Madagascar,

An Overland Journey of Discovery through Madagascar with Daniel Austin

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Group Tour
15 Days
From £4583
GEOIP Not Available
Primate Watching
Photographic
Rainforest

Tour Introduction

15 Days from £4583
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote

Join Madagascar expert, travel guide author, lecturer, photographer and naturalist Daniel Austin and expert local guide Kenny Andriamaronjaka for an awe-inspiring and insightful journey through Madagascar’s top wildlife hotspots.

This well paced and diverse small group tour is the perfect choice for those looking to experience the weird, wonderful, and spectacular natural history of Madagascar. This popular itinerary offers the perfect mixture of both iconic wildlife and landscapes and takes in most of the key ecosystems found across the country on a relaxing yet ever-changing overland journey.

Beginning with the wonderful species rich rainforests of Andasibe-Mantadia, we will get our first taste for the unique fauna and flora. One of the highlights will be unforgettable close encounters with wild indri, the largest of all living lemurs.

Next, we take our only domestic flight of the trip as we head to the far south of the country to explore the arid and bizarre spiny forests and mangroves of Ifaty and Tulear. The specialist fauna and flora here has had to adapt to the hot and dry climate and here we can see a whole different cast of wildlife. Offshore we also have a chance of spotting any lingering humpback whales.

We then travel north to the rocky canyon lands of Isalo National Park. Here we explore this park’s dramatic mountainous landscapes and wildlife riches, including close encounters with ring-tailed lemurs. From here we also visit the transitional and baobab forests of Zombitse National Park, home to leaping Verreaux’s sifakas and bright green day geckos.

Our next destination offers more ring-tailed lemur encounters and also hopefully tiny brookesia leaf chameleons at Anja Park before we reach the moist cloud forests of Ranomafana National Park. The wildlife viewing here is fantastic and we can enjoy watching some very special lemurs, birds, frogs, leaf-tailed geckos, and chameleons. We have also included a visit to the little visited Kianjavato Forest Reserve and Field Station where we can track endangered greater bamboo lemurs and agile black-and-white ruffed lemurs with the research team. During our visit we can also learn about the excellent conservation work being undertaken by the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership and help support their excellent reforestation project. The project planted their 3 millionth tree last year and our visit directly helps with this.

Accommodation is of a good standard as we visit some of the island’s most rewarding and diverse National Parks as well as valuable community run reserves and conservation projects.

The group has been kept deliberately small to maximise wildlife viewing and access to your tour leaders, plus the knowledgeable local guides, who really know how and where to find the unique wildlife in their localities.

Click here for full tour details

Full Itinerary

Price from £4583
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Antananarivo

Arrive Antananarivo (Tana). Met on arrival and transfer to your hotel.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux. Includes No Meals.

Day 2
VOIMMA Reserve

Today our holiday begins in earnest and we will make the journey (5 hours in total but with stops) from Tana to Andasibe.

In the evening, we will explore the community managed VOIMMA Reserve, part of Analamazaotra that receives fewer visitors than surrounding forest areas and is particularly good for night walks. This walk may reveal the nocturnal Goodman’s mouse lemur, the Eastern woolly lemur, and the furry-eared (Crossley’s) dwarf lemur, plus sleeping chameleons and frogs.

Staying at Mantadia Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Perinet and Mitsinjo Reserves

Today we will take a morning walk in the Analamazaotra (Perinet) Reserve to enjoy some close sightings of the magnificent tail less indri. This section of forest is also the best location to see the stunningly beautiful diademed sifaka as well as the common brown and eastern grey bamboo lemurs.

We will then have some time at leisure during the middle of the day before we take another walk in the late afternoon in the community managed Mitsinjo Forest Reserve. Here we will hope to spot the giant Parson's chameleon, the bizarre giraffe-necked weevil and maybe a snuffling tenrec. We will again search for nocturnal creatures once dark.

Staying at Mantadia Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Mantadia National Park

Today we rise early to drive 1 hour 30 minutes north on a bumpy track to Mantadia National Park. Here we can enjoy spending the morning exploring the wonderful primary rainforest of this vast protected area with its special wildlife.

