholed. However, you can take advantage of the forced slow pace to admire the many Mahafaly tombs that border the road and watch the big turtles, which are fady to the locals and therefore are free to wander around as much as they like. But radial tortoises do not have a promising future. Biologists have listed them already as an endangered species. In other coastal places la Betioky, where fishing has become difficult in the area, collecting radial tortoises for smuggling at the price of 30 € each has become a profitable business.

At some point of this impossible track we pass through the red cliffs of the Menarandra river, which marks the border of the Mahafaly and the Antandroy regions, whose main difference in regard with the funerary art is not appreciable for the common eye. On the top of a hill over the river there the two huge tombs of a couple.

Le Tapis Malgache
Web: www.letapismalgache.com
The weaving of mohair carpets is time consuming and tedious and are therefore very rare worldwide. If you are interested in these, the workshop of Eric Mallet is probably the best address.

  • Traonoroa

The development of this big town is the graphite mine built by a Southafrican firm at the entrance of the town. There is a grocery shop. The track evolves plain short after Traonoroa.

  • Beloha

The main attraction of this town is a group of impressive Antandroy tombs decorated by statuettes featuring all kinds of means of transportation. From here the track resembles a cathedral stairway during 24 kilometres.

  • Tsiombe

Tsiombe lays between Cap Sainte-Marie and Ft. Dauphin. A dusty town of absolute nothingness, but a restaurant on the main square where you can order a meal.

Paradis du Sud
Phone: 92 727 28
8 basic rooms and bungalows with shared facilities. Good food and good price.

  • Ambovombe

In 1900 the Combes and his Senegalese battalion of infantrymen set up a military post on the site called "Ampahandronantaky." In 1891, the young town of Ambovombe received a civil administration and became since then the main administrative centre of the region. It lies at the crossroad of RN 13 coming from Ihosy (probably one of the worst tracks of the country) and the road from Tulear

Monday is the market day and the city core awakens to life. You can stay overnight at the hotel Voyageurs or at the Oasis hotel, both two establishments of basic standards. Ar 12,000 a double.

L’Oasis
Phone: 92 700 16
8 clean and basic rooms with shared toilet, basic meals and friendly atmosphere.

Ezaka Magnevarova
13 simple rooms, centrally located, with no running water. Shared facilities and Malagasy food.

Jo’s Hôtel
2 bungalows with private bathroom and 4 cheaper rooms with shared toilet. The restaurant is popular among locals.


Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin)

Click here: Fort Dauphin

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