12 days from £2995pp plus international flights.
An introduction to the diverse landscapes and wildlife of eastern Madagascar including time to relax at a lovely beach lodge. For those with limited time this is a great way to experience the essence of Madagascar.
From Tana you drive east past hilltop villages and cultivated land until you reach the lush forests of Andasibe. A night walk is one of the best ways to experience this environment as you listen to calls of frogs, and, as your eyes become accustomed to the darkness, watch out for chameleons and lemurs. This is quintessential Madagascar! You also explore by day in neighbouring Mantadia Park, known for its 14 species of lemur including the indri with its haunting cry, and exotic orchids.
On to the coast and the Pangalanes Canal, a series of natural lagoons linked by man-made channels. You take all this as you enjoy a boat trip, passing traditional villages and dugout canoes, till you arrive at the remote Palmarium. By day you discover the local flora and fauna and after dark you visit the nearby island in search of aye ayes. These small nocturnal lemurs live in trees and are notoriously elusive, but your guide is an expert and you have excellent chances of seeing them here.
After a busy few days you board the flight to Ile Sainte Mare and a change of pace. This tropical reef-fringed island has beautiful beaches, mangroves, and lush hinterland teeming with wildlife. Your beachfront lodge is the epitome of barefoot luxury, and your spacious villa with its terrace and private garden is perfect. Watersports, boat trips and island tours vie for your time alongside spa visits, delicious cuisine and relaxed beach time. It’s just as well you have 3 full days here, before flying back to Tana.
Welcome to Madagascar! On arrival at the international airport in Antananarivo you will be met and transferred to your first night hotel, Maison Gallieni. The hotel is perched on hill with views overlooking the city. Once you've had a chance to relax, there will be an opportunity to take a tour of the Old City and Upper Town as you ease yourself into your Madagascan adventure and admire the buildings and architecture as you explore the cobbled streets. Later you can enjoy a swim in the hotel pool or relax with a massage.
After breakfast you will be collected and embark on the journey to the eastern part of the island. The drive will be about 3.5 hours as we cover 150km. We will pay a visit to the Peyrieras Butterfly Farm, home to a variety of butterflies but also a collection of chameleons, frogs, iguanas and geckos, along with habituated Sifaka and Common Brown lemurs. The landscapes vary as you travel through the highlands with small traditional villages perched on the hillside giving way rice fields. The twisty steep roads and the lush vegetation heralds your arrival into another region of the Island. Andasibe, known for its national park, and lush primary and secondary rainforest. There will be an opportunity to explore the Viomma Reserve after dark seeking out various nocturnal creatures by torchlight. Breakfast.
After a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day we’ll head off to explore Mantadia Park, about an hour away. The park is rich in bird and wildlife with over 108 species of bird recorded here and also 14 species of lemurs including the Indri Indri, the largest of the lemurs and also the smallest, the mouse lemur . Make sure you bring your walking shoes as there are some steep slopes to be negotiated and some dense vegetation. Later on we’ll be able to explore the Vakona reserve, have your camera at the ready to get some up-close shots of brown lemurs, bamboo lemurs, ruffed lemurs and sifakas – this is lemur heaven. Breakfast.
An early start will make the most of the day as we move to our next destination via the Analamazaotra Special Reserve in search of the Indri Indri and we are sure to see other lemurs, birds and chameleons along the way.
As we leave the highlands, you will notice a change of scenery and architecture. We should reach Lake Rasoabe in about 3.5 hours where we board a speed boat and navigate the channel to the Palmarium observing the daily life of the local fisherman and villagers whose livelihood revolves around this stretch of water.
In the afternoon there’s time for a visit to Aye-aye Island. A traditional dugout canoe, a pirogue, will be your transportation. We’ll have about an hour to explore and look for these intriguing animals before returning to the hotel. Breakfast.
Today lends itself perfectly to exploring the area and immersing yourself in daily Malagasy life with a visit to the local village. It’s also an opportunity to visit the Palmarium Reserve where you may discover around 10 different lemur species, enjoy this piece of natural paradise. The flora here is quite exceptional too with orchids, mahogany and voyager trees and the rarest Madagascan palm trees.
