The main 980 km highway, the RN7, leads from Antananarivo to Toliara / Tuléar.
As a road trip it's a long relatively well-tarmacked and stunningly scenic one to the island's semi-arid Southern region, passing majestic mountains, baobab forests, desert-like plateaus with exotic plants, herds of zebu (cows) and colourful local villages.
With a few exceptions, the coast is sandy often with reefs and lagoons. North and south from Toliara / Tulear there are beautiful beaches, tropical islands and coral reefs .
The beach villages of Ifaty, Salary Bay or Anakao are becoming popular as these secret beach hideaways are not so secret any more.
Also not so secret is the fact one of Earth's largest known alluvial sapphire deposits was discovered in 1998 turning Ilakaka into a wild south west mining boom town with a population that soared from 40 residents to over 60,000 ten years later.
Across the region on the south eastern tip, Fort Dauphin harks back to colonial times. Surrounded by mountains, dry forests, nature reserves and beaches Fort Dauphin is the biggest city in the deep south.
Fianarantsoa is one of the most popular towns in the Madagascar highlands not least because of the local wine farms with the closest vineyard at Lazan'I Betsileo, 15km to the north.
Isalo National Park in the Ihorombe region is known for its wide variety of terrain, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, a palm-lined oasis and grassland. A total of 340 fauna species have been recorded inhabiting the area, including 82 species of birds, 33 species of reptiles, 15 species of frogs and 14 species of mammals. Treks in this vast 815km² park can last from several hours to a week or longer.
With the exception of the Vezo ethnic fishermen and some migrants such as the Antanosy of Middle Onilahy, there are two large ethnic groups who share these territories, the Mahafaly and Antandroy, 'people of the thorns' on the coast.
Fort Dauphin, Morombe, Toliara formerly Tuléar, Ilakaka, Sakaraha, Fianarantsoa, Ambalavao.
NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVES:
Berenty Reserve, Bezaha Mahafaly, Cap Ste. Marie, Isalo National Park, Tsimanampetsotse National Park, Zombitse-Vohibiasa National Park.
Prime Magazine Featured destinations in the Southern Region
Belo-sur-Mer is a city in the southwest of Madagascar where you will not get bored. You will have so many discoveries to be made that your time will seem too short. Enjoy a guided tour to see the salines of Antsira and know more about the daily life of the local population.....Read more
The Tsimanampetsotsa National Park stretches around an eponymous lake, whose name means "there is no dolphin". Well-known as a wintering place for many species of migratory birds, this place located 85 km south of Toliara - next to a village called Ambola - is full of treasures that we invite you to discover.....Read more
Andohahela National Park is located in the Anosy Region, it is situated 42 km south-west of Fort- Dauphin, via the National Route 13 (RN13), from the city of Amboasary. It sits between two districts, Fort -Dauphin and Amboasary South. It is the only park in the world that can be found with three types of forest: humid, transitional and dry.....Read more
Fort-Dauphin or Taolanaro is located in the southern part of Madagascar. Capital city of the Anosy region, this port city is one of the best destinations because it is full of cultural, seaside and heritage interests, which explains the celebration of the World Tourism Day in this region in 2012.....Read more
Bedo Lake is one of 20 wetlands designated as Ramsar sites in Madagascar today. Located in the Menabe Region, in the western part of the Big Island, the Bedo wetland extends over 2000 hectares of which the lake area alone is 412 hectares. Since 2007, it has been inscribed on the list of wetlands of international importance.....Read more
Ihosy is a district of Madagascar, located in the southeastern part of the province of Fianarantsoa, in the region of Ihorombe. It is composed of seventeen rural and urban communes. Ihosy is a key step in travelling to the South of Madagascar. Located at the crossroads leading to Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) and Tulear, Ihosy is best known for its surroundings, including the famous Isalo National Park.....Read more
Beheloka is a beautiful bay located 63 kilometres from Tulear, in the south-west of Madagascar. With a very peaceful life, punctuated by the activities of the sea, it is a unique destination far from mass tourism. Its beach with blue waters bordered by stretches of white sand, a dream.....Read more
The Ehoala port was created in 2009. It was initiated by the ilmenite extraction project by the QMM company (Qit Madagascar Minerals), which planned to reforest the excavated land. This port is located in Fort Dauphin, in the extreme south-east of Madagascar, 1100 kilometres from Antananarivo. Multifunctional port recognised in the public interest, it is the second port in deep water of the Indian Ocean (15,75 metres deep).....Read more
