Nestled in misty forest, Andasibe is the gateway to some of Madagascar’s best national parks and reserves. The area hosts a wealth of hiking, climbing and wildlife experiences and is your best chance to spot the indri-indri, the word’s largest lemur. Andasibe is easily accessible from both Antananarivo and Tamatave, making it a popular stop on most traveler’s itineraries.
To make the most of your visit, here are a few helpful tips. Or Find the perfect weekend itinerary here!
Getting there and around
Andasibe is located 40 kms east of Moramanga, almost halfway between Antananarivo and Tamatave, just off the RN2. The road is in good condition and the trip from either destination can easily be made in a matter of hours.
If travelling by taxi-brousse, I suggest booking a ticket to Moramanga then arranging a transfer from there, or, if you are coming from the East, simply hop-off as you pass the Andasibe junction and walk the last leg. Be aware that express services, like Cotisse, will not stop to unload baggage from the roof, so make sure you are travelling with hand luggage only to avoid backtracking from Moramanga.
Once you arrive at the Andasibe turn-off, it’s a further 1.5 km to the national park entrance, but only 500 meters or so to the first stretch of hotels and restaurants. If you are without a vehicle I definitely recommend choosing one of these as it’s along here that you’ll find the largest selection of places to stay and eat within walking distance of the park entrance and the Mitsinjo reserve.
A further two kilometers past the park entrance is Andasibe village, where you can also find a few budget accommodation options and the high end Andasibe Hotel. Vakona lodge is another 6 kms past the village. Mantadia park is a further 10 kms past Vakona on a very rough road.
Top tip: If you don’t have your own vehicle speak to the staff at Feon’ Ny Ana. Although the hotel doesn’t officially rent bikes staff members are often willing to lend you theirs for the day.
While hiking in Mantadia, you’ll find lots of lovely places for a cool down dip
Where to stay
There are lots of places to stay in Andasibe from the most basic to very high-end. Be aware that things do get busy, and tour groups can often book out entire hotels. If travelling in the high season, booking ahead.
Budget: Chez Luc Guesthouse is my favorite budget option where you still get most of the comforts without spending the bucks. Newly opened in 2017, it’s close to everything and has four extremely cute en-suite bungalows. The rooms are rather dimly lit but things are clean and the showers are hot. Even cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms are also available and there is a nice little restaurant serving freshly prepared and very tasty food. The staff are fantastic and will go out of their way to make sure your stay is comfortable.
Mid range: Feon’ Ny Ala is huge place that caters to tour groups, but its location bordering the national park and super cozy bungalows make it a top pick for any traveler. Bungalows are immaculate and each has its own balcony where you’ll be sure to hear the indri’s eerie morning call. The restaurant also boasts the most extensive menu in town and is always bust. Its inviting sun deck and cracklingg wood stove mean you’ll probably end up here for at least a meal or two.
High End: Vakona lodge is nestled in its own reserve and comes complete with pool, steam room, squash and horse riding, among other activities. The beautiful lake side restaurant and lemur island are big drawing cards and definitely worth a visit even if you are not staying here.
Analamazaotra or Mantadia
It’s a bit confusing, but Andasibe national park is actually comprised of 2 distinct reserves 20 kms away from one another. Analamazaotra is the smaller and more accessible of the two, and the spot to see indris. Visitors are just about guaranteed to spot at least a family or two and catch its haunting cries echoing through the forest.
But be warned it can get busy. Guides are often in a rush to get you in and out, so be sure to be specific about what you expect to be included in your tour.
No visit is complete without catching a glimpse of this mystical creature as it serenades the forests with its eerie cry.
Further afield, Mantadia is a little more challenging to get to, and a little more rugged once you arrive. It’s the much larger of the two parks and, as such, offers a greater variety of trails. Wildlife is more difficult to spot here, but so too are tourists. Visitors who make the effort will be rewarded with thicker primary forest, sacred waterfalls and the chance to take a dip in a forest oasis.
To get here you’ll need your own wheels and should expect a 1.5 hour drive in and out. If visiting pack a picnic and toilet paper, as there are no services.
There are no bank machines in Andasibe village. Most restaurants, hotels and reserves take only cash so make sure you stock up ahead of time. The closest ATM is located in Moramanga, 40 kms down the road.
Beware that it can get very cold in Andasibe, and being a rain-forest, you guessed it, it rains. Be sure to pack a rain jacket or poncho and a few warm sweaters for the chilly nights. If visiting in winter, note that indri’s are not the earliest of risers and, although you may be inclined to get an early start to avoid the crowds, there is little point in arriving at the park when its gates open at 6 am. The morning mist will mean you won’t see much and, speaking from experience, even the birds will still be asleep! In summer a 6 am start is worth it, but not in July!
One of the best times to visit is in October-November, when things have warmed-up and the days are longer. November is also when you’ll be able to spot baby lemurs. And believe me., they are so cute!
For more information? Find the perfect weekend itinerary here!