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Take an in-depth journey into Madagascar and learn what makes this island nation so incredible. Madagascar's wildlife has developed in isolation for millions of years, and the vast majority is endemic to the island as a result. There are 33 species of lemur and you'll have an opportunity to meet them as you travel the country visiting remote national parks, pristine beaches, winding rivers and towns and cities with a culture all their own.
Day 1: Antananarivo
Tonga soa! Bienvenue! Welcome to Antananarivo, Madagascar's crowded but charming capital. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you decide to arrive early, take some time to get acquainted with the city. With cobbled streets, wooden houses and impressive churches, ‘Tana’ has a distinctly romantic air. Perhaps wander the streets of Haute-Ville or visit the permanent Analakely street market. After your welcome meeting this evening, you might like to head out with your new friends for dinner in one of Antananarivo high-quality restaurants.
Day 2: Miandrivazo
Be prepared for a long drive as you begin the journey west this morning. Maybe kick back with a book or get to know your fellow travellers during the 7-hour drive to Miandrivazo, a small city that will act as the starting point for your adventure down the Tsiribihina River. On arrival, check in to the hotel and listen to a briefing on essential information for your two-day cruise. Head out to pick any extra supplies you may need or desire for the next few days, then get some rest in preparation for tomorrow.
Day 3: Tsirbihina River Excursion
Rise and shine for the 35-kilometre drive to Masiakampy, where you will find a traditional barge waiting to escort you along the Tsiribihina River. These flat bottom boats were once used to transport tobacco, but without that precious cargo they make a comfortable way to cruise along the water and access the remote reaches of western Madagascar. For the next few days, you’ll have the chance to spot wildlife on the banks and in the water, enjoy easy walks to hidden waterfalls and stop off in rural villages. Climb aboard and meet the crew, then settle in and enjoy some lunch as you travel through flat farming plains and enter the dramatic gorges of the Tsiribihina, stopping in the afternoon to trek to a waterfall before returning to a large sandbank to set up camp.
Day 4: Tsiribihina River Excursion
Enjoy a full day gliding along the water today, travelling into the heart of the river and waving to the locals on the banks and barges as you pass. In the absence of roads, nature flourishes along the river in this part of Madagascar – watch out for herds of zebus crossing the river, and flashes of colour as you look for bee-eaters, herons, and egrets in this bird lovers’ paradise. Stop occasionally for a village walk or a short trek for some lemur spotting before setting up camp at a village along the shore. This evening, light a campfire and enjoy some traditional Malagasy music and dancing with the locals.
Day 5: Bekopaka
Enjoy one last morning along the Tsiribihina river before disembarking the boat and bidding farewell to the crew. Make a quick stop at Belo-sur-Tsiribihina, a small village nestled in the marshes and mangroves of the Delta, to check out the market and grab some lunch before beginning the 2.5-hour drive to Bekopaka. Arrive, check in to your hotel and settle in for the afternoon. Perhaps enjoy a swim or a refreshing shower and rest your weary limbs. Tomorrow you’ll be taking on the Small Tsingy.
Day 6: Bekopaka / The Small Tsingy
Rise early, pick a comfortable outfit and pack some snacks, as today you’ll spend up to five hours trekking through the Small Tsingy, located in Bemaraha National Park. Scramble and navigate through a labyrinth of limestone formations that resemble a forest made of rock. Stop at two lookout points along the way for photo opportunities and a chance to take in the impressive surrounds. In the afternoon, unwind with a float down the Manambolo River on a pirogue (wooden dugout canoe) under the shadow of these towering rock cliffs. Enjoy an easy afternoon cave stroll, taking the sight of stalactites, stalagmites and the eerie tombs of the Vazimba – said to be the earliest inhabitants of Madagascar.
Day 7: Bekopaka / The Great Tsingy
Embrace another early start this morning and prepare for another action-packed trip to the Great Tsingy. Getting up early again might be a struggle, but it’s the best way to beat the heat and more intense crowds. Largely unexplored until the 1990s (the name Tsingy is very roughly translated as ‘place where one cannot walk barefoot’ in Malagasy), the area is now easier to navigate due to a series of bridges, semi-permanent climbing plugs and other equipment. Feel your heart stop as you pass over a sheer drop via a suspended bridge, a truly breathtaking experience that those with vertigo may wish to skip. Animals lovers should keep an eye out for 11 species of lemurs, 100 species of birds and 45 endemic reptiles and amphibians, including the Madagascar iguana and Antsingy leaf chameleon.
