If you’re trying to decide where and what you’d like to see in Madagascar, Tsingy National Park should be on your list. It’s one of the most popular highlights on the Western coast of Madagascar. If you want to know how to get to Tsingy National Park, here’s all the information you’ll need to arrange a visit.
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Tsingy is the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes”. The labyrinth forest of limestone needles justifies this name. The protected area was designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1990. There are two ‘Tsingy’ to visit here, the Grand Tsingy (my favourite) and the Small Tsingy. A here will take you deep into the limestone forests with the impressive jagged mineral formations below your feet.
Getting there from Antananarivo
Most travellers use the capital of Antananarivo (Tana) for a base to get around the country. Your first long journey towards getting closer to Tsingy is to arrange some transport to a town called Morondava.
There are taxi-brousse (shared taxi) departing each day, however, I highly recommend you book a seat with Cotisse Transport. This company charges a little more, however, they leave on time, they’re organised, you get your own allocated seat and they don’t stop and start all day. If you’re lucky, the van might even have wifi and air-conditioning.
How to book your ticket to Morondava
Seats book out very quickly with Cotisse transport, especially for the more popular routes, such as this one. Many tourists want to visit Morondava to visit Tsingy National Park and to visit the spectacular Avenue of the Baobabs.
TIP: If you’re super organised (and maybe with some luck on your side too), head to the Cotisse Transport office in Antananarivo on your way from the airport to your hotel. Just ask your taxi driver to stop here on the way, it takes less than 5 mins to book your seat for the following morning, pay for it and get your ticket.
The office in Tana is located here. You will need your passport to book a ticket and make sure you have local currency too. There is an ATM at the airport arrivals hall, so get some currency here when you arrive. (If you don’t get it at the airport, there is an ATM just across the road from the Cotisse transport office).
This ticket will cost 45,000 Ariary (12 USD). The van departs at 06:30 the following morning, however, you need to be there at 06:00 to check-in and get your luggage tagged etc. As I mentioned, this van departs on time so don’t be late.
Cotisse Transport van – Comfortable and well organised company to get around in Madagascar
How long does it take?
This journey takes all day, and then some. To be precise, it took us 13 hours and 15 minutes in total. Our driver was very good, fast, yet safe and we only stopped 2-3 times for a 5 min bathroom stop and around 30 min lunch stop at a local restaurant on the way.
Where to Stay in Morondava
You should arrive in Morondava around 7:45 pm. The office is conveniently located right near the beach with a few budget/mid-range hotels close-by. We stayed at Jean Rasta (also known as L’Oasis), a Bob Marley looking bar/restaurant that has only two small bungalows with fan and bathroom. The price is 50,000 per night (two people).
The man that runs it is very friendly, his English is great and he has a nice little set-up. It’s worth noting that this place has live music from 8 pm each night and it’s popular with locals and tourists for a few beers in the evening. The rooms are very close to the bar area, so it’s not really a place to get rest. After this long day of travel, believe me, you’ll be tired.
If we did this journey again, I’d make a reservation at Select Hotel. This new hotel has rooms from USD 30 per night. It has fabulous reviews, and all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. It is located on the main street (further from the beach).
Once you arrive at the Cotisse transport station, or the shared taxi station, just take a tuk-tuk to this hotel for about Ar 4000-6000 (about $1-2), depending on how good your negotiating skills are.
Click here to see availability of other hotels in Morondava.
How to arrange your trip to visit Tsingy National Park
Here’s the thing – depending on whether you’re a solo traveller or travelling with somebody else, the only option to visit Tsingy National Park is to hire a driver with a 4WD. The cost of the trip is based per vehicle, so naturally, if you’d like to save yourself a heap of money, you need to find some other people to share the journey.
TIP: On the journey from Tana to Morondava, look out for any travellers who will probably be wanting to visit Tsingy too. I’d recommend even talking with them on this ride to see if they’re interested to share the ride. If you don’t, you’ll spend a good part of the next day searching for people to share the ride and thus saving you heaps of dollars.
