Essence of Madagascar

Budget Madagascar tour

Essence of Madagascar – a 12 day budget Madagascar tour.

Experience the best of this enigmatic island continent on this budget Madagascar tour which still provides a comfortable experience

Travel with our small group from Antananarivo (Tana) through the Central Highlands to the Mozambique Channel encountering Madagascar’s unique wildlife at national parks and reserves like Anja and Ranomafana.

Best of all, get to meet the Malagasy people – one of the true highlights of a visit to this intriguing part of Africa.



On this budget Madagascar tour, we take in some of best of this enigmatic and alluring land. We visit superb national parks, including the bizarre moonscape of Isalo and the lush rainforests of Ranomafana, home to countless species of lemurs including the rare golden bamboo lemur, only discovered by scientists in 1986.

Also spend time at Ifaty on the beautiful Mozambique Channel.

If you have longer to spare than just 12 days then contact us for many different extension options.

Madagascar is unlike anywhere else on earth – join us to experience its diverse charms on a trip that will challenge what you thought you knew about Africa.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture 
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Arrive in Antananarivo and transfer to your hotel conveniently situated in the vicinity of the airport. You may wish to relax or start exploring the city if time permits. Overnight Gassy Country House Hotel or similar. No meals are included today.

After breakfast drive southward across the landscape of the highlands, mainly composed of rice fields and lavaka, or ‘big holes’ caused by erosion. Stop in Ambatolampy, the ‘city built on the flat rock’. Traditionally agricultural, the town is also famous for age-old foundries, a technique transmitted from father to son. Continue to the important town of Antsirabe where we stop for lunch and then drive to Ambositra for our overnight stay. Overnight Motel Violette or similar (B)

(Approximate driving time today is 8 hours)

This morning explore Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry. The architecture is beautiful; houses are made with ornately carved wooden balconies and shutters with vivid colours. Continue through the highlands to the large city of Fianarantsoa, where the landscape is still dominated by rice fields on stage, pine forest and eucalyptus. On arrival, take a city tour of Fianarantsoa before continuing to Ambalavao, where we visit the Paper Anteimoro workshop, a sign of the Arabian influence in Madagascar. Also, if time permit, we visit the colourful and popular zebu market in Ambalavao (only on Wednesdays and Thursdays). Overnight Zongo Hotel or similar (B)

(Approximate driving time today is 7 hours)

This morning continue to Anja Reserve where we start our wildlife experiences. Anja is a reserve run by the local village, and income raised serves to pay the local school teachers’ salary. During the 2 hour hike, we will get the chance to see the famous ring-tailed lemurs. Continue south passing the “3 hillocks” and the huge dome called “archbishop’s cape” a sacred place for the local people, as it is a place where their ancestors made a collective suicide rather than to surrender to Merina’s domination. Stop in Ihosy, the capital of the Bara tribes, nomadic cattle raisers and then drive through the spectacular “plateaux de Horombe” to finally arrive in Ranohira, the gate to the Isalo National Park. Overnight Motel de l’Isalo or similar. (B)

(Approximate driving time today is 6 hours)

After breakfast, enjoy a walk in the National Park of Isalo. This park is very famous for its strange sandstone geological formations eroded over the passage of time by the wind and rain, this park offers some of the most spectacular scenery of the country. This is also a place where the Bara tribes bury their dead. If we are lucky, we will see the lemur Catta during our excursion in the park. With permission, visit a local school project. Later in the afternoon, we head to “La Fenêtre de l’Isalo”, a stunning rock arch to watch the sunset over this dramatic landscape. Overnight Motel de l’Isalo or similar (B)

After breakfast, continue southwest to Tuléar, the terminal of Route National 7. Stop at Ilalaka, a tiny village transformed into a busy town since the discovery of sapphire 15 years ago.  From here, a new landscape presents, composed with semi-dry forest of the west and, baobab tamarin trees. Visit Zombitse National Park where we will have 1-hour hike with a special guide in a semi-dry tropical forest, home to endemic birds and up to 6 species of lemurs. As we approach Tulear, we start to see the spiny forest and the colourful tombs of the Mahafaly and Antandroy tribes. At Tulear we take the Route National 9, and head north to Ifaty along the coast passing mangroves, spiny forest and dunes. Overnight La Mira or similar (B)

