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 Tulear (Toliara)

What to see  |  Where to sleep  |  Where to eatNightclubs |  Shopping  | Transportation | Practical guide 

Toliara (or Tulear) is often called "the White" as opposition to the “Red Tana". This nickname comes from the exceptional luminosity of the sky. In fact the town itself with approximately 60,000 inhabitants is relatively modern, just created in 1895 by a French architect, who laid a big importance in planting tress in the city, which offer now a welcome shady protection from the blazing sun. Today Toliara, the capital of the same named region, is a lively and young city with an important university, which is founded in 1970 as the second institution of tertiary education behind the University of Tana.   
Pousse-pousse is the best way to move around
© Madagascar Travel Guide

What to see

  • Museums

Despite being a rather small university with only 2,000 students the University of Toliara cares for the maintenance of the main two museums of the city, which are also two of the most important attractions in town, the municipal museum and the sea museum. The first one is located on Boulevad Philbert Tsiranana. It offers some remarkable exhibits like some Sakalava erotic tomb sculptures and several masks of the Mikea tribe. Malagasy call anyone who lives in the forest by hunting and gathering Mikea, who are actually not an ethnic group or a tribe. Being Mikea also entails managing connotations of primitivism Many people in Madagascar class Mikea among the "tompontany taloha" (past landowners), folkloric beings thought to have inhabited Madagascar before the arrival of the proto-Malagasy from Indonesia and Africa. Some believe Mikea to be Vazimba, ghosts or living relicts of a primitive people.

The sea museum (Musée de la Mer on Route de la Porte) will fascinate marine enthusiasts. The main attraction is a not so well preserved coelacanth, the only in Madagascar. Coelacanth is prehistoric fish once thought to be extinct since the end of the Cretaceous period, until a specimen was found in 1938. The entrance to the museum is free of charge.

The third main attraction of Toliara is its market, which is lively and interesting, as well as one of the best places to buy lambas (pareos).

What to see in the surrounding area

  • Arboretum d'Antsokay 

Web: www.antsokayarboretum.org
Admission fee: 10,000Ar
Open  from 7:30 to 5 pm

Antsokay is a botanical garden specialised in the flora and fauna of Southwest Madagascar that should not be missed by anyone. The Arboretum was created around 1980, on the initiative of a Swiss amateur botanist, Hermann Pétignat who died in 2000 and is located at 12 km south-east from the Toliara town.

white orchid
White orchids  © Madagascar Travel Guide

On a surface of 40 hectares there are almost 900 species of plants, 90% endemic to the region. A trained English-speaking guide takes you on a two-hour tour of the impoved area, where visitors see around a hundred of species of Euphornia and 60 species of Kalanchoe, as well as an abundance of reptiles and birds. Try to arrive as early as possible in the morning to miss the heat of the day. Excellent meals à la carte are served at the restaurant Dry Forest, situated in the heart of the reserve. Long time visitors can overnight in Antsokay. Accommodation is in bungalows (30,000Ar for a double bungalow) designed for one or two persons and equipped with private bathroom and mosquito nets. It is also possible to camp (10,000 Ar).

  • Tombs

The most spectacular tombs within reach are those of the Masikoro, a subgroup of the Sakalava. The tombs are off RN7, a little over an hour of Toliara, and are visible on the right. There are several large, rectangular tombs, painted with scenes from the distinguished military life of the deceased. These are known as the tombs of Andranovory. On the outskirts of town beyond the university there is the Tomb of King Baba, descendant of the Masikoro kings of Baba, who died about 100 years ago. The tomb is set in a grove of Didierea trees and is interesting more for the somewhat bizarre funerary objects displayed than for any aesthetic value. 

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

Budget  |  Middle class |  High end

style="font-weight: bold;">Budget accommodations

Al Shame 
Phone: + 261 20 94 447 28
Twelve rooms with seafront location. Some of the rooms have en-suite facilities.

Le Refuge
Phone: + (261) 20 94 423 28
A pleasent hotel in a central location with a beautiful garden and a small pool. Double room between 27,000 and 36,000 Ar, triple room between 35,000 and 37,000 Ar (with or without AC)

Le Forban
Phone: + 261 032 04 781 15
Central located, this welcoming hotel has rooms with cold water and shared toilets for 22,000 Ar.


