This 18-day tour takes you through multiple national and local parks for an in-depth look at Madagascar’s incredible biodiversity. With an ecology expert as your guide, you can learn about the eighth continent and its endemic species.
Looking for a different way of travelling? Check out our 100% Nature Tour. Don’t worry – there are many hotel stays during that holiday, too! You can always feel free to get in touch so we can help you choose the best tour for you based on your travel preferences and interests.
Landing at Ivato airport in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Welcome or ‘Tonga Soa’! Our driver will bring you to your hotel near the airport, so you can relax and have dinner after your long flight. On the road to the hotel, you will start with overlooking the characteristic rice paddies of the high plateau right away. Your journey begins!
Visa and money exchange upon arrival in the airport
Shuttle from airport to hotel
Hotel: Bois Vert or similar
Today we visit the Andasibe area with Mitsinjo, a local association that takes an integrated approach to conservation in close collaboration with the local communities. They will take us on an afternoon walk in the moist mountain Mitsinjo Reserve, a locally managed area. Mitsinjo will explain and show us the current conservation challenges and their forest restoration programme along a hike, while also enjoying the rich biodiversity. After the forest visit, we will briefly visit Mitsinjo’s amphibian captive breeding centre which is part of the national amphibian conservation strategy that includes tackling a dangerous fungal disease.
Transport Antananarivo – Andasibe (4.5 hours)
Hotel: Eulophiella DP or similar
After a wake-up call by the indri and a nice breakfast, we will do a guided morning visit in the montane rainforest of Andasibe National Park, also called Périnet, to explore Madagascar’s endemics. This forest home to many groups of the indri, currently the largest living lemur species on the island. After a picnic lunch, we will go across the road into the Analamazaotra forest station to look for more biodiversity. If you still have some energy after dinner, in the evening, you can attempt your luck and go on a short night walk to find the nocturnal mouse lemurs and frogs, as well as sleeping chameleons, and leaf-tailed geckos in the vegetation.
Guided visit Andasibe National Park and Analamazaotra forest station
Hotel: Eulophiella DP or similar
Today, we have a long but very colorful journey ahead of us along the National Road 7. First, we will return from the eastern montane rainforest over a winding road to the rice fields of Antananarivo. Southwards from the capital we cross the typical highlands with the small terra-cotta style houses, rice fields in terraces and hills – little Asia in Africa. We stop for lunch in Ambatolampy, considered the coldest Malagasy town at 1500m altitude. Then we make our way to the Malagasy capital of rickshaw in Antsirabe with its colorful markets full of fruits and vegetables, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
Transport Andasibe – Antsirabe (7-8 hours)
Lunch at Au Rendez-Vous des pecheurs in Ambatolampy
Hotel: Vatolahy, Antsirabe or similar
Another long ride today, passing Ambositra, famous for its Zafimaniry wood sculptures where we will make a short stop. The final stretch of the road will take us to Ranomafana, known in the old days for its hot springs, but in the last two decades it is more renowned for its 40,000 ha national park of mid-altitude rainforest with an incredible and unrivaled diversity of endemic fauna and flora. There are 12 lemur-, 115 bird-, 58 reptile-, 98 amphibian-, 90 butterfly- and over 200 spider species to discover along with lush plant diversity to admire. No wonder that in 2007 Ranomafana was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will have two full days to enjoy here. Depending on the timing, we might do a short walk in Vohiparara before checking into our hotel.
Transport Antsirabe – Ranomafana (5-6 hours)
Short hike mid afternoon Vohiparara
Hotel: Ny Tanana hotel in Ranomafana
Today we will hike the Varibolomena circuit in Talatakely, the secondary forest close to the research station. This forest has lots of bamboo and the invasive guava species, but nevertheless is a prime habitat for three different bamboo lemur species, red-fronted and red-bellied lemurs and Milne Edward’s sifaka, as well as numerous birds and hopefully we can also find the peculiar giraffenecked weevil. Afterwards, we will visit the ValBio Research Centre (CVB) a unique research and conservation center that works in close collaboration with Madagascar National Parks for over 26 years. CVB facilitates research and manages numerous projects including development, reforestation and biodiversity monitoring. Their main aim is to improve the health and well-being of Malagasy people while safeguarding the surrounding ecosystem and its biodiversity.
