MADAGASCAR
Family adventures on the Big Island – Tailormade Tour

Family Adventures on the Big Island – a 14 day tailor-made tour starting from £2755 per person.


The island of Madagascar occupies a unique place, both culturally and geographically, within Africa. Separated from the mainland millions of years ago, its fauna has developed very differently from the rest of the continent’s wildlife, and it is home to countless species found nowhere else on earth. Its people are an intriguing mix of Malay and African ancestry, with complex patterns of beliefs and an unusual history.

 

 

On this family friendly adventure, we take in the very best of the stunning eastern and northern reaches of this enigmatic and alluring land. Our journey takes us through the rainforest, via the intriguing villages and homes of the Betsimisaraka tribe, to the extraordinary Pangalanes Canal region on the eastern shores, which we explore, rubbing shoulders with local pirogues and fishermen. There is the chance to see the sleepy northern port of Diego Suarez, site of a little-known, key British military battle in World War II, before heading to the beautiful jungle lodges there which offer a huge range of land-based and aquatic sports, activities, nature viewing and relaxation opportunities. We also visit superb national parks, including the rainforest at Andasibe, a place abundant in lemur species, famous for the haunting call and sightings of the indri.  We travel to Amber Mountain National Park where lemur diversity is equally matched by its extraordinary endemic birds, chameleons and massive tree specimens. Equally intriguing is the limestone magnificence at Ankarana National park where water erosion has created stunning tsingy formations and complex cave systems, home to hugely diverse flora and fauna, including subterranean crocodiles! Finally we spend time based on the exquisite shores of Nosy Be, taking some short but incredibly picturesque trips to the area’s islands, a series of veritable paradises and a very tranquil end to the trip. 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

Moderate / Busy

Tour style

Traveller

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.

Itinerary.

Arrive in ‘Tana’. On arrival, you will be met and our representative will provide your transfer to the hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you may have time to explore the city. There are no meals nor guided activities today. Overnight Gassy Country House, or similar.

(Driving time: approximately 4 hours)

Depart after breakfast and drive eastward towards Andasibe National Park, descending from the ‘hauts plateaux’ through the lush green landscape of rice terraces and scattered villages, a route which lends a blend of unexpected dramatic views, snapshots of the bustling local lifestyles, glassy lakes and as we approach Andasibe, stunning primary forest. During the drive, you pause at a local waterfall, a place for “collective laundry” and indeed, highland tribal tradition dictates that, after funerals, whole families do their washing here, so the river purges away all the bad luck. A brief stop in Manjakandriana, an important agricultural city, supplying dairy and vegetables to the whole region. En route, we visit Pyereras Reptile reserve to get up close to its rare chameleons, snakes and frogs. After checking in at the lodge, you visit a private sanctuary where you can get up close to Lemurs – the lemurs may jump on you but please note that this is perfectly safe. Later, take a guided dusk walk on the edge of the forest in search of nocturnal creatures. Overnight Vakona Lodge, or similar. (BL)

Andasibe is probably the best national park in Madagascar and a good place to watch the spectacular Indri, the largest species of lemur on the island. You will probably hear it before you see it!  You take a morning walk through the forest in search of this enigmatic creature as well as other wildlife, accompanied by an expert local guide. Expect to see a huge range of flora and fauna, strolling beneath the extensive canopy of trees to the backdrop of the forest chorus. In the late afternoon you can visit a Betsimisaraka village, experiencing first-hand their tribal crafts, skills, customs and dances.  Alternatively you can choose to visit a local reforestation project and contribute to enhancing this vital ecosystem. Overnight Vakona Lodge, or similar. (BL)

(Driving time: approximately 3 hours; speed boat: 1 hour)

Continuing eastwards, you stop at Brickaville, a centre of sugarcane and citrus production, before plunging into the wilder reaches, taking the dirt road to Manambato, a stunning resort on the pearlescent white sands of Lake Rasoabe. From there you enjoy a 1-hour boat to reach the idyllic retreat of Akanin’ Ny Nofy. We cross a string of picturesque forest fringed lakes, before steering into the amazing Pangalanes Canal, built during the colonial period, where we can admire many birds amidst the luxuriant vegetation. At nightfall and equipped with your headlamp, enjoy a guided night walk and try to spot some very tame black and white ruffed lemurs and if possible the curious Aye-Aye. Accommodation is sympathetic to the environs: low level and rustic by design. Overnight Palmarium Hotel, or similar. (B)