Middle class hotels

Chez Alain 
Phone: + 261 94 415 27
Web: www.hotelchezalain-tulear.com
email: c.alain@moov.mg
Very popular hotel with foreign visitors on small and medium budget. The bungalows are very comfortable and the common area with a bar is fantastic. There is also a convivial bar and an excellent restaurant. The diving centre L'ancre bleue is based here. The place can also help organising car rental and have good bikes for hire.
Double bungalow from 27,000 to 50,000 Ar depending on the facilities, rooms with all facilities and AC for 73,000 Ar, a suite for 100,000 Ar

Hotel Albatros 
Phone: + 261 94 432 10
Hotel painted in blue and white with 12 rooms, some of them equipped with AC

Hotel Plazza
Phone: + 261 20 94 903 06
Probably the oldest hotel in town. The garden facing the sea have been recently refurbished. Major credit cards are accepted.
Hotel Paletuvier 
Phone: + 261 20 94 440 39
Mail: hotelpaletuviertul@yahoo.fr
Web: http://www.madadecouverte.com/le-paletuvier/
Standard hotel with 14 rooms, pool.
Hotel Tropical
Clean good hotel with rooms equipped with TV and AC

La Residence D´Ankily
Phone: + (261) 20 94 445 50 / 032 40 328 77
Mail: laresidenceankily@yahoo.fr
New hotel located at the entrance of Tulear with 10 welcoming, big and very comfortable rooms with private facilities and AC. Good value!
A double room costs 28 €

Phone: + 00 (261) 20 94 411 82 / 34 94 411 82
Web: www.escapadetulear.com
Mail: escapade@moov.mg
A brand new hotel in a good location with 10 double bungalows with hot water and private facilities at 48,000 Ar. Nice and quiet place with clean rooms and a cute garden. The restaurant serves delicious meals on a beautiful terrace. Very good choice!
Le Recif hotel
Phone: + 261 94 446 88
Nice hotel with swimming pool and attached restaurant with ocean views. The 18 rooms have all private facilties and hot water, some of them AC and some ventilator.

Le Sax'Aphone 
Phone: +(261) 20 94 440 88
email: madasax@live.fr
Web: http://www.tulear-hotel-saxaphone.com
Nice guesthouse with German, French and English speaking personal with a homely atmosphere. The place has three rooms in the main house and four bungalows in the garden. There's a restaurant serving excellent food and a piano bar.
A bungalow costs 25 € and a room 18 €

Saphir Hotel 
Phone: + 261 94 436 79
Central located next to the Eden Hotel, the Saphir Hotel offers double rooms with AC and hot water between 15 and 20 €  and familiar rooms for 35 €

Upper class hotels

Eden hotel 
Phone: + 261 20 94 415 66
email: eden.hotel@yahoo.fr
Nice hotel in a central location with 34 rooms with all comforts: TV, phone, minibar, AC and safe. The restaurant was closed in 2009.
A double room costs 30 €, a familiar 37 €

Le Capricorne 
Phone: + 261 94 426 20
Web: www.madagascar-resorts.com/pages/Capricorne
Nice, well-maintained place 2 km from town centre with a nice garden belonging to the Madagascar Resorts Groupe SHTM. Popular with package tour groups. The big complex has 45 rooms divided in different price categories after the comforts offered (AC, TV, mini-bar, etc.) The restaurant serves good international food.
Single rooms from 25 to 49 €, double rooms from 27 to 50 €, triple from 45 to 53 €, familiar from 57 to 66 €

Le Paille en Queue 
Phone: + 261 94 446 99
email: kris.san@wanadoo.fr  pailleenqueue@moov.mg
Web: www.pailleenqueue.com
High standard hotel, close to the airport and just a few minutes from the centre of Tulear.  18 beatifully decorated bungalows with all comforts. The pool is superb and the restaurant serves excellent meals. Recommended!
A double bungalow costs 56 € with breakfast

Hotel Hyppocampo
Phone: + (261) 20 94 410 21
Mail: info@hyppocampo.com
Web: http://www.hyppocampo.com
Luxury hotel by the sea with 10 rooms and 2 suites . The hole place is impeccable in every detail, the pool is cute and there is even a massage room.
Double room for 67 €, a suite costs 100 €

Hotel Victory
Phone: + 261 20 94 440 64
Mail: hotelvictory.tulear@gmail.com
Web: www.hoteltulear-victory.com
Upmarket hotel with a big pool under Indian management on the road to the airport at the entrance of Toliara. All rooms  are impeccable and comfortable, with AC and hot water. Good quality-price relationship.
Two small rooms for 16 €, 19 double rooms standard from 30 to 38 €, 16 double rooms with all comforts for 44 € and two familiar rooms for 54 €

Serena Hotel
Phone:+ (261) 20 94 411 73
Mail: serenatulear@gmail.com
Web: http://www.serenatulear.com
Another brand new hotel built in the centre of Tulear with 8 functional, comfortable and nicely decorated rooms with all comforts. Good choice!

