Located about 1,000 km from Antananarivo at the end of National Road 7, Toliara or Tulear is the capital of southwest Madagascar. Also known as “the white city” or “the city of the sun”, Tulear is a cosmopolitan city.
Located on the Tropic of Capricorn, Tulear is a destination of choice for travelers looking for relaxed atmosphere and heavenly setting. Its inhabitants are known to be very friendly to visitors. You will surely spend a most agreeable stay!
The city was founded in 1895 by a French architect. It was designed according to a fairly strict grid pattern that you can still see today through its large straight avenues.
The Tulear region is conductive to discovery and culture growth, with a friendly population living in harmony in a semi-desert landscape that is so typical of the region. Nestled on a large coastal plain flanked by mangroves, sand beaches and coral reefs, this land of Vezo fishermen and Masikoro farmers overlooks the Ranobe lagoon and the splendid Mozambique Channel.
Due to its position in the Tropic of Capricorn, Tulear enjoys a very pleasant climate and long hours of sunshine all year round, hence its nickname “the city of the sun”.
The Tulear region is one of the Big Island’s main destinations. In the north, the coral beaches enclose the Ifaty lagoon, while in the south, after Saint-Augustin Bay, the beaches of Anakao extends towards the Far South. The region is blessed with natural treasures that are ideal for discovery and relaxation.
Apart from diving and relaxing on the beach, another way to enjoy the Mozambique Channel lagoon is to observe the Vezo’s fishing techniques on their canoe. This formerly nomadic ethnic group now lives in villages scattered along the coast and lives mainly on fishing. In perfect harmony with nature and what it has to offer, they fish in a relatively responsible way. They master a number of fishing methods, such as net, hook and diving, which would only allow them to bring back a meager catch.
Tulear is also the land of the Mahafaly people. This ethnic group composed of more farmers than fishermen mainly lives in the areas surrounding Tulear. Walking along sandy trails bordered by century-old tombs, you may encounter men with tools in their hands who walk miles and miles from a village to another to reach their plots. Women work in corn fields or go to the city’s market to try to sell their small goods. The small scattered villages made up of traditional houses immerse you in an old photography setting. An oasis of tranquility invites you to relax peacefully. However, if you take a closer look at the population, you will notice that some of them are dealing with issues such as the zebu thefts operated by other ethnic groups in the region.
Funerary art of the South
Funerary art alludes to the very cultural wealth of southern Madagascar. Featuring a rectangular or a square shape, the tombs are decorated with paintings depicting the lives of the deceased. The most popular ones are those of Andranovory. The tomb of King Baba, a Masikoro king, is located on the outskirts of the city. His remains have been buried there for more than 100 years.
Tulear is subject to the southern wind called “Tsiokatimo”, a powerful wind blowing from the south that can generate some sandstorms at certain times of the year. There is almost no rain in the city.
The average temperature is 24°C. July is the driest month of the year, whereas January is the most pleasant.
The most favorable and coolest periods to visit Tulear and the Atsimo-Andrefana region are from April to November. From December to March, we are in the middle of the austral summer, when temperatures are very high and the water in the lagoon very hot.
What to see and to do in Tulear?
- Go to the coast, along the Ranobe lagoon, the Mozambique Channel to meet the Vezo fishermen and discover their different fishing techniques.
- Visit the city’s markets, the best places to meet the population and enjoy Ali Baba’s cave.
- Take the trails outside the city to meet Masikoro farmers in their village.