Route Nationale 5 is a challenging 4x4 track located in Madagascar with a length of 397km. This muddy track links Toamasina and Maroantsetra. It’s said to be the worst road in the country.
The road includes several river crossing by boat or ferry. Route Nationale 5 is unpaved, 4 x 4 only, and is supposed to be very challenging and runs south along the coast to Mananara Nord and Toamasina. It’s either the worst road in Madagascar or the best 4WD adventure in the country. With sections of sand, solid rock and even worn-down bridges that drivers must inspect before crossing, the 200km road takes nearly 24 hours to drive. It turns especially treacherous during the rainy season (December to March), when the lack of asphalt or concrete paving leads the road to become impassable in many spots.
Route Nationale 5 is little more than a forest track for much of its length and frequently impassable. It starts in Toamasina, the capital of the Atsinanana region on the east coast of Madagascar on the Indian Ocean. After 397 km the track ends in Maroantsetra, a market town and domestic seaport in Analanjirofo Region, Madagascar, at the northern end of the Bay of Antongil.
Portions of the road may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather. In January and February, the entire route is impassable. Heavy or prolonged rain can cause local flash floods that cover the road with water or wash out culverts or bridges. Driving on this road you will be definitely rewarded by one of the most solitary and off the beaten track places of the whole country. Most of National Road 5 runs along the white sand coastline, providing spectacular views of palm tree forests and the Indian Ocean.
After rain, sections of road can become decidedly hazardous when fast-flowing creek crossings and slippery mud can cause road closures. The very idea of calling it a "national route" is so hysterical that only the sight of your 4WD being floated across a river on a few oil drums will stop you laughing. As always, check road conditions before departing. There are sections of sheer rock, sections of deep sand and everything in between, particularly mud.
During and after a storm the road may be impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Best of all are the numerous river crossings, some with dilapidated bridges that require close inspection walk across these before the car and others with ferries both real or homemade, where you get out and everyone pulls a rope to get across. It can easily get muddy if it rains making it challenging to get through.
Pics: Florentine Vermeiren