Best of Natural Madagascar
This breath-taking natural history programme features some of Madagascar’s most exceptional wildlife and remarkable scenery whilst staying in comfortable accommodation throughout. The itinerary takes you to some of the most unusual and contrasting landscapes in the diverse country; the eastern rainforests, rocky canyon lands, the bizarre spiny forest and a beautiful coastline with exciting marine life. It also enables you to hopefully see some of Madagascar’s most exciting and surprising wildlife with the impressive indri, mysterious aye aye, endangered greater bamboo lemur, agile black-and-white ruffed lemur, iconic ring-tailed lemur, stunning diademed sifaka and many quick moving mouse lemurs.
There will also be plenty of endemic birdlife and reptiles, frogs and unusual insects such as the peculiar giraffe-necked weevil, in addition to the staggering diversity of different plants and trees.
There is also a stunning stretch of coastline where there are opportunities for snorkelling and whale watching (July – September) plus a visit to the extra special Tsimanampetsotsa National Park. This little visited park with its 15km-long Salt Lake home to flamingos and rare Madagascar plovers and sandgrouse and unique pachypodium forest containing ancient baobabs (one is over 3,000 years old) and blind albino cave fish makes for another highlight.
Arrive Tana. Met on arrival and transfer (15 minutes) to your hotel.
Staying at Au Bois Vert. Includes No Meals.
After breakfast and some time to recover from your flight, visit Tsaraostra Lake in Tana for some wetland birdwatching. Later depart Tana passing Merina villages and mosaics of rice paddy fields to Antsirabe, an attractive Hauts Plateaux spa town founded by Norwegian missionaries and noted for its rickshaws and thermal baths.
Staying at Couleur Café. Includes All Meals.
After perhaps seeing some of the handicraft stalls in Antsirabe, continue the drive through Bestileo country to Ranomafana, stopping en route at the woodcarving centre of Ambositra. Arrive in Ranomafana in the afternoon and transfer to the hotel. After dark there will be a guided walk to look for nocturnal species such as the rufous mouse lemur and numerous reptiles and endemic frogs and insects.
Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.
Morning and afternoon excursions in Ranomafana National Park. Ranomafana is an exceptionally rich high-altitude rainforest reserve where the very rare and locally endemic golden bamboo lemur and eleven other lemur species exist including the beautiful red-bellied lemur and large Milne Edwards sifaka. Birdlife is fantastic with numerous forest specialities to see such as the pitta like ground roller. Over 120 species of endemic frog have also been identified in the area.
The trails can be steep and tough but generally the going is moderate.
Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.
Today transfer 1 hour 30 mins to the Kianjavato Forest Reserve. The Kianjavato Reserve and project is managed by the Madagascar Biodiversity Project and Lemur Conservation Network and was set up to research lemur ecology and threats in fragmented forests.
Spend the day exploring the rainforest, tree nursey and education centre at Kianjavato with a biologist studying two critically endangered species of lemur in the local area; the greater bamboo lemur and the southern black-and-white ruffed lemur. You can enjoy tracking both of these species with the help of local guides and GPS trackers. In the evening search for the elusive aye aye with the assistance of the research team.
Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.
Transfer to Isalo, stopping at the community-run Anja Park en route to see a habituated population of ring-tailed lemurs and search for the impressive Oustalets's chameleon. Arrive in Isalo in the late afternoon and visit the interpretation centre or Window of Isalo if time allows.
Staying at Relais de la Reine. Includes All Meals.
Enjoy a day to hike in Isalo National Park. The park, an eroded limestone massif, contains wonderful scenery and unusual plants like the endemic ‘elephant’s foot’ Pachypodium rosalatum and is a sacred burial ground for the Bara tribe. There are many interesting geological sites and places to swim in the park alongside its curious natural history. Wildlife is less diverse here but includes red-fronted brown lemurs, jewel chameleons and the localised Benson's rock thrush.
Staying at Relais de la Reine. Includes All Meals.
