Secrets of Madagascar Group Tour

Madagascar - Secrets of Madagascar

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 17 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


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 trip we take in the very best of this enigmatic and alluring land. Our journey takes us to the little visited Tsingy de Bemaraha Reserve, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on account of its amazing rock formations, yet virtually unknown to the outside world until twenty years ago – few other operators take the trouble to reach this area, but it is without a doubt one of the highlights of Madagascar. We also 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. We also visit Andasibe, one of the best places in Madagascar to see the curious indri, the largest species of lemur, and spend time taking walks through the forest in search of endemic wildlife. Finally, we spend time at Ifaty on the coast – a relaxing end to the trip. If you have more time to spare why not extend your stay by the beach with our Mikea Forest Beach Extension or try one of our other extensions to either the pristine forest of Anjozorobe or go tropical on the East Coast with our Pangalanes Wildlife Experience. 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 Rating

Fitness ●●●●○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●○○ | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●●●●●

Tour Pace


Tour Highlights

  • Incredible endemic flora and fauna and an opportunity to see different lemur species
  • Travel off the beaten track to the incredible Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
  • Look for nocturnal creatures on a night walk in the forest at Ranomafana National Park
  • Diverse landscapes from rainforest to semi desert
  • Spend time on the beautiful Mozambique Channel at Ifaty

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel/lodge accommodation with private bathrooms
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum group size 12
Start Point: Antananarivo
End Point: Antananarivo
Transport: 4WD and minibuses, river boat and domestic flights
Country Visited: Madagascar
Optional Extensions: Pre-tour Anjozorobe Forest Corridor extension / Post tour Pangalanes Wildlife extension / Post tour Mikea Forest beach extension / Beach stay extension in Ifaty or Anakao (on request)

Tour Itinerary Notes
While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used. Although we try to be as accurate as possible, distances and timings indicated in the itinerary are meant as guidelines only and can substantially vary from one departure to another one depending on local safety initiatives, road conditions, road traffic and other unforeseen events.

Tour Guide
Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your main Secrets of Madagascar tour but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

On the pre and post tour extension to Anjozorobe or the Pangalanes, you will not have an accompanying guide. You will have the services of a local park/reserve guide.


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 (Overall driving time: 2-3 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)

Ambohimanga (UNESCO)
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga consists of a royal city and burial site, and an ensemble of sacred places. It is associated with strong feelings of national identity, and has maintained its spiritual and sacred character both in ritual practice and the popular imagination for the past 500 years. It remains a place of worship to which pilgrims come from Madagascar and elsewhere.

Anjozorobe Forest Corridor and Saha Forest Camp
Anjozorobe is home to one of the last large and unfragmented remnants of the central highland's natural ecosystems. Two types of forest are present: high altitude humid forest (over 1500 m) and mountain humid forest (800 - 1500 m). The corridor is still of sufficient size and integrity to guard safe populations of plant and animal life. Anjozorobe is the richest known forest highland sites for biodiversity of flora and fauna. Anjozorobe is somewhat of a hidden gem and despite its beautiful forest and biodiversity receives relatively few visisotrs compared to more famous parks in Madagascar. We stay at the beautiful Saha Forest Camp which offers a fabulous nature experience. Run by the NGO Fanamby and nestled in the heart of a humid and tropical forest, the structure is composed of 10 elegant bungalows. Equipped with private bathroom with hot water and mobile heating in winter, each bungalow has a large balcony opening to a lush green landscape. The restaurant and its raised balcony is an excellent place to enjoy the surroundings with a book or a pair of binoculars to observe the abundant birdlife. This is a great way to start your trip to Madagascar.

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 (Overall driving time: 2-3 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. Depending on your time of arrival, you may have time to explore the city. Overnight at Gassy Country House or similar. No meals are included today.

