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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 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. 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 Gassy Country House or similar.

Day 2 – Andasibe
his morning enjoy a short city tour of the capital before we drive to Andasibe (approx. 3 hours) 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. 3 hours drive) in the afternoon. Overnight Tana Plaza Hotel 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)

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 Parksk
Continuing south, we stop in Ambositra (approx. 4 hours), the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry and home to the Zafimaniry tribe. We then continue to Ranomafana National Park (approx. 4 hours) 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)

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. 1-2 hours) 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)

Price includes
Arrival and departure airport transfers
Domestic flights
All accommodation
Services of English-speaking guides
Meals as listed above
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Price does not include
International flights
Travel insurance
Optional local tipping kitty collected on arrival between 55-75 euro
Tip for main tour guide (discretionary)
Items of a personal nature

for more information please enquire below

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