Wild Madagascar Small Group Tour

Wild Madagascar Tour – a 23 day Small Group Tour.

Experience the wild side of  Madagascar.

Travel on our small group tour to the little visited western flank of Madagascar where we marvel at the iconic Baobab trees, travel down the isolated Western flank of the country on sandy tracks and through rivers and along side stunning remote coastline.

Enjoy beautiful walks in tranquil and little visited areas such as Andringitra National Park and the iconic Tsingy De Bemaraha with its astonishing limestone rock formations. We also will have the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the many tribal groups in Madagascar including the bee hunting Mikea people.



The Wild Madagascar tour is an off the beaten track adventure exploring this enigmatic and alluring land. Our journey takes us West on an exciting navigation along the Tsiribihina River followed by a visit to Kirindy Reserve with its semi-dry western tropical forest, home to the “fossa”. We then travel the coastal track from Morondava to Tulear with its stunning scenery of baobabs, thorny bushes, and magically pristine white sandy beaches, home to the Mikea, a primitive bee-hunting tribe that have very little contact with Westerners – without a doubt one of the cultural highlights of the tour.

Heading inland again, another truly memorable high spot greets us: the little frequented Andringitra National Park where we hike along the spectacular Tsaranoro Valley. We then enter the culturally rich and diverse Central Highlands before the tour ends in the capital Antananarivo. The tour can then be extended with a visit to the Anjozorobe Forest corridor where we explore its delicate and stunning tropical rainforest, rich in unique wildlife: sundry species of lemur, including the beautiful Indri, chameleons, and a multitude of reptiles.

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.


Arrival in Antananarivo

Start the Wild Madagascar tour when you 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.

(Approximate driving time: three to four hours)

After breakfast an early city tour includes Tana’s higher reaches, affording great views over the capital. After lunch we drive to Antsirabe, noticing that along the way the features of the local people change as Asian heritage becomes more prominent. Antsirabe has an unusual history, and owes its origins to Norwegian missionaries, to this day maintaining links with Stavanger.  Due to the quality of its water the city is now home to Madagascar’s brewing industry. Overnight Couleur Café Hotel or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: five hours)

This morning we explore Antsirabe and its surrounding villages. Local crafts shops specialise in carving the horn of zebu cattle, producing detailed and accomplished work. After lunch we head west, leaving the cooler highlands behind. Descending, the road passes through savannah land to Miandrivazo, a fertile region where corn, manioc, beans and rice are cultivated, along with cotton and tobacco. Overnight Princesse Tsiribihina Hotel or similar. (BD)

This morning we drive to the riverside village of Masiakampy where a private boat will be waiting to navigate down the Tsiribihina River. Spend the day relaxing on-board, taking in the stunning scenery and calling in at Sahambano village on the way. Arrive at camp in time to enjoy a candlelit dinner by the river’s shore. Overnight wild camp. (BLD)

Following the river downstream through banks lined by primary forest, there are excellent opportunities to observe wildlife, including lemurs, bats, colourful birdlife, and crocodiles. At a suitable spot, camp is made on the riverbank. Overnight wild camp. (BLD)

Breaking camp early, the crew aim to be on the water in time to reach the Gorge of Tsiribihina in time for lunch.  Continuing through the plains of Menabe, the villages of Sakalava people punctuate the riverbanks, their carefully cultivated rice fields characterising the landscape. Then it’s time to leave the water, taking a rough dirt track journey to Bekopaka that culminates in a crossing of the Manambolo River. Bungalow-style accommodation replete with a swimming pool is perched high above Behamara National Park, providing incomparable views. Overnight Hotel Olympe du Bemaraha or similar. (BD)

We spend today exploring the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, a bizarre landscape of eroded limestone pinnacles known as tower karst, and one of Madagascar’s most scenic areas. We take the half-day Grand Tsingy Circuit, a walk connected by boardwalks and ladders between the pinnacles that allows exploration of an otherwise inaccessible terrain.  Throughout, we lookout for wildlife as the park’s deep canyons and gorges are home to several species of lemur and varied birdlife. Overnight at Hotel Olympe de Bemaraha or similar. (BD)

PLEASE NOTE: 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 will ascend ladders attached to rocks to reach different levels. It is not rock climbing and 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 feel uncomfortable with exposure to drops. Your guide will explain the difference between the paths so that you can choose the more suitable option.

