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, as well as the isolated rainforest in the volcanic massif of Montagne d'Ambre, complete with sacred crater lakes, waterfalls and Crowned and Sanford's lemur. Another highlight of the tour is a visit to 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 islands of the balmy Nosy Be archipelago, provides the perfect relaxing ending after the parks.
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 Vakona Forest Lodge for 2 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) with your guides and at night, seek nocturnal wildlife across the road in the rainforest concession managed by the proactive NGO Association Mitsinjo.
Day 4 Visit the lush primary rainforest national park of Mantadia, about 37km north of Andasibe town. This rainforest holds an assemblage of rare birds and mammals not necessarily found in ‘Perinet’. The trails are somewhat steeper and narrower than those in Analamazaotra. In the mid afternoon, travel back to Antananarivo to arrive at dusk and overnight in Relais des Plateaux, with breakfast included.
Day 5 You’ll be collected from your hotel and transferred to Antananarivo airport to check in for the Air Madagascar flight to the far north coastal town Diego Suarez/Antsiranana. On arrival, your guide and driver meet you and take you to the lodge to check in for a 2- night stay in a comfortable room at Litchi Tree OR the Nature Lodge. All meals are included. This afternoon you visit the isolated rainforest-clad national park of Montagne d’Ambre, where the flora and fauna is quite different than that you will previously have seen in the Eastern Rainforests of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, as the two are not connected. The drive time to the entrance near Joffreville is roughly an hour. Montagne d’Ambre is one of Madagascar’s oldest and most scenically beautiful national parks.
Day 6 Today you return to Montagne d’Ambre to seek out more the one of the wildlife unique to the far northern region. Key species include Crowned and Sanford’s lemurs, Panther chameleon and Amber Mountain rock-thrush. The waterfalls and crater lakes make this park especially attractive for photographers.
Day 7 Travel three hours southwards to visit Ankarana Est, where among other formations you can see the Petite Tsingy. Overnight at Ankarana Lodge, with all meals included. 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.
Day 8 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 9 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 10 You will be transferred about 3hrs by road to the seaside town Ankify, where you will be met at noon for the speedboat transfer to Nosy Be, largest of a tropical archipelago off Madagascar's balmy north-west coast. Transfer to Nosy Lodge to stay 3 nights in an en-suite beach bungalow with dinner and breakfast included.
Day 11 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 12 You will be collected from the lodge and taken by speedboat on an excursion to the satellite island of Nosy Tanikely, a reef-ringed marine reserve where snorkelling is wonderful. On the island there are lemurs, a roost of Madagascar flying fox (Fruit bats) and breeding Tropic-birds. Then stop by at Nosy Komba where people come for that 'lemurs on the shoulder' experience with Black lemurs. Lunch is included, at the picnic site under tall trees by the sandy beach.
Day 13 Morning at leisure on Nosy Be. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Antananarivo, where your guide and driver will meet you and take you to back to Le Relais de Plateaux, just 10 minutes drive from the airport, for use of a day room. In the late evening, you will be transferred to the airport for the Air France check-in. (If flying out on Air France)
Day 14 Air France flight from Antananarivo to Paris CDG, where you connect on arrival in the mid morning with the regional flight back to London Heathrow or selected other UK airports, arriving by lunch time.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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