Depart early for a 2 hour transfer to Zombitse National Park and then spend the rest of the morning exploring the park. Zombitse-Vohibasia acts as a transition zone between the dry and the humid forests of Madagascar with baobabs and numerous orchids. It is home to eight lemur species including the locally endemic Zombitse (Hubbard's) sportive lemur and a dark morph of the Verreaux´s sifaka. Birds are also a highlight with 85 species including Zombitse’s special attraction the rare Appert´s tetraka.
Continue to lodge in Tulear in the afternoon and rest. In the evening take a guided walk in the unique spiny forest to spot its special wildlife such as grey-brown mouse lemurs and warty chameleons.
Staying at Auberge de La Table. Includes All Meals.
Depart the hotel after breakfast and transfer by boat (around 2 hours) to the little visited village of Anakao; a picturesque and authentic Vezo fishing village. It is set on a sandy beach with outrigger boats lining the shore and friendly Vezo inhabitants. On arrival enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in the beautiful surroundings, or take optional activities such as snorkelling, diving or whale watching.
Staying at Anakao Ocean Lodge. Includes All Meals.
Pick up from the hotel for a full day excursion to the recently-gazetted Tsimanampetsotsa National Park in the isolated far south west of Madagascar. This extra-special reserve is one of the least visited and most unusual in Madagascar. It has ring tailed lemurs, ancient baobabs (one is over 2000 years old), a spring-fed, 15 km long salt lake populated by flamingos, rare Madagascar plovers and other wading birds, and sunken caves in which live unique blind albino fish. The park is also excellent for reptiles with endangered radiated and spider tortoises and three-eyed lizards.
Staying at Anakao Ocean Lodge. Includes All Meals.
This morning enjoy a pirogue excursion to the idyllic white sand island of Nosy Ve. The island is uninhabited and home to a rookery of red-tailed tropicbirds most of the year. You can also enjoy some snorkelling over the island's fringing coral reef. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure by the beach in Anakao.
Staying at Anakao Ocean Lodge. Includes Breakfast.
Morning pick up from the hotel and transfer by boat back to Tulear and by road to the airport. Take domestic flight back to Tana. Met on arrival in Tana and take a city tour of Tana if of interest before heading to your hotel for the evening.
Staying at Louvre Hotel . Includes Breakfast.
Morning transfer (4 hours) to Andasibe and Analamazaotra (Andasibe-Mantadia) National Park, also known as Perinet.
Afternoon excursion to Mitsinjo forest, a community-managed part of Analamazaotra rainforest. The forest here supports lowland streaked tenrecs, indris, the tiny Goodman’s mouse lemur, eastern woolly lemur and furry-eared dwarf lemur as well as Malagasy tree boa, many species of chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos and endemic frogs. Take a night walk once dark for the nocturnal species.
Staying at Andasibe Hotel . Includes All Meals.
In the morning transfer further north and enjoy a guided walk in Mantadia National Park.
The lush primary rainforest of this park is an excellent location to see the beautiful diademed sifaka and the more elusive black and white ruffed lemur. Birds include the shy scaly-ground roller and velvet asity amongst many more. Enjoy another night walk in the evening near the hotel. At night it is possible to encounter many nocturnal lemurs as well as pygmy chameleons, giant millipedes and an assortment of colourful endemic frogs, camouflaged stick insects and much more.
Staying at Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.
Morning excursions in the Perinet rainforest reserve. The reserve is the best place to see the largest lemur species, the indri, along with common brown and eastern grey bamboo lemurs, diademed sifakas, huge Parson's chameleons and the bizarre giraffe-necked weevil. Perhaps also take a cultural tour of Andasibe village if of interest.
In the afternoon transfer 4 hours back to Tana. On arrival back in Tana check in to the hotel for the evening.
Later transfer to the airport to check in for the flight home.
Staying at Au Bois Vert . Includes Breakfast.
Depart Antananarivo on flight home.
