- 1000 Views of Madagascar, 11 days
- Barefoot Luxury Southern Explorer, 11 days
- Nosy Be Beach Package, 5 days
- St Marie Beach Package, 8 days
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Madagascar Independent Travel Ideas
1000 Views of Madagascar
On this hotel accommodated Madagascar vacation you have the opportunity to explore the highlights of the world's fourth largest island. Your journey starts and ends in Tana (Antananarivo), the capital of Madagascar. The road takes you through the Central Highlands down to the south-west of the country – keeping your eyes and mind busy with the ever-changing landscape, the different smells or the markets and the diverse tribes.
Madagascar Highlights: Antananarivo, Andasibe National Park, Antsirabe, Ambositra, Ranomafana National Park, Ambalavao, Isalo National Park, Ifaty.
Day 1. Antananarivo – Andasibe.
Arrival in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Welcome and assistance at the airport. After a short briefing, drive to Andasibe through the green and luxuriant vegetation of the east. This first step brings us to the humid part of the country with many primary forests and lakes. Along the way we will see Merina villages in the mountains. Arrive at Andasibe around 18h00. Check-in hotel. Later this evening at approximately 19h00 we have a night walk in the area of Andasibe to observe night active lemurs and other nocturnal animals. Back to hotel where we overnight.
Grace Lodge or similar (2 nights) (bungalows with en-suite bathrooms, verandah)
Day 2. Natural Reserve of Andasibe.
A morning visit to the special reserve of Andasibe, to see the Indri Indri, the largest lemurs on the island. This 810ha reserve is unique with its endemic fauna and flora. It contains a wide variety of orchids, canopy, and endemic animals like chameleons, tenrecs, and many birds. After the visit we walk through the orchid park to admire all the beautiful flowers. In the afternoon, we visit Andasibe village, a typical Betsimisaraka (The-Many-inseparable) village, and the second largest tribe on the island. They cultivate rice and live mainly off the forest. This small visit helps us to have contact with the local people, to see how they live and what they eat. Overnight at the same hotel. B
Day 3. Andasibe – Antsirabe.
We drive back to Tana, and head south to Antsirabe, across the highland landscape with its beautiful rice fields on stage. The spectacular eroded hills called ‘lavaka’ remind us of the Far East with its rice fields and green landscape with vegetables and fruit trees. A stop in Ambatolampy for a short visit of this huge agricultural city, which is also known as a source of aluminium. Arrival in Antsirabe around 17h00, or ‘the place of salt’, an elegant city well known as the centre of the beer industry and we can smell the Star Brewery as we enter the town.
Founded by the Norwegians in 1856, it is the only place which really feels and looks like a European city. It has a temperate climate and all fruits and vegetable, which grow in cold climates, are found in Antsirabe. B
Chambres du Voyageur (rooms with e-suite bathrooms)
Day 4. Antsirabe to Ranomafana National Park.
After breakfast we drive to Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar's wood carving industry. We are still in the highland, which is characterized by its architecture: The houses are made with ornately carved wooden balconies and shutters with bright colours. Further on we pass the ‘le col de tapia’, a type of tree, which resists to the bush fires of the area. The landscape is still dominated by rice fields on stage, pine forests and eucalyptus trees and mountains.
We are taking a turn-off from the main road. Before we reach our destination for the day: Ranomafana National Park. B
Centrest, or similar (2 nights) (rooms with e-suite bathrooms)
Day 5. Ranomafana National Park.
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 heavily visited of the country’s national parks. Its entrance lies about 7km from Ranomafana village. Altitudes in the park range 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.
You will go for walks in the National Park for several hours spotting some of the lemurs, chameleons and other animals. B
Day 6. Fianarantsoa – Isalo.
We leave Ranomafana using the road that entered on, and pass Fianarantsoa ‘the city where one learns good things’. It is the gate to the South and the capital of the Betsileo tribes. This is the centre of the catholic religion and most of the best schools are found here. Then we head southwards, our first stop is in Ambalavao to visit a wine industry for wine tasting, as Ambalavao is the centre of wine industry. The climate is not said to be ideal for grape vines but it is a tradition left by priests and monks, who lived in the area of Fianarantsoa. Still in Ambalavao, we visit the ‘Anteimoro Paper Factory’ a vestige of the Arabian civilisation in the island. We continue to Ihosy the capital of the Bara tribes, who are the shepherds of Zebu, and pass through the mountain chain of Andringitra, which serves as a transition between the dry south and green highlands with its famous ‘3 hillocks’ and its huge ‘archbishop's cape’. Along the way we will see afar a spectacular huge granite dome with twin rock towers called: ‘the gate of the south’, which marks the end of the highland and the beginning of the south. The other imposing one is the ‘Bishop's hat’, which is a sacred place for the local people, as it is a place where their ancestors chose a collective suicide rather than to give in to the Merina tribes. We then pass through the huge ‘Plateaux de Horombe’ where with its very deep red soil, reminds us of ‘the no man's land’. Arrive in Isalo. B
Isalo Ranch (2 nights) (rooms with e-suite bathrooms, restaurant)
Day 7. Isalo.
