Madagascar Adventure

Madagascar Adventure information and booking

from
$3990
  • Duration
    21 days
    Days
  • Group size
    6-16
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    Introductory - Moderate
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 21 day trip
  • 4 days canoeing
  • 4 days trekking
  • day walks
  • 10 nights hotels/ lodge
  • 10 nights camping/ permanent campsite
Equipment Required
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking). For the canoeing section, sandals or shoes that can get wet are recommended to protect your feet while getting in and out of the boats. Fingerless or paddling gloves are recommended for the canoeing section to protect from sunburn.

Highlights

  • Trek in Bongolava Mountains
  • Decent of Manombolo River
  • Searching for lemurs
  • UNESCO World Heritage site of Tsingy de Bemaraha
  • Isalo National park
  • Andringitra National Park
  • Ranomafana Nature Reserve
  • Kirindy Forest

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Isolated from Africa millions of years ago, the world’s fourth largest island of Madagascar has evolved an incredibly rich ecology and landscape that is as bizarre as it is unique. Home to one of the richest ecosystems on earth, you will be in awe of its quirky lemurs and endemic varieties of Baobab and Octopus trees. Madagascar is "home" to nearly one-quarter of all the flowering plants in Africa. It also boasts 90% of the known species of lemur and half the world's population of chameleons. Marvel at the diverse landscapes – from lush tropical rainforest to the semi arid and to the jagged limestone pinnacles. However, it is the people who are unlike anywhere else, descendants of seafarers from the Indian Ocean, they are proudly distinct from the peoples of continental Africa and are unfailingly polite and hospitable. We explore the spectacular collection of the island’s national parks on this itinerary including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tsingy de Bemaraha.

What's included

  • 20 breakfasts, 18 lunches and 18 dinners
  • English speaking local guide
  • All camping gear (sleeping bags are not provided)
  • Porters and cook/camp crew for trek in bongalava
  • Canoe assistants and cook/camp crew on manambolo river
  • Flight toliara/antananarivo usd $300
  • Entry fees and local guide in tsingy, kirindy forest, isalo, andringitra, ranomafana national parks
  • Private vehicle transport throughout (4wd & minibus)
  • Arrival and departure transfers on days 1 & 21 only

