A Magical Overland Journey in Madagascar (Small Group Tour)
Led by Daniel Razafimandimby, one of Madagascar’s most experienced local guides, this wildlife filled small group tour is ideal for those looking to experience Madagascar’s most contrasting environments and spectacular species on an ever-changing overland journey. Beginning with the bizarre spiny forests and mangroves of Ifaty in the far south, we then move north through the transitional and baobab forests of Zombitse to the rocky canyon lands of Isalo. After time to explore this dramatic landscape, we head north again where we can enjoy close encounters with iconic ring-tailed lemurs at the wonderful Anja Community Park against a backdrop of impressive granite mountains. We then reach the lush cloud forests of Ranomafana National Park and the little visited Kianjavato Forest Reserve. The wildlife viewing here is fantastic with some very rare lemurs, birds and frogs and we can also enjoy learning about and supporting lemur research and reforestation at Kianjavato.
(An optional and very challenging night walk is also available at Kianjavato to look for radio collared aye ayes for those interested.)
After some memorable sightings of the rare wildlife here, we make our way back to Tana before finishing at the wonderful species rich forests of Andasibe-Mantadia. Here we can enjoy a different cast of rainforest species with one of the highlights, being the largest lemur of all, the magical tail-less indri which we can usually get very close to. There is also the chance to see the wonderfully colourful helmet vanga.
Accommodation is of a good standard as you visit some of the island’s most highly rewarding and diverse National Parks and Reserves. One of the highlights will be a visit to the Kianjavato Forest Reserve, away from the beaten track where we can enjoy some intimate encounters with some very rare and endangered greater bamboo lemur and black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Our visit here also helps support the reforestation and conservation work of the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership. The Project have just planted their 3 millionth tree!
The group has been kept deliberately small in order to maximise wildlife viewing and access to your tour leader, plus the knowledgeable local guides, who really know how and where to find the unique wildlife in their localities.
Arrive in Antananarivo (Tana). Met on arrival at the airport and transfer to your hotel.
Staying at Relais Des Plateaux. Includes No Meals.
After a leisurely morning, we return to the airport to take our domestic flight south to Tulear.
On arrival in Tulear we will transfer (45 minutes) along a sandy track to the small village of Ifaty, on the coast of the Mozambique Channel for some time to settle into our accommodations and rest.
This region is especially dry as it falls within a rain shadow and only receives around 500 mm of rainfall annually, which has created a unique vegetation here dominated by the cacti like Didiereacae, or octopus, trees and the local baobab, Andansonia rubrostipa. We will take a late afternoon wildlife walk here which will eventually turn to a night walk once dark.
Staying at Les Dunes D'Ifaty. Includes All Meals.
Very early this morning we will visit the local spiny forest habitat. Here we will search for the diurnal wildlife of the spiny forest. Birds are highlight with several locally endemic spiny forest speciality species to look for. These include the fantastic long-tailed ground roller, sub-desert mesite, Lafresnaye’s, red-tailed and sickle-billed vangas, Archbold’s newtonia and banded kestrel. The forest is also home to many reptiles and the huge Madagascar giant swallowtail butterfly.
We will return to the hotel for breakfast and some time to rest. Later in the day (depending on the temperatures) we will visit the nearby Ifaty salt pans to look for wading birds including the endangered Madagascar plover. We then continue up the road to visit the Honko mangrove project for a guided tour of this wonderful coastal ecosystem, home to many mudskippers and crabs.
In the evening we will take another night walk which may reveal the gray-brown mouse lemur.
Staying at Les Dunes D'Ifaty. Includes All Meals.
Today we drive north to explore Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park, which acts as a transition zone between the dry and the humid forests of Madagascar.
The flora is especially rich within the protected area with bottle baobabs and several orchids particularly common.
The park is home to eight lemur species, including the acrobatic Verreaux´s sifaka, which we often see leaping between trees at great length. We will also hope to spot the locally endemic Hubbard´s (Zombitse) sportive lemur and the striking Standing’s day gecko. Zombitse also supports a wide variety of interesting bird species, many of them endemic, with Zombitse’s special attraction being the rare Appert´s tetraka. We then drive 1 hour to Isalo National Park.
Staying at Le Jardin du Roy . Includes All Meals.
Today we can enjoy exploring Isalo National Park.
