One should understand that the Fort-Dauphin referred to here is the town located southwest of Madagascar, not the Manitoba Fort Dauphin museum. Fort-Dauphin is also known as Faradofay (malagasization of the french Fort-Dauphin) , Taolagnaro, Tolagnaro, Tôlanaro or Tolanaro. It is the capital of the now Anosy region in the former province of Toliara.
An expressive name
There is actually a fort in the city that was built by the Compagnie Française des Indes Orientales (French East India Company) in 1943. It was named after the soon-to-be crown prince of France. However, Malagasy people have always named it Taolagnaro.
Taolagnaro comes from the taolana maro which means thousands of skeletons or bones. You should be informed that cities names in Madagascar are created after in local anecdotes. Taolagnaro is no exception.
Here is the history: A flowering tree killer called Hazokomanga had been planted at the bottom of the peninsula Ehoala, the birthplace of the city of Taolagnaro. The smell of its flowers suffocated every passing birds, animals and men; which died just under the tree. The bones were accumulated there and hence the origin of the word taolana maro.
The native people of the region are called Tanosy or Antanosy – literally those who come from the island, referring to the Ehoala peninsula . Among their diverse origins are the sailors of a sunken vessel from Gujarat. Their main activities are fishing and everything related to the sea. Nevertheless, they are also rice farmers, ranchers, blacksmiths and skilled carpenters.
Fort-Dauphin welcomed the most durable French settlement in Madagascar . It was home to communities of Malagasy, French, Chinese and Pakistani until 1975 during the second republic.
An ideal climate for beach activities
As everywhere in Madagascar, there are mainly two seasons in Fort-Dauphin : one cold and dry from May to October, and another hot and humid from November to April. The maximum mean temperature of the cold season is 26 ° C versus 28.66 ° C for the hot season. There is not much difference between the two seasons. That being said, during the cold season, the early morning and the end of the day are a little cooler’… But its relative because cold in Taolagnaro means a minimum average of 16 ° C for July, the coldest month.
The Southwest oasis of Madagascar
Even if Fort-Dauphin is in the arid area of southern Madagascar, it receives more precipitation than surrounding areas due to the proximity of a mountain barrier. The wettest months, during which rainfall exceeds 100 mm, are from December to March. The city is greener and hence the name of oasis on the Southwest.
Taolagnaro is rarely destroyed by tropical cyclones. Among the 18 hurricanes that hit the Big Island, Taolagnaro suffered damage from only 3 of them, respectively Daisy and Julita in 1994, and Gretel in 1997.
Fort-Dauphin is in a mutation
The forces of nature may leave little trace on the region, but the man’s passage is not nearly as discreet. Indeed, the Anosy region is now undergoing a huge transformation due to ilmenite mines exploited by QMM QIT Madagascar Minerals, a branch of the Rio Tinto Group, in partnership with the Malagasy government. The construction was financed with US$ 240 million from Rio Tinto QMM and US$35 million from the governement of Madagascar. There was the construction of new roads, housing and other infrastructures for mine development. The cost is about US$1 billion … imagine the change that amount of money could do!
Globetrotters interested in the topics of socio-economic impacts of mines on the local communities have an ideal experiment site . On this subject, several NGOs are represented at Taolagnaro to ensure assistance to community development . There are Andrew Lees Trust for social and environmental education, Azafady and Anosy Community Development Trust for the socio-economic development, Asity Madagascar for the environment, Action Socio-Sanitaires et Organisation Secours (ASOS – Socio-sanitarian actions and rescue organization ), CARE, The Libanona Ecology Centre, and WWF. One should be aware that the controversy over the mine and the local communities are currently part of the everyday life in Fort-Dauphin.
A Bridge to …
The major change occurred in Fort Dauphin is without doubt the new port Ehoala just west of the city. Fort-Dauphin recovers gradually the vitality it had in the 60s and 70s, and this despite the significant entry of foreign currency through exports of live lobsters (250 to 350 tons / year between 1990 and 2005), sapphire, QMM project and tourism.
For a while, the old port was only of local importance and roads linking it to the rest of the country were difficult.
Ehoala port was functional since July 8, 2009. It is a multifunctional port, for public utility, in deep water – 15.75 meters at berth – with a private management. The port has 400 hectares of available space for industrial development that is Ehoala Park and Ehoala village. Water supply and electricity is provided by the project initiator Rio Tinto QMM.
Significant Canadian presence
Canadians are definitely present economically in Fort-Dauphin. Hotels in the city are now hosting them regularly, especially QMM workers. So make sure to have a confirmed hotel room before going there because there may not have any room available.
Fort-Dauphin does not attract only workers. Actually, it is a perfect holiday destination for both Malagasy and foreign tourists. Madagascar tour operator listed it as one of the MUST destination in Madagascar.
Libanona Beach – surfers’ paradise
Libanona Beach is known as the most beautiful and cleanest beach in Taolagnaro. In the 19th century, the place was still a mere sand dune at the time of Lutheran missionaries settled there. Those latter have built cottages that served as stage lodging for the children visitors at the mission school. A scoop! The first Malagasy President Philibert Tsiranana even used to stay in a villa just above the beach.