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Antananarivo
On arrival in Antananarivo on Day 1 you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel for overnight. The rest of the day is at leisure. Please be sure to advise us of your flight details. If you are arriving earlier than Day 1, please make your own way to the hotel. Alternatively, we can assist with private transfers (additional cost applies)
Day 2 Antananarivo to Ampefy
We begin our exploration of Madagascar with a drive through typical landscape of mid-west Madagascar, a land of volcanic origin with rich soil and abundant agriculture. We take a stroll near Lake Itasy with its many rice farms and scenic look-out. Tonight we stay either at the lake or nearby at Ampefy. Overnight hotel. (approx 120km by 4WD, 3 hrs)
Day 3 Drive to Belobaka, begin trekking
As we drive further west, the landscape is dominated by starkly eroded hills that serve as pasture land to the numerous cattle (or 'zebu') in this part of the country. The road to Belobaka, the last big village before the start of our trek, is very rough but makes for an interesting journey. We have a short break here while our trek leader arranges any final supplies. Lunch is a picnic outside the village before driving another two hours, on rougher roads, into the Bongolava Mountains and our campsite. Here we meet our porters, cook and the rest of the trek crew. Overnight camping. (approx 100km, 6 - 7hrs by 4WD)
Day 4 Trekking Bongolava
Deep in the Bongolava Mountains we trek west through the eroded massif. Many small canyons reveal both rich colours and the loss of soil and vegetation at the same time. The walking is gentle after some initial ups and downs with a dramatic steep descent at the end of the day down the edge of the escarpment. We camp in a panoramic location part way down the escarpment with stunning views over the Menabe region (or'big red' due to the colour of the soil) and the Manombolo River which is our ultimate destination tomorrow. If the weather is clear, we can also see the Bemaraha mountain range on the horizon. Overnight camping. (approx 25km, 5.5 - 6hrs walking)
Day 5 Trek to Ankavandra, begin canoeing
This morning we continue our walk down to the Manambolo floodplain. The trail is rocky until we reach the flats where it widens to a sandy track. At the village of Ankavandra we have lunch and relax in the heat of the day. There may be time to wander around the village while final preparations are made for our canoe trip. We farewell some of our trek crew here while the rest stay on as our canoe guides. In the afternoon our gear is transferred to the canoes and we begin our river journey. The Manombolo River is wide with braiding channels through its sandy riverbed. Canoes are the ideal way to travel through this remote region and our guides are experts in finding the deepest channels while we float downstream. We camp overnight on a sandy riverbank. (approx 10km walking, 3- 4 hrs; canoeing time will depend on river flow - approx 30 mins to 2hrs )
Day 6 to 7 Canoeing Manombolo River
This is a spectacular and isolated part of Madagascar that is only accessible by boat or by foot. We pass through scenic riverscapes of low hills, exposed low cliffs and bamboo thickets. Red, orange and yellow are the dominant colours of the cliffs due to erosion exposing the laterite soil. We will see some local people on the river performing their daily activities as well as seeing plenty of endemic water birds and possibly some chameleons along the way. With stops for lunch as well as occasional land excursions, the pace is leisurely. Our rhythm is determined by sunrise, sunset and the flow of the river. On Day 7, the landscape changes abruptly as we enter the spectacular Manambolo Gorge where the river carves a deep channel through the limestone plateau. Dry forest and sheer, vertical cliffs on both sides dwarf our canoes to insignificance. You can hear the silence. We set up camp each night on sandy banks at the river edge. Camping (approx. 6 hours of canoeing daily)
Day 8 Canoeing Manombolo Gorge, Bekopaka
After breakfast we continue our way through this imposing gorge, between limestone walls, craggy caves and overhangs on which we can see unusual vegetation, much birdlife and many colours. We may also hear the shrill cries of black parrots resounding against the rock walls. Cliffs on both sides are marked by horizontal lines indicating the levels of water at different times of the year. Side canyons reveal pockets of rainforest where we may see our first lemurs if we are lucky. This is our last day of canoeing and in the afternoon we come out of the gorge at Andadoany village near Bekopaka. We enjoy the opportunity to have a cold drink to celebrate our river journey. Overnight permanent campsite (approx. 6 hours canoeing)
Day 9 Tsingy of Bemaraha
After breakfast we visit the “Tsingy of Bemaraha”. The World Heritage listed Tsingy is the largest reserve in Madagascar and is home to diverse wildlife including many species of Lemur. This fascinating raised limestone plateau is a complex of countless chaotic razor sharp pinnacles. The limestone plateau also hosts an extensive network of underground caves and many succulents growing in the crevices. We take an adventure walk traversing the pinnacles. A harness clipped to a steel cable is used for safety on the vertiginous and exposed scrambling sections amongst the rock. (Note: no technical climbing experience is necessary). Overnight permanent campsite. (4 - 5 hrs walking in the Tsingy)
Day 10 Bekopaka to Kirindy Forest
Today is a rugged 4WD journey (a rough and dusty road!) through the remote west of Madagascar. We stop for lunch at Belo Tsiribihina before crossing the Tsiribihina River by local car ferry. The drive beyond passes through Madagascar's endemic western dry deciduous forest. Of great biological significance, these forests are home to many endemic species of flora and fauna, including some sepcies of baobab. We reach Kirindy Forest in the late afternoon. As the wildlife here is abundant we make the most of an opportunity on dusk to take a night walk (about 1hr duration) by torch light to spot nocturnal fauna. Dinner on return to camp. Overnight permanent campsite. (135km, approx 6hrs subject to road conditions)