The majestic old growth rainforest of Mantadia is a good location to spot the agile black-and-white ruffed lemur. Colourful Baron’s mantella frogs may be seen as well as interesting array of insects and special birdlife. Avian highlights could include the beautiful pitta-like ground roller, nuthatch vanga and red-fronted and blue couas.

This afternoon we will return to Andasibe. For those interested a visit to the Lemur Island can be arranged this afternoon. In the evening we will take another night walk in the nearby Orchidee Park.

Staying at Mantadia Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Mitsinjo Reserve

Today we have a final morning to explore the community managed Mitsinjo Reserve where we have an excellent opportunity to see the indri up close. The local guides at Mitsinjo have habituated several groups of indris which often come lower in the trees to take a closer look and sometimes receive a handout of their favourite leaves. This intimacy makes for an unforgettable sighting and also photographic opportunity.

In the afternoon we will transfer (5 hours) back to Tana with a couple stops at points of interest en route.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux. Includes Breakfast.

Day 6
Honko Mangrove Project

Morning flight to Tulear in the arid south of the country.

We then transfer 30 minutes up the road to the Honko Mangrove Project along the coast. Here we can explore the sustainably managed and restored mangrove ecosystem of the Bay of Ranobe. We will take a leisurely and interpretative walk through the mangroves observing the special wildlife which includes mudskippers, mangrove crabs, dragonflies and Madagascar swamp warblers.

We then continue 10 minutes to our hotel in Ifaty next to the beach. Wetlands along the journey can offer sightings of Madagascar plover, painted snipe, greater flamingos and other waders. We then have the rest of the day at leisure.

Staying at Les Dunes d'Ifaty. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Ifaty Spiny Forest and Coast

Morning to explore the local bizarre spiny forest habitat, dominated by the thorny Didiereacae, or octopus, trees and the local baobab, Andansonia rubrostipa (fony).

As well as learning about the flora, this is a superb birdwatching area with a number of special endemic bird species to see including the sub-desert mesite and the brilliant long-tailed ground roller. There are also many reptiles ranging from the three-eyed lizard and warty chameleon to the blonde hog-nosed snake.

Later in the morning we will also take a boat trip to hopefully spot humpback whales offshore.

During the middle of the day we have some time at leisure to relax by the beach or pool. In the early evening we will return to the unique spiny forest and stay till dark to spot the fascinating nocturnal wildlife of the forest.

Staying at Les Dunes d'Ifaty. Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Ifaty, Antsokay Arboretum and Isalo

This morning we can enjoy early morning birdwatching in the Ifaty spiny forest, followed by a visit to the nearby salt pans to see the rare Madagascar plover.

After breakfast we will drive (45 minutes) to the Antsokay Arboretum on the edge of Tulear for lunch. Here we can see more of the strange flora endemic to southern Madagascar and also learn about the various practical and medicinal uses of the plants to local people.

In the afternoon we continue across wide open grasslands to the stunning landscapes of Isalo National Park.

Staying at Le Jardin du Roy. Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Isalo National Park

This morning we will explore the spectacular Isalo National Park. The park is a runiforme limestone massif, with very different and impressive scenery, unusual plants like the endemic ‘elephant’s foot’ Pachypodium rosalatum and is a sacred burial ground for the local Bara tribe.

We will take the gentle walk through the Namahaza canyon where we can see ring-tailed and red-fronted brown lemurs.

After some lemur watching and a picnic lunch, we could perhaps take a refreshing dip in the natural pools here.

Staying at Le Jardin du Roy. Includes All Meals.

Day 10
Zombitse and Isalo National Parks

Today we will rise early to visit Zombitse National Park which acts as a transition zone between the dry and the humid forests of Madagascar. The flora is especially rich with bottle baobab trees and many orchids and the Appert's tetraka and Zombitse (Hubbard's) sportive lemur are both specialities of the park.

Other wildlife we will look for here includes the strikingly colourful standing's day gecko several species of vanga, the giant coua and the agile Verreaux's sifaka.

After our guided walk, we will return to the lodge for lunch. In the late afternoon we can visit another section of Isalo National Park such as the Piscine Naturelle or enjoy time at leisure if preferred.

Staying at Le Jardin du Roy. Includes All Meals.