(Approximate driving time today is 8 hours)

Today is at leisure. This afternoon there will be an optional walk to the village of Mangily and get a feel for the life of the Vezo fisherman. During the winter months (June – August it is possible to take a whale watching excursion at extra cost). Overnight La Mira or similar (B)

After breakfast, we head back to Tuléar and have a short city tour and visit the excellent Arboretum showcasing the best flora of Madagascar. From there, we take the Route National 7 and head northwards back to Isalo National Park. Overnight Motel de l’Isalo or similar (B)

(Driving time approximately is 7 hours)

After breakfast, we head north to Ihosy the capital of the Bara tribes and renowned Zebu herders. Pass back through the dramatic scenery of “plateaux de Horombe”, with its wide-open savannah. Around Ihosy we look out for the Bara with their droves of zebu.  Continue through to the catholic city of Fianarantsoa and on to Ranomafana National Park.  Overnight Ihary Hotel or similar (B)

(Approximate driving time today is 7 hours)

Today we enjoy a morning excursion, walking for around 4 hours with stops with a local guide where we hope to see different lemur species. Later you will have some leisure time before a night walk on the edge of the forest looking for nocturnal species. Overnight Ihary Hotel or similar (B)

Depart early today and we re-enter the highlands once again enjoying the scenery of rice terraces beautifully arranged on the hills, and the valleys decorated with wide vegetable plantations. Stop at Ambositra for lunch and visit a local wood carvers’ shop. Continue to Antsirabe arriving by the middle of the afternoon. We take a tour of this important highland town which is also home to the main beer brewery of Madagascar. Overnight Royal Palace Hotel or similar (B)

(Approximate driving time today is 6 hours)

After breakfast we drive back to Tana. Upon arrival, transfer to the airport on due time for your onward flight back home. Day use available at Gassy Country House until late afternoon for clients travelling on the night Air France / Kenya Airways flights. (B)

(Approximate driving time today is 4 hours)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

Please note that tour dates for the budget Madagascar tour in 2022 and 2023 are still provisional and may change by a day or so.

Return flights from London to Antananarivo to join the budget Madagascar tour start at £600. Please contact us for a quotation.

There is a single supplement payment on the budget Madagascar tour starting from £195.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post the budget Madagascar tour at the airport costs from £30 per person, per night sharing a twin/double room and £54 per person in a solo occupancy room.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post tour at in Antananarivo costs from £26 per person, per night sharing a twin/double room and £46 per person in a solo occupancy room.

Please note that the prices quoted above are for the category of accommodation and hotel used for this particular tour. Depending on the hotel eventually confirmed there may be some difference in the rate advertised by the hotel, and the prices available through Undiscovered Destinations. It should be noted we will not apply a surcharge should more expensive accommodation be used. At the same time in the event that a lower rate is available for the confirmed hotel we are unable to offer a refund.

Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier or in the vicinity of the airport.

Alternatively, if you have arranged  a pre or post tour stay in a different accommodation, we can arrange a transfer to the city centre for an extra £42 per way per vehicle.

If you do not wish to be part of the budget Madagascar tour group then you can do the same tour on a private basis. Please contact us for prices.

Kindly note that we can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please get in touch with Mark or Estelle so we can tailor your perfect Madagascar tour.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Essence of Madagascar Tour Map

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • All accommodation as per mentioned in the budget Madagascar tour itinerary, or similar
  • Transport throughout the tour with an English-speaking driver
  • Services of local guides in parks/reserves
  • Drinking water (1L per day per person)
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa (available on arrival at the airport – currently 35 EUR per person or the equivalent in USD – $38 to $40)
  • Drinks
  • Tips for main tour guide, driver and pre-post tour arrangements (discretionary)
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Extra arrangements, excursions and activities not included/mentioned in the itinerary

I had fantastic trip to Madagascar. It was fabulous, especially the wildlife, but physically quite demanding with some pretty awful roads and difficult treks to see the lemurs, including elementary caving and rock-climbing in very hot humid conditions, but it was worth it to see so much endangered wildlife in such close proximity. A very informative guide, excellent food and great accommodation.


Kevin Darnell, UK