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Experience Madagascar

Trip type: 
Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
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Avg user rating: 
Africa, Madagascar | 18 days
Trip code: 
What's included: 

Transport - Mini bus, boat

Accommodation - Hotel (13 nts), Cottage (2 nts)

Meals - 15 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Discovering unique wildlife
Your first lemur sighting
Rambling in Rainforests
Tropical Paradise Island Beaches
see full itinerary >>

Holidays in Madagascar
You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
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Itinerary for Experience Madagascar

(Departures in 2014-15)
  • Day 1 - Antananarivo (Tana)
  • Day 2 - Ambositra
  • Day 3-4 - Ranomafana National Park
  • Day 5-6 - Isalo National Park
  • Day 7-8 - Fianarantsoa
  • Day 9 - Antsirabe
  • Day 10-11 - Andasibe National Park
  • Day 12 - Foulpointe
  • Day 13-16 - Sainte-Marie
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »

Antananarivo (Tana)

Tonga soa Bienvenue! Welcome to Madagascar.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Antananarivo is Madagascar's charmingly crowded capital.

If you arrive early, take some time to get acquainted with the city - hilly Antananarivo is a fun place to explore. Head to Analakey to visit the permanent street markets or seek out the restaurants and nightclubs.

Optional Activities

  • Ambohimanga Rova - Free
  • Lemur's Park - EUR59


Hotel (1 nt)



Rise early and depart for Ambositra on the National road number 7 ( approx 260km, 5hrs ).

On the way, you will briefly stop at Ambatolampy, a small town well known for its aluminium pot workshops.

Continue your journey making another short stop in Antsirabe.

With the tranquillity of a small European town, Antsirabe maintains a Malagasy touch, which it reveals in its markets and traditional quarters. Founded in the 19th century by Norwegian missionaries as a high-altitude retreat, the town was nicknamed 'Malagasy Vichy' for its hot springs and thermal baths.

Arrive in Ambositra this afternoon.

Visit one of the many small workshops that specialise in crafts as diverse as printmaking, woodcarving and marquetry.

Ambositra is the home of the Betsileo ethnic group, the third largest ethnic group of Madagascar. Located close by the Zafimaniry forest, Ambositra is most famous for its woodcraft but it's also known for its silk production, which is very important in the Malagasy culture.

The use of silk was once reserved exclusively for royalty but now everyone can wear it, though most of the time its use is reserved for the dead. When a Malagasy is buried, his body is wrapped in a large silk sheet called a 'lambamena'. After a few years, the family traditionally goes back to the tomb and changes this silk sheet with a new one - a custom known as 'famadihana'.

Included Activities

  • Ambositra - Village Visit


Hotel (1 nt)

Ranomafana National Park

Ranomafana National Park

Depart early this morning for the nearby Manandriana villages, to explore the silk process. Each village is specialised in one step of the production, fully handmade.

Silk for Malagasy people is very important in terms of history and culture. Formally reserved to the royal family, it is now worn by everyone. However, some specific silk scarf (lambamena) are used to wrap the body of dead people before being buried in the family tomb. The famous traditional celebration of Famahidina has for purpose to change this lambamena every 3 to 5 years.

Enjoy a traditional homestead lunch in the village before travelling on to Ranomafana National Park ( 140km, approx 3hrs ).

Your accommodation for tonight is a small cottage located within the Park

Ranomafana means 'hot water' in the Malagasy language and this mountainous rainforest area is a haven for small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, as well as precious-wood trees, palms, bamboo, orchids and carnivorous plants. Ranomafana National Park is home to 13 species of lemur including the famous golden bamboo lemur, first reported at Ranomafana in 1985 and one of the reasons why the government decided to protect this endangered forest.

Day 4 is completely dedicated to the exploration of the National Park.

Explore Ranomafana National Park on a guided walk, keeping your eyes peeled for lemurs, striped civets, mongooses, goshawks, geckos, frogs and butterflies. You may get a chance to spot a net-casting spider, or the world's smallest chameleon.

Included Activities

  • Ranomafana National Park - Rainforest walk

Optional Activities

  • Kelilalina Botanical Garden - EUR6


Cottage (2 nts)


Isalo National Park

Drive to Isalo National Park (330km, approx 6hrs).

Isalo National Park is known for its contrasting scenery of deep canyons, crazy sandstone formations and open grasslands. The park is home to over 80 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and 14 species of mammals including 3 lemur species (ring-tailed, red-fronted and Verreaux's sifakas lemur).

On Day 6 you have a full day to explore the park and discover its inhabitants with a local guide.

While exploring the park you'll base yourselves in Ranohira in a simple hotel with shared facilities.

Included Activities

  • Isalo National Park - guided walk


Hotel (2 nts)



Start the day with a visit to the nearby mining town of Ilakaka, where you go on a guided tour of the sapphire mines.

When sapphire was discovered in Ilakaka in 1999, this small village of a dozen houses grew became a mining boomtown, driving Madagascar to become the world's largest sapphire exporter. Today about 30,000 people live here, seeking their fortunes in the hand-dug mine pits, or in gravel sifted from the river.

Bordering the National Park, sapphire was discovered in Ilakaka in 1999. As a result this small village of a dozen houses grew into a small city. Nowadays, 300 000 people live in the city. Sapphire is still mined, and it is reportedly one of the purest in the world. On our visit to the city we will learn about traditional mining techniques (using “Angady” or spade), which represent an entire life for people.

On the way, stop at the ANJà community reserve, a very good spot for observing lemurs, and also to discover the local culture. Villagers will be your guides for this excursion. Your tour leader will translate all the knowledge they have to give you.

Continue on to the small city of Ambalavao, and visit of the Antemoro paper factory.

From here depart for the city of Fianarantsoa, known as the south door ( approx 5hrs, 270km ).

The colourful town of Fianarantsoa is known for its markets and handcrafts. This heritage site is a must-see with its long paved road, labyrinths of small paths and old houses with flower-studded balconies and gleaming tiled roofs.

Stay in Fianarantsoa in a simple hotel with shared facilities.

Take a day to visit a typical Magasy village, where people live a way of life still the norm for most of the island's population. Explore the countryside around Fianarantsoa, dotted with rice paddies cultivated by the Betsileo people and vineyards that produce the town's famous wine. You'll get a chance to sample local cuisine with a lunch break in the villages.

In the afternoon, visit the historical old city of Fianarantsoa, a very nice area that you can only discover on foot. A local association in collaboration with the PNUD has funded people to renovate their traditional houses.

Included Activities

  • Ilakaka - Sapphire mine
  • Betsileo - village visit
  • Fianarantsoa City Visit


Hotel (2 nts)



Drive to Antsirabe where there is free time upon arrival to discover the city ( 255km, approx 4.5hrs )

With the tranquillity of a small European town, Antsirabe maintains a Malagasy touch, which it reveals in its markets and traditional quarters. Founded in the 19th century by Norwegian missionaries as a high-altitude retreat, the town was nicknamed 'Malagasy Vichy' for its hot springs and thermal baths.

Colourful rickshaws, known as 'pousse-pousse', are a popular form of local transport in Antsirabe. Make use of them in your city tour and discover tree-lined avenues, mixed European-style architecture, markets and more.

Optional Activities

  • Rickshaw City Tour - EUR2


Hotel (1 nt)


Andasibe National Park

Drive to Andasibe ( 300km, approx 5.5hrs).

On your way, stop at the Pereyras exotic park, for a visit. This private reserve is a great spot to observe chameleons, frogs, snakes and some lemurs as well.

For those who want to head out and explore the forest at night, you have the opportunity to go on a nocturnal walk through the forest at Mitsinjo, a privately owned reserve to spot endemic butterflies, lemurs and other nocturnal species.

Andasibe National Park, the most visited park in Madagascar, is famous for its 11 species of lemur but this tropical forest is also home to unique endemic birds such as the long-eared owl and the rufous-headed ground-roller, and the smallest living chameleon, Brookesia minima, plus many types of reptiles, insects and frogs.

