Madagascar Group Tour - Northern Explorer

Northern Explorer

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 18 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Optional pre-tour extension – Anjozorobe Forest Corridor 4 days 3 nights

Pre-tour Day 1 – Arrive Antananarivo
Arrive in Antananarivo. On arrival transfer to the hotel. Overnight Gassy Country House or similar. Please note that for those arriving before 3pm into Antananarivo it is possible to travel straight to Anjozorobe.

Pre-tour Day 2 – Antananarivo – Anjozorobe (approximate driving time today – 3 hours)
Depart after breakfast and our first stop is the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (UNESCO) a significant symbol to the culture and people of Madagascar. We then journey to Anjozorobe Forest Corridor where you can relax or take walks in the surrounds of the beautiful forest. Overnight Saha Forest Camp (BLD)

Pre-tour Day 3 – Anjozorobe
A full day to relax in the surrounds of the beautiful forest of Anjozorobe. There will also be the opportunity to take walks in the forest with a local guide to get your first taste of some of the magnificent flora and fauna of Madagascar. The forest has an abundance of plant and animal life. It may be possible for you to spot the beautiful Indri Lemur as well as other flora and fauna. Overnight Saha Forest Camp (BLD)

Pre-tour Day 4 – Anjozorobe – Antananarivo (approximate driving time today – 3 hours)
After an optional early morning walk in the forest the rest of the morning is at leisure before returning to Antananarivo in the afternoon. This is Day 1 (arrival day) of the main tour. (BL)


Main Group Tour

Day 1 - Antananarivo
Arrive in Antananarivo and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at Gassy Country House or similar.

Day 2 - Antananarivo – Sambava
We take a morning flight to Sambava (subject to change), the only flight we shall take on this overland adventure. The landscapes around Sambava are dominated by vanilla fields and coconut plantations. On arrival, if time allows us, we can visit a workshop where you will get a demonstration of how to prepare vanilla from the field to the vanilla pod. Overnight at Mimi Hotel or similar (BD)

Day 3 - Sambava – Marojejy National Park (Approximate driving time 1.5 hours approx. Approximate walking time today 3.5 – 4 hours - gentle uphill for most)
Today we depart around 07:30am, accompanied by our special Marojejy park guide we travel by 4WD to Manantenina arriving around 9am. From here after a short break we continue along a dirt track to Mandena, which is as far as the car can go. We then continue on foot for 1 hour to the entrance point of Marojejy National Park. This is around a leisurely 3km walk and an elevation change of 80 metres.  From the park’s entrance it is a further 2½ hour walk to reach Camp Mantella. The difference in elevation on this section is around 270 metres but the trails are quite good (can be slippery under foot after rain) and we shall stop frequently to look at the flora and fauna in the beautiful forest.  We should arrive in good time at the camp to be able to enjoy the forest surroundings. For those wishing to do some more exploring on foot we can walk to picturesque Humbert waterfall which is approximately 1 hour each way. Overnight wild camping or staying in basic huts with no shower/bath facilities and outdoor toilet (BLD)

Day 4 - Marojejy National Park (Approximate walking time – 2 hours to camp (some steep uphill sections)
Today we continue our trek and reach Camp Marojejia (Camp 2), a trek of approximately 2 hours mostly uphill with an elevation gain of around 350 meters. The walk is quite tough in parts but we have plenty of time and will be able to make lots of stops to enjoy the forest and to look for wildlife. Marojejia camp is located at the transition between lowland and montane rainforest. It is located on a mountainside thus it offers breath-taking views, overlooking large areas of the park. On arrival at the camp we can get some rest and those that want to, can do some further exploring of the park with the special park guide. Hopefully we will be lucky and spot the critically endangered “Silky Sifaka” a beautiful pure white lemur only found in this area and one of the top 25 rarest primates on the planet. Overnight wild camping or staying in basic huts with no shower/bath and outdoor toilet (BLD)

Day 5 - Marojejy National Park (Walking time depends on the trail conditions and the location of the wildlife)
Today we explore the National Park on trails starting from the Marojejia camp searching for flora and fauna. The walk today should be around 4 hours but depends on our success observing the flora and fauna, much of which is unique to this magnificent park. Overnight wild camping or staying in basic huts with no shower/bath and outdoor toilet (BLD)

Day 6 - Marojejy – Vohemar - (Approximate driving time 3 hours and approximate walking time 3-4 hours – gentle descent)
We depart camp today around 07:00 am and descend to Camp Mantella and then back to Mandena where our vehicles await. The descent should take around 4 hours. We then drive around 1 hour back to Sambava where we will stop for lunch.  From Sambava we head on northwards to Vohemar through the green and peaceful landscape of the east. As you travel don’t be surprised to inhale the unmistakeable scent of vanilla. The journey should take around 2 hours from Sambava to Vohemar. On arrival in Vohemar we check in to our accommodation before visiting a vanilla plantation and learn about the processes involved in cultivating one of Madagascar’s most famous export products. Overnight Baie D’Iharana or similar (BD)

Day 7 – Vohemar – Daraina (Overall driving time approximately 3 – 5 hours – very difficult to estimate)
We have an early breakfast before continuing to Daraina Reserve. The journey from Vohemar to Daraina can take anywhere between 3-5 hours depending on the road conditions which can be very poor so please be prepared for slow going! After getting comfortable at camp we take a walk in the forest aiming to spot the critically endangered Tattersall's Sifaka or Golden Crowned Sifaka which is only found in this area. There are also other species of lemur to look out for as well as many birds. Overnight camping or basic huts at Tattersali Camp or similar. (BLD)

Day 8 - Daraina – Ambilobe – Ankarana National Park (Overall approximate driving time is 6 – 7 hours)
After an early breakfast we take a dirt track to the predominantly Muslim town of Ambilobe, a journey of around 5 hours. The road is a real adventure but in some parts in very poor condition. Please be prepared for a bumpy ride. In Ambilobe if time allows we will take a look around the lively and picturesque market. From Ambilobe we continue to Ankarana National Park where if time allows we can have short walk in the park before dark – this will depend on the road condition from Daraina to Ambilobe. Overnight Relais De L’Ankarana (BD)

Day 9 - Ankarana National Park
This morning we visit the Tsingy D ‘Ankarana, where the limestone highlands have been sculpted by natural erosion. It gives the impression of walking on a spiny landscape and is an extraordinary spectacle. Abundant wildlife lives in the forested canyons and during your walk we should have chances to see brown lemurs, geckos and non-poisonous snakes. The nature of the environment here makes the walking a little challenging but there are different grades of difficulty so there will be different options in terms of the walks on offer and your guide will discuss these options with you. Overnight Relais De L’Ankarana or similar. (BD)

Day 10 – Ankarana National Park – Diego Suarez (Overall approximate driving time is 4 hours)
After breakfast we continue to the northern most tip of Madagascar and the town of Diego Suarez where we have a short city tour including a visit to the World War 2 cemetery and memorial dedicated to the allied soldiers that fell during the battle of Madagascar and operation Iron Clad in 1942. 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. Overnight Le Suarez or similar. (BD)

Day 11 - Diego Suarez – Amber Mountain National Park – Andrafiamena - (Overall approximate driving time is 5 hours)
We depart early from Diego and head on for a 1-hour drive to Joffre Ville a crumbling but atmospheric former retreat for the French elite. Only a few km’s from Joffre Ville we reach Amber Mountain National Park where we will spend a few hours searching for flora and fauna in Amber Mountain National Park. There are lots of different trails in the park and you will be able to do a longer or shorter walk depending on how you feel today. There are some beautiful waterfalls in the park. Later we take a picturesque journey to Andrafiamena Reserve, at the foot of the Andranomanera Protected Reserve. En route we will visit the curious rock formations of the Red Tsingy, formed by erosion of the Irodo River. The final section of our journey today will be on a poorly maintained track for around 1 hour to our overnight stay, but once we are there the location itself makes today’s tough journey well worthwhile. Overnight Black Lemur Camp or similar. (BD)

Day 12 - Andrafiamena
After breakfast with a local guide we will hike inside Andranomanera Protected Reserve home to unique and endemic species, in particular the black lemur (Perrier Sifaka) which is only found in this area. The reserve is 30,000 Ha in size and on one side the reserve is quite wet and on the other it is relatively dry and in the middle is a transition zone where the last refuge of the black lemur is found. Overnight Black Lemur Camp or similar. (BD)

Day 13 – Andriafamena – Ambanja (Overall approximate driving time is 5 hours)
This morning we travel to Ambanja passing alongside the Tsaratanana Mountains which is home to the highest peak in the country. Arrival in Ambanja, we visit the local market. Overnight Nourd Inn or similar. (BD) 

Day 14 – Ambanja – Mahitsizato - Antsohihy (Overall approximate driving time is 5 hours)
In the morning, after breakfast, we take an interesting visit to the Millot plantation for an explanation of the crops such as cacao, coffee and vanilla that are prevalent in this fertile region of Madagascar. Continue to the village of Mahitsizato. This is the area run by a community project where we hope to see the blue eyed true lemur scientifically known as Eulemur flavifron. This is an extremely endangered species of lemur and is the only primate besides humans known to have blue eyes. The forest here is fragmented so the lemurs here are quite shy but our local guide will do their best to spot them. We will have a picnic lunch in this area and then this afternoon travel for a few hours on to Antsohihy where we can explore the town. Overnight Belle Vue or similar. (BD) 

Day 15 - Antsohihy – Ankarafantsika – (Overall approximate driving time 8 hours)
This morning we journey to Ambodromamy, at a crossroads between North RN6 and West RN4. It is a little village brought to life by local vendors and their products, especially local fruits that are exhibited on the roadside. Then from there we take the national road number 4 towards Majunga to reach Ampijoroa. This is a Sakalava region, home to the largest tribes of the eighteen ethnicities of Madagascar. The tombs of this tribe tend to be different from other tribes. We arrive by late afternoon and this evening we will take a walk looking for nocturnal creatures (subject to national park approval). Overnight Gite d'Ampijoroa or similar. (BD)

Day 16 - Ankarafantsika
For early risers there will be an opportunity to take a dawn walk for bird watching and exploring the trails around magical Lake Ravelobe. After breakfast we spend the day exploring the natural treasures of Ankarafantsika. The terrain here is quite flat so today’s walk will not be too challenging. Overnight Gite d’Ampijoroa or similar. (BD)

Day 17 - Ankarafantsika – Tana (Overall approximate driving time is 7 hours)
Today we journey back to the capital, passing by grasslands and savannah and we may come across farmers with their zebu herds. On arrival in Tana check in to the hotel before enjoying an early farewell dinner where we can reflect on an amazing journey through the North of this incredible country. Overnight Gassy Country House or similar. (BD)

Day 18 - Depart Madagascar
This morning for those that wish to we can take an early morning tour around the high parts of town which afford great views and appreciate the soft light against the colourful houses of Tana. Later transfer to the airport for your onward flight (B)

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