Double room for 22 € and twin room for 32 €

Where to eat

Good and cheap

Chez Zazah
Popular and simple bistro with local and Chinese food. Good prices!

La Terrasse
On the corner of Rue du France and Boulevard Philbert. Traditional and European food, friendly atmosphere and a nice open air place for eating.

Maman Gâteau
Snacks, pizzas, hamburgers and cakes.

Le Goûtaise
Next to Pl du Marché, cosy small Indian restaurant ideal for breakfast or lunch. Delicious pastries, salads, kebabs and tees. Recommended.

La Bernique
Boulevard Gallieni not far from Hôtel Plaza. A big selection of tasty snacks and local dishes, Popular, friendly, fair prices.

L´Escale (Vasilli´s)
Rue du Commerce. Tasty Greek food for a change. Good prices and big portions.

Le Boeuf
Boulevard Lyautay. Popular place, specialised in steaks and grilled meat.

L'Etoile de mer
Absolutely amazing place, great service and seafood not from this planet! The menu is large and they make different versions of everything - from local sauces to Chinese spices.

Gelateria Italiana
Delicious ice cream, juices and coffee. Just opposite the Memorial school.
Good tables

La Cascade
Phone: (261) 032 50 106 90
Located on the Place de la Republique, this restaurant serves very good local and international dishes and fantastic cocktails.

Le Jardin
Phone: 261 20 94 428 18
Rue Général Leclerc
Very popular Italian restaurant with local dishes as well. Delicious meals, big portions, friendly atmosphere and nice decoration. It can be crowded!

La Maison
Phone: (261) 032 02 093 45
On the Boulevard Gallieni opposite to the Post Office. Welcoming restaurant serving very good seafood, steaks, pizzas. Evenings it is a popular bar with locals and at weekends there is live music. Good choice.

Phone: + 00 (261) 20 94 411 82 / 34 94 411 82
Web: www.escapadetulear.com
Mail: escapade@moov.mg
Boulevard Gallieni. Small and quiet restaurant with a beautiful terrace and excellent meals: pizzas, local specialities, seafood, vegetarian and a good selection of wine.

Le Panda
Phone: (261) 20 94 433 50
Opposite to Central Hôtel. They serve fantastic Chinese food and some malagasy specialities, such as crocodile, wild pigeon, frog-legs or wild duck. Fair prices.

Corto Maltese
Phone: 261 20 94 433 15
Opossite to Hôtel Eden. It is maybe the best restaurant in town: beautifully decorated, good and friendly service and superb food, specially Italian dishes and pâtés.


Club ZaZa
It is the oldest and most popular club in town. Clients are a mixture of locals, expats and tourists, music is a mixture of local and western hits as well (the dancing competitions are really funny!). There is also a restaurant inside. There might be local girls looking for white men. Please do not practise sexual tourism.

Bo Beach
Phone: 261 032 04 009 13
Next to the jetty to Anakao, this beach bar opens every evening until midnight. Beautiful terrace towards the sea to have a drink or a snack, play billiard or dance with the local people. Fun for sure!

Tam Tam Café (former L´Hacienda)
Phone: 261 032 44 217 99
New club next to Hôtel Palétuvier by the sea. Opened everyday except Tuesdays from midday until late at night. There is a big dancing floor, lots of cocktails and snacks, and live music at weekends. 


Le Tapis Malgache (Show room Tapis Mohair)
Bureau de liaison BP 261
Phone: + (261) 20 94 438 16
Web: www.letapismalgache.com
The doubtless star of all crafts are certainly the mohair carpets. 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 might be a good address.
 © Le Tapis malgache

Bafana Boutik
Souvenir shop selling very good quality local items (t-shirts, art, lambas)

Show Room Tapis Mohair
This boutique, next to Alliance Francaise, has a good selection of marvellous tapestries weaved in a traditional way.

Craft Artisanat Carambole
They sell good quality souvenirs at fair prices. T-shirts are really trendy!