Fort Dauphin is the city of surfing in Madagascar through Libanona Beach. The surfing international day is celebrated there every June 20th as in all the beaches around the world. Surfing is a popular sport and there are clubs, associations and surfing equipment rentals on site.
The ideal time to surf is during the “cold season”, during the school holidays from mid-June to about mid-September. Onshore winds come from the north, and the ideal swell direction is from the south-west. Even if there are waves, the beach is never crowded, but beware of injuries and rocks.
Berenty is a small private reserve bordering the Mandraka river, 2 hours drive from the city of Fort-Dauphin. It is best known for its lemurs, including the spectacular “dancer”, known locally as the name sifaky. They are so named because of their warning cry against danger that resemble to”shi-fak”.
Berenty Lodge offers accommodation inside the forest, which adds to its authenticity. The Lodge has 29 rooms, restaurant, bar, cafeteria, shop, laundry service and an airstrip for light aircraft.
Andohaleha National Park
The GPS coordinates are 24° 30 ‘South – 25°02’ South and 46° 32 ‘East – 46° 54’ East.
Andohaleha park is the only protected area that houses a humid rain forest at the south of the Capricorn Tropic in Madagascar. It is the natural bridge that connects the east ecoregion to the south one.
Andohaleha counts 12 species of lemurs, 129 species of birds, 75 species of reptiles and 50 species of amphibians. Do not miss the maki Ihazofotsy, gray, with a ringed white and black tail , and 50 cm high. You probably know the King Julien in the Madagascar movie . It’s a maki!
For the flora, you could admire the dwarf baobab, trihedral palm , wild vanilla, or the famous ravenala. The ravenala, also known as the “traveler’s tree”, allows travelers to stop and enjoy its shade and drink the clear water contained in its trunk. It is an endemic species to Madagascar
Created around 1900, Nahampoana is an ancient botanical acclimatization station for useful species in Madagascar. It is a 20 minutes drive from downtown Fort-Dauphin by a highway along the lake Lanirano. The reserve is managed by Air Fort Services in Fort Dauphin. One can find chameleons, which are the hallmark of Madagascar as well as lemurs. There are also crocodiles, turtles, diurnal and nocturnal lemurs, and the vegetation. It is possible to stay and eat on site, or even have a boat ride. One can also enjoy the natural swimming pool, waterfall and cave.
The creeks are located 40 km northeast of the city of Taolagnaro. One can see the multitude of fascinating small rocky islets. It is an ideal site for scuba diving, swimming, canoe riding and of course natural tourism. Do not miss the opportunity to see carnivorous plants like Nepenthes which abound in this region.
This huge lake, 8 miles from Fort-Dauphin, surrounded by fishermen villages, is separated from the sea by a beautiful white sand beach. It is an ideal place for sliding sports and water activities. The access is public and it is a good spot for surfing with fast waves, powerful and fun. These latter are like sandbank, steering left and right, with length from 50 to 150 meters, which can sometimes reach 300 meters. The swell direction is south, southeast and east. The wind direction is north and northwest.
There is a water sports center with a reception infrastructure and equipped with high-end hardware. There is also the Vinanibe Lodge which have 15 comfortable hard clad wood bungalows overlooking the lake.
St. Louis peak
St Louis peak is the culmination of the city of Taolagnaro at 529 meters. Two paths lead to the summit. The more abrupt and very athletic one with 1h30 walking, and the other more moderate with about 2-3 hours of walking. Once at the top, there is a panoramic and unique view of the surrounding areas.
Many standing stones that serve as sacrificial sites Antanosy culture can be seen. There are also the remains of the buildings formerly occupied by the French, Portuguese or American missionaries, and City Hall.
If you are a fan of cultural tourism, a visit to Fort or Camp Flacourt Flacourt needed.
Another historical site: the Mahavoky hotel. This is the old Childern’s Home Missionary at the time of American Lutheran missionaries established in 1888 to about a hundred years. They are the ones who were behind the American School now located in Antananarivo and hosts mostly children of expatriate organizations missionaries U.S., Canadian, Norwegian and Malagasy. The hotel has 12 bedrooms, a large game room, restaurant, and a mini-gym.
Tourist facilities in Fort-Dauphin
You can find hotels socio-eco-responsible as the Berenty Lodge, the Lodge or Vinanibe Nahampoana Reserve. There are other hotels like Le Dauphin, Motel Gina, Gina Village, Kaleta, Miramar, Libanona, Village at Little Happiness and Lavasoa.
In the restaurant, you have the Motel Gina La Perline, Hunters, Anita, The Terrace, Bai Monkey, Miramar, Little Happiness and recreation. The local cuisine uses many local ingredients, prepared in a simple manner without too much of spices which are very accessible place. The main course is rice, like any good self-respecting Madagascar, with meat, poultry or fish.
If you have any local spots to suggest that it is a hotel, a small restaurant, a piece of paradise … who knows … please let us know. We are here for!