Day 11
Anja Park

This morning we set off for the interesting drive north through impressive mountain scenery to the lovely Anja park. Here we can enjoy unforgettably close encounters with habituated groups of ring-tailed lemurs as they go about their day. We may also spot the giant oustalet's and a tiny brookesia chameleon here.

After lunch we continue the drive to Ranomafana National Park.

Staying at Setam Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 12
Ranomafana National Park

Today we will explore Ranomafana National Park on morning and afternoon walks in search of its wonderful rainforest wildlife. The park is an exceptionally rich high-altitude cloud forest with an extraordinary biodiversity.

With the expertise of our local spotters we will hope to see the famous golden bamboo lemurs for which the park was created along with many other exciting lemurs, reptiles, frogs, birds, insects and plants. In the evening we will take a night walk to spot tiny mouse lemurs, colourful tree frogs and sleeping chameleons.

Staying at Setam Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 13
Ranomafana and Kianjavato Forest Reserve

This morning we will walk the gentle and flatter Vohipara Trail. This quieter section of the park takes us through stunted high-altitude forest and is the best section of the park to spot the beautiful red-bellied lemur and many rare birds and frogs.

Later in the morning we will transfer (1.5 hours) to explore the Kianjavato Forest Reserve and Field Station, managed by the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership.

This afternoon we will first explore the rainforest reserve with two local field researchers studying the greater bamboo lemur and black-and-white ruffed lemur.

In addition to its important research and educational work, the organisation also plants millions of native trees to reverse the decline in rainforest acreage, which we help support through our insightful visit.

For those interested a special nocturnal excursion to look for radio collared aye aye can be arranged this evening.

Staying at Setam Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 14
Antsirabe

Today we depart for our longest drive north (7-8 hours depending on local conditions) to Antsirabe stopping at points of interest along the way such as the woodcarving centre of Ambositra. Later in the day, we will arrive at the handicraft market of Antsirabe; an attractive Hauts Plateaux spa town.

Staying at Arotel. Includes All Meals.

Day 15
Antananarivo

Today we firstly take a short tour of the city and for those interested visit the local handicraft ateliers. We will then set off on the 4-hour journey north through rice growing paddy fields and hills to Tana and our hotel.

In the afternoon we will take a tour of Antananarivo (Tana) by vehicle with a stop at the Children’s orphanage Akany Avoko which provides a home for abandoned and vulnerable babies, children, and teenagers.

Alternatively enjoy the afternoon at leisure if preferred. In the evening we will have a final farewell dinner (not included in the tour price) and a presentation on some of the highlights of our journey through Madagascar. We will have use of our rooms at the hotel into the evening before a transfer to the airport for departing flights.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux. Includes Breakfast.

Download the full details of this itinerary and start planning your trip today.

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Tour Accommodation

Madagascar Eastern Madagascar

Arotel, Antsirabe

Overview

The large and modern Arotel has been completely refurbished and re-opened in June 2019 to offer the most modern accommodation in Antsirabe.
The hotel is located on the central square and offers accommodation in three room categories: standard rooms, deluxe rooms with air-conditioning and suites. All rooms feature a large flat screen TV, kettle, telephone, desk and chair and hairdryers in the large and modern bathrooms. The hotel also features a large outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, gym and spa and has a large restaurant serving international cuisine. Wi-Fi is free and available throughout the property.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
45
Facilities

All rooms feature private bathrooms, air-conditioning, TV, safe and free Wi-Fi. The restaurant serves a good selection of international cuisine and other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, gym, sauna and lounge area.

Optional Activities

Explore the city of Antsirabe, an attractive Hauts Plateaux spa town founded by Norwegian missionaries and noted for its rickshaws, thermal baths and handicraft shops.

Madagascar Southern Madagascar

Les Dunes d’Ifaty

Overview

One of the best hotels in Ifaty, this comfortable and well positioned accommodation is both near the spiny forest and good beaches. The hotel overlooks the Mozambique Channel and is ideally located for watching sunsets over the sea. Accommodation is 19 villas or the 22 standard rooms, all built using local materials with traditional Malagasy interior designs they all offer comfortable beds with mosquito nets, TVs and private bathrooms with 24 hour electricity. The rooms and villas are scattered throughout the gardens which feature many beautiful flowering plants.