Auberge De La Table
The main attraction of a stay at Auberge De La Table is the onsite Arboretum D’Antsokay which contains a wonderful selection of plants from the arid spiny forest ecosystem of Southern Madagascar. Wide flat paths make exploring the Arboretum easy and a very enjoyable experience for those interested in botany and learning about the medicinal uses of the plants.
Fauna includes birdlife such as the Madagascar buttonquail, green-capped coua, banded kestrel and sickle-billed vanga. Night walks with the resident guide are a great way to spot the locally endemic grey-brown mouse lemur and a variety of reptiles such as the large warty chameleon; (Furcifer verrucosus), the ocelot gecko (Paroedura picta), the tiny Lygodactylus tuberosus and the impressive Dumeril’s boa. During the day the huge Madagascar giant swallowtail butterfly sometimes appears near flowering bushes.
There is also an educational interpretation centre on site, focused on information and threats to the spiny forest.
The hotels accept Euros, US Dollars and Visa and MasterCard’s with a 3.7% surcharge.
The Auberge de la Table has 9 comfortable bungalows designed for one to three people, all with a large double bed and a single bed available on request, a small but modern bathroom, mosquito nets, free standing fans, and tea and coffee making facilities upon request. Electricity is available 24 hours a day with solar panels. The water comes from a natural well. Hot water is obtained through solar water heaters.
The Dry Forest restaurant, named in honour of the dry spiny forest of southwestern Madagascar, serves meals on the terrace of the restaurant. The lounge bar offers a great place to have a drink before or after a meal. There is a library located next to the bar with a wide selection of books and games as well as free Wi-Fi being available in the public areas. Bikes are also available to rent and there is a swimming pool.
The Antsokay Arboretum is the main attraction, where nearly 1,000 species of plants are found on a labelled botanical trail. Grey-brown mouse lemurs are easily spotted here on night walks and a there is a good range of spiny forest specialty reptiles and birds found in the Arboretum including the Dumeril’s ground boa, warty chameleon, thick-tailed gecko, sickle-billed vanga, crested and running couas and banded kestrel. The rare red-shouldered vanga and Verreaux's coua can found in the spiny bush habitat at Tsinjoriake. Humpback whale watching, more spiny forest birdwatching and coral reefs can be found at Ifaty and Anakao.
Explore the Antsokay Arboretum onsite or venture further afield to walk the Table Mountain Trail, part of the New Protected Area of Tsinjoriake. There is a fantastic view from the top showcasing the wild spiny forest habitat of the region. Visits to the local fishing villages, Honko Mangrove Project or birdwatching or whale watching in Ifaty or Anakao are also available.
Relais de la Reine
This luxurious and peaceful hotel on the edge of Isalo National Park, blends in wonderfully with its surroundings. This is a very comfortable property with excellent facilities including a swimming pool, solar power and large rooms with stylish French inspired decor. Just behind the hotel, across the small stream lined with pandanus, is a pocket of small hills and canyons where Pachypodium and Aloe plants may be found.
Each of the spacious rooms have French doors that open out on to the gardens and feature air-conditioning, fans, safety deposit box, clothes hanger, luggage rack, bedside table and a modern attached private bathroom with 24 hour hot water. The hotel has a lovely restaurant with both outside and indoor dining areas and features superb French and Malagasy cuisine. There is also a lounge area with television and an inviting swimming pool which is a welcome sight after a hot day of walking in the National Park.
Room amenities include air-conditioning, fan, safety deposit box and attached private bathroom with 24 hour hot water. Other hotel facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant and bar, small gift shop, free Wi-Fi and massage palor.
The locally endemic Benson’s rock thrush is one of the top birds to see here alongside more common endemics such as Madagascar lark, Madagascar cisticola and the lesser vasa parrot. Lemurs here include ring-tailed, verreaux’s sifaka and red-fronted brown lemur and reptiles include the stunning jewel chameleon, huge Oustalet’s chameleon and spiny-tailed iguanids are particulary common. There is also a spectacular locally endemic frog species; the Malagasy rainbow frog which can be spotted during the wet season. There is some exceptional botany too, including pachypodium, pandanus, endemic feather palm and various aloes, one of which is endemic.
