Madagascar is a paradise for wildlife lovers, often being described as 'a living museum' - much of its animal and plant life cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The chief attraction is the lemurs. Undeniably one of the most delightful and cute creatures, there are over 70 species spread throughout the country. This full and exciting itinerary offers the amazing opportunity to see these beautiful, yet endangered, primates.
Highlights Of Madagascar
Our journey begins with a full day spent trekking in the primary forest at Perinet, where we hope to see the rare Indri, the largest lemur, as well as some of Madagascar's unusual nocturnal wildlife. We continue south, spending a full day in the cloud forest of Ranomafana National Park, where we hope to see the rare Golden bamboo and Greater bamboo lemurs. We will go in search of Ring-tailed lemurs in Anja Reserve before continuing to Isalo National Park, where we walk amongst amazing rock formations, visiting Monkey Canyon and the stunning natural swimming pool. Our adventure finishes with some time on the coast, with a final day in search of wildlife in Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, and with time to snorkel, swim or just enjoy some well-earned rest.
There are no included activities today so you are free to arrive at any time.
Following the arrival of the group flights, we drive directly to Andasibe through the green and luxuriant vegetation of the east. This first step brings us to the humid part of the country with many primary forests and lakes. Along the way we will see Merina villages in the rocky mountains.
Today we spend a full day in the park. Perinet is home to the teddy bear-like Indri, the largest of Madagascar's lemur species, as well as other forms of flora and fauna and a wide array of bird life. Listening to the piercing yet melancholy cry of the Indri in the morning is an evocative experience and for those who are prepared to follow them through the thick rainforest, the reward is often a close-up view of these beautiful creatures. A group of five Diademed sifaka have recently been re-introduced to Perinet from Mantadia, and if we are lucky, we may spot one of these beautiful creatures.
In the evening we take a twilight/nocturnal walk, looking out for the nocturnal species of lemur as the torchlights pass by their eyes.
We drive back to Tana, and head south to Antsirabe, across the highland landscape with its beautiful rice fields on stage. The spectacular eroded hills called 'lavaka' remind us of the Far East with its rice fields and green landscape with vegetables and fruit trees. On the way we visit the Peyeiras centre in Mandraka which houses an outstanding collection of butterflies, chameleons and frogs.
Arrival in Antsirabe, or 'the place of salt', an elegant city well known as the centre of the beer industry and we can smell the Star Brewery as we enter the town.
Founded by the Norwegians in 1856, it is the only place which really feels and looks like a European city. It has a temperate climate and all fruits and vegetable, which grow in cold climates, are found in Antsirabe.
After breakfast we drive to Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar's wood carving industry. We are still in the highland, which is characterized by its architecture: The houses are made with ornately carved wooden balconies and shutters with bright colours. Further on we pass the 'le col de tapia', a type of tree, which resists to the bush fires of the area. The landscape is still dominated by rice fields on stage, pine forests and eucalyptus trees and rocky mountains. Our destination for the day: Ranomafana National Park.
Parc National de Ranomafana (approximately 40,000ha), with its rain forested hills and abundant wildlife, has long been considered one of Madagascar's highlights, and is one of the most heavily visited of the country's national parks. Its entrance lies about 7km from Ranomafana village. Altitudes in the park range from 800m to 1200m. In addition to its densely forested hills, Ranomafana's terrain is characterised by numerous small streams, which plummet down to the beautiful Namorona River. Although much of the region has been logged, the easternmost part of the park retains relatively large areas of primary forest.
We will go for walks in the National Park for several hours in the hopes of spotting some of the lemurs, chameleons and other animals found here.
An early start as we leave Ranomafana Nationa park behind us and begin our drive to Ranohira. The scenery changes dramatically as we head to the small town of Ranohira (a journey of approximately 9 hours, inclusive of our visit to Anja Park, lunch and photo opportunities). We stop in Ambalavao to visit Anja Park - a small reserve where several families of Ring-tailed lemurs may be seen in the wild. Finally we continue onto Ranohira - our base for exploring Isalo National Park.
After an early start, we spend our day exploring Isalo National Park. Isalo is a vast region of wind-polished and water-scoured rock towers, deep canyons, gorges and oases often described as Eden. During our time we will go walking in the magnificent Canyon des Makis in search of cheeky Ring-tailed lemurs and the Verreaux Sifaka. We also visit the 'Piscine Naturelle' (natural swimming pool), a beautifully lush spot in such an arid landscape where we can swim and relax. Perhaps the magic is just to soak up the sheer beauty of the park, the combination of coloured eroded rock formations, strange plants and enveloping silence make this one of the most captivating places in Madagascar.
After breakfast, we continue to Tulear. This step brings us new scenery, among the dry forests of the west and the spiny desert of the south. On the way, we can admire the different 'Mahafaly tombs' and the 'Antandroy tombs' and visit Zombitse National Park for a few hours. The Zombitse National park forest is of particular interest to birdwatchers, as it is home to one of Madagascar's rarest endemics, Appert's greenbul, as well as other species such as Giant coua, Crested ibis and Cuckoo roller. Verreaux's Sifakas, Red-fronted Brown lemurs and Sportive lemurs are also seen here.
This morning we take a boat transfer to Anakao and then a 4x4 transfer to Tsimanampetsotsa for a full day visit of Tsimanampetsotsa National Park. The large, shallow soda lake is the focus for this terrific 43,200ha national park. The large limestone plateau here has some of the most striking spiny forest vegetation in Madagascar with countless endemic species. The park sits on a large underground aquifer that runs north, evidenced by the numerous sinkholes and caves. The lake is renowned for its waterfowl, notably flamingoes and other rare endemic birds including the Madagascar plover. We may even be lucky and spot the emblem of the park, the very rare Grandidier's mongoose! Then we return to Anakao.
Today we will take a boat excursion to Nosy Ve to see the world's most southernmost all-year breeding colony of Red-tailed tropic birds, nesting in this small island. Stunning all-white seabirds with red bills and long, thin, red tails. If you are lucky you may see the females roosting under small shrubs, well hidden from any airborne predators such as hawks or eagles. A stroll around Nosy Ve's shoreline including a long white sand beach takes about one hour. After our exploration we will return to Anakao.
Beach day in Anakao. Possibility of snorkelling, diving, pirogue excursions, swimming and more.
An early start for the 4x4 and boat transfers back to Tulear. Upon arrival we are then transfered to Tulear airport for our flight to Tana. Upon arrival we are transferred to our hotel for the night.
This morning we will embark on a city tour of Tana, the picturesque capital of Madagascar. With its bustling markets, friendly people and ancient town on a hill with freestone churches and ancient royal places, it is unique among the world's other capitals. We visit Ambohimanga, the fortified village and its Royal palace. Ambohimanga, otherwise known as Blue Hills, was for a long time forbidden to Europeans. The kings and queens returned here for rest and relaxation on top the forested slopes of this hill-top village. From here began the line of Kings and Queens who united Madagascar into one country. Ambohimanga still remains of spiritual significance for the Malagasy people with ceremonies and rituals still taking place.
Key: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner