If you would like to spot lemurs in their natural habitat but don’t want to break your pocket or endure a long road trip then a journey from Tana (Antananarivo/Tanarive) to Andasibe could be the right choice for you.
Where to start?
Unfortunately moving from one cardinal point to the next in Madagascar is not as easy! However in the case of Andasibe if you are lucky to be in the East (Tamatave/Toamasina) then you can make your way from there. Travelers from all other regions have to start from Tanarive.
Where to stay at Tanarive?
Thanks to booking.com the decision of where to stay has never been easier. During our trip we booked the Madagascar Underground hostel which is centrally located. The rate for one night ranges from 15,000-25,000 Ariary, watch out for the ‘best price’ offer on booking.com Madagascar Underground offers female and mixed dorms style accommodation with great friendly service. The hostel itself is owned by a French couple who have managed to offer a clean stay for budget travelers. The hostel is located in a safe neighbourhood close to everything that you may need including ATM, restaurants, cafés and fruit stalls.
How to get to Andasibe from Tanarive?
The cheapest way to Andasibe is by Taxi Brousse however always aim to start your journey early as the Taxi Brousse can be unpredictable in terms of time keeping. Usually for the morning hours the first Taxi Brousse leaves Ampasampito bus station at 06:00am and then there is also one at 10:00am. It is best to hire a taxi to the Taxi Brousse station costing between 8,000 and 10,000 Ariary if you are coming from city centre. You may even decide to walk and navigate using a map but it would take you about 2 hours (if you walk normal speed) going uphill most of the time. Walking is not recommended unless you are good at French or Malagasy to ask for directions when you are stuck! When you get to the Taxi Brousse Station Look for a direct Taxi to Andasibe which costs 12,000 Ariary (At the time of writing). Make sure you do not board the Taxi heading to Moramanga as you will then need to take an additional Taxi to Andasibe since this is a stop about 25km from Moramanga (you don’t need this kind of hassle!) When you pay for your trip you will get issued with an officially stamped ticket with your name and seat number. The journey from Tanarive to Andasibe lasts about 3 hours.
Bonus: The scenery
From Tanarive to Andasibe you will notice a change of scenery from a crowded city to less crowded areas. The landscape changes from savannah highlands to forested highlands and the houses from the French brick architecture to wooden eucalyptus houses. The change in scenery is a much welcomed pleasure as being in Tanarive can be daunting. Where to stay once in Andasibe? Fortunately the Taxi will leave you at a convenient location once you get to Andasibe. Walk down the road and in about 100m you will notice 3 available accommodations. We stayed at Chez Madame Marie which offered affordable prices for a decent stay and has also got a good restaurant. The prices at Chez Madame Marie range from 25,000-40,000 Ariary. These three hotels are located just about 1km away from the Andasibe national park, where you are aiming to go. There are more options of accommodation if you walk about 2.5 km into Andasibe village offering more luxurious options.
What to expect at Andasibe national park?
There are about 3 or 4 different routes in the park. You have to pay the entrance fee as well as the guide fee. These fees are dependent on your chosen route. A day ticket for a 4 hour trek costs 25,000 Ariary but you also have an option to buy an 8 hour, a 2 day or 3 day ticket. We chose to do the 4 hour adventure tour for 25,000 Ariary and the guide costed 40,000 Ariary (fixed price for 1-4 people). We visited the park in July which is a rainy season so we got soaked pretty much throughout our trek. The summer season begins from October which is said to be very dry. Despite the rain we were still able to see the Lemurs although some species were hibernating.
What else is there to see?
If you have a day to spare after your park visit then take a tour around Andasibe village and if you are feeling adventurous you can make a 10km hike to Vakôna Lodge a private lodge that boasts a Lemur island where you can take pictures with the Lemurs. The ticket costs 15,000 Ariary which gives you access to the Lemur island as well as crocodile island (all private reserves). The lodge also offers a good selection of food from its restaurant (a bit pricy).
From Andasibe back to Tanarive
There are no direct buses back to Tanarive from Andasibe. You will need to walk to Andasibe village Taxi Brousse stand and catch a Taxi to Moramanga for 2000 Ariary, Taxi’s run every 30min from 6:00 am. Then from Moramanga catch another Taxi Brousse to Tanarive for 7,000 Ariary. Moramanga is a good place for breakfast or lunch before your journey.
1- You will spot a number of guides waiting for tourists at the highway once you get off the Taxi at Andasibe. It is a good idea to take your time and decide which guide suits you. There are a number of English speaking guides with good knowledge of the park.
2- The guides will offer you a tour to Andasibe national park or the local village park. Decide which one you would like to do.
3- You can also do a night tour for 15,000 Ariary but be careful to get a trusted guide as some guides may just take you up the road!
4- If you are on a budget then travel in a group for great cost savings though shared costs. If you are a solo traveler ask around at the hostels you may just find some travel buddies!