The park, an eroded limestone massif, contains wonderful scenery and unusual plants like the endemic ‘elephant’s foot’ Pachypodium rosalatum and is a sacred burial ground for the Bara tribe. There are many interesting geological sites and places to swim in the park alongside its curious natural history.
We will perhaps walk the easy and shaded trail at Namahaza where we can enjoy sightings of ring-tailed and red-fronted brown lemurs, plus jewled chameleons and birdlife such as the local Benson's rock thrush.
Staying at Le Jardin du Roy. Includes All Meals.
After breakfast we will depart on one of the most scenic drives in Madagascar as we travel north through vast open plains of golden grass and impressive mountainous landscapes with some dramatic granite peaks.
We will then make a stop at the community-managed ANJA PARK where we can enjoy close encounters with groups of ring-tailed lemurs as they go about their day. The lemurs here are well protected and used to people affording exceptionally good views and excellent photographic opportunities. During our walk we will also hope to see the large Oustalets's chameleon and tiny Brookesia brunoi chameleons and the stunning painted locust.
After our visit to Anja Park, we will have lunch at a local restaurant in the town of Ambalavao and perhaps visit the paper making factory. In the afternoon we will continue the drive north (3.5 hrs) through ever-changing scenery to arrive at our lodge just outside of Ranomafana National Park in the early evening.
Staying at Centrest Sejour . Includes All Meals.
Today we will explore Ranomafana National Park on morning and afternoon walks in search of its wonderful rainforest wildlife. Ranomafana is an exceptionally rich high-altitude rainforest where the very rare golden bamboo lemur and eleven other lemur species exist.
With the help of experienced local guides and spotters we will hopefully find the rare golden bamboo lemur for which the Park was established in 1991. We will also search for the beautiful Milne Edwards’s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur and the only two remaining greater bamboo lemurs in the Park.
Over 100 bird species have also been recorded in Ranomafana as well as a staggering 120 species of endemic frogs.
This evening we will take a night walk along the nearby road in search of sleeping chameleons such as the huge O'Shaughnessy's chameleon and beautiful elephant ear’s chameleon, Madagascar tree boa, colourful boophis tree frogs and if lucky a satanic leaf-tailed gecko or the huge Madagascar comet moth.
Staying at Centrest Sejour. Includes All Meals.
This morning we will make short walk on the gentle and flatter Vohipara Trail. This quieter section of the Park takes us through stunted high-altitude forest and is very rich in birdlife, frogs, mosses and pandaus plants. This is also the best area of the park to see the beautiful red-bellied lemur.
Later in the morning we will transfer (1.5 hours) to the east to explore the Kianjavato Forest Reserve and Field Station managed by the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership.
This afternoon we will explore the rainforest reserve with two local field researchers each studying two critically endangered species, the wonderful greater bamboo lemur and the agile black-and-white ruffed lemur. After our lemur viewing, we will make a short visit the project’s tree nursery, which this tour helps support through donations and we can perhaps plant some trees.
An optional and potentially very challenging night walk is also available at Kianjavato to look for radio collared aye ayes for those interested at an additional cost.
Staying at Centrest Sejour. Includes All Meals.
Today we have another day to explore Ranomafana National Park. This morning we will perhaps explore more of the higher-altitude stunted forest on the Vohiparara circuit, which is the best location to find many special birds.
These include the yellow-bellied and common sunbird asity, the skulking brown mesite and elusive rufous-headed and short-legged ground rollers, the rare Pollen’s vanga and white-throated and yellow-browed oxylabes. This area of forest is home to many frogs, and we will look for the for the colourful Tsarafidy Madagascar Frog (Guibemantis pulcher) in the Pandanus plants and the striking Baron's mantella frog (Mantella baroni). In the evening we can enjoy another night walk.
Staying at Centrest Sejour. Includes All Meals.
Today we will transfer north through ever changing landscapes (7 hours total but with many stops) to the interesting spa and Handicraft town of Antsirabe. There will be many interesting stops on the way including the woodcarving centre of Ambositra, the origin of the intricate inlayed wood designs that are found throughout Madagascar.
Staying at Le Royal Palace Hotel. Includes All Meals.
Today we will make the journey (4 hours) from Antsirabe to Tana for lunch. After a few stops we will continue to drive (4.5 hours) to Andasibe passing through many villages and rice paddies. We will stop for a picnic lunch at a nice spot by the river at Mandraka Park on the journey.