Wildlife watching and hikes in Isalo National Park.
Anakao Ocean Lodge
This beautifully positioned new hotel is situated at one end of the village, with charming bungalows constructed from local materials, each with private bathrooms. There are 28 rooms in total, including 1 suite and 2 extra spacious family rooms. Most rooms overlook the beautiful Mozambique Channel with a small patio and sun loungers to enjoy sunsets. All rooms are equipped with modern amenities including, mini bar, electronic safety deposit box, air- conditioning and free Wi-Fi can be found in all the rooms.
Various excursions can be arranged with the hotel, such as boat trips to nearby islands including Nosy Ve, scuba diving and snorkelling on the fringing reefs, fishing, exploring the area by quad bike and visits to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park.
All the spacious rooms overlook the sea and feature modern amenities including flat screen TV, mini bar, safe, telephone, air- conditioning, mosquito nets and free Wi-Fi in all the rooms.
There is a long stretch of calm beach in front of the lodge with loungers and umbrellas and the sea is safe for swimming. The lodge has a dive shop with good scuba diving and snorkelling equipment available to hire alongside other watersports.
The large restaurant serves freshly prepared traditional Malagasy and international dishes on a set menu often featuring fresh seafood, but can cater well to special diets.
Restaurant, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, TV, mini bar, electronic safety deposit box, mosquito nets and a dive and water sports shop onsite.
Around the hotel itself is a good example of spiny bush habitat with birds such as sub-desert brush warbler and littoral rock thrush and reptiles such as the three-eyed lizard and Bernier's Striped Snake. On the offshore island of Nosy Ve there is an impressive red-tailed tropicbird colony and coral reef. Between July and September humpback whales can be seen further offshore on boat trips from the lodge.
Excursions to Nosy Ve, snorkelling and scuba diving, village visits, quad biking and visits to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park.
Setam is a comfortable small lodge situated in a pre-montane river valley close to the primary rainforest of Ranomafana National Park. In our opinion it is the best accommodation option in the area and a good base from which to explore the park. The rooms have comfortable beds, a wardrobe and bedside table and have excellent views towards the mountains.
Facilities include 24-hour electricity and pleasant gardens. Generous platters of good food using fresh ingredients are served in the main restaurant with its picture windows offering excellent views. Breakfast can be served on a large veranda, also with good views.
Restaurant, bar, private facilities, 24-hr electricity, private veranda
The park was created to provide protection for the very rare Golden bamboo lemur, which can be easily seen with the help of local guides. The park is also the best location to see the critically endagered greater bamboo lemur and the stunning Milne Edwards sifaka as well as red-bellied lemur, black and white ruffed lemur and red-fronted brown lemur. Over 100 bird species have been recorded in the park with specialities including the attractive pitta-like, short-legged and rufous-headed ground rollers, yellow-browed oxylabels, velvet and yellow-bellied sunbird asitys and brown mesite. Reptile and frog diversity is also very high with o'shaughnessy chameleon, Madagascar tree boa, three species of leaf-tailed gecko and numerous frogs.
Guided wildlife walks into the Ranomafana National Park. The trails can be steep and tough but generally the going is moderate.
The Andasibe Hotel sits next to a tranquil small lake, surrounded by Eucalyptus close to the Andasibe village and reserve.
The hotel offers one of the highest levels of comfort in the area with 20 spacious bungalows with large comfortable beds. All have modern private bathrooms with hot water, and they all feature air-conditioning, satellite TV, mini bar, safe, a seating area and a small private terrace to relax on. There are also 10 more simple and smaller standard rooms. Wi-Fi is only available in the restaurant.
There is a spacious restaurant offering a wide selection of international dishes. There is a small swimming pool in the extensive gardens to enjoy, plus a small massage room where spa treatments can be arranged.
The hotel is an ideal base for those looking for a higher level of comfort while exploring the Andasibe Rainforests.
