Mountain Biking in Madagascar

Madagascar is ideal for mountain biking. Given the conditions of the roads in some areas, it may often be just as fast to travel by bicycle as by taxi-brousse. For any cycling away from main roads, you will need to be self-sufficient with food and, particularly, water - so fit your bicycle with as many water bottles as possible.


You can usually stop for the night in villages along the way, after gaining permission from the village head, teacher or local dignitary to set up camp, light a fire or to use the water. Along main routes, there is a possibility of staying at hotels and eating in restaurants along the way, lightening your load.


Although inner tubes and other basic parts are sometimes available at larger towns, you should come prepared and bring along whatever equipment and spares you will need; in addition to spare inner tubes and the like, an extra tyre or tyre patch is a good idea if you will be doing long distances off-road.


Mountain bikes can be hired in many of the larger towns, including Fort Dauphin, Antsirabe and Ambodifotatra on Ile Sainte Marie. The bicycles are normally just for local use and in most cases are not in good enough condition for longer journeys.


You will need to bring a bicycle from home if you do decide to do longer trips.


You will need a mountain bike for most areas in the country as the terrain varies from very sandy to muddy or rough and even rocky. Some routes, such as between Tulear and Morombe, have fairly rough sections of broken and disintegrated sealed roads.


Central and Southern Madagascar - South of Antananarivo is busy and hilly at the outset, but there are good places to stop and eat along the way. The cooler temperatures are pleasant for cycling. The area between Antsirabe and Fianarantsoa is hilly, but particularly scenic and logistically easy, with numerous possibilities for detours en route.


Eastern Madagascar - Antananarivo to Andasibe and then to the coast at Ambila Lemaitso is a good trip. Between Ambila Lemaitso and Toamasina the scenery is less interesting and there are some hills. From Toamasina to Mahavelona the road is pleasant and flat, and from Mahavelona north to Soanierana-Ivanyo there is good scenery. From Mananara to Maroantsetra is rough and rugged, but scenic.


North-Eastern and Northern Madagascar - Mountain bikes are ideal between Cap Est and Iharana. This area has great scenery and villages en route. There are almost no facilities between Iharana and Ambilobe and the road is in rough shape. Between Antsiranana and Antananarivo you will need to be self-sufficient with water, food and camping equipment as there are a few facilities along the way and the road is partially paved.


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