The rainforests of Andasibe are home to the largest lemur, the indri and seven other diurnal species, as well as many chameleons, brightly coloured day geckos and frogs.
In the evening, we will take a night walk in the VOIMMA Reserve for a variety of nocturnal species.
Staying at Andasibe Hotel. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.
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. At this time of the year they are often feeding closer to the ground and providing excellent views. Other diurnal (day active) lemur species we will hope to see here include the common brown lemur and Eastern grey bamboo lemur.
We will also hopefully encounter some chameleons which could include the huge Parson’s chameleon and dazzling side-striped chameleon. The insect life is also fascinating and highlights will surely include the bizarre giraffe-necked weevil.
We will then have some time at leisure during the middle of the day before we take another walk in the late afternoon perhaps again in the VOIMMA Reserve for nocturnal species later on.
Staying at Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.
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 and early afternoon exploring the wonderful primary rainforest of this vast protected area with its special wildlife. Wildlife highlights in this old growth forest could include the black-and-white ruffed lemur and mossy leaf-tailed geckos.
The bird diversity at Mantadia is exceptional and highlights we could to see include (with some luck and patience) the secretive scaly-ground roller, beautiful pitta-like ground roller, shy red-fronted and blue couas and the red-tailed, hook-billed and nuthatch vangas to name just a few.
Staying at Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.
Today you can choose from either a visit to the VOIMMA Reserve again or the ANTAVALOBE Reserve.
This is a large and little visited area of primary and secondary rainforest managed by the Association of Guides that supports an exceptional biodiversity. The main interest here is the small population of helmet vanga, one of Madagascar’s most beautiful and iconic bird species.
Please note that the walking conditions here can vary (depending on where a helmet vanga nest is found) and can require walking up some steep trails on uneven terrain.
Staying at Andasibe Hotel. Includes Breakfast.
This morning we will visit the Mitsinjo Reserve. Here the wonderful tail-less indris are particularly habituated allowing for some very intimate and memorable sightings and photographic opportunities.
Other diurnal lemur species, tenrecs, rare frogs and birds can also be found during our time here.
In the afternoon, we will return (5 hours) by road back to Antananarivo and the Relais des Plateaux hotel for day use of a room and facilities, before your flight home. (Overnights can be arranged to accommodate any flight schedule)
Includes Breakfast and Lunch.
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Le Royal Palace
A smart and modern hotel with outdoor swimming pool, large restaurant and 38 simple but clean and comfortable rooms. The rooms are relatively spacious and feature mini bars, satellite TV, safety deposit box and en suite bathrooms with shower only. There is Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and outside a pool bar and seating area plus outside showers. The restaurant serves buffet breakfasts and a wide range of French, Malagasy, Indian and international cuisine.
All rooms feature private bathrooms, air-conditioning, TV, safe and free Wi-Fi. The restaurant serves a good selection of international cuisine.
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.
The Centrest Sejour has been recently renovated to offer simple but comfortable accommodation just outside Ranomafana National Park. The hotel is located on the outskirts of the Ranomafana village and a short drive from the National Park entrance.
The 34 standard bedrooms include 4 triples, 20 doubles and 10 twins and all feature fans and safety deposit boxes. The rooms are very simple but clean and comfortable and the service is friendly. There is Wi-Fi in the restaurant and reception and the lodge offers a laundry and massage service on request. The newly renovated restaurant serves tasty European and Malagasy cuisine and there is a well-stocked bar.
Private bathrooms, fans and safe in all the rooms. Wi-Fi is availble but best in the restaurant and laundry service is availble on request. There is a restaurant and bar and landscaped gardens to enjoy.
Ranomafana is an exceptionally rich high-altitude rainforest reserve where the very rare golden bamboo lemur and eleven other lemur species exist. These include the critically endangered greater bamboo lemur and beautiful Milne Edwards’s sifaka and red-bellied lemur. Over 100 bird species have also been recorded in Ranomafana 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 emutail. Many of these species are very elusive and skulking though and are best seen on the high altitude Vohipara Trail. Over 120 endemic species of frogs have be found in Ranomafana and reptiles are also plentiful with the satanic leaf-tailed gecko and huge O'Shaughnessy's chameleon as highlights.
Exploration of Ranomafana National Park on a variety of trails. Please be aware that the trails can be steep and tough but generally the going is moderate. The Vohipara trail is more gentle.
