Hiking Across Madagascar


This month, I plan to walk across Madagascar.  I’m guesstimating that it will be a 3,000 km (2,000-mile) trip from its northern tip to its southernmost cap point. That’s about the same distance as the Appalachian Trail. The main difference is that there is no trail.  In fact, nobody has ever walked across Madagascar, so there is no continuous trail.

Maps are mostly useless since they are either outdated or lacking in detail. Therefore, I’ll be winging it most of the way.  Because the vegetation is often dense (especially on the east side, where I plan to spend most of the time), I will have to road walk often (since bushwhacking is far too slow). Although I dislike road walking, few roads in Madagascar are paved and there is little traffic anywhere.

Photo credit: www.iexplore.com.

As a result, I expect that most roads will be dirt and deserted. Potholes won’t discourage my feet and they will keep the cars from cruising by too fast. Resupplies should be easy since villages are plentiful. The main downsides is that the food will be monotonous and not too nutritious. One of the hardest sections will be near the start of the hike: climbing the tallest peak.

Although Madagascar’s tallest peak is only about 2,800 meters high (less than 10,000 ft), it doesn’t have a proper trail to the summit. Moreover, it is surrounded by wilderness. Translation: it will take at least one week to traverse it.

I’ll be taking a break on July 9-13 to fly to Mauritius to reset my visa (Madagascar limits you to a 90-day visa). Otherwise, I will be hiking most of the time.

The red line on the maps is an extremely vague desire.  I will make significant deviations from the red lines according to conditions on the ground, which will include safety, national parks, permits, private property, and authorities.

Hiking Across Madagascar Map

Francis Tapon
Francis Tapon is half Chilean and half French and he was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He's been to over 80 countries, but he keeps coming back to this magical city because he loves earthquakes.

He spoke Spanish at home, French at school, and English everywhere else. He can get by in Portuguese and Italian, barely survive in Russian and Slovenian, and speak a few other languages.

Francis has an MBA from Harvard Business School and co-founded a successful Silicon Valley company that did robotic vision. He left his technology life to walk across America four times. He has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which "features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors."

Francis has written a couple of travel books including The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. He also produced a 77-minute video about his CDT Yo-Yo.
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