Vangaindrano is one of the best-kept secrets of Madagascar. While not as popular as other holiday destinations in the island country, Vangaindrano is attracting more and more admirers each year for its numerous interesting places to explore and fun activities to immerse in.
Vangaindrano is located in the Atsimo-Atsinanana Region of Madagascar and has a population of 23,523 inhabitants. Bordered by the Mananara River in the south, this city is mainly famous for its vast, fertile lands that are ideal for growing staple crops like sweet potatoes, cassava and rice.
According to local oral history, the name “Vangaindrano” directly translates to “the place where you get water” because of its numerous brooks, springs and creeks that serve as potable water sources not just for the people living in the area, but also for the residents of neighboring regions like Taolañaro, Farafangana, Vondrozo and Befotaka.
Apart from its rich soil and abundance of water, this city is also renowned for its pleasant weather all year round. This makes it a great spot for cultivating tropical fruits such as loquat, jackfruit, avocado, passion fruit, pineapple, lychee, mango and coconut.
Vangaindrano is currently being developed as one of Madagascar’s key plantation hubs for high-value export products namely coffee, spices, cloves and vanilla. The city is also considered by tourists as a rising culinary hotspot for its lush assortment of seafood fares and native delicacies that cater to diverse palates.
In addition to its crops and water, Vangaindrano is also a viable source of precious minerals like beryl, aquamarine and emerald, which can easily command hefty prices in the gemstone market.
So if you’re looking for an adventure rush while also sampling gastronomical treats, Vangaindrano is definitely one place you should have in your checklist when planning your next vacation.
Vangaindrano is surrounded by several ridges, valleys, forests and mountains and that makes it a dream destination for tourists who’d like to experience the grandeur of nature at its finest.
If you’re an avid fan of hiking and roughing it out on the trails, checking out the Andringitra National Park and the Midongy Atsimo National Park is a must.
Apart from flaunting an amazing expanse of meadows, granite outcrops, thickets and forests teeming with exotic flora and fauna, the Andringitra National Park is also the home of Mount Boby, Madagascar’s second-highest climbable mountain, which has an overall height of 2,658 meters above sea level.
Mount Boby or Pic Boby is considered as a refuge of over a thousand species of plants and an assortment of amphibians, birds and mammals that are endemic only to Madagascar.
Also referred to as “Pic Imarivolanitra” or “sacred summit” in Malagasy, Mount Boby is said to have been named after a dog brought by frontiersmen during their first climb up the mountain’s summit, way back when the whole of Madagascar was still under French control.
As for the Midongy Atsimo National Park, it is situated approximately 90 kilometers southwest of Vangaindrano and is deemed as one of Madagascar’s premier bird sanctuaries. It is home to several native avian species that can only be found in Madagascar.
These include the Meller’s duck (Anas melleri), Pollen’s vanga (Xenopirostris polleni), Madagascan flufftail (Sarothrura insularis) as well as the Malagasy coucal (Centropus toulou), which are considered by ornithologists as some of the world’s most beautiful birds.
The Midongy Atsimo National Park also features a reserve for rarer varieties of lemur, like the:
- Peyrieras’s avahi (Avahi peyrierasi)
- Collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris)
- Southern gentle lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis)
You’ll also find the Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), with its long middle fingers and rodent-like teeth, which is the only nocturnal primate found on Earth.
If you fancy stunning seascapes, flourishing coral reefs and breathtaking marine life, then Vangaindrano’s Ampatsinakoho Beach has got you covered.
It is already becoming quite the attraction among divers and snorkelers across the globe for its vast blue waters that are brimming with various types of fish, crabs, sea urchins, shellfish, and several migratory marine megafauna species.
Besides establishing itself as an important research spot for marine ecologists and biological oceanographers, the Ampatsinakoho Beach is also gaining traction as one of Madagascar’s choice destinations when it comes to seafood delights.
Tourists who have already sampled the fares offered by the Ampatsinakoho Beach share that what makes these dishes taste so great is the combination of fresh ingredients and no-fuss simplicity in their preparation.
And if you’re really looking to give your taste buds an experience you won’t forget anytime soon, they also recommend trying the local sauce coco, a type of spicy coconut sauce that creates an explosion of flavors as soon as it hits your tongue.
The Best 4 Things to Do When You Visit Vangaindrano
Conquer Pic Boby’s Summit
Also known as the “Yosemite of Madagascar” for its profusion of snaking rivers, granite rock faces and numerous waterfalls. Pic Boby is the island country’s second highest mountain and a prime destination if you’re a hiking buff or a mountain climbing aficionado.
