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Means of transport in Madagascar

Exploring Madagascar: The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Transportation for Getting Around

Choosing Transportation Types

Madagascar has various types of transportation, including land, rail, air, and sea. The cost of land transport depends on factors like road quality, distance, and the type of trip. With 30,000 km of roads on the island, only 20% are paved while the rest are unpaved tracks.

Road Transportation

The most popular way to get around is by road, using taxis and 4×4 car rentals. It’s the cheapest option for traveling from the city to other areas or provinces.

Traveling in a bush taxi is enjoyable

When traveling by taxi brousse in Madagascar, you can expect to meet friendly passengers and enjoy the driver’s songs if you travel at night. The journey includes regular stops for fresh air or meals, but it’s important to be cautious of safety, as drivers are often targeted by vandals, especially during nighttime travels. However, taxi brousses usually travel in convoys to avoid being stopped by thieves known as Dahalo. Reservations should be made in advance, and there are various cooperatives to choose from, offering flexibility in selecting a preferred company and seat. The duration of the trip varies due to unexpected events but is generally a pleasant opportunity to admire the scenery.

Renting private vehicles

If you’re not a fan of group travel or tour companies, consider renting an off-road vehicle for your journey. This is especially useful if you plan to venture far into the wilderness or will be traveling for several days. While 4×4 rentals are pricier than bush taxis, they offer more comfort and flexibility. You can choose between different types of vehicles, such as 4x4s or minibusses, depending on your needs and group size. Rental options are available both online and at physical locations.

Rail Transport

The railway is mainly for carrying goods, but there are two lines for passengers. One connects Fianarantsoa to Manakara on the Fianarantsoa East Coast network, and the other links Moramanga to Tamatave in the east.

Traveling by Train

The East Coast journey spans 163km and takes between 12 to 18 hours, offering a long yet enjoyable trip. There are frequent stops for photo opportunities or to take a breather along the way. The train ride provides stunning views of the landscape, including rivers, cliffs, valleys, and mountainsides. Passengers can also catch glimpses of royal buildings and interact with others on board. Local products such as unique fruits and vegetables can be purchased at the various stations en route. Additionally, passengers have the opportunity to explore these different stations before reaching their final destination.

Air Transportation: Simplified Explanation

Several airlines operate domestic flights and international routes connecting Madagascar to Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Traveling by plane to save time

Madagascar has several airports for domestic and international flights. These include Antananarivo-Morondava, Antananarivo-Nosy Be, Antananarivo-Fort Dauphin, Antananarivo-Tuléar, Antananarivo-Antsiranana, Antananarivo-Sainte Marie, Antananarivo-Maroantsetra, and Antananarivo-Sambava. Taking a plane might be more expensive than other travel options but it’s worth it if you prefer quick and safe travel. Flying is the safest way to get to your destination on time.

Maritime Transportation

A cruise called the Jean Pierre Calloch runs between Majunga and Nosy Be on the West Coast. It departs from Majunga on Wednesday afternoons and leaves from Nosy Be on Saturday afternoons. The journey takes about 20 hours. In Madagascar, there are several other cruises available along the coast, offering sea trips to places like Diego Suarez, Belo Tsiribihina, Sainte Marie, Morondava, Tuléar, Maroantsetra, and a trip along the Pangalane Canal. These cruises provide a convenient way to explore the beauty of the coasts as well as enjoy swimming in the sea or diving to observe aquatic life.


Boats in Madagascar aren’t just for cruises, they’re also used as a means of transportation between regions and to reach smaller islands. For instance, to get to Île Sainte Marie, taking a boat is necessary. Similarly, reaching Nosy Be also requires a sea voyage by boat.

Simplified: Travel by Ferry

Ferries are a popular mode of transportation that connect cities and are used by tourists, vehicles, and goods. They link cities separated by small rivers or lakes. One of the most well-known ferry routes is the one that travels through Pangalane canal, spanning 400km of interconnected waterways surrounded by lush vegetation.

Star of the Show

– Speedboats are popular for sea crossings as they are faster than regular boats.
– In Madagascar, speedboats are very useful for transporting people, goods, and tracking down sea traffickers.

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The small Lakana boat is mainly used for crossing rivers. It’s perfect for short trips on the sea or rivers to enjoy the scenery, wildlife, and plant life. The Lakana is a traditional, eco-friendly, and cost-effective way to travel.

Urban Transportation

The most popular way to get around in Madagascar is by using taxis-brousse.
They are found in large numbers in the big cities.

Cycle rickshaw

For a leisurely stroll in town or a trip to the market, consider using cyclo-pousses. These human-powered vehicles are commonly found in rural areas and offer a modern twist on the traditional hand-drawn “pousse pousse.” Instead of being pulled by a strong individual, the rider sits atop the vehicle, similar to riding a bicycle. This mode of transportation provides a unique and convenient way to get around while embracing a touch of tradition and innovation.

When it comes to getting around town or running errands, cyclo-pousses offer an alternative mode of transport that combines history with modern convenience. These vehicles have evolved from being manually drawn by individuals into cyclist-driven machines where passengers can comfortably sit back and enjoy their surroundings. Whether you’re exploring provincial areas or simply looking for an eco-friendly travel option, cyclo-pousses provide an interesting way to experience local culture while minimizing environmental impact.

Simplified: Importance of Taxis

Taxis are a practical way to get around the city quickly, especially for those who don’t like public transportation. In Antananarivo, they have uniform colors (beige and cream) but can be different in other provinces. The fare is based on the distance of your trip.

Taxi-Be or bus

Public transportation is a fixed fare for any distance. Buses offer the opportunity to meet new people but beware of vandalism and avoid carrying valuable items. Different bus lines are numbered according to their routes.

Subtitle: Tuk tuk – The Essential Guide

Tuk tuks are a mix between buses and taxis, introduced by Indians. They can be found in cities and on the outskirts.

Push push

– “Bamboo trains” are old-fashioned modes of transportation that have been replaced by modern and more convenient “cyclo” taxis.

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