Limited Time in Madagascar
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Aug 1, 2013 1:07 AM Last Post By: ayeesha
Jul 11, 2013 2:11 PM
Limited Time in MadagascarI will be traveling alone to Madagascar for seven days in October. I'm trying to figure out what the best itinerary would be for this limited amount of time (guessing that taxi brousse transport across the country will not be realistic). Can anyone please recommend certain areas that would be good to focus on? I'm open to flying, if I need to. I would like to see lemurs and anything that is unique to Madagascar (beach is not necessary). Thanks!
Jul 12, 2013 4:27 AM
Jul 14, 2013 6:58 AM
2For lemurs, head to Andasibe. Easy enough on the taxi-brousse, but might be quicker with your own vehicle. It's 3-4 hour drive from Tana. Once there, I would recommend staying at the Feon y'Ala Hotel (3km from Andasibe village, but right in the forest - reasonably priced. Or if you've got a bit more to spend, the Vakona Lodge is very impressive). I would do the 4 hour lemur walk in the National Park and also visit the Vakona Lodge Hotel's Lemur reserve - they have tame lemurs there that jump all over you! I wouldn't bother with a night walk - my friends did it and saw nothing at all - and it's relatively expensive for what it is.
Apart from Andasibe, I would head to Morondova (via Antisirabe) and see the Tsingy and Baobab alley - my friends run a small tour company in Madagascar and that's what they always arrange for their clients. Apparently it's unmissable!
Have a great trip - Madagascar is an incredible country :)
Jul 14, 2013 1:27 PM
3With some reservations, I broadly agree with Rory and hopesprings.
In Rory’s case, I think it’s very optimistic to go all the way to Toliara and back by road in the time you have available, and in my view, if you did that, you’d have to miss put on Andasibe, which would be a shame.
I would not go further south than Ranomafana National Park before turning back. Anything further would be hectic.
Hopesprings is also, with all due respect, hopelessly optimistic in suggesting Morondava, the Avenue des Baobabs and the Tsingy de Bemaraha. This is an absolute minimum of five days, and that’s only possible if you do the 600+ kilometres from Tana to Morondava and the reverse trip each in a single day – 12 hours driving in each direction at least, and you need to be off the road at nightfall.
Even if you fly to Morondava, you’ll still need five days overall. Though of course the flight will be easier on you than the drive.
Still, there are more areas in Madagascar than the Tsingy that are “unmissable”, and in fact, I would probably not travel the RN7 but concentrate on Andasibe/Mantadia and spend an extra day there so that I could visit both sections of the park without hassle and see the rich assortment of wildlife that lives there.
The Feon’ny Ala is also my favourite hotel at Andasibe. It’s only ten minutes walk from the park office, and listening to the indri-indri calling while you eat your breakfast on the terrace is quite something.
On the subject of night walks, hopesprings is correct, but only in respect of the walk offered by the National Park. Madagascar National Parks (MNP) have a blanket ban on night walks in the forest and therefore you’ll find yourself walking along the tarmac and shining powerful torches at the trees 50 metre away in the hope of seeing something.
However, Mitsinjo Community Reserve, across the road from the NP, is not subject to MNP regulations and their night walk takes you into the forest and is definitely worth the money.
The reason hopesprings gives for visiting Vakona Forest Lodge’s lemur reserve is precisely the reason why I’d avoid it like the plague. I don’t like wild animals having been persuaded to behave like pussy cats – though of course that’s a matter of taste. Also, to stay at Vakona, you’ll need more than “a bit more” money, as their main market is tour groups and individual travellers pay the maximum rate.
If you would like to see lemurs from more parts of Madagascar than you have time to visit, I suggest you visit Lemur’s Park, which is easily accessible from Tana, either by hire car or by taxi. Here, the lemurs live wild, visitors are not encouraged to touch them, and although the animals are obviously used to having humans around, they are not tame. For my taste, the experience is much more rewarding than the Vakona visit.
From Tana, you can also take a trip to the old palace complex of Malagasy kings and queens at Ambohimanga. It’s about 21 km outside the city, and you can negotiate with a city taxi driver to take you there and back and wait for you during your visit.
Andasibe/Mantadia and the two excursions from Tana will pleasantly fill up your seven days and give you a good taste of what the country has to offer. Timewise, you could also travel to Andasibe by taxi brousse, which will save a bit of money.
If you hire your own car to get to Andasibe, you’ll pass an establishment called Madagascar Exotic / Peyrieras Reserve about 72 km from Tana. I would recommend that you do not allow yourself to be tempted to visit it. The Bradt Guide and previous posters on this forum report that animals are kept in very poor conditions. The Bradt Guide also reports allegations that the “reserve” is involved in the illegal collection of reptiles for the pet trade.
Jul 26, 2013 2:02 AM
Jul 29, 2013 7:49 AM
The suggestions above are good but from my own trip there I would give you another option of heading north to Diego Suarez/Antisaranana and be based out of there. You could spend a day seeing Tana but head up north to Diego would be my alternative suggestion. You said you are open to flying so if you flew there you would lose almost no time. Diego has the big bay, great beaches, scenery and islands very close by. I know you said you are not that into beaches though. The reason I would suggest Diego is that there are several national parks within 2hrs taxi brousse away. Obviously you can get a guide if you want. Amber Mountain, Ankarana and Tsingy Rouge. Amber mountain has lots of lemurs, chameleons, geckos etc, Ankarana has more lemurs but it also has tsingys. They are slightly smaller in height than Bemaraha but cover a much larger area and are still extremely tall. There are huge caves there with bats, tarantulas etc and lots of pools etc. This was probably my favourite NP in Madagascar and I did the RN7 route also. Tsingy Rouge are strange and are not really tsingys at all but just look like them. They are all red mud though and look fairly cool and cover a big area.
No matter where you go you will have a great time as Madagascar is a brilliant spot but I would strongly recommend the northern area. Diego is also a nice town so its a fine spot to spend a day or so.
If you need any more info I wrote about some good places to from my own experience including details, costs etc that may be of help to you and give you some more idea’s.
I hope this is of help to you
Aug 1, 2013 1:07 AM
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