“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” A quote by Ernest Hemingway expresses how when exploring a country by bike, one can discover its beauty and experience it authentically. The enormous sense of freedom, invigoration and scenic pleasures continues to make cycling holidays a popular choice for experienced cyclists and intrigued beginners alike. Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world with its diverse breath-taking views and spectacular wildlife not found anywhere else on earth; is a perfect choice for the adventurous cyclist seeking to enjoy a holiday of a lifetime.
Located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is famous for its national parks, tropical rainforests and due to its geographical isolation, unique animals including Lemurs. Its cuisine is a reflection of African, Arab, Indonesian and French influences known to be tasty; a typical main meal includes meat, poultry or fish with vegetables, and a side of herbs, leaves and rice. Malagasy people are considered to be easy going and patriotic, keeping up the traditional way of living as their ancestors did thousands of years ago.
Antananarivo cycling tours
The best cycling tours long and short, from moderate to difficult depart from Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo, located at the centre of the island. These typically include a mixture of botanical and wildlife exploration through the villages, quiet roads and landscapes; tours may also include hiking and sea activities. You’ll get to take in the culture and will never be too far away from a beautiful beach, natural pools and waterfalls for rest and exploration of the diverse marine life.
Trails will include a combination of tarmac and dirt roads with generally little traffic, and the option to hire a bike. The main highway is approximately 1,000 km long, runs from Antananarivo to the southwest coast, with the very good road conditions for the first 50 km after leaving the capital; route 7 avoids gravel roads with downhill pedalling to the coast. In keeping up the pace, it’s advisable to keep your feet protected by investing in a well-made pair of cycling shoes. Also ensure appropriate cleat position, cleat tension and pedal set-up in preparation for long periods of high pedal pressure.
The best times to visit
Cycling tours usually run between April and December, avoiding the rainy season. To experience a combination of abundant wildlife and great weather October and November are recommended to be the best months; if taking in nature and water activities is more your thing, then April and May are considered good months. During the dry season, the central highlands blue skies (around Antananarivo) are believed to be one of the clearest in the world.
Madagascar is a destination for true explorers, and those wishing to experience species not seen anywhere else on earth with cycling trails offering quiet roads and scenic landscapes. The delicious food, welcoming locals and great weather make it the perfect choice for an unforgettable cycling holiday.
Now working as a writer, Jackie Edwards started her career in the hospitality and travel industry, but after becoming a mom refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she’s not writing, she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities and also has a menagerie of pets to look after.