Reaching the summit of Pic Boby can take from three to four days, depending on your skill level and experience. While the trail starts quite flat, it becomes more and more technical as you go past the forested areas and reach the granite rock faces.
Making sure you have durable hiking shoes is also a must to avoid unwanted footwear malfunctions that can lead to blisters and nicks during your trek.
The best time to climb Pic Boby is during the months of September to November and January to May, when the general atmosphere up the mountain is not as windy and turbulent.
Given that Pic Boby is more than 2,600 meters above sea level, it is essential that you bring clothes that will protect you from the cold. Climbers who have already braved the mountain’s summit recommend fleece clothing as your mid-layer, since they efficiently trap body heat.
Bringing along a sturdy rain jacket is also crucial since you’ll experience scattered rain showers at random times of the day as you go along.
Although there are a number of stone huts scattered around Pic Boby’s base camp and summit that can be used for shelter, you can also bring a winter tent to spend the night in if you’re looking to up the ante on your wilderness experience.
Interestingly, you can enlist the services of a cook, a porter and a guide right at the foot of the mountain if need be. Experienced climbers who have already conquered Pic Boby recommend bringing at least two liters of water per person per day to prevent heat stroke as well.
Take a plunge in Ampatsinakoho Beach
Tourists who have already explored Ampatsinakoho Beach share the experience can be likened to going back in time because of the relatively unsullied and immaculate ambiance of the sea and sand.
From its clear waters that can shift from emerald green to deep cobalt blue depending on the sun’s position in the sky, all the way to its abundance of marine life, Ampatsinakoho Beach is definitely a great place to visit if your idea of an unforgettable vacation involves soaking up the sun and waves.
While Ampatsinakoho Beach is known as an ideal spot for swimming, diving and snorkeling, it is also becoming a popular venue for kitesurfing and windsurfing for its gentle waters and manageable sea breeze.
The ideal time to visit Ampatsinakoho Beach is during the early hours of the morning when the water is neither too deep nor too shallow and the heat of the sun is just right.
Having sufficient water and sun protection is key when you’re dropping by, too, since the sun’s rays can be quite harsh especially during noon and early afternoon.
It is also recommended that you bring along a pair of water shoes (or similar footwear) since there are some big rocks and stone formations in and around the beach that you’d like to climb or explore when you go there.
This is to avoid getting an unexpected sting or two from sea urchins, barnacles, and sharp corals that might catch you off guard.
After a long day of exploring and enjoying Ampatsinakoho Beach, make sure you grab a sumptuous plate of seafood drizzled with the famous Vangaindrano special sauce coco to cap things off.
Visit Midongy du Sud National Park
When it comes to really roughing it out in the outdoors, you’re definitely in for a hike of a lifetime if you include the Midongy du Sud National Park in your Vangaindrano itinerary.
Tourists who have already proved their mettle by trekking their way into the Midongy du Sud National Park relate that it is one of the toughest trails that they have ever encountered.
This is due to its deep valleys, tracks that seem to sharply go up and down without a warning as well as the extremely rugged terrain. And if that doesn’t sound hardcore enough for you, the weather is also very humid and very rainy all throughout the year.
Keep this in mind, as it makes navigating in and around the trails very tricky. But enough about the negative side of the Midongy du Sud National Park.
What mainly attracts serious adventurers and dedicated mountain climbers all over the world to this reserve is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see, hear and even feel a plethora of rare plants, birds, mammals and insects that can only be found in its expanse.
Besides making sure to pack waterproof pants and jackets, you will also need to have durable gaiters in your ensemble of trekking gear to protect yourself from leeches that can crawl up to your ankles and lower legs.
While these leeches may not be dangerous, they can be rather uncomfortable to put up with when you’re negotiating the Midongy du Sud National Park’s difficult trails.
The best time to visit this national park is between the months of June to November when the main (and mostly dirt) road from the heart of Vangaindrano is still accessible and free from flooding.
There are two ways to reach the Midongy du Sud National Park from the city:
Hopping on a 4-wheel drive vehicle and taking the T18 route until you reach Midongy Atsimo, the last town before entering the national park’s perimeters. The whole trip to Midongy Atsimo can take anywhere from two to three hours, depending on the weather and the road’s condition.
Traverse the Southeast coast from Vangaindrano on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or 4-wheel drive vehicle for a more scenic route while raising the bar on the adventure factor.
Explore Andringitra National Park
The Andringitra National Park is often described as one of the most diverse landscapes in the world due to its amalgamation of open savannah fields, granite outcrops, lush forests and an abundance of water sources.