Today is again spent in the park allowing time to further explore the  Grand Tsingy or shorter Petit Tsingy Circuits and their incredible vistas.  Birdwatching, wildlife or photography walks are also on offer, or alternatively just relax by the pool. Overnight at Hotel Olympe de Bemaraha or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: seven hours)

Driving back through the wilderness, next stop is Kirindy Reserve and bungalow accommodation in the forest.  On arrival a short guided hike of about one hour provides a good orientation.  However, after diner there’s a fascinating opportunity to join the guide again for a night walk in search of rarely seen nocturnal wildlife.  Highlights may include Brown lemur, Fossa, the giant jumping rat, and an array of frogs and insects. Overnight Relais du Kirindy or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: three hours)

For early risers there’s an opportunity to explore the reserve at the best time to see the elusive, cat-like Fossa – Madagascar’s top predator. After breakfast there’s free time before heading south to Morondava.  A notable stop en route is the Avenue des Baobabs, a vestige of larger forests and now a protected natural monument that sees the road flanked by magnificent baobab trees, some over 800 years old.  Photographers should be able to capture shots of the trees against the setting sun, an iconic image of Madagascar. Overnight Baobab Café Hotel or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: six to eight hours)

A short visit to a nearby Vezo fishing village precedes the first leg of today’s journey, four hours on a dirt track to Antsira.  After lunch we continue south, joining a private road owned by Kanto Hotel, our evening destination.  The road snakes through a wild landscape that varies from arid thorn bush to lush savannah and includes typical west Madagascan villages of tiny wooden huts.  Crossing salt flats and fording rivers, the Kabatomena in particular, makes this a memorable journey.  All along the way local people greet visitors with warmth and genuine interest, children running alongside vehicles as mothers stride on, carrying unfeasibly heavy loads balanced on their heads.  Arriving in Manja late afternoon, the town’s colonial past is evident in the faded grandeur of its more substantial buildings.  These days Manja is a busy market town, the region’s rich soil utilised for growing corn, rice and beans.  Accommodation is provided at the best hotel in town, in fact the only hotel.  However, though simple, Hotel Kanto is a clean, comfortable place to shower and relax amid beautiful gardens.  The hotel’s breakfast is excellent.  Overnight Hotel Kanto or similar. (BD)

PLEASE NOTE: Days 11 – 13 in particular are extremely off the beaten track and road conditions can be poor even by Madagascar standards; hence the stated driving times are very approximate since the road state continually changes. The going will be tough but do take pleasure in travelling through one of the very remotest parts of the back country of Madagascar.

(Approximate driving time: six to eight hours)

Today’s drive is long but rewarding, as the landscape features striking scenery throughout. Baobabs, from short and squat to immense towering pillars, punctuate distinctive spiny forest.  An incredible 95% of plant species here are endemic.  Among wildlife, lemur, mongoose, sifaka and even the Madagascar radiated tortoise are all present.  Bird species include several varieties of the mainly terrestrial coua and shrike-like vanga, along with Madagascar buzzards and Madagascar kestrels. The journey entails a ferry crossing of the Mangoky River to reach the town of Bevoa, and crossings of two further rivers. The route then sweeps west before traversing a line of large dunes to reveal views of the Mozambique Channel and Andavadoaka’s stunning coastal location. Accommodation comprises a series of beautiful bungalows overlooking the sea where fishermen in outrigger fishing canoes ply waters rich in marine life. Overnight Laguna Blu Resort or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: two hours)