Guided hike Varibolomena circuit in Talatakely
Visit to ValBio Research Centre
Hotel: Ny Tanana hotel in Ranomafana
Today is reserved for a more strenuous 15 km hike to explore the Varijatsy primary forest with characteristic plants, lemurs, the black and white ruffed lemurs, as well as other animals. We might be accompanied by leeches for part of the trail, but the challenge is well worth it. We will be treated to a lush plant life, take a swim in a natural pool and enjoy beautiful scenery.
Guided hike Varijatsy 15km trail
Hotel: Ny Tanana hotel in Ranomafana
Early in the morning we will drive onto our next destination, Andringitra, home of the spirits. On the way we will pass by Fianarantsoa, the Betsileo capital with its 1001 churches. Our main visit of this morning is the Anja community reserve, a 30-ha private reserve. The reserve was created in 2001 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme to help preserve the local environment and wildlife, and to provide additional employment and income to the local community.
This community-run model really works well and nicely demonstrates how conservation tourism supports sustainable livelihoods with benefits for both biodiversity and the people. The reserve is home to the highest concentration of ring-tailed lemurs. The lemurs live in the sheltered forest that has established between the vast boulders. We will have lunch there and continue our journey.
The road towards Andringitra National Park sets the scene as the magnificent granite landscape becomes visible on the horizon. This is one of Madagascar best kept secrets with only 1000 visitors per year, managed by Madagascar National Parks. The park offers some of the most scenic trekking in Madagascar. We lodge at the comfortable tented Tsara Camp in the middle of the Tsaranoro valley of dreams with spectacular views on the mountain range marking the beginning of Andringitra National Park. An experience you will never forget!
Transport Ranomafana – Andringitra (+/- 4 hours)
Guided visit and lunch in Anja community reserve
Hotel: Tsara Camp or similar.
The Diavolana circuit is a strenuous yet rewarding full-day hike (10h) that will take us through wild meadows of flowers, and orchids to a lunar landscape with blocks of granite with amazing shapes and lichen carpets everywhere. It is a land made of narrow valleys, high cliffs, streams and waterfalls. The pace of walking is peaceful, but you must be ready to walk hilly tracks, steep slopes, and some harder but non-technical passages. At the highest point, 2100m, there’s a rock slab that serves as a convenient picnic spot and offers an excellent viewing point to spot the ring-tailed lemurs on the opposite cliffs, who have adapted to living in this high-altitude colder habitat. This hike can only be done if the weather conditions allow for it.
There is the alternative to do the half-day circuit Asaramanitra instead which gives you a good flavor on the peculiar granite landscape as well. Both hikes include the sacred queen and king waterfalls, which tumble 300m down the escarpment. On the second day we will select a shorter exploratory walk to discover the floral diversity, swim in a natural pool or just wander around and shoot images in the granite topped savannah in the Tsaranoro valley or just relax in the Tsara campsite surroundings.
We continue our journey at lunch time and have picnic on the bus while driving southwards to the Ranohira village, located near the Isalo National Park, Madagascar’s Far West. We end our day at La Fenêtre, a popular rock window that frames the sunset, while the surrounding views of the sweeping plains and rock formation turns golden.
Guided hikes on both days in Andringitra
Overnight at Tsara Camp or similar in Andringitra.
Transport Andringitra – Ranohira (4,5 hours)
Hotel: Rock Lodge in Ranohira
Today we visit the Isalo National Park, covering 80,000 hectares consisting of sandstone rocks cut by deep canyons and eroded into weird shapes. In these canyons local wildlife inhabits the gallery forests that form corridors along small streams. The ring-tailed lemur, Verreaux sifaka and the brown lemur are commonly sighted along with birds and chameleons in the Canyon des Makis and Canyon des Rats. After a BBQ picnic lunch, depending on the group’s preference we can walk the short but scenic Namaza trail along another canyon or go to the magnificent natural swimming pool where you can relax and take a refreshing swim. Around sunset we will visit the Soa Zara tree planting project, run by a local association to restore forests beyond park limits and to provide energy resources for the local population.
BBQ picnic lunch
Guided day visit in Isalo National Park
Visit the Soa Zara forest planting project
Hotel: Rock lodge in Ranohira
We take an early start today and leave Ranohira to get some morning hours in the Zombitse
Vohibasia National Park, a birders paradise. The baobabs along the road indicate we are entering
a much drier area. Zombitse Vohibasia is an isolated pocket of transitional forest between the
Western and Southern Domains, that was saved from severe deforestation. The surrounding area is
a denuded semi-desert landscape following slash and burn agricultural practices. Nevertheless, this
relic forest shelters an astounding 90 recorded bird species, of which 38 species are endemic based
on which this location qualifies as an Important Bird Area. We stop here for a 2-hour easy hike to
explore its richness and look for endemic species. After our picnic lunch we continue to the city of
Tulear where you will have the late afternoon free to relax or explore the city.
