Places of Madagascar

Many contrasts. It's not called 'The Island Continent' for nothing.

The Roads

While the well-travelled road from Tana to the port-town of Tamatave in the east might be the best in Madagascar it would barely qualify as a secondary route in the developed world. All the other roads in the south and east are at the best no better and usually much worse.

What more should you expect in a country without one set of traffic lights and few traffic police?

Approaching Itampolo on the southwest coast

Travelling south, the further you go the worse the roads get. National "highways" amount to little more than sand and dirt tracks. But at least the sand is smooth. The very worst roads in the country are the rocky strips where all you can do is crawl and hope that it doesn't go on beyond the next ridge.

As the roads grow worse the spiny forest closes in

But what Madagascar lacks in the quality of its roads it makes up for in the courtesy of its drivers. Though they appear lawless, the roads are governed by informal codes. I never saw an accident, despite the traffic chaos of the capital and the towns and despite the general lack of road sense of the rural pedestrians.

The real problems start when you hit the rocks

I also never saw any road rage in Madagascar, though the Malagasy have far more justification for it than any impatient commuter in the West. Displays like road rage are just not part of the national psyche. What's the hurry anyway? Take things "slowly, slowly", as the Malagasy say.

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