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See this magnificent country in a different, slower, and deeper way with an overland adventure using riverboats, 4WD, minibuses, and your own two feet. Madagascar is more than just lemurs and this overland adventure offers an wonderful opportunity to explore this island’s tropical rainforests, granite peaks, white sandy beaches and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Enjoy a private chartered riverboat down the River Tsiribihina
- Discover the limestone massifs at Tsingy de Bemaraha – strikingly eroded and reaching as high as 50m
- Experience an exhilarating 4WD overland coastal route between Morondava and Tulear
- See beautiful sunsets over the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’
- Trek into the canyon of Isalo to a natural swimming pool
- Explore the large tropical rainforest of Ranomafana
- Enjoy phenomenal views of the granite peaks that tower above the Tsaranoro valley – a walkers paradise with endless views
From the fertile highlands you’ll travel along the River Tsiribihina through semi-dry tropical forest to the iconic Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Using little known coastal tracks from Morondava to Tulear you’ll experience not only the stunning scenery of this rarely seen part of the country but also to meet with the Mikea hunter-gatherers, Vezo fisherman and the many other tribal people who call this region home.
The trip offers the chance to take in some of the better known sights of the country (including Isalo National Park and the lemurs of both Anja and Ranomafana) but it also detours off road in order to access destinations such as Andringitra, with its dramatic granite outcrops and the villages of the Zafimaniry tribe whose wood carving skills have been recognised by UNESCO.
Day 1: Tour starts in Antananarivo (Tana)
The tour starts this evening in Madagascar’s highland capital, Antananarivo which is better known by its shortened name of Tana.
Day 2: Tana – Antsirabe
A 3-4 hour journey takes us through the highlands providing us with a taster of the stunning scenery that Madagascar has to offer with its terraced rice-fields and spectacular eroded hills called lavaka.
Day 3: Antsirabe – Miandrivazo
We’ll have the morning to discover some of the craft skills for which this temperate city is well known before heading west towards Miandrivazo, some 4 hours away and located in the savannah of the lowlands.
Day 4: Miandrivazo – Tsiribihina River
This morning we transfer to our privately chartered riverboat. There’ll be ample time to just relax on board and watch life go by but in addition we’ll be stopping at villages.
Day 5: On the Tsiribihina River
We continue our journey downstream today, with a good chance of seeing lemurs, crocodiles, bats and some amazing birdlife in the primary semi-dry forests that line the riverbanks.
Day 6: Tsiribihina River – Bekopaka
After our last morning on the we’ll take 4WDs towards the village of Bekopaka, which sits at the entrance to the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.
Day 7: Bekopaka – Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park – Bekopaka
Today will be dedicated to exploring the world of the Tsingy de Bemaraha, a limestone massif spectacularly eroded into karst pinnacles some of which can reach up to 50m in height.
Day 8: Bekopaka – Morondava
After breakfast we’ll cross the Manambolo River by ferry and drive slowly back via the famous ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’ in time for one of the most memorable sunsets you’re ever likely to have experienced.
Day 9: Morondava – Belo Sur Mer
There should be some time this morning to soak up the laid-back atmosphere of the coastal town of Morondava before heading off on our a real off-beat 4WD adventure southwards towards Tulear.
Day 10: Belo Sur Mer – Manja
Tide-permitting we plan this morning to take a local pirogue to Kirindy Mitea National Park, where we can spot many birds and typical vegetation of the west. Later we’ll continue to Manja.
Day 11: Manja – Morombe
Today’s drive is a long but rewarding one with beautiful scenery, huge baobabs, spiny forest and more rivers to cross.
Day 12: Morombe – Mikea
After breakfast, we’ll continue our drive taking in the striking coastal scenery which offers a mixture of large dunes, sandy beaches, yet even larger baobabs (!), spiny forest, and mangroves.
Day 13: Mikea
Our lodge lies on an idyllic stretch of white sandy beach and so is ideal for beachcombing, visiting local Vezo fisherman villages or just relaxing. There’ll be the meet with the Mikea, a hunter-gather tribe who rarely engage with outsiders.
Day 14: Mikea – Isalo National Park
We’ll spend the morning taking our final drive along Madagascar’s stunning coastline southwards to Tulear where we come to end of the dirt road and join the asphalted road to Isalo.
