Experience the best of Madagascar’s animals and natural beauty on this thrilling journey through some of the island’s most biodiverse regions. You and seven other guests will travel to the Palmarium Reserve to see the odd aye-aye, and then on to the wildlife-rich rainforest reserves of Andasibe and Mantadia to hear the indri lemurs calling in the morning. Traveling through the beautiful highlands, you can see Ranomafana National Park, home to three distinct species of bamboo lemur. Vineyards, savannah, and the rocky outcrops of Isalo National Park await you on the final leg of your journey before you reach the west coast of the “Red Island,” where your safari will conclude.
Day 1: Arrive Antananarivo (Tana)
Our driver will be waiting for you when you land in Antananarivo (also known as Tana) and will take you directly to your hotel within 15 minutes. Take advantage of the hotel’s services, including the restaurant (at your own expense). Others in your party can take South African Airways from Johannesburg, Kenya Airways from Nairobi, Ethiopian Airways from Addis Ababa, Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, Air Mauritius from Mauritius, Air Seychelles from Seychelles, or Air France from Paris any time before midnight. The next morning at breakfast, you will all meet up and begin your journey together.
Stay at the Relais des Plateaux.
Day 2: Antananarivo – Palmarium Reserve
At breakfast, you’ll be introduced to your Malagasy naturalist guide and your fellow travelers. Travel by air-conditioned minibus for the six hours to Manambato, the starting point on Lake Rasoabe, one of Madagascar’s largest lakes. The Canal of Pangalanes was created when man-made canals connected these massive lakes. Take a speedboat along a section of this 600-kilometer-long channel to the Palmarium Lodge; the trip takes approximately an hour and takes you by some local fishing communities. After about an hour, you’ll reach Palmarium, a private reserve where you can stay at Palmarium Lodge or on Palmarium Beach, which is located on the reserve’s namesake lake. You have the rest of the afternoon to yourself to do whatever you like.
Inn at the Palmarium for the night
Day 3: Palmarium Reserve
Take a guided hike into the woods with one of the lodge’s experts. Coquerel’s sifakas, black lemurs, red lemurs, crowned lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, and an indri family can all be spotted here. Because of the near proximity with which visitors can approach the lemurs, this refuge is ideal for photographers. Enjoy some free time this afternoon. You’ll board a pirogue canoe in the late afternoon and paddle peacefully through the Pangalanes Canal to a remote island where the renowned aye-aye live. Approximately 15 minutes from the hotel, there is a free community of six aye-aye people. You will get one hour to go out and see the sights before being transported back to the hotel.
Stay at Palmarium Lodge Tonight
Day 4: Palmarium Reserve – Andasibe National Park
Today you’ll take a boat down the Pangalanes Canal and then a car for about 3.5 hours to reach the famous reserve of Andasibe in the south of the country. The biodiversity in this rainforest is incredible. You’ll have your first taste of the park in the afternoon. After dark, you and your naturalist guide can venture out to find animals that are active only at night.
Inn of Mantadia for the Night
Day 5: Andasibe National Park
Spend a day with knowledgeable wildlife experts exploring Andasibe National Park. Andasibe Park is located in a montane forest and is a great place to see lemurs, reptiles, and birds. The indri, the largest of the lemurs and looking like a black and white teddy bear, is one of the island’s most recognizable natives. In the early hours of the morning, when the mist is still clinging to the rainforest canopy, you will awake to the indri’s sounds of communication. You can also spot nocturnal species like the brown mouse lemur, greater dwarf lemur (Sep/Oct – May), eastern woolly lemur, and sportive lemurs, in addition to daytime species like the brown lemur, red-bellied lemur, and lesser bamboo lemur. The rainforests are home to a vast variety of reptiles, such as the boa manditra snake, as well as 84 different kinds of amphibians and some truly exquisite and rare orchids. The satanic leaf-tailed gecko and other oddities like the giraffe-necked weevil can be found here. Forest hiking is challenging due to the steep inclines and thick undergrowth. on the waning hours of the day, you can relax on the grounds of Vakona Forest Lodge. Here, you may get up close and personal with a variety of lemur species (including common brown lemurs, bamboo lemurs, ruffed lemurs, and diademed sifakas) on a small island surrounded by fresh water.
Inn of Mantadia for the Night
Day 6: Mantadia National Park
Mantadia National Park is where you’ll be spending the day today. North of Andasibe by about an hour’s drive, you’ll find a more mountainous landscape with steeper, slipperier trails that, at times, can lead to gratifying sightings. Unlike Andasibe, this area consists primarily of undeveloped primary forest with only a handful of man-made routes. The black-and-white ruffed lemur, the black-and-gold diademed sifaka, and the local indri (who, for some reason, are darker than their Andasibe counterparts) are also possible sightings here. The smallest of the lemurs, the mouse lemur, can be found here among the common brown lemur and the eastern lesser bamboo lemur and the sportive lemurs. Several species of birds can be spotted in the park, including the scaly ground-roller, a ground roller similar to the pitta, and the red-breasted coua. Orchids are the royal family of Mantadia. The most mysterious plants are the Cymbidiellas falcigera and Bulbophyllum ameleni, both of which serve an important ecological role in the forest ecology. Most of the day will be spent having a picnic in the park.
Inn of Mantadia for the Night
Day 7: Andasibe National Park – Antsirabe
Today, you’ll leave Andasibe and travel south to Antsirabe (a about 6-hour trip, assuming a few breaks along the way). You’ll spend the day winding through the mountains, and you can even stop at Ambatolampy to see aluminum pots being cast if you’re so inclined. The city of Antsirabe is Madagascar’s third-largest. The city became a spa destination in the late 1800s after Norwegian missionaries established a health resort there to take use of the area’s natural thermal springs. Tree-lined boulevards in the tiny city center showcase the city’s eclectic architecture. There are many amazing artisan workshops here, and you might be able to visit two or three of them in the afternoon. Some of the things you might find there include silk, gems, scrap metal, weaving, models, zebu horn crafts, raffia, chocolates, beer, and cheese.
The Plumeria Hotel for the Night
Day 8: Antsirabe – Ranomafana National Park
From there, you’ll head south through the highlands and then east to the Ranomafana National Park rainforest reserve. The trip takes around 7 hours, but the stop in Ambositra for lunch is well worth the time. Keep an eye out for the intricately carved shutters and balconies that give this town its name. Stop by one of the town’s woodcarving businesses if you’re interested in seeing the Christian wood carvings and other handicrafts made there. After a late afternoon flight, you will land in Ranomafana, where you may settle into your accommodation.
Thermal Hotel for the Night
Day 9: Kianjavato Lemur Project
Approximately 1.5 hours from Ranomafana, you will be able to visit our private conservation project today. In addition to reforestation and community outreach, this project also conducts research on bamboo lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, and aye-ayes. You will spend the day following these critically endangered lemurs, visiting a local school (if it is not a holiday), and talking with researchers about conservation efforts in Madagascar.
Overnight: Spa Resort Hotel.
Day 10: Depature
As of today, your trip is over. The history of the highlands under the reign of the king is revealed here. You will have time to shop at the vibrant local markets after the tour. At last, you’ll be taken by car to catch your trip home.