You will be required to raise a minimum of £3200 for your chosen charity.
Challenge type: Bike in support of Genesis Research Trust
Runs from : 15th September 2017 to 24th September 2017
Madagascar is a continent in miniature with microclimates, vastly different habitats and a huge number of endemic species. It is the world's fourth largest island and because of its isolation many of its mammals, half its birds, and most of its plants exist nowhere else on Earth. This 450km charity bike ride will take you from the capital of city of Antananarivo to the coastal town of Mahavelona. Cycle Madagascar and discover highland villages and paddy fields, lush tropical fruit plantations and coastal trails on this unique charity event. Far away from the modern comforts of daily life, this will be an unforgettable experience.
Flights to / from Madagascar, internal flight, visa - issued free on arrival for stays of up to 30 days, accommodation, transfers, full medical support, experienced guides, support staff, bicycle, water & all meals except lunch on days 2 & 9.
Airport tax - £530 approx. (January 2017), travel insurance, lunch on days 2 & 9, optional tours, gratuities & spending money.
Fly from London to Madascar via Nairobi
Arrive in Ivato, Antananarivo airport and then transfer to our hotel. We will have our bike fitting after checking in before some free time to settle in and get ready for the challenge ahead. Antananarivo, mostly cut to Tana, takes its name from an episode in Malagasy history. King Andrianjaka, who had his royal palace and stronghold erected called One thousand Warriors, quartered them there and he called this city Antananarivo.
We cycle out of Tana on a busy section of road with some uphill. We then leave the main road for a few kilometres of hilly off road cycling, where we have some great views on the stunning landscape of the Malagasy highlands. Once out of the city, the roads become much quieter and for most of the day we cycle on good tarmac roads, undulating through villages and lush green rice paddies.
After 6 km we turn left onto a section of dirt and cobbled roads that climbs gently to our first break at a viewpoint over the outskirts of the city, and then carefully descend through a small village on more cobbles back to the main road and continue East on Route National 2. As we cycle past highland villages, the scenery changes and roads are lined with grey eucalyptus trees contrasting against the bright red earth. After 48km we turn south in the direction of Lake Mantasoa. From here we cycle 13 km on dirt roads to the small village of Mantasoa. From here we follow a bumpy road which has some short sections of broken up tarmac with potholes and sharp ascents and descents. The hillsides are covered with eucalyptus and pine trees and as we cycle up to a height of 1,300m the views across the lake are worth the effort. We reach the lake and skirt round the shores to our overnight hotel overlooking the lake. In the evening we learn about the history of Madagascar.
We retrace the last 13km of yesterday’s off-road trail to rejoin our route. After a few steep undulations we turn away from the lake and back to a landscape dotted with rice paddies and huts. After Ambatoloana we rejoin a good tarmac road. The road is mainly downhill and winds between lush forest and bamboo. There are flat and undulating sections for the rest of the morning. After a picnic lunch we cycle through the village of Moramanga and up a long hill followed by a zig-zagging downhill stretch of road. The next 20km are gently undulating. We finish today’s cycle at our hotel close to the national park where we will have a chance to see the lemurs on an evening walk before dinner and again the following morning.
Approx. 50 km (7 km tough off road), 1 hour coach transfer (approx. 60km) We begin with a very early morning breakfast and cycle 3km to the Andasibe-Mantadia Nature Reserve. We change in to our walking shoes for a 1 1/2 hour guided walking tour on forest paths to visit the black and white Indri Lemurs and enjoy the flora and fauna.
We rejoin our bikes and head for the main road. Today we cycle on roads with some long gradual uphill and downhill sections accompanied by some stunning panoramic views over the surrounding hills. The scenery changes again and our route is lined with lush banana and mango plantations, lychee trees and the endemic Ravinala palm, whose enormous fan-like leaves are used for roofing in the area. The air becomes noticeably hotter as we descend. After lunch we transfer approx. 1 hour by coach just past the town of Brickaville, a larger market town. It's back on our bikes for the last 7km towards the sea on a poor dirty road, mainly downhill and including a shallow ford across a small river near the end.
We pass through the hamlet of Manambato to the shore of Lake Rasoa where we have dinner and overnight. There may be no hot water at our accomodation, however after a hot day a cooling shower will be a most welcome relief, as will a swim in the freshwater lake.
Approx. 104 km (7 km tough off road)
After riding back to the main road on the dirt road, the next 30 km is mostly flat, close to a river and lined with lychee trees and bamboo forests. As the day progresses, the road continues to gently climb until lunch, before descending back to sea level for most of the latter part of the day. We are now deep in the lush eastern plains of Madagascar as we cycle through palm tree plantations and an array of tropical fruits – banana, mango and papaya. For the last 20 km, the road levels out and we approach Madagascar’s second largest town, Toamasina (known locally as Tamatave); a lively port with unpaved streets, buzzing with life. In the suburbs we regroup and cycle together through the town past markets, cyclists, rickshaws of all types, cars and pedestrians – it’s busy, but the traffic generally moves slowly. After a few km and the last few hundred metres we cycle on a quiet sandy road towards the sea we reach our next overnight stop.
Approx. 57 km
We cycle through the northern suburban villages of Toamasina, past the airport and out into the country. The road is flat, quiet and rural with little traffic. It will be another hot day so there will be plenty of water stops throughout the ride. Eventually we reach sand dunes and follow the beautiful coastline northwards, passing modest resorts and the occasional village. As we cycle up the coast, we continue crossing the river, a laguna separates the road from the coast. The final kilometre to the beach is along another sandy dirt road to our hotel for the night. The afternoon is free to relax on the beach, around the pool or have a sleep in the shade. Dinner is at a nearby restaurant a short walk across the beach, where we celebrate the end of the challenge together.
This morning we transfer by bus back to Tana (Antananarivo) were we overnight.
This evening we transfer to the Tana airport for our return flight to London, via Nairobi.
Arrive back in the UK.
Please bring a sense of adventure when travelling to Madagascar. It is a developing tourist destination and we will be cycling through remote areas where hotels, infrastructure and travel services are often basic. Be prepared to go outside your usual comfort zone and you will be richly rewarded. Discovering the real Madagascar at close hand is what this challenge is all about.
You will be required to raise a minimum of £3200 for your chosen charity.