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Most people come to Tulear for the beach and reef areas of Ifaty (30
km north) and St Augustin Bay (30 km south). Pleasant days can be spent
enjoying the sun at Anakao, which is 1.5 hours to the south by boat, and
Tulear is also great for surfing.
One of the world's largest barrier reefs runs all the way around the south-west
Malagasy coastline, so spend your time snorkelling and diving the coral
reef of Ifaty or walking in the bush behind Ifaty, known as the 'spiny
forest'. At both Ifaty and St Augustin Bay, this 'spiny forest' offers
Tulear is also home to an incredible mix of tribes: the Antandroy, Veso,
Masikoro and Mahafaly, with their ornamental tombs. For a fascinating
insight into the lives of these people, visit the cultural museum run
by the University of Tulear. You will see rare artefacts such as masks
with real human teeth and hair, black magic fetishes used by the Mikea
and erotic carvings of the Menabe Sakalava.
For nightlife near Tulear, travellers can visit Madagascar's most well-known
nightclub, the 'Zaza Club'. Be aware that taxis do not operate after 10pm
in Tulear, but the club only opens after 11pm so you have to use the local
pousse-pousse (rickshaws). The rickshaw drivers know this, so they hang
around outside the hotels, hawking business.
Tulear Points of Interest:
- Art museum and southern traditional crafts, funeral art of the Mahafaly
- Bay of St Augustin for blue lobsters, sea tortoises, ancestor relics
- Ifaty for its renowned beaches, diving and fishing
- Nature reserve of lake Tsimanampetsotsa with its flamingos, lemurs and
- Nosy Ve Island (not to be confused with Nosy Be) for its exotic birds
- Rabesandratana museum (oceanographic museum)
Tulear (Toliara, in Malagasy) is a city of about 100,000 people - with
probably has the greatest number of different ethnic groups of any Malagasy
town - on the south-western coast of Madagascar and an important port.
It stands at the end of the RN7, 1000 km from Antananarivo, and is the
crossroads between the RN6, the route north to the beaches and spiny forest
of Ifaty (and, eventually, the beaches and reefs of Ampsilava and Andavadoaka)
and the route south to the beach resort of Anakao and Tsimanampetsotsa
National Park. For birders, the city is the gateway to the birding hotspots
of Ifaty, St. Augustin Bay and the islet of Nosy Ve.
Tulear is most attractive from the end of September to March, when the
flame trees are in bloom, decking the city in vivid colour. There are
a number of comfortable hotels with swimming pools where you can break
your journey and relax for a night or two. You could spend a few hours
wandering around the busy streets admiring the painted pousse-pousses
or mingling with the shoppers in the vibrant markets, one of the best
places in Madagascar to buy a traditional lamba – or one of the
fabulous mohair rugs from Ampanihy.
There are two small university-run museums to browse. The Musée
de Tulear houses an ethnological collection including a number of examples
of burial art and local artefacts, a mock-up of a Vezo fisherman’s
hut and a collection of photos representing local life. The Musée
de la Mer displays many specimens of fish, crustaceans and eels –
and a collection of the sponges and corals that were once the glory of
this coast. The prime attraction is the only preserved coelacanth on display
Twelve kilometres east of town is the marvellous Arboretum d’Antsokay,
a showcase for the flora of the hot, dry southwest. Some of Madagascar's
most impressive tombs are within easy reach of Toliara.