In the morning there’s time to appreciate the tranquil beauty of the village before taking a short four-kilometre drive to a highly photogenic stand of baobabs surrounding a freshwater pond. The combination of water and cover is a magnet for an ever-changing cast of wildlife – binoculars out!  Continuing, heading once more through the coastal dunes and continuous spiny forest, the 30km of sandy tracks to Befandefa are challenging. Finally we reach the lagoon of Andravona, surely one of the most beautiful sights in Madagascar.  Arriving late afternoon allows time to unwind and enjoy the panorama of sea, sand, lagoon and languid fishing village.  Overnight Mikea Lodge or similar. (BD)

Andravona’s location on pristine sands, where the spiny forest and baobabs stretch as far as the shore, makes it a photographer’s dream. It may be enough to simply take in the sights and relax. However, the lodge offers an opportunity to head into Mikea Forest and spend time with the last remaining members of the Mikea tribe, experiencing a little of their way of life, traditions and arts. Another option is a walk to the nearby Vezo fishing village, to witness the return of fishermen and the explosion of joyous activity as waiting women and children greet the daily catch. Overnight Mikea Lodge or similar. (BD)

Another day in paradise.  Choose to relax or, if visiting from June to September, perhaps take an excursion to see migrating Humpback whales as they head north from Antarctica to mate in the warmer waters of the Mozambique Channel. Overnight Mikea Lodge or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: eight hours)

After breakfast, we head south to Ifaty, keeping dazzling ocean to the right and dry dunes, baobab and scrub on the left. At Tuléar, Madagascar’s premium highway, the RN7, unfurls a welcome novelty of silky-smooth tarmac all the way to Isalo. En route, in places the road is flanked by characteristically elaborate tombs of the Mahafaly, Masikoro and Antandroy peoples. Later, near Andranomaintso the road skirts a plateau of Andansonia za baobabs, a species unique to Madagascar.  Beyond these ages-old sentinels a brutally deforested lunar landscape emerges, a sorry sight finally broken by the contrasting protected forest-island of Zombitse National Park. The park is a last redoubt for Appert’s Greenbul, a terrestrial species and one of Madagascar’s rarest endemic birds.  From Zombitse the road leads to Ilakaka where there’s time to stop and explore a town at the centre of the burgeoning sapphire industry.  Arriving in Isalo National Park late afternoon, bungalow accommodation occupies rocky slopes offering great evening views over the parkland.  The lodge has a swimming pool and an excellent restaurant.  Overnight Satrana Lodge or similar. (BD)

PLEASE NOTE: You 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 two 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.

After breakfast, there’s the option of either a full or half-day guided excursion in the park.  One trail leads to a lookout from where there’s a fantastic panoramic view of the eroded sandstone landscape and its kaleidoscope of shades, from ochre to russet and blue-grey. Late in the afternoon visit Fenetre de l’Isalo, a natural rock formation that each evening frames a beautiful sunset over Isalo’s rocky canyons. Overnight Satrana Lodge or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: four hours)

Today’s journey combines diverse landscapes, initially traversing the vivid red soil and expansive savannah of Plateaux de Horombe.  Arriving in Ihosy, we’re at the capital of Bara people, herders of Madagascar’s characteristic Zebu cattle. Bara tribal culture is closely connected to the Zebu.  To marry a man must steal several zebus as a badge of his strength and virility. The death of a Bara hunter is similarly marked by the sacrifice of cattle. Beyond Ihosy the landscape changes dramatically as huge granite domes rise from the flower-carpeted grassy plains.  Two notable summits are Varavarana (‘The Gateway to the South’) and the sacred peak, where few local people venture, of Bonnet de l’Evêque (‘Bishop’s Mitre’). At Anja a community-run reserve for some 300 Ring-tailed lemurs makes for an engaging break in the journey. Among other wildlife, there’s a chance to see Barbour’s day gecko and Dangalia lizard, while birders can look out for Grey-headed lovebird and Souimanga sunbird. There’s also a short hike to a precipitous cliff tomb. Income from the project supports the salaries of teachers at the local school. Anja is also the point where the going gets tough.  The final 35km of dirt road is 4WD territory and though bumpy it’s definitely exhilarating. We arrive late afternoon at the heart of the Tsaranoro Valley, close to the gates of the National Park. Overnight Tsara Camp or similar. (BD)