– Transport Ranohira – Zombitse ( 1.30 hours)
– Guided visit Zombitse Vohibasia National Park
– Picnic lunch
– Transport Zombitse-Tulear ( 2.30 hours)
– Overnight at Hyppocampo in Tulear
On day 13 we leave Tulear by boat and go southwards to the Lalandaka Ecolodge, a haven of tranquillity, white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, where you have the rest of the day to enjoy daily scenes of vezo canoes sailing by, enjoy sunset, go for a swim, organise a dive, visit the fisherman’s village or go for a stroll along the beach.
We start day 14 really early to avoid the heat and drive southwards to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, part of the spiny desert of southern Madagacsar. Spiny forest is known for it very high level of endemic plant species and considered one of the most important ecosystems worldwide due to its uniqueness. There are even endemic plant families, such as the Didiereaceae, but the park is also home to the endemic radiated tortoise and Grandidier’s mongoose. The park is named after its lake, registered as a RAMSAR wetland of international importance; which is an important breeding and feeding area for flamingos. After a picnic lunch we return back to the lodge.
On day 15, if weather conditions allow, we will do a half-day excursion to the small island of Nosy Ve. It is home to the only breeding colony of red-tailed tropicbirds on Madagascar. These white seabirds are like angels of the sky and very photogenic.The tiny island is also surrounded by beautiful coral reefs where we will snorkel. We will enjoy a picnic on the beach before heading back to the Ecolodge.
Boat ride Tulear – Anakao
Return drive Anakao – Tsimanampetsosa (4 hours)
Guided visit Tsimanampetsotsa with picnic lunch
Boat ride Anakao – Nosy Ve
Nosy Ve excursion, mask and snorkel included
Hotel: Ecolodge Lalandaka
On day 16, we take an early boat ride back to Tulear, from where we drive northwards to Mangily, Ifaty. Along the way we visit the Honko Community-Based Mangrove Reserve, an important wetland and mangrove area. The site was created by an NGO, who decided to restore the mangroves by working closely with local communities. We go on a 2-hour guided tour to observe the mangrove species and several rare birds. We continue our journey up along the coast and stop in Mangily, our final destination. You have the afternoon and the following day free to visit Reniala to see more spiny forest, or the Turtle Village, a sanctuary for land turtles or go sailing with a Vezo cano, or just relax, swim or read a book.
Boatride Anakao to Tulear (1-1,5 hours)
Transport Tulear – Honko – Ifaty (1,5 hours)
Guided visit Honko Mangrove Reserve
Hotel: Solidaire Mangily
Today, depending on your inland flight schedule, you will be transferred back to the airport of Tulear. There, you will take your return flight to Antananarivo. Upon arrival in the capital, you will be transferred to a hotel near the airport for a day-use. Afterwards, you will be taken to the international Ivato airport and will leave Madagascar with, hopefully, some unforgettable memories!
Shuttle from hotel to Tulear Airport
National flight Tulear-Tana
Mora Travel dedicates itself to organizing ‘sustainable’ trips to Madagascar every day. Sustainability is very important to us! By organizing these trips, we believe our travelers can experience Madagascar and enjoy everything that the country has to offer. And because you are traveling with us, we can contribute to preserving biodiversity and endemicity and giving local people in Madagascar a real chance.
Madagascar is not an easy destination to promote sustainable tourism as the logistics in remote areas are often very basic, the options are limited, and many resources are hard to get by. There aren’t always sustainable options, but wherever possible we opt for the most sustainable choice. Nevertheless, we do promote responsible travel to lessen our negative impact on our destination as much as possible.
This means we work together with partners that are environmentally conscious (renewable energy, sustainable waste management) while also looking after the social and economic wellbeing of the local people. We give preference to local Malagasy accommodations, businesses or for example parks that employ local staff under good conditions, that use mainly local products and/or are engaged in community initiatives. This means that the hotels during the trip are a real mix of very simple and luxury hotels depending on the criteria mentioned above.
We also contribute to reforestation. To compensate for the carbon dioxide emissions of all tourists who travel with us, we plant trees. The purpose of planting trees is to house animals, because they have less and less place to live because of deforestation. We still have a long way to go, but we feel that making this a choice and communicating this to our partners will help create a larger sustainable tourism community in the long run.