Private bathrooms, mosquito nets, air conditioning, TV, safe, mini bar, private terrace, lounge, restaurant, swimming pool, massage room and Wi-Fi is available in the communal areas.
The Andasibe area is one of the best examples of Madagascar’s Eastern rainforests and is home to a fantastic selection of wildlife. In the Andasibe (Perinet) Reserve and its adjoining Mitsinjo and VOIMMA Reserves, the indri is one of the highlights, being the largest species of lemur. Other diurnal lemurs include the diademed sifaka, common brown lemur, Eastern grey bamboo lemur and the black-and-white ruffed lemur only in the nearby Mantadia National Park. Nocturnal species include the Goodman’s mouse lemur, furry-eared dwarf lemur and Eastern woolly lemur. In the community managed VOIMMA Reserve, the Parson’s chameleon can often be found along with the blue-legged chameleon and tiny brown leaf chameleon: Brookesia superciliaris. The smaller creatures of the rainforest are spectacular here with mossy leaf tailed geckos, colourful frogs and insects such as the giraffe-necked weevil. Birdlife is another highlight especially in the Mantadia National Park with scaly, pitta-like and short-legged ground rollers, velvet asity, red-fronted and blue couas, nuthatch vanga, Madagascar blue pigeon and pygmy kingfisher. The wonderful helmet vanga can also be found in the more remote Antavalobe Reserve.
Walking in the wildlife rich rainforest reserves of Andasibe, VOIMMA, Mitsinjo, Mantadia and Antavalobe. Interpretive village visits are also available.
Au Bois Vert
Located a short drive from the airport and set in three hectares of peaceful and attractive gardens, accommodation is in rooms constructed using natural materials dominated by chunky wood and granite. All rooms have private bathrooms, satellite TV and safe. Facilities at the hotel include a swimming pool and a restaurant serving local and international cuisine.
The hotel is only 20 minutes from the airport so is an ideal location for a stopover.
Private bathrooms, TV, room safe, restaurant, swimming pool, Wi-Fi available in the lobby
City tours can be arranged. Activities including mountain and quad biking, village tours and walking trips can be arranged offsite.
A relatively new hotel and one of the best in Antsirabe, Couleur Café has sixteen comfortable rooms with large private bathrooms surrounded by beautiful gardens. Each room has comfortable beds and a fireplace, and been attractively decorated. The friendly and helpful staff are always on hand and free Wi-Fi is provided in the restaurant, though it can be patchy.
There is a small restaurant serving traditional Malagasy and French cuisine. The food is very well presented and special diets can be catered for. There is also a small communal lounge area and a small selection of souvenirs available to buy.
Wi-Fi (only in restaurant), private bathrooms, restaurant, lounge, souvenir shop and gardens.
The hotel offers easy access to Antsirabe for independent exploration.
Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.
Fly to Tana on Air France via Paris, or with Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa or Kenya Airways via Nairobi. South African Airways/Airlink also have daily flights between Johannesburg and Antananarivo.
April to December
Are you ATOL Registered?
Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.
This itinerary is one of the best options for experiencing a wide range of Madagascar’s most different landscapes and its most spectacular wildlife whilst minimising internal flights.
If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965
Tour guide was perfect (Excellent++). Attentive and caring. Outstanding person. Became part of the family. Give her an award!!! Local guides very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and pleasant people to be with. Helen’s enthusiastic and sparkling voice was a pleasure to hear on the ‘phone. All questions answered in detail and printed information sent was helpful. You guys really cared. Very attentive in Madagascar and went well. Very pleasant and good driver. No corners cut and a well planned trip with all details covered. Perfect for us. Due to good guides and spotters we saw 16 species of lemurs and plenty of them. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see so many species and so close to us. Marvellous – very emotional. Lemurs are such wonderful gentle creatures. This trip was so well-designed for people like us. I will never forget this trip in my life. What a humbling experience it was. Some time in the future we will be back to see these special animals. In the mean time I look to our video footage of our time with the lemurs of Madagascar. Helen Cox – well done. Your company is at the top of our list.