Day 8: Morondava
There is a long day of travel ahead, so grab that book or download a podcast and prepare to keep yourself occupied as you cross the Manambolo River and the Tsiribihina River by ferry, arriving in the laid-back seaside town of Morondava in time for a spectacular sunset in the Avenue of the Baobabs. These cartoonish, towering trees are native to Madagascar, and the variety you’ll see lit from behind this evening are adansonia grandidieri, the tallest of them all. Watch the sky turn pink and yellow and finally cast these trees – many of which are up to 800 years old – in shadow. Spend the night in Morondava and take a well-deserved rest.
Day 9: Antsirabe
Depart this morning for Antsirabe, the capital of the Vakinankaratra region. It’s another drive that will last around 8 hours, and after an orientation stroll around the city and included dinner at the hotel, it’s up to you whether you’d like to relax or explore further. The town is fairly quiet after dark, but there are a few places to grab a nightcap if you so desire. If you’re so inclined, perhaps head to travellers favourite Le Pousse Pousse, where the booths are made from rickshaws, or ask your leader for recommendations.
Day 10: Antananarivo
Enjoy breakfast and then hit the surrounding region on a soft trek, a good way to limber up after a few long days of driving. Discover the beauty of the local lakes, including the emerald-green waters of Tritiva, an extinct crater surrounded by verdant forest. Hike through the lakes district, sitting down for a picnic-style lunch along the way. Later, continue to Antananarivo. There’s plenty of international cuisine on offer in ‘Tana’, but why not toast to your Malagasy adventure with a Three Horses Beer and a bowl of Madagascar’s national dish, romazava (a one pot rice and meat sensation).
Day 11: Antananarivo
Enjoy a free day in Antananarivo. As this is a combination trip, there may be members of your group departing today and new travellers joining. You're already a seasoned traveller in Madagascar, so why not take them out for some local food and a drink and get excited about the next leg of the journey.
Day 12: Andasibe National Park
Leave Antananarivo in your dust after breakfast, heading for Andasibe National Park (approximately 4 hours). Stop en route at Pereyras Nature Farm – a private reserve that's home to chameleons, frogs, snakes and so much more wildlife. This evening, you'll have an opportunity to take night walk through the forest at Mitsinjo – a privately-owned reserve, where you'll encounter nocturnal species including endemic butterflies and lemurs.
Day 13: Andasibe National Park
Andasibe is the most visited park in Madagascar and famous for the 11 species of lemur that call it home. Aside from lemurs, you'll find endemic birds including the long-eared owl and the rufous-headed ground roller, as well as the smallest living chameleon – brookesia minima – and many times types of reptiles, insects and frogs. This region is popular thanks to an abundance of unique wildlife, and you'll have an opportunity to discover them during a guided walk through the national park.
Day 14: Antsirabe
Drive to Antisrabe (approximately 6-7 hours). Antsirabe maintains a Malagasy touch with all the tranquillity of a small European town, thanks to the contrast of its bustling street markets and Colonial-style facades. Located in the highlands, it's a popular spa town thanks to the hot springs and thermal baths, and the colourful rickshaws known as 'pousse-pousse' are a popular form of transport. On arrival check into your hotel and enjoy a group dinner in the Gazebo within the grounds of the Guest House.
Day 15: Ambositra
Make the short journey to Ambositra this morning, home to the third-largest ethnic group in Madagascar – the Betsileo people. Take a visit to the nearby Sandrandahy villages and explore the process of silk production, which is an important part of Malagasy culture. The use of silk was once reserved exclusively for royalty, but now everyone is free to wear it though its use is more often used for the dead. When a Malagasy is buried, their body is wrapped in a large, silk sheet known as a 'lambamena' and, after a few years, the family traditionally return to the tomb to exchange the sheet for a new one. This custom is known as famadihana, and each village specialises in one step of the production. Enjoy a local lunch before spending a free evening in Ambositra.
