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.
Tana to Andasibe
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 150 km. You 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.
After a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day you'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, 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.
To Akanin'ny Nofy
An early start will make the most of the day as you move to your next destination via the Analamazaotra Special Reserve in search of the Indri and you are sure to see other lemurs, birds and chameleons along the way. As you leave the highlands, you will notice a change of scenery and architecture. You should reach Lake Rasoabe in about 3.5 hours where you 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. You'll have about an hour to explore and look for these intriguing animals before returning to the hotel.
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.
Akinin'ny Nofy to Toamasina
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 2½ 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.
Toamasina to Sainte Marie
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.
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!
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.
There is more to Sainte Marie than might initially meet the eye. In addition to sunbathing and water sports, 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, geckos and chameleons. You could also 'shiver your timbers' with a visit to the pirate cemetery, 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 cemetery is their lasting memorial.
Sainte Marie to Tana
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.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Later you are transferred the short distance to the airport for your flight back home.
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