Exploring the Tsaranoro Valley on the Wild Madagascar tour involves a combination of 4WD tracks and walking trails. On foot, there are trails to suit all abilities, from flat low-level circular hikes to ambitious mountainous routes. Discuss with guides what best suits. The valley’s generally dry habitat supports a varied flora and fauna.  Exotic aloes and cacti join colourful avian species, mammals, amphibians and of course, lemurs – Ring-tailed lemurs are particularly abundant here. Walking also provides an opportunity to meet both cattle herding Bara people, and Betsileo, who mainly live by rice cultivation. Overnight Tsara Camp or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: six to seven hours)

Returning to the RN7, it’s a steep climb to the town of Ambalavao.  Each Wednesday there’s a big zebu market – a really authentic and memorable experience. There’s also time to visit the town’s Anteimoro paper factory where ancient techniques of production dating from the time of Arab settlers are still employed. Perhaps surprisingly, the area also known for its vineyards, and a visit to one of the local wineries is almost obligatory. Production is limited but quality is remarkably good. From Ambalavao we head to Fianarantsoa, capital for the Betsileo people and locally known as ‘The Gateway to the South’. A very Catholic city, Fianarantosa is the seat of the Jesuits and boasts arguably Madagascar’s best university. The upper Old City and market are well worth investigation, the latter a good place to buy locally produced tea and celebrated Lazan’I Betsileo wine whose grapes are grown on surrounding slopes. Continuing, the route emerges from the rainshadow of the south-west and enters the fringes of the lush rainforest belt. At Ivato a 15km track leads to Ambalandingana and a sympathetic scattering of eco-lodges set among the upland pastures of the Zafimaniry people. Overnight Sous le Soleil de Mada Hotel or similar. (BD)

Antoetra is the capital for the Zafimaniry people, and the only vehicle-accessible village among 17 protected tribal villages. It is also the starting point for an intriguing hiking opportunity exploring the Zafimaniry world.  The Zafimaniry are a subdivision of the much larger Betsileo, living by sustainable forest exploitation. They are masters of wood carving and their huts comprise exquisitely carved windows frames and doors – indeed virtually every wooden surface displays elaborate ornamentation. The Zafimaniry are unique in maintaining Madagascar’s unique woodcraft, given World Heritage Culture status by UNESCO, and once widespread across the whole island. Spend a day among these welcoming and fascinating people, exploring their remote highland homeland. Overnight Sous le Soleil de Mada Hotel or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: five to six hours)

An early start sees a return to the RN7, plunging through the highlands and across the ‘hauts plateaux’ and their spectacular eroded hillside lavaka features, a journey that once took three days but now enjoys the best road surface on the island. The landscape is reminiscent of the far-east with paddy fields and patchworks of vegetable and fruit plantations. After a brief stop in Ambositra, it’s on to Antsirabe in time for lunch. Then, in the afternoon, the road to Tana beckons, the final destination on this epic tour. Overnight Gassy Country House hotel or similar (BD)

At the end of the Wild Madagascar tour, there’s time to relax before transfers to the airport and flight, though optional excursions are possible for those with late departures. Day use of rooms at Gassy Country House until 6pm is available for those booked on Air France’s late flight. (B)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

To join the Wild Madagascar tour, return flights from London to Antananarivo 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.

Main Tour single supplement from £675.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post Wild 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.

The Wild Madagascar tour runs back to back with our Northern Explorer tour.

If you do not wish to be part of the Wild 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.

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
  • Services of English speaking guides and special local park guides
  • 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
  • Drinks
  • Optional local tipping kitty collected on arrival between 55 – 75 Euro (or the equivalent in GBP)
  • Tip for main tour guide (discretionary)
  • Items of a personal nature

I was very happy with the trip. I especially enjoyed the small activities (wood workers shop, embroidery workshop, etc.)that made it feel like we were doing something on driving days. The guide, Danhy, really made the trip excellent.

Virginia Agnelli, US