A Magical Overland Journey in Madagascar: Small Group
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 everchanging overland journey.
Beginning with the bizarre spiny forests and mangroves of Ifaty in the far southwest, we then move north through the transitional baobab forest of Zombitse to the sandstone canyonlands of Isalo. After time to explore this dramatic landscape, we head north again for close encounters with iconic ring-tailed lemurs at the wonderful Anja Community Park against a backdrop of impressive granite mountains. We follow that with the lush montane rainforest of Ranomafana National Park where the wildlife viewing will reveal rare lemurs, birds and frogs.
After some memorable walks and sightings of rare wildlife in the forests of Ranomafana, we make our way back to Tana before finishing at the species-rich rainforest reserves of Andasibe-Mantadia. Here we can enjoy a widely different cast of rainforest species, with a highlight being a close encounter with the largest lemur of all, the magical tail-less indri indri. There is also the chance to see the giraffe necked weevil, leaf tailed gecko, black and white ruffed lemur, diademed sifaka and rare, colourful helmet vanga .
Accommodation is generally of a good standard as you visit some of the island’s most highly rewarding and diverse National Parks and Reserves. With a no more than ten, the group has been deliberately kept small in order to maximise wildlife viewing and access to your tour leader, plus the knowledgeable local reserve guides who really know where to find their unique wildlife. This is a wide ranging group itinerary of exceptional value and breadth, escorted by one of Madagascar’s most experienced and popular tour leaders.
Have a look at our short film here for an overview: Wild Madagascar Film
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, unique to Madagascar's far southwest. We will search for the diurnal wildlife of the spiny forest. Birds are a highlight with several locally endemic spiny forest speciality species to look for. These include the 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 great distances between trees. 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 might 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 Breakfast.
A further day to explore Isalo National Park. Perhaps have a morning walk and relax in the afternoon.
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, thus 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 chameleon, 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 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.
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 Vakona Forest Lodge. 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 Vakona Forest Lodge. 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 Vakona Forest Lodge. Includes All Meals.
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 your overnight.
Staying at Relais Des Plateaux. Includes Breakfast.
[For those flying Ethiopian] Late morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Addis Ababa.
[For those flying Air France] Day use of a room and facilities, before transfer late at night to the airport for your flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Staying at Relais Des Plateaux/Aircraft. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vakona Forest Lodge is conveniently located between the entrances of Analamazaotra (Perinet) and Mantadia rainforest reserves, just north of Andasibe Village and around four hours’ drive from Antananarivo. It is one of the most comfortable hotels in the Andasibe area with a peaceful and attractive location.
Bungalows are built surrounding a lake with a eucalyptus forest backdrop. All the bungalows are en-suite with mosquito nets over the beds, hot water showers and heaters for the cool winter evenings. Family bungalows have a mezzanine level for children.
The restaurant, which is built over the lake, serves mainly French-inspired cuisine on a set menu or more exciting a la carte (remember to ask to see it). Meals can be taken inside or on the terrace. Service is friendly but can be a little slow.
There is a small swimming pool for guests and Vakona Lodge has its own stables where horse riding from beginner to experienced standard can be undertaken on forest trails. There are also various walking trails into the forest from the lodge. There is also a games room for children.
Vakona Lodge also owns ‘Vakona Island’ where a brief canoe ride takes guests to enjoy a ‘lemur on the shoulder’ experience. Please be aware that these lemurs have not necessarily been ‘rescued’ from anywhere other than the wild. Similarly Vakona Lodge owns a small private zoo / crocodile park where caged wildlife can be seen. Not recommended from an animal welfare standpoint.
Vakona Forest Lodge is probably the most conveniently located lodge of this standard for the parks.
Restaurant, bar, lounge, swimming pool, private bathrooms, hot water and 24-hour electricity.
Indri, diademed sifaka, black and white ruffed lemur and eastern bamboo lemur can be seen during the day, while Goodman's mouse lemur, Crossley's dwarf lemur and eastern woolly lemur can be spotted at night. Other abundant wildlife includes Parson's chameleon, leaf chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos, giraffe-necked weevils. Birds include the scaly- and short-legged ground rollers, red-fronted coua, velvet- and sunbird asitys, blue- and nuthatch vangas, forest fody and more.
Wildlife walks in the rainforest, horse riding, canoeing and squash.
Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.
Fly to Antananarivo via Paris from London on Air France or Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa.
September to September
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.
With a maximum of ten this tour will fill quickly. The price does not include international flights, which must be booked when you join the group. The earlier you book your place the cheaper the airfare will be.
All details contained in the itinerary are subject to change either before or during the tour to take into account changes in domestic and international flights and other operational factors.
If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965
Thank you so much to you and your team for a wonderful holiday and experience. Everything worked so well, flowed so well and we felt most welcome in Madagascar. Our guide was just FANTASTIC! He deserves a very special congratulations for his patience, willingness to assist, his ability to ensure everything went smoothly, his local knowledge, and his polite and quiet attitude. Anjajavy Lodge was an experience we will never forget. The setting is amazing, but even more so the staff. All the staff were so friendly and welcoming. The lodge operates seamlessly…The location could not be better. Highly recommended experience all round, even the traffic in Tana.