Palmarium is an ideal escape from the buzz of outside world in the heart of a natural paradise.  Just beside the hotel, there is an excellent opportunity to really get close to many different kinds of animals – lemurs, chameleons, frogs included – inside the luxuriant rainy tropical forest private park of Palmarium Reserve. A day or night walk through the palms reveals highlights such as the indri, sifaka, ruffed and crowned lemurs that seem to have a natural curiosity for humans. With its wide tropical garden, many orchids and even the carnivorous pitcher plants can be spotted. Overnight at Palmarium Hotel, or similar. (B)

(Speed boat: 2 hours; Domestic flight: approximately 1 hour)

After a breath-taking view of the sun ascending over the lake at breakfast, head to the harbour. From here, embark on a spellbinding and tranquil 2-hour boat ride along the Pangalanes Canal to Tamatave.  As with much of Madagascar, the journey itself is as mesmerising as the destination, with birdlife abounding and human activity in regular evidence along the shores.  Transfer to the airport and fly back to Tana before the next leg of your adventure north tomorrow.  Overnight Gassy Country House, or similar. (B)

(Domestic flight: approximately 2 hours)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Diego-Suarez (timings can vary). After landing, there will be time to take in a short city tour of Diego, view its extraordinary natural harbour and explore its colonial and modern history. Of particular interest is the Commonwealth war cemetery which marks the graves of those who died in a little-known, but fascinating conflict during World War II. For those that wish we can take a hike in Montagne Des Francais National Park which affords magnificent views out over the 3 Bays of Baie des Dunes, Baie des Pigeons and Sakalava Bay. During the hike it is also possible to see lemurs and endemic trees including species of the baobab tree. Afterwards, transfer to your accommodation. Overnight Mantasaly Resort, or similar. (BD)

Note – The hike up Montagne de Francais is steep in parts and conditions can be very hot. Please take plenty of water and wear a hat and other appropriate sun protection. For those that do not wish to walk then you can relax at the hotel.

Today, immerse yourself fully in the stunning surroundings of Jungle Park: it offers the perfect setting for the youthful or energetic to take full advantage of the superb natural environment. The park prides itself on its diversity of activities and its sustainable ecotourism. Many activities are offered on the spot: the chance to explore the local scenery comes with hiking, bird watching and climbing, whilst more strenuous pass-times such as paintballing, bush golf, caving and even a challenging high-wire and zip-wire course are available to satisfy the full family range of tastes. Overnight Mantasaly Resort, or similar. (BD)

(Driving time: approximately 5 hours)

After an early breakfast, drive to nearby atmospheric but crumbling Joffreville and experience the exquisite beauty and natural bounty of a morning walk in Amber Mountain (Montagne d’Ambre) National Park, notable for its wonderful waterfalls and plentiful wildlife.  Then, en route to your final destination, drive down a short detour along a dirt track to the hauntingly beautiful, Tsingy Rouge. Admire these evocative russet-tinted natural sculptures resulting from seasonal erosion by the local river.  From there we skirt the edge of Amber Mountain National Park and its continued opportunities for possible wildlife sightings, heading further south until we reach Ankarana National Park. Overnight Ankarana Lodge, or similar. (B)

After breakfast, you start your day exploration of the “Tsingy Ankarana”, where erosion of limestone highlands has conjured up a landscape of fantastic proportions, with spires and arêtes of karst scenery all around. The vegetation itself is as idiosyncratic as the Tsingy itself. A wander through the forest beneath the dizzying canopy, you will be surrounded by a huge range of trees, from figs, and palms to superb specimens of the Madagascan baobab. The park offers a huge range of trails and is stuff of dreams for adventure and wildlife lovers. Each new corner reveals geographically isolated and distinct landscape features and possible wildlife sightings.  Only explored in detail in the 1960s, the cave systems in particular offer opportunities for investigation, either on or below the surface of the plethora of limestone features. Overnight Ankarana Lodge, or similar. (B)

