Madagascan Discoverer (2023 Departures)

16 days
from
$5,599 USD
incl. taxes
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Culture
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
AZMA3
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–16
Ages:
16+

Explore Madagascar's unique flora and fauna, and spectacular and diverse scenery

Madagascar is home to countless endemic species of flora and fauna and has some truly incredible scenery. We visit the primary forest at Andasibe, where we hope to see the rare Indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur, as well as some of Madagascar’s unusual nocturnal wildlife. We also visit thousand-year-old trees at sunset at the famous Alley of Baobabs. A real highlight of the trip is the time spent trekking in the Tsingy of Bemaraha - home to unique wildlife and magnificent scenery.

Highlights

  • Walk amongst the pinnacles of the Grands Tsingy of Bemaraha
  • The chance to see lemurs in their natural habitat
  • Sunset visit to the 'Alley of Baobabs'
  • Isalo National Park, with its amazing rock formations, spectacular canyons and natural swimming holes
  • Incredible wildlife in the Andasibe National Park

Key information

  • 15 nights standard hotels, all en suite
  • Travel by private bus, 4WD and internal flights
  • Some long drives on poor roads
  • Countries visited: Madagascar

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader/support staff throughout

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Flights
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Antananarivo; overnight.

    There are no included activities today so you are free to arrive at any time.

    Accommodation: Hotel Belvedere or similar
    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Morning city tour in Antananarivo; afternoon drive to Andasibe; guided night walk.

    This morning we will embark on a short city tour of Tana by bus. With its bustling markets and ancient town on a hill with freestone churches and ancient royal places, it is unique among the world’s other capitals. Built around Anosy Lake, Tana offers much of interest set against a backdrop of terracing with outstanding views from the Queen's Palace.

    We will arrive in Andasibe around 3pm and we will then visit the Vondron’olona Miaro Mitia Ala Reserve. This is a community run reserve where you are able to see several species of lemurs and birds. The reserve is an untouched paradise for endemic animals and plants. There are groups of Indris which we hope to see here in their natural habitat, and their white-headed relatives, the Diademed sifakas, jump between the tree tops.  For reptiles and amphibian lovers, the reserve offers countless frogs along its crystal clear river and several amazing chameleons can be found in the forest.

    In the early evening we take a twilight/nocturnal walk, looking out for the nocturnal species of lemur as the torchlights pass by their eyes.

    Accommodation: Sahatandra River Hotel or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Morning trek in Andasibe National Park; return to Antananarivo.

    Today we will explore the park and go in search of wildlife on a 4 hour walk in Andasibe National Park, also known as Perinet. The park is home to the teddy bear-like Indri, the largest of Madagascar's lemur species, as well as other forms of flora and fauna and a wide array of bird life. Listening to the piercing yet melancholy cry of the Indri in the morning is an evocative sound and for those who are prepared to follow them through the thick rainforest, the reward is often a close-up view of these beautiful creatures. A group of five Diademed sifaka have recently been re-introduced to Andasibe from Mantadia, and if we are lucky, we may spot one of these unusual creatures.

    In the afternoon we return to Madagascar’s capital, known simply as 'Tana' to the locals. 


    Accommodation: Au Bois Vert Hotel or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Fly to Morondava; visit Alley of Baobabs.

    We depart early today to catch a flight west to the coastal town of Morondava, known for having one of the finest climates in Madagascar. This afternoon, we will pick up the 4WD vehicles and then visit the famous ‘Alley of Baobabs’. We then we drive to Kirindy dry forest reserve where we spend the night.

    Accommodation: Gite de Kirindy or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Drive to Bekopaka, with a visit to Kirindy dry forest reserve.

    Today we visit the Kirindy Reserve, which is home to the giant jumping rat, seven lemur species, and the Fossa. Then we travel approximately 9 hours on a dirt road to Bekopaka. We travel past baobab forests, desert, and local villages, and cross the Tsiribihina river by local ferry boat. The western landscape is arid but has a beauty all of its own.

    Accommodation: Olympe de Bemaraha or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Morning trekking in Grands Tsingy; afternoon return to Bekopaka.

    We depart early this morning to the amazing Grands Tsingy. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, the area has unique geography, well-preserved mangrove forests. The Grands Tsingy is famed for its pinnacles, a forest of limestone pillars; some of its needles are several hundred metres high! The karst landscape and deciduous forest are a refuge for rare and endangered species and in the park there are over 11 species of lemur, 90 species of bird and 50 types of reptile, some of which we might be lucky to spot on our hike. In the afternoon we will head back to Bekopaka and relax at the hotel or enjoy a swim at the hotel pool.

    Please note that while our time in this area is a real highlight for most, this is a demanding walk and those suffering from vertigo and claustrophobia may find parts of the walk challenging. In some places we will go through caves and narrow chasms; harnesses are used for the more challenging parts of the climb for safety reasons.

