Route Nationale 5 is said to be the worst road of Madagascar

RN5 (Route Nationale 5) is a challenging 4x4 track located on the eastern coast of Madagascar, renowned for its rugged terrain and formidable obstacles. It’s said to be the worst road in the country, yet it beckons adventurers seeking the ultimate off-road experience.

Route Nationale 5

How long is Route Nationale 5?

The road is 393km (244 miles) long, running south-north from Toamasina, the capital of the Atsinanana region, to Maroantsetra, a market town and domestic seaport. It’s mostly unpaved. The first 160 km (from Toamasina to Soanierana) are paved and in good condition. The remaining part is just terrible. 4x4 vehicles with high clearance driven by an experienced driver only. 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 road takes nearly 24 hours to drive.

Is Route Nationale 5 in Madagascar challenging?

Running alongside the Indian Ocean, the road crosses 13 rivers by boat or ferry. 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 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. In January and February, the entire route is impassable. 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. 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.