In Madagascar, the lesser-known Southeast circuit boasts numerous tourist attractions, with Manakara standing as the largest city on the southeast coast. The lush landscape, the Indian Ocean, and various waterways contribute to Manakara’s charm, creating a peaceful and rejuvenating setting ideal for vacations. Visitors, accompanied by knowledgeable local guides, can explore the region by car via the national roads RN7, RN25, and RN12, or by train using the Fianarantsoa-Côte Est (FCE) railway line from Fianarantsoa.
Where is Manakara?
Manakara is a picturesque city on the southeast of Madagascar, situated at the mouth of the Manakara River and traversed by the Pangalanes Canal. The city is renowned for its natural landscapes and colonial heritage, visible in the architecture of houses, the Manakara port, the Pangalanes Canal, the FCE railway, and clove, lychee, and coffee plantations. As a small coastal town, Manakara primarily relies on bicycles and rickshaws for transportation, allowing tourists to explore the city by bike, rickshaw, or on foot.
How to get to Manakara by car?
Located 700 km southeast of the capital Antananarivo, Manakara can be reached by car from Antananarivo by following RN7 to Ambohimahasoa, taking RN25 to Ranomafana, and then traveling on RN12 from Irondro to Manakara. The journey offers breathtaking views of picturesque and verdant landscapes, with the FCE railway dominating the scenery along RN12.
How to get to Manakara by train?
Accessible by train from Fianarantsoa, Manakara is connected by the FCE railway, established in 1936 and spanning approximately 158 km. The FCE, vital for the region’s economy in both trade and tourism, crosses 17 villages, rice fields, and tropical rainforests before reaching the Pangalanes Canal.
What to do in the city of Manakara?
Despite modernization, Manakara remains a peaceful, small town. Visitors can explore the city’s architectural contrast between contemporary styles and colonial-era influences by walking or biking. Divided into two districts, Manakara and Manakarabe, the town features lively spots like Tanambao for family-friendly restaurants and vibrant bars.
Where to stroll in Manakara?
Surrounded by lush landscapes, Manakara invites nature lovers to explore Loharano, a popular 27 km trail from Ambila. Another highlight is the famous Pangalanes Canal, where canoe rides offer views of authentic natural scenery, fishing villages, and clove, lychee, and coffee plantations.
Where are the beaches of Manakara?
Situated on the coastal strip of Southeast Madagascar, Manakara boasts paradise-like beaches with coconut-lined shores. Although swimming is not recommended due to the strong Indian Ocean waves and occasional sharks, visitors can engage in beach activities and sports. Trou du Commissaire Beach is a must-visit spot for sea bathing.
What are the artisanal specialties of Manakara?
Fishing, mat weaving, canoe building, and Antehimoro paper-making sustain much of Manakara’s population. These rustic activities captivate tourists, particularly the craft of mat weaving and Antehimoro paper production. Craftsmen use Havoha bark as the raw material for this handmade paper, used in decoration, envelopes, scrolls, stationery, and postcards.
When to visit Manakara?
Being a coastal town in the East of Madagascar, Manakara experiences constant rainfall, even during the supposed dry period from December to March. The entire eastern region is humid during this time, but the average temperature of 27°C allows exploration with appropriate rain gear. To enjoy Manakara without being affected by heavy rains, it is advisable to visit between June and November.