Antananarivo, commonly known as Tana, is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. The name Antananarivo means ‘the City of the Thousands’, a reference to the thousand warriors of King Andrianjaka, who established Tana as the capital city of the Merina tribe and accorded it a sacred status. The city was largely chosen for its privileged location – being on high ground (1,370m) and surrounded by marsh made it easy to defend and thus a natural choice for the capital. Tana has unusual French and Asian inspired architecture with winding cobblestone streets and staircases that create a medieval impression. The large open-air Zoma market has been disbanded, which means there is now plenty of room to walk around Araben ny Fahaleovantena (Avenue de l'Independence), the capital's main street. Other attractions include the colourful daily flower market on the edge of Lake Anosy and the botanical and zoological gardens, where you can see the egg and 3m-tall skeleton of the extinct aepyornis, or elephant bird. Sadly, the Rova (Queen's Palace) burned to the ground in 1996. Though virtually nothing remains at the site, there are nice views of the city from the hill where the palace once stood. Antananarivo does not have too much in the way of conventional sightseeing, but if you enjoy walking around, watching local scenes and experiencing the laid-back atmosphere that is prevalent here, the city is a very pleasant place – interesting markets, colonial buildings and many craft shops make it a great place to explore.

Day 2 – Morondava – Kirindy (1-hour domestic flight; overall driving time: 2 hours)
Fly west across the island to Morondava, a coastal town with a laid-back atmosphere and home to many of Madagascar’s different ethnic groups. On arrival, we start our journey to the Tsingy de Bemaraha passing majestic Baobabs en route to the remote village of Kirindy for the night. This evening we enjoy a night walk in Kirindy Reserve which has the best opportunity for viewing the elusive Fossa as well as nocturnal lemurs. Overnight at the Relais du Kirindy or similar (BD)

Please note that at the Relais du Kirindy, the use of sockets is only possible between 05:00-07:00hrs and 19:00-22:00hrs.

Lemurs are a special group of primates found only on Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. There are fifty species of lemurs, seventeen of which are on the endangered species list. Lemurs are prosimians, or primitive primates. They are social animals with long limbs, flexible toes and fingers, and long noses. Habitat loss is the main threat to lemurs today, as people clear their native forests for farmland. How and when lemurs became separated from the monkey family is unclear. Although it was once thought that lemurs were on Madagascar when the island separated from Africa, recent advances have shown that Madagascar was separated from Africa by hundreds of kilometres before lemurs evolved. Accordingly, the ancestors of Madagascar's lemurs must have crossed over from Africa on floating vegetation early in primate evolution and become isolated from Africa. Once on Madagascar, the lemurs evolved into about 50 different species. Then, about 2,000 years ago, the first human settlers arrived on Madagascar from the Malaysian-Indonesian area. By the time the Europeans who wrote about the natural history of the island reached Madagascar in the mid-1600s, 15 species of lemurs had become extinct.

Day 3 – Bekopaka (Overall driving time: 6-8 hours)
An early start and a full day of travelling by car and boat to cross the Tsiribihina River with great opportunities to see a side of rural Madagascar that few other visitors experience. Continue the journey to Bekopaka and again take to the water to cross the Manambolo. Arrive at Bekopaka by mid-afternoon and if you wish you may take the Petit Tsingy circuit which gives you a first very good overview of the Tsingy de Bemaraha. Overnight at Hotel Olympe du Bemaraha or similar (BL*) – * Picnic lunch

Please note that at the Olympe du Bemaraha, the use of sockets is only possible between 05:00-07:00hrs and 19:00-22:00hrs.

Day 4 – Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Spend today exploring the remarkable World Heritage Site of Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, a bizarre landscape of eroded limestone pinnacles and one of the most scenic areas in all of Madagascar. We take the Grand Tsingy circuit where boardwalks and ladders between the pinnacles allow us to explore the area, replete with deep canyons and gorges and home to several species of lemurs and birds. Overnight at Hotel Olympe de Bemaraha or similar. (BD)

Please note that although the Grand Tsingy circuit is a highlight for most people, some people may find it challenging. There are two paths that can be taken – the Grand Tsingy and the Petit Tsingy. The Grand Tsingy path involves going through caves and some narrow canyons, and harnesses may be used for safety reasons. You also have to go up ladders attached to rocks to reach different levels. It is not rock climbing. People of a reasonable fitness should have no problem but it is not advisable for those not comfortable with going up ladders or those who suffer from vertigo or uncomfortable with exposure to drops. Your guide will explain the difference between the paths so that you can choose the more suitable option.

Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Only gazetted as a national park in 1998, Tsingy de Bemaraha contains some of the most unusual landscape in the country, comprised of limestone karst pillars and pinnacles that seem to form stone forests. Its lakes, forests and swamps are home to many endangered species including the stump tailed chameleon and Decken’s sifaka. The flora consists of a dry western deciduous forest, and plants typical to dry limestone areas, such as species of Aloe and the baobab Andasonia, as well as the red-flowered and rather flamboyant tree Delonix regia, widely planted in the tropics. Madagascar’s sole native banana Musa perrieri also occurs here.