We arranged our trip to visit Tsingy with Jean, the guy who ran Jean Rasta, the place we stayed at in Morondava. We enquired here with Jean for how to get to Tsingy National Park. He used to be a guide in Tsingy National Park so he has good connections for experienced and reliable drivers who do this for a living.
How much is it?
Jean quoted us 250 EUR total for the 3-day trip to Tsingy for 2-4 people. This includes 4WD with driver, fuel and ferry crossings.
The trip does not include accommodation for two nights, park entrance, compulsory guide and a few random fees plus food etc. I’ve listed these prices below so you can budget accordingly.
We approached another French couple the following day once we had the price for the trip. (who were also on the van ride from Tana). We explained we had a driver, the price and what’s included and they were happy to share the trip and the costs. This worked out at EUR 62.50 each.
Can you get this trip cheaper?
Maybe you can get it a little cheaper, but it means sacrificing comfort as you could technically fit 1-2 more people in a 4WD with a total number of 5-6 passengers. Luggage would go on the top of the car and two passengers would sit in the back two folded down seats. Obviously, with the additional weight, you may be quoted more for this journey as the car would burn through more fuel with more weight taken into consideration.
You may be approached on the street by local guys who offer to take you to Tsingy for a cheap price. It’s up to you if you choose to take them up on the offer. If you do, you must be very clear about what’s included. Do they have a reliable 4WD? Is fuel included? Are the ferry crossing fees additional?
There are two other options for how to get to Tsingy National Park. You can enquire and book a place through a local agency in Morondava. You’ll pay a set amount for a seat and they will fill up a car with other passengers. It will most likely be 5-6 passengers total in the 4WD, plus the driver.
Alternatively, you can reserve the same trip (for a much higher price) for your requested dates here. This option ensures you will have a confirmed trip once you arrive.
What was included in our trip?
-Experienced local driver with 4WD for 3 days, fuel and all ferry crossings. It also includes a stop at the Avenue of the Baobabs, since we pass it on the way. In the morning, it is just a short stop at the baobabs. On the way home, we stopped here for a few hours to watch the incredible sunset and take photos.
Once the sun has set, our driver dropped us you back at Select Hotel in Morondava.
Ferry crossing trying to reach Tsingy National Park
What wasn’t included. What are the additional costs?
-Accommodation for 2 nights is not included, so you will need to arrange this.
We stayed at a lodge called Tanankoay. We didn’t have a reservation, but we were lucky they were able to offer us a simple bungalow for 15,000 per night (less than EUR 4). They also have upgraded bungalows for 25,000 and more expensive ones too. This is THE place you want to stay at.
Reservations are highly recommended as this place books out regularly with tour providers using it to accommodate small groups. All details, including phone and email information, are available on their website here.
-Park entrance fees and local guide (pay for these once you have arrived)
Depending on how many people are in your group, the price changes slightly. We were 4 people, so our fees were based on this. See below:
Park entrance fee MGA 55,000 each.
Compulsory guide fee MGA 135,000 for the group (so we paid MGA 67,500 each)
Community park fee MGA 10,000 each
Fee for the vehicle to enter park MGA 5,000 each.
Total MGA 137,500 per person OR USD 36.00.
Park and guide fees for Tsingy National Park
There are different circuits you can choose from. Andamozavaky is the most popular circuit to explore Grand Tsingy and the one that most visitors take. It is around 4 km long and you will spend approximately 4-5 hours inside the park.
Fees for Tsingy National Park
The photo above explains park fees per person (DROIT D’ENTREE) and compulsory guide fees (TARIF DE GUIDAGE JOURNALIER) for entry to the park. This is based on how many people are in your group.
Can you fly to Tsingy National Park?
If you have the budget to do so, yes, you can book a charter flight to reach Tsingy National Park. You may have to first fly from Antananarivo to Morondava, then take the charter flight from here.