If you were unsuccessful in finding the mysterious Aye-aye yesterday, there will be another opportunity to visit Aye-aye Island this afternoon, alternatively, you can spend your afternoon at leisure. Breakfast.
Today's transfer is by boat. You navigate along the Pangalanes Channel up to Toamasina, the largest port in Madagascar. It's a journey of around 2.5 hours. Once you arrive at the port someone will be there to meet you and transfer you to your hotel, and you can spend the rest of the day relaxing. Breakfast.
You will be transferred to the airport for your short flight to Sainte Marie for some sun, sand and relaxation. On arrival on the island, you will be met and driven to Princesse Bora Lodge and Spa. Here you can unpack, relax and unwind. Why not take a wander along the beach at sunset before returning to the lodge for dinner. Breakfast, dinner.
From June to September one of the main attractions on Sainte Marie Island are the humpback whales that come to these calm waters to breed and calve. Whale watching tours can be arranged. You would leave early and spend the day observing the whales, you’ll learn how to spot individuals and hopefully they’ll reward you with some breaching and tail sailing. You’ll return in time for a sunset drink and dinner. You will return at 1730 - just in time for a sunset drink! Breakfast and dinner.
Why not spend the day relaxing day at the beach, soaking up the essence of Madagascar. Ile aux Nattes, a small secluded island to the south of Sainte Marie, has stunning beaches fringed with palms where you could easily while away some time and take dips in the azure ocean. This really is a taste of paradise. Breakfast and dinner.
There is more to Sainte Marie than might initially meet the eye. In addition to sunbathing and watersports, it is also home to lush forests, coastal dunes, mangroves and in turn this is where plentiful wildlife resides. Gentle hikes on foot, by bike or pirogue are the perfect way to seek out colourful orchids, endearing lemurs, tropical birds, geckoes and chameleons. You could also 'shiver your timbers' with a visit to the pirate cemetary, for a glimpse into the island's infamous past. At one point some 1,000 pirates including William Kidd were reputed to live here, and this cemetrary is their lasting memorial. Breakfast, dinner.
After breakfast by the beach it is time to bid your island paradise goodbye, travelling by plane back to Tana. You are met on arrival and driven to your overnight hotel, Relais des Plateaux. The remainder of the day is at leisure. You may opt to do some last minute exploring in Tana or simply enjoy the hotel facilities which include a heated outdoor swimming pool, sunbathing deck and restaurant. Breakfast.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Later you are transferred the short distance to the airport for your flight back home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £2995 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: 2017 guide price pp sharing, from: March-April £3480. 1-8 May and July-September £3195. 9 May-June and October £2995. November and December £3550.
Meet and greet at Antananarivo on day 1; transfers amd transport as specified in a private vehicle with a driver; domestic flights Toamasina-Ile Sainte Marie and Ils Sainte Marie-Antananativo in economy class; 11 nights twin share accommodation; meals as specified; activities as specified; entrance and guiding fees when visiting sites and parks listed in the itinerary
International flights and taxes; visas; travel insuarnce; meals not specified; drinks; items of a personal nature; tips; optional activities
Getting there: This holiday starts and ends in Antananarivo (Tana). Return flights from the UK cost from around £800 per person, depending on season and availability. We usually book these flights for you.
This is a popular tourist destination, easily accessible from Tana all year round, and a good place to spot a variety of lemurs including Indri, the world’s largest lemur.
A well equipped city hotel with an indoor pool, dining terrace and attractive rooms and suites.
An elegant 19th building overlooking Tana, with 4 guest rooms, attractive finishings, a garden and a pool.
A lovely beachfront hotel with a welcoming atmopshere on the unspoilt island of Ile Sainte Marie.
Just a few minutes drive from the airport in Tana, this modern hotel is ideal before or after a flight.
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Find the best time to visit Madagascar
Time: GMT +3 hours
Flight time: Flights from Europe to Madagascar take about 10/11 hours.
Language: Malagasy and French are Madagascar's official languages. English or German is spoken by a municipal workers and guides.A basic working knowledge of French will make communication easier.
Visas: Most nationalities require a Madagascar visa, obtainable from the High Commission in London (or on arrival into International Airport.
Health: Malaria is present in most of the country. No vaccinations are compulsory.