Day 5 – Bekopaka – Morondava (Overall driving time: 10–12 hours)
An early start and a full day of driving back to Morondava. We stop for lunch at the restaurant Le Mad Zebu, where the Chef Onja is renowned in the whole country for its excellent cuisine. Continuing our drive south, we then stop en route around sunset at the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’ where these imposing trees up to 800 years old line the road and provide an iconic snapshot of Madagascar, giving hints of the extensive forest that once covered this part of the island. Overnight Baobab Café hotel or similar (BL)

Day 6 – Morondava – Miandrivazo (Overall driving time: 6 hours)
After breakfast, drive towards Miandrivazo. En route experience varied landscapes and the transition from the very dry west to the red soil and rice fields around Miandrivazo. Situated on the Tsiribihina River, Miandrivazo is a very fertile region for cotton, corn, manioc, beans, tobacco and rice. The rest of the day is at leisure either to enjoy the countryside or relax at the hotel. Overnight at Princesse Tsiribihina or similar (BD)

Please note that at the Princesse Tsiribihina, electricity is available between 06:00-10:00hrs and 18:00-22:00hrs. There is no Internet access possible in Miandrivazo.

Day 7 – Miandrivazo - Antsirabe (Overall driving time: 5-6 hours)
Continue the journey to Antsirabe. You will also notice changes on the features of the local people as Asian heritage becomes more prominent. We finish the day in Antsirabe, founded by Norwegians in 1856 and home to Madagascar’s brewing industry. Overnight Royal Palace or similar (BD)

The city of Antsirabe has about 100,000 inhabitants, and was founded by Norwegian missionaries in the late 18th century, who were attracted by the pleasant climate. It lies on the slopes of the nation's second highest peak, Tsiafajavona, in the Ankaratra Mountains, and has nearby thermal springs, locally renowned for their healing properties. The city is also known as the centre of Madagascar’s brewing industry, and indeed you will smell the brewery on the way into town.

Day 8 – Ambositra – Ranomafana National Park (Overall driving time: 8-9 hours)
Continuing south, we stop in Ambositra (approx. 4-hour drive), the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry and home to the Zafimaniry tribe. We then continue to Ranomafana National Park (approx. 4-hour drive) and, at on arrival, you will be able to take an optional night walk on the on the outskirts of the park to search for nocturnal creatures Overnight Centrest Sejour or similar (BD)

Ambositra, meaning 'the place of the eunuchs' (supposedly because the Merina tribe castrated all defeated warriors of the local tribe), is an excellent place to see examples of Malagasy wood carvings, and is the capital of the Zafimaniry tribe. The local houses boast intricately carved balconies, panels and shutters.

Day 9 – Ranomafana National Park
We spend the morning exploring the rainforests of Ranomafana in search of its many species of lemurs, reptiles and birds. The afternoon is at leisure for you to relax or enjoy a walk in the village and surroundings. Overnight Centrest Sejour or similar (BD)

Walk in Ranomafana National Park
The walk in Ranomafana National Park can take approx. 4-5 hours. The walk is along marked trails which include many steps, and it may be necessary to leave the trails to search for the lemurs.

Ranomafana National Park
Ranomafana is considered to be one of Madagascar’s most beautiful National Parks, and was established in the early 1990s to protect the newly discovered golden bamboo lemur, as well as the very rare greater bamboo lemur. The park is covered with forest, and in higher areas moss and lichens cover the trees, giving it a prehistoric feel. Exotic plants such as orchids, as well as mountains, waterfalls and natural hot springs, make this endangered forest a charming and unusual place to discover.

Day 10 – Anja - Isalo National Park (Overall driving time: 9–10 hours)
Leaving Ranomafana behind we head to Isalo. We stop first at Anja Park (approx. 3-4 hours depending on traffic and road conditions), a community run reserve situated in stunning scenery with great opportunities to see ring-tailed lemurs. Arrive in Isalo in the late afternoon (approx. 6 hours depending on traffic and road conditions). Overnight at Satrana Lodge or similar. (BL*) – * Picnic lunch

Please note that at Satrana Lodge, electricity is only available between 06:00-10:00hrs and 18:00-22:00hrs.

