Trip reference number: ITN-MDG002
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
On this itinerary, we aim to show you as much of Madagascar's exquisite wildlife and habitats as can comfortably fit into a two week trip. The tour takes in a variety of Madagascar's diverse eco-types, from humid rainforest to seasonally dry woods. You visit the enchanting reserves in Madagascar's Eastern Rainforest belt at Andasibe-Mantadia (‘Perinet'), home to the Indri and 11 other lemur species. Then fly north to explore remarkable Ankarana, frequently cited as the one place in Madagascar having that ‘WOW' factor, which is a tough call in this extraordinary island! The 35km fortress-like limestone massif is famed for its pinnacle-fields, sunken deciduous forests and a vast network of caves and underground passages.
A short spell on the tropical north-western coast, provides the perfect relaxing ending after the parks. In season, we can arrange whale-watching and even whale-shark watching excursions for you in the Nosy Be archipelago. Additionally, activities like snorkelling and horse-riding can be arranged on Nosy Be.
***For the purposes of this sample itinerary we use Antoremba Lodge, but on request we can (a) extend the beach section at the end for you and (b) quote with alternative accommodation such as Eden Lodge, Tsara Komba, Sakatia Lodge or Constance Tsarabanjina. Ask us for details
Day 1 Depart in the morning on Air France flight via Paris (Charles de Gaulle) to Antananarivo. On arrival in Antananarivo in the evening you will be met by your tour leader, and assisted with currency exchange. Transferred to the comfortable Relais des Plateaux, just 10 minutes drive away, for a 1-night stay, with breakfast included.
Day 2 After a leisurely breakfast depart with your guide by 4WD vehicle to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (‘Perinet’), an easy 4-hour drive through scenic high plateau countryside to humid rainforests on the eastern escarpment. You’ll be based at Mantadia Lodge OR Vakona Forest Lodge OR Andasibe Hotel, for 3 nights, all meals included. Take an introductory rainforest walk, visit Lemur Island and if you wish, make a night walk in Madagascar’s most visited protected area because of its rich and varied wildlife. Iconic species include the Indri, the largest of all the lemurs, the two-foot long Parson’s chameleon (pictured here, by Mike Unwin) and numerous rainforest-dependent birds.
Day 3 Explore the easy trails of Analamazaotra Special Reserve (‘Perinet’/ Andasibe) - generally there are three activities offered daily in this area: an early morning walk allows for the chance to experience the amazing dawn chorus, when the rainforest is a hive of activity. During the middle part of the day, when the rainforest quietens down, you can relax at the lodge (and swim in spring or summer months), or perhaps go kayaking or horse riding. In the evening your guide will take you to seek nocturnal wildlife in a small patch of rainforest protected by the resident guiding association of VOIMMA.
Day 4 Spend your time exploring the rainforests in Mantadia today. This is about 37km from Andasibe and has narrower trails over steeper slopes. In the rare event that roads to Mantadia are impassable, you can also visit the equally interesting Maromizaha Experimental Reserve which has much the same scenery and fauna. After dark, you will also be taken for a night walk in the rainforest concession that is managed by Association Mitsinjo. (Grading of night walk is easy). In the middle of the day, you may wish to go for some horse-riding (small extra charge, payable locally). Or, visit the Mitsinjo Nurseries and plant an endangered, endemic Malagasy tree as part of the ongoing habitat restoration programme under way here to link up isolated rainforest blocks so as to enable wildlife movement. (Our favourite charity Money for Madagascar is assisting Association Mitsinjo with its commendable work in this area).
Day 5 Enjoy a final guided rainforest walk to seek out species perhaps missed previously. During your visit in this area, we may also be able to facilitate for interested people to see the frog breeding programme managed by Association Mitsinjo - the Andasibe-Mantadia area claims a World record for frog diversity among rainforests of comparable size. Its most iconic but also sadly, gravely endangered frog inhabitants, the Golden mantella (pictured), is now almost impossible to see in the wild. Travel back to Antananarivo after lunch - or if you want to see some sites there, your guide and driver can take you back earlier. (We recommend for example, an inspiring visit to Akany Avoko, again assisted by Money for Madagascar). Stay overnight at Relais des Plateaux with breakfast included. * If you want to experience a fantastic restaurant such as La Varangue, which needs to be pre-booked, let us know and we can make arrangements for you.
Day 6 You will be transferred to Antananarivo airport to check in for the morning Air Madagascar flight to Diego Suarez on the far north coast. There you are met by your guide and driver, who take you to see some endangered Baobabs (the endangered, localised species Adansonia suarenzis as well as the large A. madagascarienses are both found there). Travel southwards to Ankarana Est, where among other formations you can see the Petite Tsingy. These strongly eroded limestone pinnacle fields are a feature of the island’s ‘tsingy’ plateaus, of which there are three protected examples in the western region. Rising up abruptly from the surrounding savannah, Ankarana is a 5km x 20km limestone fortress, which in its labyrinth of caves and sunken forests, protects large populations of often rare and localized wildlife. Stay overnight in Ankarana Lodge, all meals included.
Day 7 Travel around the reserve to Ankarana Ouest, to stay 2 -nights in en suite bungalows at Iharana Bush Camp, with all meals included. The western sector of the special reserve, with its grand tsingy formations, is a place in Madagascar which renowned travel writer Hilary Bradt describes as having the ‘wow’ factor. Here the tsingy formations are far larger, and there are awe inspiring caves and underground rivers.
Day 8 Your guides will take you into the remarkable Ankarana Ouest today. Here you can seek wildlife local to the north-western dry deciduous forests and marvel at the incredible geological formations which include a vast network of caves and subterannean passages. You will also have the chance to visit one of the nearby villages, for a glimpse into the culture of the Antakarana people who live in the region.
Day 9 You will be transferred about 3hrs by road to the seaside town Ankify, where you will be met for the 15 minute speedboat transfer to the delightful, secluded beach gem of Antoremba Lodge, for a 4 night stay with dinner and breakfast included. *If you like, we could arrange a stop at Plantation Millot , where visitors (by prior arrangement) can learn about the production of cacao for high quality Fair Trade chocolates, such as the famed 'Chocolatier Robert'.
Day 10 You will be collected from the lodge after breakfast and taken by road and by boat on an easy-going day trip to Lokobe, the last remaining stand of Sambirano Forest left on Nosy Be. In this highly threatened forest type, rain and deciduous forest types merge and so, it holds its own locally endemic assemblage of wildlife including iconic species such as the endangered Black lemur. Enjoy a traditional lunch at the local Sakalava fishing village after completing the nature trail.
Day 11 You'll be taken on a wonderful day trip to explore the colourful underwater world around the marine reserve Nosy Tanikely, where there are beautiful white sand beaches. On land there are roosting Madagascar fruit ...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
** If you see this next to a price, a specific price in your currency has not been provided, this is an estimated-only price based on a currency conversion, the price you pay may be different to that shown
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