Public transport in Madagascar

Getting around Antananarivo and Madagascar’s major cities is a conundrum for international tourists. The cities are so disorganised that you could easily get lost, especially if you’re not accompanied by a guide or a local. There are also challenges due to the limited transport infrastructure, which might not be the same as in developed countries like Europe or America. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate through the different transport options available in Madagascar.

Renting a car: The safest way, but the most expensive:

To explore the island in complete safety, we always recommend renting a vehicle, especially as, due to the excessive deterioration of the road infrastructure, renting a 4×4 car is highly recommended. It’s the safest and fastest means of transport, but also the most expensive. Several agencies in Madagascar offer rental cars with or without drivers, or VTC services. By opting for the services of these legal rental providers, you benefit from security and reliability: the vehicles are generally well-maintained, regularly serviced and insured. Agencies also offer insurance services included in the rental price, covering damage, theft, and sometimes even breakdown assistance, with customer support available at all times in the event of a problem.

The Taxi-Brousse

“Bush taxis” are the main means of transport between Madagascar’s cities.
They are available for both long-distance and local journeys. You’ll find all kinds of “taxis-brousses” providing transport on Madagascar’s national roads, such as “Coutisse Transport”, which serves Antananarivo – Mahajanga, Antananarivo – Morondava, Antananarivo – Tulear, and so on.
These vehicles are generally minibuses or vehicles optimized to carry a large number of passengers, and are not very comfortable if you have long legs and are not used to long drives of over 3 hours.
Taxi-brousse stations can be found in every town. It’s advisable to check with tourist offices, depending on your destination. For long distances, it’s advisable to buy your ticket a few days in advance, while for short distances, you can find a taxi-brousse on the same day.
It’s important to take care of your luggage and plan your trip accordingly, as taxi-brousse transport can be very time-consuming.

Urban transport

Taxi-Be : In big cities like Antananarivo, Taxi-be are the urban version of the bush cab. These buses have no fixed timetable and are often overcrowded. They move along a fixed itinerary.
The Taxi : In each city, cabs have a specific color code. Those in Antananarivo are yellow with a lantern marked “Taxi” above the driver’s hood. There are also some at Ivato international airport that are specifically white. These cabs are mainly selected to provide services to tourists, but beware of price gouging. City services are mostly carried out by old vehicles renovated for transport, and fares have to be negotiated with the driver, as there are no meters.
Pousse-pousse : These traditional vehicles are used in towns such as Antsirabe and Mahajanga, and throughout the coastal towns. They are handy for short trips. They are a kind of Malagasy rickshaw pulled by local people.

Air transport

It’s the fastest way to travel within Madagascar, especially to reach remote areas. You can visit the Madagascar Airlines website to make your reservations. But beware of last-minute flight changes, and check your reservations regularly>

Train transport

There is an active train line between Fianarantsoa and Manakara. The journey takes around 13 hours and covers 180 km, offering spectacular views of wild, otherwise inaccessible landscapes. And recently, the Antananarivo – East Coast service was reopened, linking Antananarivo to the port of Toamasina via the rainforest of eastern Madagascar.

Useful tips

Plan in advance, especially for long taxi-brousses journeys.
Be flexible with your schedule, as delays are common.
For trips into town, cabs are recommended for safety reasons, especially at night.
But if you have the means, it's more beneficial to opt for daily rental services from professional agencies.

Need assistance?
Do not hesitate to contact our Madagascar specialists

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