Day 15: Isalo National Park
We’ll have the full day to enjoy the delights of Isalo on foot. We’ll start with a short trek to a beautiful natural swimming pool and then continue deeper into the canyon.
Day 16: Isalo National Park – Andringitra
We’ll pass through immense savannah lands before coming to community-run Anja Park, with its almost guaranteed up-close sightings of ring-tailed lemurs. From here we’ll transfer to Andringitra.
Day 17: Andringitra National Park
Today we have a full day on foot to take in the diverse scenery of Andringitra and the Tsaranoro valley, which is considered a paradise for walkers with its spectacular views of huge granite peaks towering above the valley.
Day 18: Andringitra – Ranomafana National Park
This morning we head back to Route National 7 and from there drive northwards to Ambalavao, which houses the fascinating Anteimoro paper factory. Later we’ll head on to Ranomafana, which lies in tropical rainforest typical of Madagascar’s east coast.
Day 19: Ranomafana – Ambalandingana
With our specialist guide we’ll enter the rainforest in the hope of seeing, amongst others, the golden bamboo lemur which was only recently discovered. After lunch we’ll heard towards a tiny village in the territory of Zafimaniry tribe.
Day 20: Ambalandingana
The Zafimaniry are masters of wood carving and their art has been recognised by UNESCO. During our hike today through the beautiful countryside, we will visit typical Zafimaniry villages with their elaborately decorated wooden huts.
Day 21: Ambalandingana – Tana
After breakfast, we’ll start our final journey back to Tana. En route we’ll stop at Ambositra, a great place to pick up some last minute souvenirs, before retracing our steps from Antsirabe back to the capital where we will have our final night.
Day 22: Tour ends in Tana
The tour ends today with a free morning to relax in the hotel.
As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip.
On this particular trip we will be in some very comfortable hotels and lodges but we will also encounter some simpler accommodation (particularly in Belo Sur Mer, Manja and Morombe) when we are on our adventurous 4WD overland route from Morondava to Tulear. We will have 2 nights wild camping as part of our riverboat trip along the River Tsiribihina.
Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.
On this tour we will use minibuses, a privately chartered riverboat, 4WDs and our feet. We will not be using domestic flights which are notoriously prone to delay, cancellation and strike action!
While the climate of Madagascar can vary quite significantly as you travel from east to west and from north to south, in general there is a rainy season (often with cyclones) that runs from November to March. Our trips to Madagascar are typically designed to fall within the dry season (April to October) during which time temperatures can vary from early 30s in the daytime in the lowlands of the west to single digits at night in the central highlands. In general, June is the coolest time of year to travel but even at this time, you can expect many sunny warm days. Be warned that in the rainforests of the east it can rain at any time of the year.
Please be advised that anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour. However please come prepared for some very bumpy roads (and thus some long driving days) and some real adventures which will involve several river crossings. Conditions in Madagascar can be unpredictable and a flexible attitude is essential during this trip.
All walks are considered easy to moderate and can be opted out of if preferred.
- 10th June 2017
- 7th October 2017
Length of trip: 22 days
Price: from 3,595 GBP
Start point: Antananarivo (Tana), Madagascar
End point: Antananarivo (Tana), Madagascar
This operator is a multi-award winning adventure travel company specialising in small group tours and tailor made holidays to some of the most extraordinary destinations across the Indian sub-continent, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and Europe. We love their unique, original itineraries – whether they are for small group travel or individually created for tailor made clients – allowing you to take journeys that venture beneath the surface of the region.
They concentrate on the locations they know and love. They don’t source itineraries from other agents, nor do they run the same tour over and over (thus creating a ‘tourist circuit’, spoiling an untouched region). Instead, they rarely run any group tour more than a couple of times a year and they are on routese they have discovered for themselves, to give a truly authentic, off-the-beaten-track experience.
- Trip Code: AWA298
- Dates: Various Oct – Nov
- Price: 3,595 GBP
- Depart: Antananarivo (Tana), Madagascar
- Arrive: Antananarivo (Tana), Madagascar
- Length: 22 days
- Adventure: 22 days to discover the incredible diversity of flora, fauna, landscapes and people of Madagascar – the world’s fourth largest island.