Visit to ISALO National Park. The park covers an area of 81 540 ha comprising of the entire stretch of the Isalo massif. This huge mountain is very spectacular with its eroded sandstone mountain. Today we will walk to the ‘Natural swimming pool’. After a 10-minute drive from Ranohira village we park our car and walk about 1½ hour to reach the Natural Swimming Pool. Along the way we will see vegetation like Uapaca bojeri, Pachypodium rosulatum or ‘elephant's foot’, Aloe isaloensis, a native species of aloe and endemic to Isalo. We walk through the eroded mountains, which are also where Bara placed their dead before they can bring them into their real tombs. We start our climb and reach the massif, (after 20 minutes walk) where we will have a spectacular view of the huge sandstone mountains with its beautiful colours and its strange and eroded forms giving many different images like ‘the tortoise’, ‘the masks’ and ‘the crocodiles’. We see small streams of water, and rivers which are marked by lines of brilliant green, generally made up of numerous Pandanus pulcher and the delicate, slim-stemmed, feathery leaved palm Chrysalidocarpus isaloensis. Along the way, for lemur lovers, there may be sifakas, brown lemurs and ringtaild lemurs, as well as fifty-five species of birds, lizards and snakes. We finally reach the swimming pool, with its crystal clear water, which is a great reward after a long and very hot walk. B
Day 8. Isalo to Ifaty.
After breakfast, we continue to Tuléar, the terminal of the National Road N° 7. This step brings us new scenery, among the dry forests of the west and the spiny desert of the south. On the way, we admire the different ‘Mahafaly tombs’ and the ‘Antandroy tombs’. After a short visit of Tuléar we drive to Ifaty, which lies about 27 km from Tuléar. Due to the bad condition of the road, it will take us about 2½ hours to reach Ifaty, and this step brings us to the driest part of the country. Situated in the deep south, the landscape is dominated by the spiny forest like the cactus, different euphorbiacea and didieracea. We will cross the dry and sandy soil where the local people battle to find drinking water. Mangrove trees line the coast alternated by Vezo villages, which earn their living from fishing. We will see many small pirogues and men who go out fishing twice a day. The children and women wait on the coast to fetch the fish and take them to Tuléar for sale. B
Hotel de la Plage (2 nights) (rooms with e-suite bathrooms)
Day 9. Ifaty.
Day at leisure. Ifaty lies in the beach; it is an ideal place for diving and snorkelling and a popular place for birdwatchers. Here you can also experience the Vezo Fishermen's life. Many excursions are possible. Visit the ‘Reserve Domergue’, a communal reserve where one will see two kinds of baobabs, spiny bush, reptiles like ‘boa madagascariensis’, ‘geckos’ and ‘chameleon parsoni’ (the largest one). Take a boat trip to see the whales. From July to mid September, whales come to the cool seas off Madagascar to give birth to their young. It is a spectacular experience, and it is possible to see the whales very near to the boat. Situated in the largest lagoon of the country, Ifaty is also protected by a large coral reef, which makes it an ideal place for diving and snorkelling. In the afternoon we can walk to the village of Mangily where we can visit a local school and also experience the Vezo Fishermen's way of life, especially after coming back from fishing. B
Day 10. Ifaty – Tulear – Tana.
Early in the morning around 6h00 we transfer to the airport for the flight back to Tana. Transfer to the hotel. Afternoon free. Tana also called the ‘City of Thousands’ is the capital of Madagascar. It is the city where the first King started to unify the different kingdoms of the island. Built in stages: The high city, the first area occupied during the royal period where the old queen's palace is situated, the mid-city, where all the chic boutiques of the capital are found and then the low city, which is the commercial area of the town. Your walk can start from the high city to see the Rova, the queen's palace, the house of the first minister during these days, which is now a museum; all built by Frenchman Jean Laborde during the royal period. The mid-city, or the administration area ends at the Rainiharo tombs and the lower town is situated in the main avenue called ‘L'avenue de l'independence’ dominated by the railway station. [B]
Residence Lapasoa, or similar (rooms with en-suite bathroom, & restaurant
Day 11. Tana.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. B
Included in the price
Accommodation based on bed and breakfast basis in twin sharing room, all transfers and transport mentioned in the program, all entrance fees, specialist local guides in the national park as per program, all excursions mentioned in the program, an English-speaking driver (cannot advise on Flora and Fauna, and therefore will not accompany clients into parks).
Not included in the price
All excursions not mentioned in the program, bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, laundry, international flights, flight from Tulear to Tana, visas and travel insurance, all lunches, dinners, personal items. Flights from/to Johannesburg can be arranged.
Please note: If you require a specific language speaking guide to accompany you on your entire tour, please request this at time of enquiry. This carries an additional cost.
Group Size: Maximum 10 people
Type of Tour: Accommodated tour
Accommodation: Mid range 2* hotels