(Driving time: approximately 3 hours; boat: 1 hour)

Travel to Ambanja, passing alongside the stunning Tsaratanana Mountains which is home to Maromokotro, the highest peak in the country. The route reveals a seemingly infinite maze of ridges and peaks, stretching as far as the eye can see, and offers an abundance of photography opportunities.  Continue to welcoming Cyrille plantation, an ethical co-operative style farm, which offers an excellent explanation of the crops such as cacao, coffee and vanilla that are prevalent in this fertile region of Madagascar. A short trip north leads to Ankify, a small picturesque harbour surrounded by hillsides of small fruit plantations. From here take the speed boat to Nosy Be, the seascape opening up to reveal glorious sandy shores and sumptuous islands. On arrival transfer to your hotel in Nosy Be. Overnight Home the Residence Madagascar, or similar. (BD)

(Boat: approximately 15 minutes to reach Nosy Komba and 15 minutes to reach Nosy Tanikely)

Today imbibe the stunning marine environment and tranquil isles, accessible only by boat. First stop is Nosy Komba (literally ‘island of lemurs’).  Black lemurs are easily seen here and guided walks, local handicrafts and even tribal dancing are all available. Continue to Nosy Tanikely, a tiny island with a matching light house, but hugely blessed in its marine and island wildlife. The idyllic white sands and exquisite turquoise shallows make it a veritable paradise: an ideal spot for watersports such as diving, fishing, and especially snorkelling where, with relative ease, you can see an amazing variety of corals, starfish, anemones, every colour and shape of fish, turtles and lobsters.  Even a stroll on the dazzling shoreline can afford views of flying foxes and an array of birdlife.  Return to Nosy Be at the end of the afternoon. Overnight Home the Residence Madagascar, or similar. (BD)

(Boat: approximately 1.5 hours)

Nosy Iranja, located to the southwest of Nosy Be, is referred to as “Turtles’ Island” after the visiting hawksbill and green turtles that bury their eggs in its immaculate white beaches. This flawless sanctuary, two tiny islands linked by an ivory sandbar, is also home to unique fauna and flora that live in gentle tranquillity surrounded by azure seas and natural coral reefs, teeming with exotic fish and even offering a vantage point for viewing passing humpback whales. Sun kissed beaches; an abundance of nature and a tropical climate provide the perfect setting for an unforgettable visit to this paradise. The island also boasts an intriguing lighthouse, designed by the famous Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame. Back to Nosy Be by 2.00 pm, allowing time to enjoy some relaxation beside the shores of the Indian Ocean at the hotel. Overnight Home the Residence Madagascar, or similar. (BD)

Note – It is possible to extend the number of days you spend at Nosy Be – contact us for prices.

Today transfer to the airport at Nosy Be for your onward flight connection. (B)

NoteIt is possible to extend your stay in the islands or fly back to Tana for further adventures in Madagascar.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

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

Dates & Price.

We offer this tour for private departures only.

Prices start from £2755 per person, based on two people sharing a room.

We can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please contact us to discuss your travel plans.

Tour Notes

Single supplement from £ 785

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 Tana city centre for an extra £42 per transfer, one-way.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post 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.

Open jaw return flights from London to Antananarivo / Nosy Be start at £650 per person. Note that flights in July and August can often be more than double this price. Please contact us for a quotation.

At the end of the tour, it is possible to extend your stay in Nosy Be or fly back to Tana for further adventures in Madagascar.

Kindly note that we can tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please contact us so we can tailor your perfect tour to Madagascar.

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Domestic flights from Tamatave to Antananarivo and from Antananarivo – Diego Suarez
  • All accommodation as per the itinerary
  • Services of English-speaking driver
  • Services of English-speaking local guides in parks/reserves
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • 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)
  • Drinks
  • Tips (discretionary)
  • Items of a personal nature