A Magical Overland Journey in Madagascar (Small Group Tour)

# Group Tour

A Magical Overland Journey in Madagascar (Small Group Tour)

15 Days from £2987 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote
15 Days
Group Tour
Primate Watching

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.

Click here for full tour details of the 2020 Itinerary


Price from £2987 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms. Minimum group size is 5, maximum 8 plus the tour leader

Day 1 - Antananarivo

Arrive in Antananarivo (Tana). Met on arrival at the airport and transfer to your hotel.

Staying at Relais Des Plateaux. Includes No Meals.

Day 2 - Ifaty Spiny Forest

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.

Day 3 - Ifaty Spiny Forest

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.

Day 4 - Zombitse National Park

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.

Day 5 - Isalo National Park

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.

Day 6 - Ranomafana

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.

Day 7 - Ranomafana National Park

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.

Day 8 - Kianjavato Forest Reserve

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.

Day 9 - Ranomafana National Park

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.

Day 10 - Antsirabe

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.

Day 11 - Andasibe

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.

Day 12 - Andasibe/VOIMMA Reserve

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.

Day 13 - 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 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.

Day 14 - Antavalobe Reserve (or VOIMMA)

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.

Day 15 - Mitsinjo Reserve

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.

Travel Info

Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:
Fly to Antananarivo via Paris from London on Air France. Other options include Kenya Airways via Naiorbi and Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa.

Best Visited:
October to October

Area Specialist

Ian Loyd

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 queries about this tour please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

Download PDF

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

It was an excellent trip. I saw a lot of a wonderful country and would like to return. The Malagasy people are lovely. Friendly and hospitable throughout. Everything was done to ensure we were happy and comfortable. Excellent service and wildlife. Wildlife highlights: mating fosas, close encounters with indri, diademed sifaka and ringtailed lemurs above us as we picniced below.

Ms C G - Wiltshire

Route Map

loading map - please wait...

Le Jardin du Roy: -22.649403, 45.329611
Relais des Plateaux: -18.834180, 47.463010
Andasibe Hotel: -18.922638, 48.408489
Les Dunes d\'Ifaty: -23.131565, 43.605966
Centrest Sejour: -21.256853, 47.454233
Le Royal Palace: -19.870942, 47.041700