Best time to travel to Madagascar

Betsiboka River in Madagascar

Looks like wide streams of carrot juice have split over Madagascan gorges

Best time: December–February

Betsiboka River
Betsiboka River
Betsiboka River
Betsiboka River

The main river in Madagascar, Betsiboka, flows for 525 km from north of Tananarive to Bombetoka Bay. It amazes with its reddish-orange colour. A large amount of silt carried by the waters is responsible for that surreal hue.

The river attracts a lot of tourists as a natural phenomenon. But its origin was also influenced by human activity. The mass deforestation of Madagascar that led to great erosion of iron-rich soil is to be blamed for the river's colour. Still, people come to marvel at the sight of the bizarre-coloured river that looks so similar to the fountain of carrot juice.

The best of Betsiboka may be observed during the peak of rainy season between December and February when it is astonishing with its gushing streams. Outside of rainy season, the reddish stream is still there, just more modest in comparison to floods.

Besides, when the river dries up, at some locations it might be difficult to differentiate the water from the rocks—everything is orange. In that case, it doesn't look like carrot juice anymore, but rather resembles some smashed red bricks.

Mahajanga Province offers a plentitude of nice viewing spots to observe Betsiboka River along its valley until it empties to Bombetoka Bay, near Mahajanga.

Practical info

What causes the unique reddish-orange color of Betsiboka River?

The surreal reddish-orange color of Betsiboka River is caused by the iron-rich silt carried by its waters. The color origin and brightness vary with the season, appearing more vigorous during the rainy season and modest during the dry season. Show more

When is the best time to visit Betsiboka River in Madagascar?

Betsiboka River in Madagascar is at its peak during the rainy season between December and February when gushing streams and the bright reddish-orange color of the water provide an astonishing sight. Show more

How long is the Betsiboka River and where does it flow?

Flowing from north of Tananarive to Bombetoka Bay, Betsiboka River is 525 km long and it passes through many regions of Madagascar. Visitors can enjoy viewing spots all along the valley to marvel at its peculiarities as the river empties into Bombetoka Bay close to Mahajanga. Show more

What is the impact of human activity on the color of Betsiboka River?

As a result of extensive deforestation in Madagascar, the reddish-orange color of Betsiboka River is due to the great erosion of iron-rich soil. This has become a natural phenomenon, attracting tourists who are awed by this bizarre-colored river that looks like a fountain of carrot juice. Show more

Are there any viewing spots to observe Betsiboka River in Mahajanga Province?

Mahajanga Province has many beautiful viewing spots to observe the unique reddish-orange color of Betsiboka River along its length where visitors can enjoy the surrounding picturesque scenery. The beautiful city of Mahajanga is also a great place to experience the cultural heritage and local flavor of Madagascar. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin