Day 1: Arrive in Antananarivo
Arrive in Antananarivo. Meet your driver and transfer to the hotel, in the capital where you will stay for one night. The relaxed lodge is set in a 3 hectare park, with lush vegetation and flowers surrounding the cool and breezy rooms.
Relax for the remainder of the day after your long flight.
Day 2: Drive to Antsirabe (approximately 170kms)
Today you’ll spend the morning visiting either the Botanic Garden, full of native flowers and plants, or the Lemur’s Park. The Lemur’s Park is located just west of the capital and gives you your first glimpse of the swinging lemurs that Madagascar is famous for. Next you’ll be driven to Antsirabe which means “The Place of Much Salt”, known for its spas and hot springs, which will take around 4 hours. On the journey, you’ll pass through the Malagasy highlands, with rice paddies, red-brick villages and high church steeples dotted amongst the wide plains. You’ll break the journey with a stop at Ambatolampy where you’ll visit the artisans who display their wares out in the open – basket, hats and toys made out of wood and natural fibres.
Arrive in Ambatolampu in the late afternoon and settle in to your accommodation, where you will stay for one night on a half board basis.
Day 3: Drive to Ranomafana (Approximately 250 kms)
This morning you will embark on a short sightseeing tour of Antsirabe, which was founded in 1872 by Norwegian Missionaries. You’ll explore Independence Avenue, the market and various stone workshops.
Next you’ll set off to Ranaomafana, which will take around 7-8 hours to drive. On the way you’ll stop off in Ambositra, a town of arts and crafts, especially wood carving and marquetry which you can see in the traditional carved balconies around town. After lunch you’ll continue your journey past rice terraces and forests, winding though the mountains before turning east and entering the eucalyptus forest and emerging in the cloud forest of Ranomafana National Park.
Check in to your accommodation for 2 nights on a half board basis.
Day 4: Spot lemurs in Ranomafana
Ranomafana itself is a small village and its name means ‘hot water’, which is taken from the thermal springs that used to be the region’s main attraction. Today you can explore Ranomafana National Park, where 12 different species of Lemur live. It is a fantastic place to observe the Golden Bamboo Lemur and the Greater Bamboo Lemur, both now classified as endangered. The discovery of these two species in 1986 guaranteed the creation of the national park which now protects plenty of others including the Red Bellied Lemur, the Black and White Ruffed Lemur and the Eastern Grey Bamboo Lemur. It is also a haven for birds with over 112 species breeding in the park, not to mention the bats, chameleons, frogs, lizards and snakes that make their home here. You’ll hike through the park in the morning, and again in the afternoon giving a great overview into the sheer scale of the place and it’s varied inhabitants!
Day 5: Drive to Andringitra National Park (Approximately 163kms)
This morning you’ll head for Andringitra, a national park in the Namoly Valley, a 5 hour drive half of which is off road through the lush Malagasy countryside. Arriving into the park, you’ll check in to your hotel before hiking along the 6km ‘Asaramanitra’ circuit, taking you past the twin falls of Roadahy and Riambavy as well to the cave of Ijajofo, hidden deep in the forest.
You’ll return to the hotel in the evening where you’ll spend two nights on a half board basis.
Day 6: Explore Andringitra National Park
Today you’ll explore the breath-taking landscape of Andringitra National Park, from the prairies and open grassland to the alpine forests dominated by the impressive inselbergs (rock formations) that make up the island of Madagascar.
The area has been a nature reserve since 1927 but turned into a national park in 1998, recognising the varied landscape and diverse flora and fauna of this unique location. You’ll spot flowering orchids and swinging lemurs, colourful chameleons and twittering birds, all within the most spectacular landscape in Madagascar. You’ll enjoy a long day hike (13-14km) to discover the waterfalls and landscapes of the park, drinking in the serenity of nature that this country has in spades.
Day 7: Drive to Ranohira (Approximately 281kms)
It’s an early start today as you head to Ambalavao, a small town known for vineyards, handmade paper and blooming purple jacaranda that blossom in October and November. From here you’ll arrive at Iharintsena, a small village at the base of the inselbergs where ring-tailed lemurs live in the deciduous forests. You’ll walk through the forest admiring the lemurs and chameleons, maybe even spotting a Brookesia, the tiniest chameleon in the world. Next you’ll continue your journey though Ihosy, the capital of the Bara, a local nomadic tribe which is famous for zebu rustling and polygamous marriage. You’ll arrive in Ranohira by sunset in time to check in to your hotel for 2 nights on a half board basis.
Day 8: Explore Ranohira Isalo National Park
Today you’ll spend the day exploring the national park, known for its spectacular landscape of the ‘Massif Ruiniforme’ – marine and continental sandstone rocks from the Jurassic period. There are deep canyons in the colourful rock, like the Canyon des Singes, where water flows through the base providing much needed water to the south western region. Hike through the mountainous landscape and spot lemurs, including the Verreaux’s Sifaka lemur and the Coquerel’s Giant Mouse Lemur.
Day 9: Explore Ranohira Isalo National Park
You’ll spend the day continuing to explore Ranohira National Park, including the incredible plant and bird life that fills this spectacular park. There are over 100 different kinds of plant, many that are found nowhere else in the world, including the elephant’s foot plant, growing all over the central plateau. There are also a number of frog species that you can discover, from the Malagasy Rainbow Frog to the White Lipped Bright Eyed frog. Two days dedicated to hiking and exploring this enchanting region will leave you in no doubt of Madagascar’s very special eco-system; flora and fauna unlike anywhere else on earth.
Day 10: Drive to Ifaty (Approximately 265kms)
Another early start today as you leave at 7am to drive to Tulear and Ifaty. On the way you’ll stop in at the Zombitse Vohibasia National Park, a great example of the deciduous forest that shelters lemurs, birds and reptiles. You’ll hike through the forest for a couple of hours before continuing the drive on through the grassy plains, past baobabs and spiny forests arriving at Tulear 3 hours later.
After lunch (at leisure) you will continue the drive on to Ambondrolava to visit the mangroves which the community helps to protect and restore. You can walk across boardwalks over the mangroves and learn about the ecology of the area and the importance of protecting such a unique landscape for future generations.
Continue the final part of the drive through the prickly vegetation, arriving in Ifaty and the beach in the evening; here you will check in for 3 nights on a half board basis.
Day 11: Day of leisure in Ifaty
You’ll have two days to explore the beaches of Ifaty including a morning visit to Reniala – Forest of Baobabs. The reserve is home to a spectacular species of Boabab, and other plants known for the therapeutic properties. There are lots of nearby fisherman too, with small huts that they work from, along with rolling sand dunes, and temporary lakes home to many native birds. For the rest of the day you can enjoy relaxing on the beach, and enjoying the sea breeze after an exciting morning exploring the reserve.
Day 12: Day of leisure in Ifaty
Another day at your leisure today but why not try diving or snorkelling in the turquoise waters of the Mozambique channel. The lagoon of Ifaty lies within the third largest coral reef system in the world and offers a huge array of areas to discover, from fringing reefs to shallow lagoons and abyssal slopes ideal for diving. If you just feel like relaxing, put your feet up and grab a cocktail to enjoy by the pool. Your time in Madagascar is nearly over and a well deserved rest in this tranquil location is certainly in order.
Day 13: Transfer to Tulear and fly to Antananarivo
After breakfast you’ll be transferred to Tulear before flying to Antananarivo where you will check in to your hotel for your final night on a bed & breakfast basis. (Flight not included in the price)
Day 14: Depart Antananarivo
Transfer to the airport to check-in for your onward flight.