Toliara developed in the low plain of the Fiherenana River, a capricious river that “made and defeated the city” at the end of RN7. This former colonial trading post was emancipated by welcoming all the populations of the region – Vezo, Masikoro (southern Sakalava), Mahafaly, Antandroy, others from more distant regions, such as the Betsileo, the Merina and also foreigners such as Indians, French and Italians.
The port city is located just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and is almost always under an implacable sun (40 degrees) in the hot season instead, the rest of the year, it is often swept by the Tsiokatsimo, a strong southern wind that, it is said, can tear the life of the old vezo
History of Toliara
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Masikoro kings built this Vezo fishing village, sheltered by a coral reef ( “toly haranana” where the name comes from), one of their two main trading posts with the bay of Anantsoño (Saint-Augutin). After benefiting in 1897 from the transfer of the French vice residence from Nosy Be and the settlement of his European residents, Toliara became, in 1903, the capital of the largest province of the island, therefore, gradually, its true economic center. Its pier was moved and then enlarged, which allowed for the construction of a deep-sea port from which, for a long time, live zebus, packaged meat and cassava were exported among other things. This port, now threatened by the spread of muddy mangrove deposits, exports virtually nothing but maize and cotton. It is more oriented towards the imports necessary for the region and plays the role of a transit center. Fifth Malagasy city with over 200,000 inhabitants and university center, Toliara is committed to reviving its industry ( oil mill), but it benefits above all from a real tourist development.
What to See and Do in Toliara
In Toliara you must visit the Arboretum de Antsokay, located about 10 km from the main bus station, on the RN7, a botanical garden dedicated to the protection of over 900 species of southern plants of Madagascar. Not far from the arboretum, 5 minutes by car still on the RN7, the Tsinjoriake Nature Reserve, located right at the foot of Table Mountain. Here we can see several species of endemic spiny plants in a circuit of approx. 1 hour that ends with the splendid view of Toliara from the top of the so called “Table Mountain”.
The city does not have much to offer in terms of tourism except a small shell market located at the end of Avenue Gallieni and several general markets. Toliara is also famous for excellent restaurants, after so much zebu and chicken on the RN7, fresh fish or a nice pizza is not out of place even in Madagascar.
Toliara is for many tourists the end of the road trip coming from Antananarivo, 900 km north. From Toliara, many tourists will spend few days some of the most beautiful beaches of Madagascar. North of Toliara we find in order of distance, from Toliara, Ifaty and Mangily (30 mins), Ankasy (2 hrs), Tsiandamba (2 hrs), Salary (5 hrs), Andavadoaka (6 hrs). Easier to reach by boat, south of Toliara, we find Anakao.
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