Day 16: Ranomafana
Travel this morning to Ranomafa National Park, a journey of about 5 hours. Located in the southeastern part of Madagascar, this park is home to a number of rare species. Ranomafana means 'hot water' in the Malagasy language and the area is haven for small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, as well as palms, bamboo, orchids and carnivorous plants. It's home to 13 species of lemur, including the famous golden bamboo lemur, which was first reported in the area in 1985 and is one of the reasons why the government decided to protect this forest. Enjoy some free time on arrival, and you may want to consider taking an optional night walk once the sun goes down. Your accommodation tonight is a small cottage located within the park's boundaries.Perhaps consider visiting the thermal springs after which the town is named. Located across the Namorona River. The outdoor swimming pool fed by the springs is popular spot to take a dip.
Day 17: Ranomafana
Continue exploring Ranomafana, this time on a guided walk. Keep your eyes peeled for lemurs, striped civets, mongooses, goshawks, geckos, frogs and butterflies. You may even spot an incredible net-casting spider or the world's smallest chameleon. Relax into the day, and once again spend the night within the park.
Day 18: Fianarantsoa
Travel this morning to Fianarantsoa – a colourful town known for its markets and handicrafts. This heritage site is a must-see, with its long, paved roads, labyrinths of small paths and old houses with flower-studded balconies and tiled roofs. Take a day visit to a typical Malagasy village for an insight into how the majority of the island's population live, then take a local walk to explore the surrounding countryside,which is dotted with rice paddies and vineyards that produce Fianarantsoa's famous wine. You'll get a chance to sample local cuisine with a lunch stop in the villages then, in the afternoon, visit the historical old city of Fianarantsoa on foot.
Day 19-20: Isalo National Park
Drive approximately 8 hours west toward Isalo National Park. You’ll stop at the Anja Community Reserve on your way – a great spot to observe lemurs and learn a little more about the local culture. The local villagers will be your guide on this excursion, and your leader will be able to translate all the knowledge they can pass on to you. Isalo is known for its variety of landscapes, from rainforests and rolling plains teeming with life to strange geological formations and deep-cut canyons. And of course, there are a variety of lemur species roaming around the place because – well, this is Madagascar. Spend a couple of days exploring the park, which is home to over 80 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and 14 species of mammals including three lemur species – ring-tailed, red-fronted and Verreaux's sifakas lemur.
Day 21: Anakao
You'll be up early today (approximately 5.30 am) to travel to Toliara Harbour, from where the group will take a boat to Anakao. Imagine perfect white sandy beaches beside turquoise waters, and that’s Anakao – a small, laid-back town in which fishing is the main occupation. Enjoy a free day taking it easy on the beach, soaking up some sun and swimming in the clear waters of the Mozambique Channel. You’re on island time now – so chill out and bask in the golden glow of Anakao.
Day 22: Anakao
Today is another free day of leisure in this paradise. Consider taking a full-day tour of Tsimanampetsotse National Park – a birder’s paradise named for its spectacular lake. More than 100 species of bird can be found here, including pink, greater and dwarf flamingos, as well as the gray-brown mouse and white-footed sportive lemurs. Maybe paddle a canoe out to the mirage of Nosy Ve instead and check out the beaches and reef, or just hang out in Anakao town and make the most of its convenient beaches.
Day 23: Antananarivo
This morning, transfer to Toliara by boat for the flight back to Antananarivo. Flights in Madagascar can be delayed and often experience late schedule changes. You need to be prepared that there may be some waiting time in Tulear today depending on the scheduled flight time for the day and your scheduled boat transfers, but this is all part of the fun. Back in Antananarivo this evening, enjoy a celebratory night with your new travel companions – perhaps toast Madagascar with a local beer or two.
Day 24: Antananarivo – Departure Day
With no activities planned for today, your adventure ends today after breakfast and you are free to leave at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policy. Departure transfers are available for pre-booking with Intrepid Travel or your booking agent.
- Miandrivazo - Tsiribihina River Trip
- Miandrivazo - Tsiribihina River Trip
- Small Tsingy walking circuit
- Manombolo River canoe ride
- Big Tsingy Trek
- Sunset at Baobab Alley
- Andasibe National Park - Mitsinjo night walk
- Andasibe Nationa Park - Pereyras Private Reserve
- Andasibe National Park - guided walk
- Ambositra - Village Visit
- Ambositra -Manandriana Village Lunch
- Ranomafana National Park - Rainforest walk
- Fianarantsoa - Betsileo: village visit and walk
- Ambalavao - Anja Community Reserve
- Ambalavao - Antemoro Paper Factory visit
- Isalo National Park - guided walk
21 Breakfast(s) Included
5 Lunch(es) Included
4 Dinner(s) Included
Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?
Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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