    Accommodation: Olympe de Bemaraha or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    4WD to Morondava; sunset at 'Alley of Baobabs'.

    After breakfast we will head back south by 4WD vehicles to Morondava by road and ferry. The journey will take us approximately 12 hours. We will pass by the Sakalava tribe tombs along the way – specially known for the very unusual paintings and carvings that decorate the outside of each tomb. We will stop at the famous ‘Alley of Baobabs’ again where we plan to spend sunset. This is the best time to see these amazing trees as the colours at this time of day are spectacular, making for a perfect photo opportunity. After sunset we spend the night in Morondava.

    Accommodation: Renala au Sable d’Or or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Drive to Antsirabe.

    Today is a long travel day through the fascinating scenery of Betsiriry Plateau, some plains of savannah, and intercepted by some villages. We arrive at our destination by early evening. Antsirabe is at an altitude of 1500m and has a cooler climate. The warm springs and thermal baths here were a real draw in the 19th century.

    Accommodation: Chambres du Voyageur or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Drive to Ranomafana.

    This morning we depart early. We will do a short rickshaw tour along Independence Avenue then do a sightseeing tour of Antsirabe, including a visit to some craft centres. From here we continue to drive to Ranomafana. Parc National de Ranomafana (approximately 40,000ha), with its rain forested hills and abundant wildlife, has long been considered one of Madagascar’s highlights, and is one of the most visited of the country’s national parks. Its entrance lies about 7km from Ranomafana village. Altitude in the park ranges from 800m to 1200m. In addition to its densely forested hills, Ranomafana’s terrain is characterised by numerous small streams, which plummet down to the beautiful Namorona River. Although much of the region has been logged, the easternmost part of the park retains relatively large areas of primary forest.

    Accommodation: Centrest Hotel or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Morning visit Ranomafana N.P.; afternoon visit Ranomafana village.

    Today we spend the morning (approximately 5 hrs) exploring Ranomafana National Park. We hope to spot Golden bamboo lemurs who are unique to this park, as well seeing other lemurs such as the Eastern woolly lemurs, the Red bellied lemurs, the Grey bamboo lemurs, and the Red-fronted brown lemurs. This park is also home to other mammals including tenrecs, bats and some of the carnivores such as mongoose and the Malagasy striped civet.

    In the afternoon, we will visit the Ranomafana Village, where we will see typical Tanala tribe houses as well as the public thermal bath.

    The evening is spent on a night walk along the roads in the hope of spotting some of the nocturnal lemurs, chameleons and other animals.

    Accommodation: Centrest Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Drive to Ranohira, visiting Anja N.P. en route.

    Today we drive to Ranohira. The scenery changes dramatically as we head to the small town of Ranohira, a journey of approximately 11 hours. We stop in Ambalavao to visit Anja National Park along the way - a small reserve where several families of Ring-tailed lemurs can be seen in the wild.

    Accommodation: Isalo Ranch or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Full day trek in Isalo N.P.

    We spend the day exploring Isalo National Park. Isalo is a vast region of wind-polished and water-scoured rock towers, deep canyons, gorges and oases often described as Eden. During our time here we will go walking in the magnificent Canyon des Makis in search of cheeky Ring-tailed lemurs and the Verreaux's Sifaka. We also visit the 'Piscine Naturelle' (natural swimming pool), a beautifully lush spot within an arid landscape, where we can swim and relax. Perhaps the magic is just to soak up the sheer beauty of the park, the combination of coloured eroded rock forms, strange plants and enveloping silence make this one of the most captivating places in Madagascar. (Please note that Isalo is a big national park and there will be a certain amount of driving involved today. Driving to the Canyon des Makis takes around 1.5 - 2 hours).

    Accommodation: Isalo Ranch or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    To west coast and beaches; overnight in Ifaty.

    We drive to Tulear, among the dry forests of the west and the spiny desert of the south, and we pass both the 'Mahafaly tombs' and the 'Antandroy tombs', briefly observing their ornate decorations. Antandroy and Mahafaly are reputed to be the most impressive of all Malagasy tombs, with the Antandroy tombs being large and brightly painted, relating to the life story and wishes of the deceased. They are also topped with zebu skulls which were sacrificed during the funeral festivity - a ceremony of great significance. Mahafaly tombs are characterised by their wooden sculptures known as 'Aloalo', relating to the life of the deceased and their unfulfilled dreams, as well as their rank within the clan. After a brief stop in Tulear, we continue past the coastal town of Ifaty to Ifaty beach where we spend the night.


    Accommodation: Hotel de la Plage or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Free time for relaxation or optional activities at Ifaty beach.