Village visits including swims in the famous Thermal Pool are also a highlight and a day trip to the Kianjavato Forest Reserve can also be arranged.
Les Dunes d’Ifaty
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.
Rooms are all ensuite with TV and air-conditioning. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar and Wi-Fi and swimming pool on site too.
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. ,
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.
Relais des Plateaux
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).
Restaurant, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, mini bar, safety deposit box, satellite TV, direct-dial telephone,
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.
The Andasibe Hotel sits next to a tranquil small lake, surrounded by Eucalyptus close to the Andasibe village and reserve.
The hotel offers one of the highest levels of comfort in the area with 20 spacious bungalows with large comfortable beds. All have modern private bathrooms with hot water, and they all feature air-conditioning, satellite TV, mini bar, safe, a seating area and a small private terrace to relax on. There are also 10 more simple and smaller standard rooms. Wi-Fi is only available in the restaurant.
There is a spacious restaurant offering a wide selection of international dishes. There is a small swimming pool in the extensive gardens to enjoy, plus a small massage room where spa treatments can be arranged.
The hotel is an ideal base for those looking for a higher level of comfort while exploring the Andasibe Rainforests.
Private bathrooms, mosquito nets, air conditioning, TV, safe, mini bar, private terrace, lounge, restaurant, swimming pool, massage room and Wi-Fi is available in the communal areas.
The Andasibe area is one of the best examples of Madagascar’s Eastern rainforests and is home to a fantastic selection of wildlife. In the Andasibe (Perinet) Reserve and its adjoining Mitsinjo and VOIMMA Reserves, the indri is one of the highlights, being the largest species of lemur. Other diurnal lemurs include the diademed sifaka, common brown lemur, Eastern grey bamboo lemur and the black-and-white ruffed lemur only in the nearby Mantadia National Park. Nocturnal species include the Goodman’s mouse lemur, furry-eared dwarf lemur and Eastern woolly lemur. In the community managed VOIMMA Reserve, the Parson’s chameleon can often be found along with the blue-legged chameleon and tiny brown leaf chameleon: Brookesia superciliaris. The smaller creatures of the rainforest are spectacular here with mossy leaf tailed geckos, colourful frogs and insects such as the giraffe-necked weevil. Birdlife is another highlight especially in the Mantadia National Park with scaly, pitta-like and short-legged ground rollers, velvet asity, red-fronted and blue couas, nuthatch vanga, Madagascar blue pigeon and pygmy kingfisher. The wonderful helmet vanga can also be found in the more remote Antavalobe Reserve.
Walking in the wildlife rich rainforest reserves of Andasibe, VOIMMA, Mitsinjo, Mantadia and Antavalobe. Interpretive village visits are also available.
Le Jardin du Roy
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.
Restaurant, bar, air conditioning, veranda, swimming pool: the Brigitte Spa offers massages, facials and other treatments using natural Malagasy oils.
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.
Wildlife watching and hikes in Isalo National Park; use of the hotel facilities such as tennis court, horse riding and massage treatments.
Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.
Fly to Antananarivo via Paris from London on Air France. Other options include Kenya Airways via Naiorbi and Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa.
October 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.
An optional and very challenging night walk is also available at Kianjavato to look for radio collared aye ayes for those interested.
If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965
It was lovely to meet Helen face-to-face and to devise the ideal trip with her – her enthusiasm for Madagascar certainly confirmed us in our choice of destination. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides, seemed genuinely interested in their work and in interacting with tourists. Invaluable in spotting wildlife and discussing uses of local medicinal plants. [Our escort guide] was a delightful companion on our journey in Madagascar and very solicitous of our welfare. We were thrilled by the wildlife. Without the keen insight and knowledge of our guides we would certainly have failed to spot the giraffe-necked weevil and stick insects. The night walks were very productive – several mouse lemurs. The first sight of indris was an especial thrill as was the sight of a sleeping mouse lemur in broad daylight. Perhaps the most rewarding experience occurred when the lemurs came to us – six ring-tailed lemurs in Isalo, sifakas on the balcony in Anjajavy, flocks of grey-headed lovebirds on the lawn at breakfast. An excellent tour which gave us a good insight into the wildlife and potential conservation issues in Madagascar. We had opportunities to visit local communities. We were most impressed by the efficiency in ensuring a trouble-free and very enjoyable time in Madagascar. Our tour leader and driver were delightful and very hard working. We shall certainly look forward to booking a further tour with you.