Secrets of Madagascar

Madagascar - Secrets of Madagascar

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


Optional pre-tour extension – Anjozorobe Forest Corridor 3 days 2 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

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

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.

Day 2 - Andasibe

This morning enjoy a short city tour of the capital before we drive to Andasibe (approx. 3hrs) 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 Vakona Lodge or similar. (BL)

Day 3 – Andasibe National Park – Antananarivo

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. In the 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 (approx. 3hrs drive) in the afternoon. Overnight Gassy Country House or similar. (BL)

Day 4 – Morondava

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. If the flight is on time there should be time to relax by the pool at the hotel. Overnight Kimony Resort or similar (BL)

Day 5 – Bekopaka

An early start and a full day of travelling by car (approx. 8-10 hours depending on traffic and road conditions) and boat to cross the Tsiribihina River, driving through the baobab forests, with great opportunities to see a side of rural Madagascar that few other visitors experience. En route we will visit Kirindy Reserve which has the best opportunity for viewing the elusive Fossa as well as lemurs. After Kirindy we will continue the journey to Bekopaka and again take to the water to cross the Manambolo. We arrive at Bekopaka in the early evening. Overnight at Hotel Olympe de Bemaraha or similar. (BL)

Day 6 – Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

We 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. (BL)

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.

Day 7 – Tsingy de Bemaraha

A further day to explore this wonderful national park. You may wish to do the Petit Tsingy circuit or for those that did the Petit Tsingy yesterday instead of the Grand Tsingy, other walks are possible or you can relax by the pool at the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Olympe de Bemaraha or similar (BL)

Day 8 – Bekopaka to Morondava

A full day of driving (approx. 8-10 hours depending on traffic and road conditions) back to Morondava stopping en route 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 Kimony Resort or similar (BL)

Day 9 – Antsirabe

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. After lunch we continue 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. Total driving time is 10-12 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. Overnight Royal Palace or similar (BL)

Day 10 – Ambositra – Ranomafana National Parks

Continuing south, we stop in Ambositra (approx. 4hrs drive), the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry and home to the Zafimaniry tribe. We then continue to Ranomafana National Park (approx. 4 hrs drive) for the night. Overnight Centrest Sejour or similar (BL)

Day 11 – Ranomafana National Park

We spend the morning exploring the rainforests of Ranomafana in search of its many species of lemurs, reptiles and birds. This afternoon you have some time at leisure before an optional night walk on the on the outskirts of the park to search for nocturnal creatures. Overnight Centrest Sejour or similar (BL)

Day 12 – Anja - Isalo National Park

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. 4-5 hours depending on traffic and road conditions). Overnight at Satrana Lodge or similar. (BL)

Please note that at Satrana Lodge, electricity is only available between 0600-0930hrs and 1700-2200hrs.

Day 13 – 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 sun set over this dramatic landscape. Overnight at Satrana Lodge or similar. (BL)

Day 14 - Isalo - Ifaty

Leaving Isalo behind we head to Tulear (approx. 5-6hrs depending on traffic and road conditions). 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. (BL)

Day 15 – Ifaty

A free day 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. (BL)

Day 16 - Antananarivo

Transfer to Tulear (approx. 1-2hrs) where you will catch a flight back to Antananarivo. Overnight Gassy Country House similar (BL)

Day 17 – Depart Madagascar

Free 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 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. 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)

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. 1.5hour), 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).

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