One of Madagascar mysterious communities can be found in the rainforest hinterland just east of Ambalavao. The Tanala people, also called Antanala, live in South East Madagascar and are separated by the mountainous range from the coast by the Antaimoro and other ethnic groups. They are a large tribe of forest dwellers living inland. Their homeland separates the east coast from the Central Highlands. They are divided into two subgroups: the Tanala Menabe in the mountainous north and the Tanala Ikongo dwelling in the more accessible southern part.
The mountain Ikongo is a huge rock with a tabular summit, its northern and southern sides are surrounded by the Sandrananta and the Savondronina rivers, tributaries of the Matitanana river. This mountain, located in the middle of the forest, constitutes the core of the traditional Tanala-Ikongo region.
This 5-day expedition open to everyone but more for people comfortable with mountainous grounds. Even if the pace is peaceful, the ground is not flat. You must be ready to walk hilly tracks, few or not marked, steep slopes, and difficult passages (assistance if needed). There are no technical passages and anyone who feel at ease on this kind of ground can hike without any risks. You do not need to prepare physically, you only just need to take your time and follow a pace adapted to your physical condition.
Day 1: We will left Fianar at 6am to begin the long and bumpy journey. Ikongo isn't that far from Fianar but there is no direct road so we even though it is south east of here we have to first drive north east through the mountains to then drive south along the rainforest corridor. We will drove for about an hour and half on a tarmac road past Ranomafana until we turned south and the rest of the 90km will on a very very bumpy dirt track. It take us around 4 hours to drive halfway along the dirt track to a village called Tolongoina where we will stopped to have lunch. The area that we will driving through is a lower altitude than Fianar so the weather will absolutely sweltering! It take us another 4 hours to get to Ikongo - the road will so bad and after a very hot, sweaty and bumpy 9 hour journey there will just time for a shower, dinner and then sleep!
Day 2-3: Discovering Mount Ikongo and the Tanala Land. The Ikongo massif has the shape of a gigantic horseshoe whose concavity is turned towards the East. The length from north to south is about 6 km and the average width of the plateau is one kilometer. The upper plateau (1050m above sea level) is very wet with three brooks and many springs, which explains the 600 to 800 ha of fertile land suitable for various types of crops. The Ikongo take their name from Mount Ikongo, about 8 kilometers from Fort Carnot. Mount Ikongo was the refuge of all the inhabitants of the southern forest region in time of war. The top was level and could only be reached by one path, narrow and difficult. It was cultivated, providing food during sieges. This mountain was never conquered by the Imerina. Several buttresses accessible only by ramps of 45 to 50° serve as a base for this imposing massif, whose access is defended on all sides by steep rocks, with the exception, however, of the western part where there is a "kind of welding" that links Ikongo to the Ambondrombe massif, the mountain of spirits. To the north, a sort of indentation from which the Ilavaohina stream cascades, is "a second weak point of the position". "Everywhere else the massif is almost unapproachable. The Ikongo Massif, which rightly deserves to be called the Tanala Acropolis, is truly a formidable position.
Little by little we will penetrate in the forest, the real, that where to progress becomes really difficult because path disappear in the thick vegetation. We will cross numerous rivers, it we will slowed down enormously but we have no other choice!! Sometimes the vegetation is so thick that our guide has to cut a path with his machete. Nevertheless we will find time to discover some new the natural and cultural treasures of Mount Ikongo... Overnight at camp.
Day 4: A hike’s end. Last breakfast at the camp, while contemplating the sunrise on the Mount Ikongo. We will go back the road for a last stage. We will take some time to swim on the road and reach the Ikongo village. Finally we arrive Ikongo, what allows us to little relax, will just time for a shower, lunch and dinner. Goodbye Cocktail at the end of the hike with team, evening party around a fire with the villagers, with some rum and songs... very pleasant!!! Overnight at hotel.
Day 5: We will back to Fianar or Ranomafana in the same way by a 4x4 car with the dancing part of bumpy journey in the car. Overnight at hotel.
NOTE: The hike is open almost all along the year, except in case of cyclone. With very bad weather conditions, only the guide can decide what is appropriate to do.
About meals: Full Board (except breakfast at D1 and dinner on the last day) with wine and aperitif during bivouacs. 3-meals are served on a daily basis. Meal plan: generous and well-balanced meals to support your physical efforts. Biscuits, sugars, and dried fruits or fresh fruits while walking. Aperitif and snacks at the end of the afternoon. Generous dinner for a deserved rest. Beverages: bottled water, juice, tea, coffee, wine and aperitif, rums, beer. Our team take in charge the dinner preparation. However, if we are late, you could be asked to help (Fire, water…).
About accommodation: In tents, mattress and blankets provided. It is recommended to bring with you a personal flask. Our team take in charge almost everything in the camp. However, your help may be needed if lateness during the hike.
This package includes: Full Board (except breakfast at D1 and dinner on the last day) with beverages: bottled water, juice, tea, coffee, wine and aperitif, rums, beer; Accommodation in bivouacs/camps; The crew: 2 guides, cook, porters (luggage weight is limited to 10 kg); All the camping equipment; 4×4 car transportations, Goodbye Cocktail.
About safety: We always brief our customers before we go on a walk (A briefing on safety). We strongly advise hikers to subscribe to an individual insurance more efficient than our local insurance.
Not included: Personal expenses, tips, phone; Sanitary evacuation policy. In option: to be specified during your order.