This interesting combination of various terrains and soil profiles led to the growth and development of diversified flora that is able to sustain numerous species of amphibians, birds and mammals.
It’s even home to plants and animals that are only endemic to Madagascar such as the “Immortal” shrub (Helichrysum mirabile Humbert) and the Rousseauxia andringitrensis (H. Perrier) that are believed to have existed as early as the Mesozoic era.
Unlike the Midongy du Sud National Park, which is only recommended for experienced trekkers and mountain climbers, the Andringitra National Park offers a variety of hiking trails for all skill levels.
The easiest and most accessible of all trails in the Andringitra National Park is the Ansaramanitra. While it only stretches for about 6 kilometers in length and can be completed in about five hours, this trail is filled with hidden caves and dense forests that captivates you with every step.
The crowning glory of the Ansaramanitra trail is the Riambavy waterfalls, which is believed to make a woman fertile if she takes a dip in its waters. It is followed by the Circuit Imaintso that is highly recommended for bird-lovers and will take around 9 hours to fully navigate.
Although it is similar in terrain and slope with Ansaramanitra, the Circuit Imaintso flaunts a few more forest expanses and a higher elevation level. The locals suggest starting the trek on this trail in the early morning, when the birds are still active and very visible in the area.
Next up is the Circuit Isahavato, which lets you traverse rocky plains and steep plateaus while getting glorious views of natural pools and waterfalls along the way.
Stretching for more or less 15 kilometers, Circuit Isahavato can be completed in 10 to 12 hours. You also have the option to spend the night in its campgrounds, if you are in the mood to sleep with a great view of the stars.
The most challenging trail of all in the Andringitra National Park is the Imarivolanitra Trail. Depending on your skill level and overall fitness, you can complete this one in three days if you really push it.
Apart from giving you the best views of the park’s various landscapes, you’ll also get the chance to conquer the summit of Madagascar’s second-highest mountain, Pic Boby, while at it.
Compared to the previous trails, the Imarivolanitra is filled with sharp slopes as well as punishing terrains and requires serious dedication to complete. But you’re definitely in for a treat if you manage to conquer it, though.
Besides having the opportunity to see some of the most amazing sunsets on the planet, you’re also going to have a close and personal encounter with plants and animals most people will only dream of in their lifetime.
How to Get Around Vangaindrano
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to getting around Vangaindrano. Besides hopping on a taxi brousse (the local bush taxi), you can also hail a tuk-tuk, Madagascar’s version of a tricycle.
The taxi brousse is recommended for trips that involve longer distances, while the tuk-tuk is usually for shorter, more casual rides such as when you’re exploring historical landmarks, souvenir shops and other places of interest in the city.
If you’re looking to drive around the city yourself, there are also car rentals you can avail of when visiting Vangaindrano. Depending on the spots you’d like to check out or the trail you’d prefer to travel on, you can rent anywhere from a compact or midsize sedan to an SUV.
Where to Stay
While there are plenty of accommodations in Vangaindrano, there are two hotels that you should definitely have in your checklist.
Although they are not exactly located in Vangaindrano, these are the closest and most comfortable options that you can choose if you’re planning to explore the city.
Lokanga Boutique Hotel
The Lokanga Boutique Hotel is a restored Malagasy townhouse that combines old world charm with laid-back vibes. It was built in the 1930’s and is adorned with an assortment of heirloom prints, family souvenirs and antique furnishings.
This hotel is known for its tea terrace that lets guests enjoy breathtaking city views. The Lokanga Boutique Hotel is a bit pricier compared to its counterparts.
However, its welcoming colonial French and English style rooms, freshly cooked meals and full Wi-Fi reception are definitely worth spending a few extra bucks.
You can reach out to Lokanga Boutique Hotel at:
Tel: +261 34 13 449 86 or +261 34 96 957
Hotel Restaurant La Ribaudière
The Hotel Restaurant La Ribaudière’s fusion of modern architecture and tropical feel makes it a favorite among tourists who’d like to experience the best of both worlds when staying in Madagascar.
Set in a tropical garden filled with Darwin’s orchids, Tahina palms and “hazondandy” or native silk trees, the Hotel Restaurant La Ribaudière offers high-speed Internet as well as flat-screen TV’s with satellite channels.
Besides its quiet and calm atmosphere, this hotel is also known for its à la carte restaurant and massage treatments. The hotel gets consistently good reviews, so we think it’s worth checking out.
You can reach out to Hotel Restaurant La Ribaudière at:
Tel: +261 32 02 411 51