    Today we have a free day. Running all the way around the south-west Malagasy coastline, Ifaty beach lies on one of the world's largest barrier reefs and is an excellent venue for scuba diving. Between late June and early September, whales can be observed off Ifaty's beautiful white beaches and the offshore islet of Nosy Ve is a terrific place for snorkelling. Protected by coral reefs, the beach and waters beyond the hotel offer a welcome place to rest.


    Accommodation: Hotel de la Plage or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Fly to Antananarivo.

    Today we transfer to Tulear airport for our flight to Antananarivo which will arrive in the afternoon. Depending on the flight schedule, you may have free time to explore Antananarivo on your own.

    Accommodation: Hotel Belvedere or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    End Antananarivo.

    Depending on flight times there may be the opportunity to embark on an optional short visit to Ambohimanga, the fortified village and its Royal Palace. Ambohimanga, otherwise known as Blue Hills, was for a long time forbidden to Europeans. The kings and queens returned here for rest and relaxation on top the forested slopes of this hill-top village. From here began the line of kings and queens who united Madagascar into one country. Ambohimanga still remains of spiritual significance for the Malagasy people with ceremonies and rituals still taking place.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Madagascar

Visas are required for entry to Madagascar. 30-day tourist visas may be obtained at the airport on arrival. If obtaining a visa at the airport, you should ensure that an entry stamp is recorded in your passport. The visa fee is payable in US dollars or Euros (US$37/€35).

Vaccinations

Madagascar

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

Food standards in Madagascar can vary and are probably not of the same standard you are used to at home. A one-course lunch/dinner should cost £4-6 while a three-course lunch/dinner should cost £9-12 . Please allow approximately £250 for meals not included, plus a little more if you enjoy a drink with dinner! Malagasy lager is reasonably priced and easily available. Malagasy wine is also reasonably priced but is not to everyone's taste. It is sometimes possible to get hold of French or South African wine. A delicacy in Madagascar is the various flavoured rum’s which are widely sold and very reasonably priced.
Please note that if you eat neither fish nor meat, your food options will be rather limited (i.e. omelette, cheese, pasta, vegetables and rice) on this trip. Breakfasts are usually simple: eggs, a baguette, jam and coffee or tea, and sometimes fruit. You may wish to bring something to supplement your morning meal (e.g spread, peanut butter etc).

Weather

Madagascar has a tropical climate with two seasons - rainy and dry. The driest season extends from April to October. It can be cold on the central plateau (including Antananarivo) in the evenings, and in the rainforest areas, so you should bring warm clothes (fleece and waterproof). There is considerable regional variation but coastal areas will normally be very hot and dry. Expect daytime in the shade temperatures up to 38ºC from October-December and up to 30ºC during the trips running from April-June and September.

Antananarivo

Is this trip for you?

Madagascar is a rewarding destination with its wealth of flora and fauna, however, before you decide to travel, we would highlight the following issues for you to consider:
Travelling by vehicle in Madagascar can be uncomfortable as some of the road quality varies. The majority of the roads are well-surfaced, but it is worth noting that Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and the infrastructure reflects this. Some roads will be better than others, and at times a little patience, humour and flexibility may be required! We do have some longer drives but the diverse scenery more than makes up for time spent on the bus. We break up our road journeys with stops at villages, to take photos and to stretch our legs. There will be a lot of very early starts and long days on this itinerary.
Parts of Madagascar are mountainous. You need to be prepared to walk in hilly surroundings for periods of up to four hours. The trails are fairly gentle in Andasibe but steeper in all of the other national parks. We include a visit to the UNESCO site of the Tsingy of Bemaraha with some stunning scenery and wildlife. This area is however quite remote and you should come prepared for this. Those suffering from vertigo and claustrophobia may find some parts of the walks in this area challenging.
The tourist infrastructure in Madagascar is new and some services are limited. It is not unusual for there to be changes to accommodation or internal flights and for this reason, the order of the itinerary (but not the content) may sometimes change. However, what tourism does exist is of a pleasantly good standard and you may be impressed by the level of services in some of the places we stay.

This itinerary includes the use of local pontoon ferries which do not (typically) offer emergency safety equipment such as flotation devices. While we have risk assessed these crossings and find them to be ‘low risk’. If you are concerned about this aspect please consider an alternative trip, as we are unable to facilitate the provision of western safety equipment.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

We use tourist class hotels throughout the trip which are simple but comfortable. Most of the hotels have mosquito nets in the rooms. Please note that although all of the hotels are said to have a reliable electricity and water supply there may be instances in which you experience some gaps in supply - this is more a reflection of life in Madagascar than the standard of the hotel. Please be aware that some hotels do not have 24 hr electricity, and in some, hot water is not always available. There is WiFi in most of the hotels but often this is only in the communal areas and not in the rooms.

 

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for private group trips:
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

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