Day 11 – Isalo National Park
We spend today walking through the moonscape of Isalo National Park, stopping at the perfectly formed ‘natural swimming pool’, fringed with lush vegetation and a great place for a dip. Later we head to a stunning rock arch to watch the sunset over this dramatic landscape. Overnight at Satrana Lodge or similar. (BL*) – * Picnic lunch

Isalo National Park
Isalo National Park, in the south of the country, is largely made up of interestingly-shaped sandstone rocks, and is a world away from the lushness of some of Madagascar’s other parks. The park is renowned for the colours of the surrounding terrain and impressive panoramic views, as well as a sense of utter tranquillity. It is also a sacred area to the local Bara tribe, who use caves in the cliffs as burial chambers. We will be walking for much of the day at Isalo so you should be prepared for this.

The walk to the natural swimming pool is 3km both ways and the trail is climbing steps and heading upwards for about 1km, then flat for 1km and finally descending to the natural pool. Whilst walking along the flat part of the route you can climb the rocks to the view point. There are 2 areas you can climb to depending on how comfortable you are with heights. Your guide will explain these to you so you can decide the best viewing platform.

Day 12 - Isalo – Ifaty (Overall driving time: 7–8 hours)
Leaving Isalo behind we head to Tulear. Travelling through the land of the Mahafaly people, we can stop to see the traditional tombs used for burying their dead. From Tulear we transfer to Ifaty on the coast (approx. 1 hour). The region around Ifaty is extremely dry and dominated by ‘spiny forest’ of cacti and other plants that thrive in arid environments. Our accommodation is situated idyllically on a gorgeous beach overlooking the Indian Ocean, where we can watch the local fishermen take boats out as the sun sets. This is a truly beautiful part of Madagascar and a great place to relax or explore. Overnight Hotel La Mira or similar. (BD)

On the south-west coast of Madagascar, looking out over the Mozambique Channel lays Ifaty, an idyllic sun-soaked part of Madagascar. Home to the local Vezo people, Ifaty is an excellent place for snorkelling, diving, or just relaxing and watching the waves lap the shore. Pirogues manned by local fishermen move up and down the coastline, bringing their catches back to land to sell in the local markets, and you’ll soon find yourself slipping into an easy pace of life. There are also plenty of other options for the more energetic, including trips to local nature reserves, boat trips to spot whales and other marine life, and walks to local villages.

Day 13 – Ifaty
A day at leisure to relax or explore. Ifaty is also home to coral reef and offers good diving and snorkelling opportunities. It’s also possible to take a walk to the nearby village of Mangily where we can get a good insight into the life of the local Vezo fishing community. All excursions can be booked through the hotel and are payable locally. July and August are the best months to see the migration of the humpback whales. Overnight Hotel La Mira or similar. (BD)

Day 14 – Antananarivo (Overall driving time: 1 hour; 1-hour domestic flight)
Transfer to Tulear on due time at the airport to catch a flight back to Antananarivo. Overnight Gassy Country House or similar (BD)

Day 15 – Andasibe (Overall driving time: 4-5 hours)
This morning enjoy a short city tour of the capital before we drive to Andasibe through lush vegetation, stopping en route at a private reptile reserve to get up close to some of Madagascar’s many species of chameleon. On arrival at Andasibe you will visit a private sanctuary where you can get up close to Lemurs. This evening there will be an opportunity to take a walk in the forest looking for nocturnal creatures. Overnight Andasibe Hotel or similar. (BD)

Andasibe National Park
Andasibe National Park is home to some of the best of Madagascar’s wildlife, including the endangered aye-aye, bamboo lemurs, chameleons, and the indri, which was named by mistake when Pierre Sonnerat, a French naturalist, was exploring the island, a local guide spotted the animal and pointed at it, shouting “Indri”, which means “look at that” in Malagasy. Sonnerat assumed the guide was giving him the local name, and ever since then the largest species of lemur has been known as the indri, even to Malagasy speakers. These beautiful animals have black and white markings and pale green eyes, and live in the tree canopy. The park itself contains montane forest and a wealth of plant and birdlife.