Le Marché aux Coquillages
Located on the Boulevard Gallieni by the sea, this shop has a wide range of huge and spectacular seashells. Some of them are in danger of extinction, so be sure what you are buying (when doing it you are collaborating to its extinction)

L`Univers de la Pierre
In this shop you can buy all kind of gemstones. Central located, Visa accepted.


By road: RN7 is served by a variety of vehicles. Buses usually depart from Tana early in the morning (6-7 am). Starting from Tulear to Antananarivo, the ride takes around 4 hours to Ranohira (about 15,000 Ar), 5 to Ihosy (17,000 Ar), 8 hours to Ambalavao (20,000 Ar), 9 hours to Fianarantsoa (24,000 Ar), around 17 hours to Antsirabe (30,000 Ar) and 20 hours until Tana (40,000 Ar)
There are regular taxi-brousse services from Tulear to Ifaty-Mangily along a good track, and southwards through a terrible road: to Saint-Augustin (departures at midday and arrival the next morning!) and to Anakao (one more day of horrible driving since you have to cross the Onilahy River and it can take very long)
There is also a conection between Toliara and Fort Dauphin along the inland route since the coastal track can only be driven with a jeep. The journey takes around 30 hours until Fort Dauphin and costs about 38,000 Ar. The taxi-brousse stops many times along the way: Betioky, Ejeda, Ampanihy, Ambovombe, Ambosoary.

By boat: this is the best way to continue your travel to the south of Madagascar or to reach Ifaty.  From Tulear to Anakao and to Ifaty the canoe trip takes a couple of hours with good weather and depending on the wind direction. These are a pair of good companies: 

La Compagnie du Sud
Mail: compagniedusud@yahoo.fr
Web: http://www.compagniedusud.com
Departures from Tulear to Anakao and viceversa at 7, 11 and 14. Journey takes two hours and costs 20 € for a single way. They also offer excursions to Saint-Augustin, Nosy Ve, whale watching, and longer transfers until Itampolo. 

Malagasy Sud Vedette
Mail: ambolamsv@yahoo.fr
Web: http://www.ambola-madagascar.com
Same owners as the Hotel Ambola, they offer daily tranfers from Tulear to Anakao (20 €) and Ambola (40 €), and trips to Ifaty, Mangily, Salary, Nosy Ve, Nosy Satrana. They also

By air: There is a daily flight connection from Tana to Toliara and return and direct flights to Fort Dauphin.
In town, pousse-pousse are really plentiful and doubtless the best method to move around. Fares are higher at night than during the day. Do not bargain too hard! Life of pousse pousse drivers is a hard one.

   Practical guide

Alliance Francaise
Boulevard Lyautey
Phone: 94 426 62
Web: http://www.alliancefr.mg/frame_tulear.htm
Mail: aftulear@yahoo.fr

Tourism Office of Tulear
Tanambo 601
Phone: 94 43 805
Web: http://www.tulear-tourisme.com/
Mail: ortu@tulear-tourisme.com

Police Station
Phone: 94 41 020

French Consulat
Phone : 94 42 736

ANGAP Office
Rue Lucciard
Phone: 94 435 70
You will get all the information you need about the National Parks in the southern Madagascar.

N. G. O. Bel Avenir
Boulevard Gallieni
Web: www.aguadecoco.org
This organisation helps the poorest people in the region. They organise different activities and regional projects (live music, films, t-shirts, bike rental, handcraft, workshops) in order to collect some money for their fair cause.

Quad  du Capricorne
Web: http://www.quad-du-capricorne.com
A good agency to rent quads to explore some remote areas around Tulear, with or without  guide.  Price is 40 € for half a day and 65 for the whole day. Very professional!

Off Road Aventure
Web: http://www.offroad-aventure.com
They offer a 8 days safari on small 4x4 buggies exploring the area between Tulear and Andavadoaka, an unforgetable adventure visitng incredible landscapes along the coast.


BFV – Société Générale
Rue Flayelle
Phone: 94 420 16

Boulevard Campistron
Phone: 94 417 71

Tayyabi Change
Rue du Marché
Phone: 94 442 51

Corner of Rue de l`Eglise and Rue Pére Joseph Castan
Phone: 94 437 95  


Clinique St. Luc (private hospital)
Phone: 94 422 47 / 032 02 294 51

Centre Hôpital Regional
Phone: 94 418 55

Internet: There are many Cybers in the town centre, with a relative fast connection: Paositra (Boulevard Gallieni),  Ganivala (next to Hotel Central).