About the challenge
Our adventurous route takes us east on a mix of roads and rough dirt tracks, through highland plains and lush forest to the coast. We pass tropical fruit plantations, spectacular lakes and fascinating towns and villages, and explore a forest reserve, where we have a good chance of seeing lemurs and other wildlife. After almost 500km of pedalling, we come to the lagoons and white sandy beaches of our beautiful finish point on the Indian Ocean.
This is a trip rich in culture and discovery and your sense of achievement will be enormous – Madagascar offers a truly unforgettable experience!
Day 1: Depart London
Day 2: Arrive Antananarivo (Tana)
We arrive into the island’s capital, also known as Tana, and transfer to our hotel for dinner and a trip briefing. Night hotel.
Day 3: Tana – Lake Mantasoa
Cycle approx 87km
After an energising breakfast we set off on our big adventure! The busy streets of the city are soon left behind as we ride through villages and lush green rice paddies. Today’s route is relatively hilly as we take in the stunning central highlands; we’ll still be acclimatising to the heat so the gradients will test our legs a little! After the lovely village of Ambohimalaza, we have the opportunity to walk through dense bush to an old hidden cemetery; from here we can enjoy commanding views over the hills back towards Tana. Re-joining our bikes, we ride past delightful highland villages on roads lined with eucalyptus trees; the grey bark provides a beautiful contrast with the rich red earth around us. Although most of the day is on good tarmac roads, the last section provides us with a bumpy challenge as we head uphill through eucalyptus and pine forests on dusty tracks to remote Mantasoa village; we have stunning views of the beautiful lake before descending on rough pot-holed roads to the lake shores and our hotel. Night hotel.
Day 4: Lake Mantasoa – Andasibe
Cycle approx 104km
Our day starts off-road as we climb back up to re-join the road. After a few stiff climbs, the majority of the morning is downhill, passing through rural landscapes dotted with rice paddies and rustic huts, and lush bamboo forests. After lunch we climb through villages and forest, then enjoy a well-earned twisting descent. More hills bring us to the lovely village of Andasibe, gateway to a wonderful National Park. Our last section takes us on beautiful forest trails to our accommodation. After time to relax we have the chance for a night-walk – this is a really atmospheric experience and there’s a good chance of seeing lemurs and other wildlife. Night hotel.
Day 5: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Cycle approx 40km
We spend the day exploring this wonderful protected area, most of which is primary rainforest, on foot and by bike. Our day starts with a guided walk through the National Park, where we can enjoy exploring the forest paths in daylight. There is a good chance of seeing the black and white indri, the largest of the lemur family. We then re-join our bikes, cycling mainly uphill to the Mantadia region of the Park, keeping a look out for ruffed lemurs and other species. Madagascar is renowned worldwide for its diverse and endemic wildlife, and this is a wonderful opportunity to immerse ourselves in this wonderful habitat. It’s a wonderful downhill ride back to Andasibe. Night hotel.
Day 6: Andasibe – Lake Rasoa
Cycle approx 89km; drive approx 1 hour
Continuing our journey east, we head out on undulating roads with stunning views. We have some long, steady climbs, gaining 1000m in total – it will probably be the most challenging day for many – though we descend almost double that, so there’s plenty of freewheeling too! We’re leaving the drier highlands behind for a more tropical climate, and we’ll feel the temperatures rise as we descend. The landscapes change too, as we pass plantations of mango, lychee and banana, and palms with enormous fan-shaped leaves which are used locally for roofing. We transfer around the busy city of Brickaville, then re-join our bikes for an exciting off-road ride along a rough track which takes us to the shores of Lake Rasoa. Night hotel.
Day 7: Lake Rasoa – Toamasina
Cycle approx 104km
Our day starts off-road, climbing uphill from the lake. We then join a lovely smooth, flat road lined with lychee trees and forests of bamboo – a welcome relief after our demanding start. This takes us for miles through the lush eastern plains of Madagascar, passing mango, papaya and banana plantations. After some gentle climbs, a flat stretch takes us into Toamasina, Madagascar’s second largest town, a lively port buzzing with life and a great contrast to the small villages we’ve passed. We regroup and ride together through the bustling streets; our hotel lies along a quiet road just out of town. Night hotel.
Day 8: Toamasina – Mahavelona
Cycle approx 66km
Our last day of cycling takes us north along beautiful coastline. We set off on a quiet road alongside a river, passing small villages. Reaching sand dunes, we follow them along the coast, enjoying tantalising glimpses of white sandy beaches and the vast blue Indian Ocean. A lagoon separates the road from the coast, but we cross and cut across to the beach on an off-road trail. After almost 500 challenging kilometres in the saddle, we’re arrived! We spend the afternoon enjoying the sandy beach and calm sea, sheltered from the waves by an outlying reef. In the evening we meet again for an evening of celebrations to mark our huge achievements. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 9: Mahavelona – Tana
Drive approx 10 hours
After some free time to relax and enjoy our beautiful seaside surroundings, we drive back to our hotel in Tana by coach. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 10: Depart Tana - UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
Copyright Discover Adventure 2015
The tour cost includes all flights and transport, a bicycle, accommodation, all meals except three, National Park entry fees and any other sites visited as part of the itinerary. It also includes experienced Discover Adventure leader/mechanics and doctor (depending on final group size), along with a local support crew of guides, cooks and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement charged by the airline, meals as specified, extra drinks or snacks, entry visa where applicable, tip for local support crew, international departure tax and any optional tourist activities.
We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation and Food
We stay in clean, comfortable hotels on a twin-share basis. Hotels are generally very good; those in very remote locations are beautiful but quite rustic, so expect some variation. All food is included while cycling. The food is great and there is plenty of it. Three meals as detailed in the itinerary are not included. Please let us know any dietary requirements well in advance.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
Preparing for the challenge
Our trips are graded from 1 (Moderate) to 5 (Extreme). This ride is Grade 2. Distances vary from 40 – 104km per day. The terrain is predominantly undulating, though very varied. Cycling is predominantly on tarmac roads of varying quality; some may be badly pot-holed. We also cycle off-road on a variety of tracks, which adds to the challenge. Although the off-road cycling is non-technical, we recommend you have some experience of cycling on dirt or gravel tracks so you know what to expect, especially up and downhill. Weather may have an impact on road conditions. We will be using 21-speed mountain bikes fitted with semi slick tyres.
It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up
The dry season runs from April to mid-November. Although warm by day, and hot on the valley floor, altitude has a great effect on temperatures and it will get cooler as you climb higher. UK summer months are winter on the highlands, with warm days and cooler nights. It is hotter nearer the coast.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport and Vaccinations
A ten-year passport is essential, valid for at least six months after entry into Madagascar. UK citizens require a visa, which can be obtained upon arrival and is free of charge at time of writing.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. There is also a malaria risk.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.