Day 16 – Andasibe National Park – Antananarivo (Overall driving time: 4-5 hours)
Andasibe is probably the best national park in Madagascar and a good place to watch the indri, the largest species of lemur on the island. We take a morning walk through the forest in search of this enigmatic creature as well as other wildlife, accompanied by an expert guide. This afternoon we visit a lemur sanctuary to get up close to these fascinating creatures. At the sanctuary the lemurs may jump on you but please note that this is perfectly safe. Return to Antananarivo in the afternoon. Overnight Gassy Country House or similar. (BD)

Andasibe National Park Walk
The walk in Andasibe National Park is along marked trails and involves walking up and down hill. At times it may be necessary to leave the trails to see the wildlife. Total walking time is approx. 3 hours.

Day 17 – Departure from Madagascar
Time at leisure until your transfer to the airport and your onward flight. Please note optional excursions are possible for those with late flights. Day use available at Gassy Country House until 6pm for clients travelling on late night Air France flight. (B)


Post tour Mikea Forest Beach Extension (Available only for August and October departures)

Post tour Day 16 – Ifaty – Tsiandamba or Andravona (Overall driving time: 2-3 hours)
After breakfast, we drive north to the wild and well preserved Mikea Forest, the home of the Mikea people. You have the option to stay either at the Five Senses Lodge ( or at the Mikea Lodge (, both superb accommodation with direct access to a large white sandy beach. This afternoon is at leisure either to relax or to start exploring the impressive marine life or pay a visit to the local Vezo fishing village. Overnight at Five Senses Lodge or Mikea Lodge (BD)

Located on one of the best lagoons of the south west, the lodge has direct access to a stunning white sandy beach. Many excursions can be arranged locally at your own expense, such as a visit to a Vezo village in order to experience authentic coastal life or a walk in the spiny bush and baobab forest nearby.  From June to September, humpback whales come and give birth in the temperate waters of the Mozambique Channel, so you can enjoy the magnificent spectacle of whale watching.

Andravona lies on a large white sandy beach, and features a spiny forest with impressive baobabs which makes it ideal for photography. If you wish to experience the real life of the primitive “Mikea” tribe, you can ask the lodge to takke you to the “Mikéa forest”, a thorny bush with endemic spiny vegetation and baobabs. This forest hosts the last remaining members of the Mikea tribe and is the only place where we can meet and experience the Mikea’s life, a primitive tribe who have little contact with the outside world and who still exist through hunting bees. Another option is just to enjoy a walk along the Vezo fisherman village. Do not miss the the return of fishermen from the sea and watch the animated show of women and children waiting to fetch the fish.

Post tour Days 17 and 18 – Tsiandamba or Andravona
The next two days are at leisure for you to enjoy the activities which are available at the lodge. You will be able to choose your activities on arrival. For further details about activities available and prices, please contact us. For those wanting to have an active day we can hike inside the Kirindy Mitea National Park, excellent for its endemic vegetation and abundant birdlife. Overnight at Five Senses Lodge or Mikea Lodge (BD)

Post tour Day 19 – Tulear (Overall driving time: 2-3 hours)
Morning at leisure until we depart from our little piece of heaven to reach the frenetic city of Tulear. This afternoon it is possible to visit the Arboretum of Antsokay, which offer a large variety of local endemic flora and trees. Overnight at Moringa Hotel (B)

Located in the Deep South, crossed by the "Tropic of Capricorne" and bathed by the Canal de Mozambique, Tulear used to be one of the main harbours of Madagascar during colonial time. Different tribes -Vezo, Sakalava, Masikoro and Antandroy- managed to intermingle in Tuléar, making it a cosmopolitan city with different cultures and traditions which are all based on the cult of ancestors.

Arboretum d’Antsokay
Located 12 km south-east from Tulear, the Arboretum d’Antsokay is a botanical garden created 30 years ago by the Swiss botanist Hermann Petignat. On a surface of 40 hectares, surrounded by vegetal hedges, the Arboretum aims to preserve and conserve the most threatened plants species, but also to preserve most of them from constant deforestation and bush fires. The Arboretum is entirely dedicated to the conservation of the plants from the south western part of Madagascar and is working in close collaboration with worldwide environment preservation institutions. More than 1,000 plants species, mostly endemic to the region can be observed, of which a 100 species of Euphorbia and 60 species of Kalanchoe.