There is a large swimming pool with deck chairs for relaxing when the tide is out and it is not suitable for swimming from the beach. The main building has a nice restaurant serving plenty of fresh seafood and tropical fruit and a variety of international dishes. Meals can be enjoyed in both the restaurant and outside on the patio area for al fresco dining with a sea breeze. There is also a friendly bar, small library and free Wi-Fi throughout the main building.

Ifaty has a number of diving operations where both diving and snorkelling trips can be arranged. For example there is an excellent shark dive at 31 metres on the Grand Recife and excursions to the Rose Garden and south pass are excellent for snorkelers.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
41
Facilities

Rooms are all ensuite with TV and air-conditioning. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar and Wi-Fi and swimming pool on site too.

Local Wildlife

The local spiny forest supports many endemic bird species such as sub-desert mesite, Lafresnaye’s, red-shouldered and sickle-billed vangas, Archbold’s newtonia, Madagascar nightjar, banded kestrel and the spectacular long-tailed ground roller are all possible to see. While mammals include the localised black-shouldered sportive lemur, gray and gray-brown mouse lemurs and lesser hedgehog tenrecs. While reptiles include the impressive Dumeril's ground boa, three-eyed lizard and warty chameleon. ,

Optional Activities

Excursions on offer include visits to the local spiny forest both during the mornings for birdlife and in the evening for nocturnal wildlife. There are also many dive operators that can arrange snorkelling and scuba diving and also whale watching between July and September when humpback whales are present. Watersports can also be arranged.

Madagascar

Mantadia Lodge

Overview

The newly opened Mantadia Lodge is located along a ridge above the the village of Andasibe and is surrounded by eucalyptus forest, but with views towards the rainforest of Analamazotra in the distance. The lodge is only a 10 minute drive from the entrance to Perinet Reserve and an hour a half drive from Mantadia National Park and the song of the indri can often be heard at dawn.

The lodge offers some of the most comfortable accommodation, facilities and settings in the Andasibe area with 28 rooms including 2 suites. The accommodation features a garden and sun terrace, which can be enjoyed by guests if the weather permits. All rooms offer high speed Wi-Fi, flat screen TV, kettle and tea facilities, a safety deposit box in the bathroom and a wood stove for the cooler seasons. There is a superb onsite restaurant designed with an exceptional view and terrace. There is a well stocked bar and a welcoming lounge with both inside and outside reading areas and also a beautiful infinity pool in the grounds plus a spa.

 

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
28
Facilities

Restaurant, bar and infity swimming pool and spa in the landscaped garden. Rooms feature modern private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, flat-screen cable TV and a laundry service is available.

Local Wildlife

In the early mornings you may wake to the song of the indri, which echoes throughout the local area. Perinet Reserve and its nearby Mantadia National Park is the best location to see this impressive species in all of Madagascar. There are eight other species of Lemur in Andasibe and the most commonly seen include the diademed sifaka, black-and-white ruffed lemur, Eastern grey bamboo lemur, common brown lemur and eastern woolly lemurs and furry-eared dwarf and Goodman’s mouse lemurs at night. There are some wonderful chameleons in the reserve including the two-foot long Parson’s Chameleon and tiny nose-horned and brookesia chameleons. Endemic Frogs are plentiful and birding highlights include Madagascar blue pigeon, Madagascar long-eared owl, Madagascar starling and numerous species of vanga, coua and the shy ground rollers.

Optional Activities

All exploring is done on foot along trails that weave through the forest: expeditions can vary in length from one hour to five. Walks are particularly rewarding in the early morning when Indri calls, sounding rather like a unique forest whale song echo through the air.

Madagascar Eastern Madagascar

Relais des Plateaux

Overview

Situated about 10 minutes’ drive from the airport, this comfortable three-star hotel set in exotic gardens offers well equipped, en suite rooms including air conditioning, satellite TV, mini-bar, tea and coffee facilities and hair dryer. Each room is decorated in a Malagasy design using local materials and the rooms are arranged in a village layout with good access.

Other facilities in the hotel include a local handicraft shop, restaurant serving delicious French cuisine and local delicacies, bar and swimming pool (heated in the cooler months).