A tourist attraction of Andringitra, the Tsaranoro Valley is known for its hiking, climbing and paragliding sites. Listed internationally, it is one of the most famous spots in Madagascar. Tsaranoro is located in the Vohitsoaka commune, near the Andringitra National Park, south of Fianarantsoa.....Read more
Until the end of 1998 there was just a hamlet in the Ilakaka area, stretching about 150 km long and about 50 km wide in the extension of the craggy mountains of Isalo. The city is named after the river which crosses – and where today a great multitude of miners gather to sift their gravel.....Read more
The Domaine de la Cascade encompasses an area of 125 hectares and is bordered by the last low altitude primary forest of the great south. Located near the city of Fort-Dauphin this place has been trying for fifteen years to make its contribution to the development of the region, to protect and enhance the environmental heritage.....Read more
Already since 1938 protected, the Sayadi Park is located 5 km from Fort Dauphin on the RN 12A. It covers 40 hectares and benefits from an extraordinary botanical and animal diversity. We find a multitude of endemic species such as orchids, nepenthes (carnivorous plants), ravinalas (traveler's trees), pandanus, and palms.....Read more
Tulear, capital of the Atsimo Andrefana Region and capital of the old province, is a quiet city whose hospitality is admirable. These people will welcome you because you are their "Longo" (friends). The Cultural Museum is connected with the University of Tulear, more precisely to the CeDRATOM or Center for Documentation and Research on Art and Oral Traditions, the Museum of Arts and Traditions of the South.....Read more
Ambakivao is a small fishing village located between the Tsiribihina River and the Mozambique Channel. It consists of five hamlets or encampments, belonging to the Delta Community, in the Belo / Tsiribihina district, at the Eastern Centre of the Menabe region. There are about 300 mainly Vezo tribe households that live mainly from sea fishing but also hunt freshwater fishes, shrimps and crabs.....Read more
As a site only accessible by river, Benjavilo is renowned for the purity of its air, the tranquility and the green side of its vegetation. An ideal setting for a holiday in nature. Benjavilo is located in the Melaky region, district of Antsalova, municipality of Masoarivo.....Read more
Literally meaning "lake without dolphins", Lake Tsimanampesotse, the main attraction of the park, is itself a mystery just waiting to be explored. It is the first Ramsar site and the only salt lake on the Big Island, covering an area of 1,700 hectares. Its particularity is that it changes colour three times a day.....Read more
The white dune coast of the southern region of Madagascar is full of unique and paradisaical sites. Between the angular stones and the fine sand, there are provisional villages whose outside temperature varies from 20°C to 38°C. This part of the Big Island is the perfect place to be in harmony with nature and to gain memorable experiences.....Read more
Seven kilometres from the town of Fort-Dauphin, Lake Andriambe, also known as "Lake Ambinanibe" which in Malagasy means "the great pass" since it communicates with the ocean, is an ideal place for those who love peace and quiet – and nature. The best wave spot in Fort-Dauphin, it is well known by surf lovers.....Read more
The peak of Saint Louis in Fort-Dauphin rises to an altitude of 529 metres and offers a panorama across the magnificent bays of Sainte-Luce or Lokaro. It also gives a view over the lush flora of this south-eastern part of Madagascar and in particular of the Berenty and Andohahela reserves.....Read more
Itampolo is characterized by its white sand dunes. There was a drought that lasted for several years, making the village famous as a paradisiacal desert. Nature has dried up two rivers and transformed the beaches, where the fine sand stretches as far as the eye can see, in front of crystal clear water and rows of coconut palms.....Read more
Fifty hectares of forest, what more could you ask for? During your visit you will certainly come across lemurs, Nile crocodiles, radiated turtles, vanilla pods, flower paths, elephant ears, Brazilian cherry trees, huge bamboo specimens and so many more natural wonders, all in one single reserve: that of "Nahampoana".....Read more
The village is rich in ancestral structures that arouse the visitor's curiosity and spark a passion for discovery. The Antandroy, one of the Malagasy ethnic groups, have erected tombs that shape an exceptional scenery of rare beauty, almost supernatural when you look at it from a distance.....Read more
A village with white sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, Sarodrano is a world-famous tourist site, a destination waiting to be discovered and rediscovered.....Read more
With a natural heritage of 320,000 hectares of mangroves (coastal forest consisting of several varieties of mangrove), Madagascar has the largest area of mangrove in the Indian Ocean, representing two percent of the planet's mangroves: it is an immense wealth to be preserved and waiting to be discovered.....Read more