Day 11 Kirindy Forest to Morondava
After breakfast we take another guided walk in the forest while the animals are active in the early morning period. Kirindy Forest is the only place in Madagascar where we may see Fosa (the island's largest carnivore). Striped mongoose, the giant jumping rat, the popular Verreaux's Sifaka and the widespread Brown Lemur also inhabit this area. We return to camp for lunch before driving a relatively short distance to the iconic “Baobabs Alley” near Morondava. These distinctive trees make great photographs and we can watch the world go by as locals and visitors alike traverse the alley. We continue another 20km by vehicle to the port town of Morondava. Overnight hotel. (walk approx 2hrs; 65km by 4WD, approx 2 hrs)
Day 12 Morondava to Antsirabe
Today is a long day of driving but we are rewarded by spectacular scenery. From Morondava we drive to Miandrivazo, a small town on the edge of the Tsirbihina River. We have a picnic lunch near here before continuing our drive to Antsirabe, known as the rickshaw (or "pousse-pousse") capital. It is also known for potatoes, clothing manufacturers, tobacco and vanillla. The landscape en route is beautiful with the highlands decorated by rice fields. Overnight hotel. (approx 10hrs driving, mostly sealed road)
Day 13 Antsirabe to Ranomafana
Today we travel to Ranomafana Rainforest National Park located on the eastern mountain slopes of the island and dominated by a humid tropical climate - quite a contrast to the dry western regions. En route we stop for lunch at Ambositra, home of woodcarving (marquetry) craftspeople. We have a chance to visit a wood carving workshop before continuing our journey to Ranomafana. The drive this afternoon is picturesque with terraced hills and villages becoming thick rainforest, along a winding road that passes by the tumbling waters of the Namorona River. Overnight in hotel. (Approx 5 - 6 hrs driving)
Day 14 Ranomafana National Park
Today we head out on foot to explore the evergreen primary forest of Ranomafana National Park, home to some of Madagascar's rarest lemurs. The park is the only habitat for the recently discovered Golden Bamboo Lemur as well as the world's rarest primate, the Giant Bamboo Lemur. If we are patient we may be lucky enough to see some of these. There are several varieties of Brown Lemur and Sifaka in this park as well as a great variety of chameleons. The trails in the park are steep and muddy and precipitation not uncommon; good footwear and a rain coat are essential. We will have a long walk in the morning, followed by lunch and then a shorter walk in the afternoon, depending what we see. Overnight hotel. (approx 4 - 6 hrs walking)
Day 15 Ranomafana to Andringitra
Today we travel to Andringitra National Park with its rugged granite peaks. From Ranomafana we drive on tarmac road for about 3.5hrs to the town of Ambalavao, with its colourful houses and local craftspeople who make Antaimoro paper from the bark of Ahova tree. We stop here for lunch and watch the paper-making process. After lunch, we again pick up a 4WD and travel for a further 3 hrs on a very bad dirt road. The surrounding landscape is stunning. On arrival at Andringitra National Park head quarters we complete formalities, collect our porters and walk to our first campsite. (Note that it can be cold in these mountains) Overnight camping. (approx 6 - 7 hrs driving; approx 30 mins walking)
Day 16 Andringitra National Park
We enjoy a full-day trekking in the Andringita National Park amongst the massif of unique granite and gneiss formations. With its rugged peaks Andringitra National Park has a wide diversity of ecosystems ranging from low altitude rainforest in the east to high mountain prairies in the west. There are a number of walking options, from easy to demanding, depending how many hours you wish to walk. We start the day with a walk of about 2hrs to our next campsite. There is then an optional ascent of Pic Boby (2658m) - the highest mountain in the region (and second highest in Madagascar). This is about a 5hr return strenuous walk. Overnight camping.
Day 17 To Isalo Massif
Today we walk back to meet our 4WD near the Andringitra park headquarters (about 2.5 hrs) where we farewell our porters and crew. We drive back to Ambalavao (about 3 hrs) for lunch. In the afternoon, we travel on good road via Ihosy (zebu territory) across the Horombe plateau with its grasslands dotted with termite mounds. We reach the dramatic Isalo Massif in the late afternoon, a mysterious landscape of imposing rock formations called "ruiniforme". Overnight hotel. (approx 2.5 hrs waking; approx 7 hrs driving)
Day 18 Isalo National Park
Today we explore the colourful and deeply eroded sandstone plateau of the Isalo National Park. We have a great day excursion, walking in "the Canyon des Makis" where we may discover some lemurs, exploring the rugged canyons with their abstract erosion sculpturing, and discovering natural swimming pools such as the "Piscines Naturelle, Noir or Bleu". Overnight hotel. (approx 5 - 6 hrs walking)
Day 19 Isalo to Toliara
As we leave the Isalo region today we discover a semi-arid landscape known as the "Spiny Desert" and the famous "Mahafaly Tombs". We keep driving southwards, passing through wealthy sapphire mining towns, to reach the coastal town of Toliara. Overnight hotel. (Approx 4 hrs driving)
Day 20 Fly from Toliara to Antananarivo
Today we make our way to the airport for our flight back to Antananarivo. Upon arrival in the capital city we transfer to our hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. This is a satisfying conclusion to our journey around Madagascar. Overnight hotel. (Please note that flight schedules are subject to change and availability)
Day 21 In Antananarivo, trip concludes
After breakfast, the trip concludes. You will be transferred to the airport for onward travel if you leave Tana today. For departures on any other day, airport transfers can be arranged for an additional cost.