Post tour Day 20 – Antananarivo (1-hour domestic flight) – Departure from Madagascar
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch a flight back to Antananarivo. For travellers flying home in the evening with Air France, you can freshen up at the hotel near the airport before your journey home. For whose travelling on day time flights, we strongly advise an extra night in Antananarivo and depart the day after – please contact us for advice. Day use at Gassy Country House or similar (B)


Post tour extension – Pangalanes Wildlife Extension

Day 17 – Extension to the East Coast (Palmarium)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to Tamatave. Continue south along the Canal des Pangalanes (Pangalanes Channel), a fascinating and historically important collection of natural rivers and artificial lakes. Until independence, the Canal des Pangalanes was used to transport local spices and fruit to the commercial port of Tamatave. Today, the canal’s charm mainly comes from the small villages on the banks of the Canal. Arrive in the traditional village of Manombato and transfer by express boat to Ankanin’ny Nofy, a peaceful village located on the bank of Ampitabe Lake. Overnight at Le Palmarium hotel, one of the most welcoming properties in the area with its own private wildlife reserve (B)

Le Canal des Pangalanes – The Pangalanes Channel                        
Consisting of a succession of natural rivers and man-made channels, this amazing channel extends for 650km along the east coast and is separated from the ocean by a strip of land. The canal was born out of economic necessity when, in 1886, the French settlers decided to link artificial canals between every lake between Tamatave and Farafangana so that it would be possible to transport goods by inland navigation to the port of Tamatave, from where ships sailed to Europe. Completed in 1901, the Canal des Pangalanes (Pangalanes Channel) was thereafter used for a few decades to transport agricultural products such as wild pepper, cloves, vanilla, cashew nuts, bananas, lychees, and vanilla. It was progressively abandoned after independence in 1960. Now little used, the canal reveals a peaceful and lacustrine side of the country. In addition to the tranquility of its banks and picturesque landscapes it is blessed with beautiful white-sandy beaches that border the waters of its lakes.

Palmarium Reserve (Ankanin’ny Nofy)
Ankanin’ny Nofy literally translates as the “nest of dreams”. It is a truly enchanting haven located on the shores of Lake Ampitabe and is home to fine sandy beaches, lush forests, mangroves, scattered orchids and carnivorous plants and the huge Palmarium reserve. This is a protected area which shelters nearly 100 000 palm trees as well as reptiles, amphibians, crocodiles and more than ten species of lemur, all endemic to Madagascar. It is possible to spot the enchanting Indri Indri with its haunting call, mouse and crowned lemurs and also the elusive and endangered Aye-Aye. This is surely one of the most attractive spots on the East coast. The Palmarium Hotel offers nice and comfortable bungalows with private bathroom and hot water facilities by the shores of Lake Ampitabe. The restaurant offers international and Malagasy cuisine, with a great choice of fresh seafood, zebu, locally grown fruit and vegetables and home-made bread, deserts and jams. This nature retreat comes highly recommended by our team!  

Day 18 – Ankanin’ny Nofy (Palmarium)
Today take a walk into the private reserve managed by the Palmarium. This is a 46-hectare private wildlife park in which you can spot many species of lemur, including fluffy Coquerel’s sifaka, as well as a hundred species of endemic plants and trees. At nightfall and equipped with your headlamp, you will then go for a guided night walk and try to spot some very tame black and white ruffed lemurs and if possible the elusive Aye-Aye ! Overnight at Le Palmarium hotel (B)

Day 19 – Ankanin’ny Nofy (Palmarium)
Today is a full day to relax or explore the local environment. Apart from strolling on the white sand beaches alongside Lake Manombato, you can walk to the stunning village of Andranokoditra, built on the narrow strip of land dividing the canal from the Indian Ocean. Along the path admire the many carnivorous pitcher plants, and appreciate a peaceful and slow-paced side of Madagascar. You may also consider a visit to the experimental reserve of Vohibola, which protects one of the last Eastern littoral forest, and is entirely managed by local communities, favouring sustainable tourism. Overnight at Le Palmarium hotel (B)

Day 20 – Ankanin’ny Nofy – Antananarivo – Tour end
After breakfast, transfer by express boat to Manambato (approx. 1.5 hour), where a private driver will welcome you and drive you back to Antananarivo in the afternoon. You can freshen up at the hotel near the airport before your journey home (B).


Arrival and departure airport transfers
Domestic flights
All accommodation
Services of English speaking guides
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
One bottle of water per picnic lunch
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

International flights
Travel Insurance
Visa (available on arrival - 35 euros per person)
Optional local tipping kitty for the main tour collected on arrival between 55-85 euro (or the equivalent in GBP)
Tip for main tour guide (discretionary)
Items of a personal nature

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