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Itinerary: Secrets of Madagascar

Secrets of Madagascar

Experience the best of this enigmatic island continent, from bizarre rock formations to its unique wildlife and the best of its national parks.

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Secrets of Madagascar

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 end up at 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. 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.

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 IC Hotel or similar.

Day 2 – Morondava
Fly east 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 take a boat trip through mangrove swamps to visit a nearby fishing village, situated on an island. Overnight at Renala Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 3 – Bekopaka
A full day of travelling, driving through the baobab forests, with great opportunities to see a side of rural Madagascar that few other visitors experience. We stop at local sacred sites including the ‘Baobabs amoureux’ and a sacred tree used for ancestor worship. We also pass through Kirindy, a biologically important area home to Madagascar’s endemic carnivore, the fossa, and stop at the tombs of the local Sakalava people. We arrive at Belo to take boats for the final part of our journey to Bekopaka. Overnight at Hotel Olympe de Bemaraha or similar. (B)

Day 4 – 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. Boardwalks 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. (B)

Day 5 – Kirindy
Drive to Kirindy Special Reserve. On arrival at Kirindy take a night walk, hoping to see the fossa – Kirindy is one of the best places in Madagascar to see this species. Overnight at Kirindy Lodge or similar. (B)

Day 6 – Kirindy - Morondava
A morning walk in Kirindy reserve, before transferring back to Morondava, stopping en route at the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’, where imposing trees up to 800 years old line the road and provide an iconic snapshot of Madagascar, giving hints of the extensive forests that once covered this part of the island. Overnight Hotel Trecicogne or similar. (B)

Day 7 – Ifaty
Fly from Morondava to Tulear, and then transfer to Ifaty on the coast. 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 Belle Vue or similar. (B)

Day 8 – Isalo National Park
Leaving Ifaty behind we head to Isalo. Travelling through the land of the Mahafaly people, we can stop to see the traditional tombs used for burying their dead. Before reaching Isalo we travel through Zombitse National Park, renowned for its birdlife. Overnight at Isalo Ranch or similar. (BD)

Day 9 – 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 Isalo Ranch or similar. (BD)

Day 10 – Ambalavao – Fianarantsoa – Ranomafana National Park
Heading north we stop first at Anja Park, a community run reserve situated in stunning scenery with great opportunities to see ring-tailed lemurs. We then head to Ambalavao, once a centre of Arab civilisation on Madagascar, where we visit a winery to sample the local brew. A short drive further takes us to Fianarantsoa and from there on to Ranomafana National Park. Overnight Hotel Domaine Nature or similar. (B)

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 is free to either relax or visit the nearby village, with its interesting market. Overnight Hotel Domaine Nature or similar. (B)

Day 12 – Ambositra - Antsirabe
Driving into the central highlands of Madagascar, we notice changes on the features of local people as Asian heritage becomes more visible. We stop in Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry and home to the Zafimaniry tribe. We then head to Antsirabe, founded by Norwegians in 1856 and home to Madagascar’s brewing industry. We explore the town and then head to the picturesque Lake Andraikiba. Overnight Arotel or similar. (B)

Day 13 – Andasibe National Park
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 chameleons. This evening we take a night safari in the park, looking for some of the nocturnal species that live here. Our accommodation is situated within the forest. Overnight Vakona Lodge or similar. (B)

Day 14 – Andasibe National Park
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 morning walks through the forest in search of this enigmatic creature as well as other wildlife, accompanied by an expert guide. This afternoon we visit a Betsimisiraka village to experience the local lifestyle. Overnight Vakona Lodge or similar. (B)

Day 15 – Antananarivo
Head back to Antananarivo. Upon arrival we explore the city, including old buildings that once belonged to the royal court, its colonial architecture, and a flower market. Overnight IC Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 16 – Antananarivo
Tour ends. (B)

All accommodation based on twin/double share
All transport (4WD vehicles throughout) and transfers
Domestic flights
Meals as listed above
Park entrance fees
An English speaking guide

Price does not include
International flights
Travel insurance
Single Supplement

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Secrets of Madagascar

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