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
42
Facilities

Restaurant, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, mini bar, safety deposit box, satellite TV, direct-dial telephone,

Optional Activities

City tour of Antananarivo, excursion to Ambohimanga Hill, visit to Tsarasaotra Lake (aka. Lac Alarobia) in a district of Tana for some unusual Hauts Plateaux birdwatching.

Madagascar Eastern Madagascar

Setam Lodge

Overview

Setam is a comfortable small lodge situated in a pre-montane river valley close to the primary rainforest of Ranomafana National Park. In our opinion it is the best accommodation option in the area and a good base from which to explore the park. The rooms have comfortable beds, a wardrobe and bedside table and have excellent views towards the mountains.

Facilities include 24-hour electricity and pleasant gardens. Generous platters of good food using fresh ingredients are served in the main restaurant with its picture windows offering excellent views. Breakfast can be served on a large veranda, also with good views.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
20
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, private facilities, 24-hr electricity, private veranda

Local Wildlife

The park was created to provide protection for the very rare Golden bamboo lemur, which can be easily seen with the help of local guides. The park is also the best location to see the critically endagered greater bamboo lemur and the stunning Milne Edwards sifaka as well as red-bellied lemur, black and white ruffed lemur and red-fronted brown lemur. Over 100 bird species have been recorded in the park with specialities including the attractive pitta-like, short-legged and rufous-headed ground rollers, yellow-browed oxylabels, velvet and yellow-bellied sunbird asitys and brown mesite. Reptile and frog diversity is also very high with o'shaughnessy chameleon, Madagascar tree boa, three species of leaf-tailed gecko and numerous frogs.

Optional Activities

Guided wildlife walks into the Ranomafana National Park. The trails can be steep and tough but generally the going is moderate.

Madagascar Southern Madagascar

Le Jardin du Roy

Overview

Located on the edge of Isalo National Park near the village of Ranohira and about a three-hour drive from Tulear in the far south west of Madagascar, Le Jardin Du Roy is an impressive luxury hotel constructed from beautiful granite stonework with traditional wooden flooring.

It is one of the best lodges in the area, with good service, a dramatic setting and delicious food. There are a selection of air-conditioned twin and double rooms located around the lush gardens and swimming pool, all with en suite bathrooms and showers, mosquito nets and the added luxury of a private veranda. The meals are offered in a spacious dining room with open fire, as it can get cool at night.

Isalo National Park is an eroded sandstone massif blessed with dry weather, stunning scenery, unusual plants and isolated oases: it is excellent both for long hikes and shorter walks.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
40
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, air conditioning, veranda, swimming pool: the Brigitte Spa offers massages, facials and other treatments using natural Malagasy oils.

Local Wildlife

The endemic Benson’s rock thrush is one of the top birds to see and lemurs include ring-tailed, Verreaux’s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur and mouse. There is some exceptional botany, including pachypodium, pandanus, endemic feather palm and various aloes, one of which is endemic.

Optional Activities

Wildlife watching and hikes in Isalo National Park; use of the hotel facilities such as tennis court, horse riding and massage treatments.

Route Map

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Le Jardin du Roy: -22.649403, 45.329611
Relais des Plateaux: -18.834180, 47.463010
Mantadia Lodge: -18.918703, 48.415681
Les Dunes d\'Ifaty: -23.131565, 43.605966
Arotel: -19.866516, 47.036679
Setam Lodge: -21.249981, 47.426565

Departure Dates

Tour Dates
Adult Price
Single Supp
14/09/2021
£4583
£954

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

Fly to Antananarivo with Air France, Kenya Airways or Ethiopian Airlines.

Best Visited:

September to October

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Ian Loyd

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965

[Our escort guide] was excellent – he had amazing vocabulary and was always good natured, patient and attentive. He provided us with a great commentary to the country and proved to be a brilliant wildlife spotter. Wildlife highlights: seeing a streaked tenrec, snorkelling with green turtles, the pygmy chameleons, the biggest giant millipede I’ve ever seen, a group of indris without the crowds and hearing their calls, seeing new families of birds – vangas and couas…Everything was a complete treat – my binoculars got a complete workout.

Mr D N - Bristol