Manakara: a picturesque town!
Manakara is the administrative capital of the Vatovavy-Fitovinany region. This quiet and peaceful coastal town is also known for its natural landscapes and exceptional biodiversity, as well as for its historical and cultural heritage inherited from the French colonial period. While touring the south-east of Madagascar, you will strongly appreciate this step of the trip.
On the south-east coast of Madagascar, Manakara is located near the mouth of the Manakara River. The town has a small port and is crossed by the Pangalanes Channel. The beaches lined with coconut trees are magnificent, but are not suitable for swimming because of strong currents, sharks and local mines.
The town of Manakara has about 40,000 inhabitants, the majority of whom are from the Antehimoro or Antimorona ethnic group (morona meaning bank). The inhabitants’ daily activities consist of fishing, weaving mats, building canoes and making Antehimoro paper. This product has made the reputation of the region and is used to create scrolls, cards or postcards.
Today, Manakara shows two very different architectures. On the edges of its wide avenues, you will discover a rather modest architecture, characterized by houses built with vegetable materials. On the other hand, in the part of the city located between the Pangalanes Channel and the Indian Ocean, you will see old French style houses which were founded during the colonial period.
Hiking is one of the town’s main activities. Several paths can be explored by bike, on foot or aboard local canoes. These attractions allow pleasure boaters to discover the local cultures, architecture and beautiful scenery. You will notice that fruit trees (jackfruit, mango, banana, etc.), spice trees (cinnamon, coffee, etc.) and the traveler’s tree (ravinala) grow abundantly along roads and paths.
The FCE railway
Built in 1936, the FCE railway (Fianarantsoa- Côte Est: about 158km) is still operational and continues to transport passengers and goods, fruits in this case. Trains carry nearly 250,000 passengers and over 17,000 tons of freight per year. A journey on this railway line reveals a splendid green landscape. A unique experience not to be missed!
The port of Manakara was built in 1936, at the same time as the railway line. Since then, this small port has greatly contributed to the city’s development and still allows the export of the region’s products abroad.
When to go?
Manakara has a tropical climate with an important year-round rainfall, even during the driest period. January, February and March are the wettest periods. Throughout the year, the average temperature is 27°C. During the southern winter, it can drop to 10°C and can rise up to 32°C during the hot season. June, August, September, October and November are the best times to discover Manakara.
How to get around?
Manakara is considered to be a cycling town, so the best way to get around is by bicycle. There are no traffic jams or pollution. It is also possible to get around by rickshaw. It is the most popular transport solution, allowing tourists to peacefully explore the whole town.
What to do?
- Visit Antehimoro paper craft factories.
- Hike or bike to discover the Betsileo landscapes and villages.
- Take a boat trip to breathe in the region’s exotic scents.