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Essence of Madagascar

10 days from £1615pp plus international flights.

Madagascar is a vast country with so much to see and do that it's almost overwhelming. We feel this holiday is the perfect introduction. It takes in towns, villages, national parks and the coast, and showcases the varied flora and fauna and diverse cultures. All in 10 days, yet with time to relax along the way. 

Your adventure begins with a tour of the old city of Antananarivo (Tana for short),  taking in historic houses, palaces and churches before you had out of the city. From here you'll be bowled over by the sheer scale of this island. The high central plateau is lush and fertile, with photogenic terraced rice fields. Further south you'll enter rainforest, tree-covered hills and cascading waterfalls. You'll have guided walks in Ranomafana, Isalo and Zombitse national parks, all rich in flora and fauna. You'll see more species of lemurs than you knew existed, become an expert at spotting chameleons, learn to tell your geckos apart and enjoy watching all manner of reptiles. Not to mention the birds. Then you have time to relax at a lovely lodge by the beach, where you can rest and reminisce over all that you've seen and done on the past week.

You'll have your own driver and a modern, air conditioned vehicle, which means you can take journeys at your own pace, choosing when and where you to stop en-route. Distances are large: there's no getting away from the fact that Madagascar is BIG! But along the way you can watch skilled craftsmen at work, observe daily life and stroll around villages. Hotels and lodges provide comfortable, good quality accommodation and warm hospitality. 

Stunning scenery, unique wildlife and friendly people - this really is the essence of Madagascar.

It is possible use alternative hotels and lodges to lower the price of this holiday if you wish. Please contact us for details.

View of Tana city


You arrive at the international airport in Antananarivo where you are met and transferred to your first night hotel, Maison Gallieni. The hotel is on hill overlooking the city, Relax after your flight, enjoy a swim in the pool or relax with a massage. This is the start of your Madagascan adventure!  

The Rova in Tana


After breakfast you have a guided tour of the old city and upper town of Tana, including a visit to the Rova, the queen's palace. You also see some colonial residences and churches, and Malagasy houses built entirely of wood. Leaving the city behind you travel along RN7 towards Antsirabe. Break the journey at Ambatolampy with a visit to a traditional aluminium foundry producing cooking pots. The drive continues into the highlands, passing villages and farms, to Antsirabe and Couleur Cafe where you spend the night. Breakfast



This morning you head south across the highlands, with a possible stop at a gemstone workshop before arriving in Ambositra, a well known centre for woodcarving. The local Zafimaniry community have been associated with forestry and carpentry as well as carving since the 18th century and today produce beautiful furniture and statues with distinctive and intricate motifs. After this stop and lunch, your journey continues to Ranomafana. Having settled in to your hotel you are taken out for a night walk in the rainforest, to spot frogs, chameleons and lemurs, an introduction to the fascinating wildlife of Madagascar. Breakfast 



Today you visit the forest in daylight. The lush plants are home to 12 species of lemur including the golden bamboo, greater bamboo, white ruffed and Milne-Edwards sifaka, as well as large numbers of reptiles. Bird life is similarly profuse with well over 100 species recorded. Look out, too, for tenrecs, small mammals, looking like a cross between a hedgehog and a shrew. The diversity of plant and animal life cannot fail to impress. Later you return to the your hotel. Breakfast  

Ring-tailed lemurs


After breakfast you depart Ranomafana for the drive to Ambalavao, where you tour a factory making paper embellished with plants and flowers. Known as Antemoro paper after the early Arab settlers who first produced it, this in now popular around the globe. You also spend time at the Anja Community Reserve, a nature reserve managed by the local community where there are excellent chances of observing ring-tailed lemurs. The day's drive concludes at Isalo Rock Lodge, your home for the next 2 nights. Breakfast, dinner

Natural pool in Isalo National Park


It's time to explore! You set off on a hike in Isalo National Park led by a park ranger, to see its deep canyons, rugged gorges, tumbling waterfalls and strange rock formations. It's superb walking territory, with chances to enjoy panoramic views and to cool off in natural rock pools. There are lemurs here and you may see sifakas, ring-tailed and brown lemurs, as well as numerous birds and reptiles. At the end of your visit you return to the hotel for a shower and change of clothes before dinner. Breakfast, dinner



You follow the RN7 as it leads south west through villages and on to Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park where you walk through deciduous forest and have views of mighty baobab trees and exotic orchids. This is good lemur-spotting territory (8 species), and there are a great many species of birds, reptiles and amphibians so there is plenty to see during your walk. Back in the vehicle you travel to the coast and your hotel overlooking the Mozambique Channel. Tonight you dine in the restaurant where you can enjoy local cuisine and some succulent seafood. Breakfast, dinner



Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before setting out for a walk in nearby Renaila Reserve. In this private reserve you can explore the spiny forest, terrain unique to this region of the Madagascar. There are also many ancient baobabs. There are over 60 species of birds here, as well as lemurs and chameleons. You are then taken back to the hotel and have the afternoon free to relax, rest by the pool, and enjoy a drink at the bar while enjoying views of the sea. Breakfast, dinner   

Sunrise at Les Dunes d'Ifaty


After breakfast by the beach you leave the coast, 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. Hotel facilities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, sunbathing deck and restaurant. Breakfast  

Madagascar from space


Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Later you are transferred the short distance to the airport for your flight back home. Breakfast 

Price & Dates

Guide price from (pp sharing): £1615 (ex. international flights)

Price notes: 2019 guide prices pp sharing: Jun from £1615. Oct 2019 from £1670. Mar, Apr & Dec 2019 from £1999. May, Jul, Sep, Nov from £2039


Accommodation on a twin-share basis; breakfast from day 2 to day 11; transport in a private air conditioned 4x4 vehicle with driver; local guides in national parks and reserves; entry fees for parks mentioned in the itinerary.


International flights and taxes; visas; travel insurance; meals not specified; drinks; tips; laundry; optional excursions; items of a personal nature.

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 are happy to book flights for you.

Departure dates: This is a tailor made holiday that runs from March to December. It can begin on the day of your choice, subject to availability.

places you will see

places you will see

Tana is the busy capital and site of the international airport. There are some fine churches, cobbled streets and busy markets to be explored.
Isalo landscape
Isalo National Park

The impressive canyons, strange rock formations, dramatic gorges, waterfalls and wildlife including lemurs attract visitors year round, making this one of the most popular parks in Madagascar.

Ranomafana National Park sign
Ranomafana National Park

This superb area of indigenous forest is where the critically endangered golden bamboo lemur was discovered in 1986.

Central Plateau
Madagascar’s central area is a region of hills, mountains, rivers, valleys, and ”¦ rice paddies. Get an insight into Madagascan life and also enjoy some small parks.
Ifaty, Madagascar
Tulear (Toliara), Ifaty and surrounds

Ifaty is a resort on the southwest coast just north of the town of Tulear. Come to this area to see spiny forest (with baobabs) and migrating whales, and for time on the beach.

customer rating

5/5 from 7 reviews

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Find the best time to visit Madagascar

facts and information

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.


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