I was in a group of twelve on the 4 September 2014 trip, led by a very popular Malagasy guide (favourably referred to in many reviews) whose very long name was conveniently shortened to "Sol". Weather at this time of year turned out to be mainly very good - not over-hot in the later stages of the trip. Unfortunately, our first few days in the rain forest were pretty damp - it rained non-stop. This did not prevent us seeing any of the wildlife but some of the initial photos inevitably reflected the difficulty of taking them.
Occasionally, as in the Kirindi reserve, the lemurs are habituated to humans and, if you sit quietly, one troupe will come and mingle - especially if you give them some water. (Don't touch their tails!) Others stick to the high trees and are often frustratingly difficult to photograph because so many branches and twigs get in the way.
After the rain forest we flew back to Antananarivo ("Tana") and, thereafter until the last day, all travel was by road. Apart from splitting the group into four 4WDs for the Tsingy excursion, all driving was in a smallish bus. The bus was reasonably comfortable and air-conditioned but we rarely felt the need for the A/C as long as the fan was on. There are a lot of long driving days but the roads on the circular part of the tour are all pretty good and, if you want to see the country properly, there is really no alternative. Sol made sure we had plenty of stops so the experience was fine for most of us - if not all.
The road up to the Tsingy was a different matter and was in serious need of improvement. It will probably get this before too long - graders were already in evidence and tourists will wonder what the fuss was about within a couple of years. Ferry crossings were slow and inefficient but provided a good opportunity to chill out.
The worst length of dirt road is probably between Tulear and the hotel north of Ifaty. This requires a lot of patience and will probably not be upgraded anytime soon.
Hotels were, as indicated by previous reviews, surprisingly good and pretty clean for the most part. For those who cannot get away from their phones or tablets Wi-Fi is available at most of them - if only in Reception. Electricity is sometimes rationed (e.g. 7-10pm only) and room lighting usually leaves a lot to be desired. One "tented" camp was a bit basic but perfectly acceptable. Meals were good - although menus were not particularly varied. If you like Zebu steak and chips you will enjoy this trip a lot. That said some of the fish is excellent and I had one meal of lobster which was greatly enjoyed. Desserts are mainly fruit so it is difficult to over-indulge too much.
As regards health issues I was lucky - being on antibiotics for a pre-holiday infection. I suspect this protected me because everybody else had tummy troubles during the first week, although nobody seemed much under the weather for more than a day or two. Few mosquitos were in evidence - even in the rain forest. I took great care to smother myself in DEET throughout the trip and only relaxed the regime when we returned to Tana at the end - when, inevitably, I suffered several bites.
The Tsingy is a strange area of pinnacles and extremely sharp rocks. It is well worth seeing and the climbing element is worth experiencing (not for the faint-hearted but not onerous). We had no problems but it is probably worth making sure that your insurance covers helicopter evacuation (assuming a helicopter is actually available - which may not be the case). To my surprise the scenery on our later circular route did not vary very much - rolling brown/yellow hills with scrub and lots of little square houses. (I had been expecting mountains but we only saw them from a distance in the south). Others have commented on the "slash and burn" approach to agriculture and the deforestation evident, with all the wildlife under threat and confined to reserves. Whilst there is a lot of truth to these observations I felt that most of the scenery we saw had probably not changed much for many years. That said, the change will probably accelerate in the near future so now is a good time to go. Baobabs are nearly everywhere on the west coast and you will get baobabbed out!
Tana has some interesting areas and the older buildings on the central escarpment (where the wealthy live) could almost be from an old European town. The lake in the centre of the city is a disgrace - being widely (and openly) used as a latrine and the smell is offputting.
Baobab alley was good - although the locals tend to congregate there a lot (some with herds of Zebu) and there were comments to the effect that they spoiled the pictures! Sadly we didn't get a decent sunset there. Others may be luckier.
I think now is a very good time to see Madagascar. Tourism, whilst increasing, has not yet taken off and one does not get pestered to buy souvenirs to anything like the irritating extent one does in so many other countries.
I think I would still recommend seeing Ethiopia first but this was a good and enjoyable trip and can safely be recommended.