This individual, tailor-made tour presents a superb choice for those who want to experience an unrivalled selection of dramaticically scenic geological features: few island combinations anywhere can beat the splendour of an active volcano (Piton de la Fournaise in Reunion) followed by exploration of utterly bizarre pinnacle fields ('tsingy') of Ankarana in northern Madagascar.
Thanks to Air Austral, visitors can fly from the UK via Paris CDG to Reunion and from there, on to Nosy Be which is an ideal access point or hub for Northern Madagascar.
In Reunion, a self-drive trip will take you to two of its three magnificent natural amphitheaters or 'Cirques'. Additionally, you can appreciate the contrast between its humid east coast's black volcanic beaches and the white sand beaches of its drier west coast.
An unforgettable highlight in Reunion is a helicopter flip over this rugged island: these are operated in the early mornings from St Gilles-les-Baines (or St Pierre) and are a thrilling experience!.
From Reunion, fly to Nosy Be where you stay overnight before setting off by speedboat to the Malagasy mainland and traveling inland to the extraordinary limestone massif of Ankarana, the 'Lost World Within A Lost World'. Here, spend two days exploring pinnacle-fields, awe inspiring caves and sunken forests for rare wildlife.
Afterwards, travel to sublime Eden Lodge at Baobab Beach for a relaxing break at one of Madagascar's finest beaches.
Day 1 Fly from London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) with Air France to Paris CDG, where you check in on arrival for the overnight Air Austral flight to Reunion.
Day 2 On arrival in Reunion you will be welcomed and assisted with obtaining your hire car. Drive to the lush northern amphitheatre Cirque de Salazie to stay overnight in the recently revamped Relais des Cimes with breakfast included. Spend the balance of the day exploring Hell-Bourge, voted as one of the most picturesque French villages.
Day 3 Drive to St Anne to stay overnight in Diana Dea Lodge. (On your arrival in Reunion you'll be handed a comprehensive and informative manual with plenty of suggestions for sightseeing - there is an abundance of attractions packed into this island).
Day 4 Enjoy further sightseeing at your own pace today on the way to La Plaine des Cafres, where you stay overnight in Les Geraniums.
Day 5 In the early morning, drive to Pas de Bellecombe. Leave your hire car at the parking lot for the hike into the crater of Piton de la Fournaise (Peak of the Furnace), one of the world's most active volcanoes. This is a primal experience!. Then drive to Cilaos where you stay two nights in Le Vieux Cep, a long-standing favourite with our clientele . Breakfast included.
Day 6 There are some lovely trails to choose from in scenic Cirque de Cilaos. These vary in length and in grading. For those who enjoy Spa treatments, a visit to Irenee Accot Spa just outside the town, is worthwhile.
Day 7 Leave the mountains by driving along a pass famed for its 200 hairpin bends, to the coast. Drive to the relaxed seaside village of St-Gilles-les-Baines for a two night stay in Le Boucan Canot, again a perennial favourite with our clients. Weather here is usually sunny and warm, so it makes for the ideal end point to a Reunion circuit.
Day 8 The highlight of your trip to Reunion is a helicopter flip. These thrilling and unforgettable excursions allow people the chance to see places in this rugged island which are inaccessible by road and allow for the opportunity to truly appreciate the dramatic scenery. As part of the excursion, you fly over the Cirques, (Mafate has no roads so could otherwise be seen only on foot); the beautiful forests of Bebour and Belouve, the Indian Ocean's highest mountain (Piton des Neiges) and the volcano Piton de la Fournaise. Balance of the day to relax at St Gilles-les-Baines.
Day 9 Drive to Roland Garros international airport to return your hire car and check in for the Air Austral flight to Nosy Be, off Madagascar's balmy and tropical north-western coast. On arrival, transfer to Nosy Lodge to stay overnight on a half board basis.
Day 10 After breakfast, transfer to Nosy Be port for the speedboat transfer (45min) to Ankify on the Malagasy mainland. Here your guide and your driver meet you and transfer you 4 hours inland to Ankarana Ouest, where you stay for two nights in Iharana Bush Camp with all meals included. The lodge offers a superb range of activities including a walk to see the Tsingy (limestone pinnacle formations) and some spectacular caves; pirogue trips and visits to nearby villages.
Day 11 Your guides will take you on some of the circuits in this remarkable limestone massif, aptly described by guidebook guru Hilary Bradt as a 'Lost World Within the Lost World'. Overnight at Iharana Bush Camp with all meals included.
Day 12 Depart after breakfast back to Ankify where you say goodbye to your guide and driver. Take the speedboat transfer from here to the multi award-winning Eden Lodge, to stay 6 nights in an East African Meru-styled tented en-suite room with all meals and various non-motorised activities included.
Day 13 Baobab Beach, where this secluded lodge is located, is remote and accessible only by speedboat. The lodge has only 8 rooms (two of which are twin) so has an intimate ambience.
Day 14 North-western Madagascar's 'Sambirano' region has the country's most benevolent climate, so weather should be warm to hot and tropical with pleasant nights.
Day 15 Included in the rates of Eden Lodge, are locally guided day and night walks during which guests can explore the woods around the lodge. Among its inhabitants are the endangered Black lemur, which often ventures into the gardens in the afternoons. You can also see iconic reptiles like Panther chameleon and in terms of marine wildlife, most guests spot Green turtles while snorkelling or swimming.
Day 16 Many rate the beach at Eden Lodge as one of Madagascar's finest. Swimming is safe and pods of dolphin are often sighted. Snorkelling is offered and the lodge works in conjunction with an accredited diving operation in Nosy Be (diving can be arranged through reception, payable locally).
Day 17 A variety of day trips can be arranged at the lodge (payable locally) - these include visits to Nosy Be's satellite island of Nosy Tanikely (an uninhabited marine reserve island around which there are wonderful, healthy coral reefs so snorkelling is superb.
Day 18 You will be transferred to Nosy Be airport to check in for the Air Austral flight from Nosy Be back to Reunion. Connect here with the Air Austral overnight flight back to Paris CDG.
Day 19 On arrival in the morning off the Air Austral flight from Paris CDG, connect with the Air France flight to London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports).
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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