Indri indri, also called babakoto by the locals, are the main attraction of this rainforest. Standing about 64-72 cm, it's the largest of the lemurs. It's easy to locate and is identified by its loud, drawn-out, wailing territorial call. The indri's tiny stump of a tail leads some Malagasy to believe it's related to a sacred ancestor.

Day 11 is a full day to explore the most visited park in Madagascar known commonly for its 11 species of lemurs this tropical forest is also home to several species of bird, reptile, insects and batrachians.

Spend the final night at the lodge.

Included Activities

  • Pereyras Private Reserve
  • Andasibe National Park - guided walk

Optional Activities

  • Mitsinjo night walk - EUR6


Hotel (2 nts)



Head off early to reach Tamatave, the biggest commercial harbour of Madagascar (approx 3.5hrs). Please note that the roads in this area are particularly bad and driving times can vary.

On arrival you have free time to explore the city.

Continue on to the coastal town of Foulpointe ( approx 2.5hrs ), a small fishermen village north of the Tamatave harbour.

The vestiges of an ancient fort watch over the pirate's cemetery at Foulpointe.

Stay in a simple hotel with shared facilities located on the beach front.

Optional Activities

  • Rickshaw City Tour - EUR2


Hotel (1 nt)



Travel along the coast to the small river port of Soanierana-Ivongo and board a boat to the island of Sainte-Marie ( 105km, approx. 3hrs ).

The romantic island of Ile Sainte-Marie was once a shelter for pirates and sea-faring vagabonds. Today its green hills hide a wealth of bays and coves sheltered by coral reefs, with shipwrecks to dive in, remnant primary forests with cascading waterfalls, rare orchids and a bounty of wildlife.

Arrive at around 11.30am and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore at your own leisure.

Days 14 & 15 are full days of leisure to explore this lush green island or to take a visit to a nearby island; Ile Aux Nattes.

Island-hop by canoe to the paradise of Ile aux Nattes, where coconut and palm trees shade white sand beaches and idyllic lagoons beckon.

There is plenty to see and do, with optional activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking and cycling. The island is also a whale-watching hotspot between the months of July and September.

You are free to depart any time on Day 16 as there are no activities planned. Checkout time is 10am.

To get back to the mainland from Sainte-Marie you can take either a flight to Antananarivo or public transport in the form of coach, boat and taxi.

A direct oneway flight from Sainte-Marie to Antananarivo is by far the easiest and fastest way back to the mainland. The flight takes approximately 1hr 40mins and can be booked online with Air Madagascar. As with any online airfare the price will vary but currently costs around 190 Euros for economy class. Check the Air Madagascar website for up to date schedules. We don't recommend that you plan to connect any regional or international flights within the same day. It's important to note that these flights can fill up quickly in high season and we also recommend that you purchase a re-routable ticket.

The public transport option takes considerably longer and is a little bit more challenging. The journey needs to be made in 2 parts; Sainte-Marie to Tamatave and then Tamatave to Antananarivo.

Sainte-Marie to Tamatave:

For around 37 Euros you can go back to Tamatave using the same transportation used during our trip, which is boat and coach. From Sainte-Marie harbour you will need to take a boat to Soanierana Ivongo ( approx. 2hrs ). From there you can take a bus to Tamatave city centre ( approx. 3hrs ).

Tamatave to Antananarivo:

To reach Antanarivo you can take a local “taxi brousse” for around 8 Euros (approx. 7hrs ).
Alternatively Air Madagascar fly from Tamatave to Antananarivo daily for around 125 Euros oneway in economy. There is no guarantee that the flight will connect with the boat and coach and you may need to overnight in Tamatave. Please check the Air Madagascar website for their latest schedule.

Optional Activities

  • 4x4 tour - EUR40
  • Ile aux Nattes trip (full-day) - EUR45
  • Whale-watching tour - EUR40


Hotel (3 nts)