On this 14-day tour, we’ll explore the popular National Road while diving deeper into local culture and communities. Learn about local conservation projects, endemic wildlife, diverse landscapes, and enjoy cultural exchanges with communities here in Madagascar. Experience so much more with our local guides and contacts all around this wondrous island nation.
Ready to explore even more? You might like our Off the Beaten Track 21-day tour. We’re always happy to help you choose the right tour itinerary for you. Feel free to contact us to chat about your travel preferences and interests and we’ll advise you on the best way to experience Madagascar.
Transfer: Airport – hotel
Accommodations: Chez Jeanne or similar
Today will be devoted to visiting the Vohimana reserve. Spot the indri and the other animals in the heart of the forest corridor in eastern Madagascar, where the charm of biodiversity of flora and fauna of the Vohimana reserve is evident.
Accommodations: Le relais du naturaliste ecolodge
Transfer: Fiadanana – Ranomafana (5 hours)
Accommodations: Valbio Center
Today is reserved for a visit to the Ranomafana National Park where you have the option to participate in walks from 2-6 hours. In the past, Ranomafana was best-known for its hot springs, but in the last two decades, the focus has shifted to the national park. The park covers an area of about 40,000 hectares of mid-altitude rainforest with an incredible and unrivaled diversity of endemic flora and fauna. Here, you will find 12 lemurs, 115 birds, 58 reptiles, 98 amphibians, 90 butterflies, and more than 200 species of spiders living in this lush plant diversity. For that very reason, Ranomafana was included in the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites in 2007.
Here we are hosted by Centre ValBio (CVB), a unique research and conservation centre that has worked 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.
If you wish, you can also visit a silk workshop run by women surrounding the village during your stay.
Accommodations: ValBio Centre or similar
After an early breakfast, you will be driven to the next destination in Fianarantsoa, the capital of Betsileo with 1001 churches (1.5 hours’ drive). This is a remarkable old town that appears on the list of world heritage sites. The city is surrounded by vineyards and the only tea plantation of Madagascar. The shape of the landscape necessitates the growth of rice on terraces of different levels.
On arrival, you will be taken to Ecole Hoteliere La Rizière, a hotel school that enables young people to learn the necessary skills suitable for the requirements of the hotel industry. They can choose between learning to be a cook in the kitchen, room service, bartender, and reception desk attendant. A high-quality hotel-restaurant, backed by the hotel school, offers students a place to practice under actual conditions, which enhances their chances of finding suitable employment on completion of the training.
In the afternoon, we suggest you visit the social enterprise of Karenjy, where you can see a project of the collection and treatment of waste, the collection and treatment of secondhand clothes, and the place where the Malagasy car Mazana II is produced. This social enterprise can really stimulate a part of the Malagasy economy. What do you think about this local car? Let us know!
Transfer: Ranomafana – Fianarantsoa (1.5 hours)
Accommodations: Ecole Hoteliere la Riziere
Today, you will be driven to Ranohira, some 250 kilometres away, which will take about 4.5 hours. After about one hour’s drive, a few minutes after passing Ambalavao, we will stop for a visit to the private lemur park called Anja Park.
This reserve is managed by the local community and has many cultural and historical remnants. The fauna is adequately represented by a large colony of maki lemurs (about 300, whereas they were almost extinct 20 years ago!) as well as many birds and chameleons. The royal carp bounces in the water. The view from a rocky promontory is amazing…a breath of fresh air!
After this visit, you will get back into the car headed for Ranohira, a village located near the Isalo National Park. The landscape will get drier along the way until you pass an almost steppe-like area, before arriving at the beautiful mountains of the Isalo Massif.
Transfer: Fianarantsoa – Ranohira (4.50 hours)
Accommodations: ITC hotel
This day is dedicated to visiting Isalo National Park, a park covering 80,000 hectares and 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 seen, along with birds and chameleons in the Canyon des Makis and Canyon des Rats. You can also take the short Namaza trail that takes you along a scenic route to a magnificent natural swimming pool where you can just relax and swim.
The ITC Lodge is engaged in a reforestation project via an Association called Soa Zara. We will visit and contribute by planting a few trees ourselves.
Not even 50 years ago, there were small patches of primary forest surrounding the base of Isalo National Park. Unfortunately, all of those trees have been cut recently and we are left with barren landscape leading into the deep gorges and rocky cliffs. However, Soa Zara is working to change this reality by creating a natural forest outside of the park. With a small patch of community-run land, the association is actively planting trees and offering visitors the chance to partake in doing good for the future of their local environment.
Soa Zara is building this natural forest in order to provide energy resources for the local population, to offer sanctuary to lemur species, and to redevelop the badly-damaged topsoil.
Accommodations: ITC Lodge or similar
We start early today, leaving Ranohira to go to the coastal town of Tulear (4 hours’ drive), which is at the end of National Road RN7. The first baobab trees along the road present a good indication that we are entering a much drier area.
After passing Tulear, we will continue in a northerly direction for about 30 minutes to the coastal village of Ifaty/Mangily, well known for its beautiful beach. You may like to visit the botanical garden of the city and have lunch there. Another option would be to visit the Honko Mangrove, which is on the road to Ifaty, but please check with the driver early in the morning if the visit is possible because of the tide.
Honko Community-based Mangrove Reserve is an important wetland and mangrove area. The site was created by an NGO, who decided to restore the mangroves by working closely together with local communities. You may go on a guided kayak tour lasting about 2 hours to observe the 7 mangrove species and several rare bird species.
Upon your arrival in Ifaty, you will spend the night at the Solidaire Mangily Hotel. This is a sustainable tourism initiative hotel, providing direct benefits for the local population through various educational and environmental preservation projects led by the Malagasy NGO Bel Avenir. Please note that this hotel is not located at the beach but a short 10-minute walk away from it.
Transfer: Ranohira – Tulear – Ifaty (4.50 hours)
Accommodations: Solidaire Mangily hotel
In and around Ifaty, you will be able to spend time at your discretion. The hotel is situated close to the village and you can reach the well-known Spiney forest by foot. It is definitely worth a visit, because of the very nice Baobab trees.
The turtle village is located close to the Spiney forest, which is another option to visit. In the village, you may (in addition to turtles) also spot mouse makis and see more Baobab trees.
Another option is to go on a snorkelling excursion. The hotel can assist you to select the perfect boat and equipment to guarantee your snorkelling excursion will be a success. Scuba diving is another possibility, which, again, the hotel can assist you with arranging.
Last but not least, visiting the hotel’s own agricultural school projects with its many different disciplines is also a truly nice experience.
Accommodations: Solidaire Mangily hotel
Today, depending on the time of your inland flight, you will be transferred back to the airport of Tulear for the return flight to Antananarivo. On arrival, you will be transferred to a hotel in the vicinity of the airport for day-use. At the appropriate time, you will be taken to Ivato international airport and will leave Madagascar, hopefully with fond and unforgettable memories.
Transfer: Shuttle from hotel to Tulear Airport
Flight: 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.