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Madagascar

Unique flora and fauna! - Trip for singles

Book From   € 1,299,-
GROUP SIZE: 8-18 | 20 DAYS

Madagascar

Here you can find the day-to-day description for Madagascar

Highlights

There's plenty to do in this beautiful region. Select below or on the map opposite, the highlight you want to read more information about. Read through carefully and then go directly to the tour description.
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Antananarivo

Antananarivo

The capital is divided into three different levels, that are connected by stairs full of pedestrians and stalls. The city is build on 12 historical hills of the Imerian. In the middle of the city you can find the Lac Anosy, a huge lake with many great white herons.

Ambositra

Ambositra

Ambositra, famous for its carving and furniture industry. Its name means 'the place of the eunuch'. Named after the Merina who, at the unification of Madagascar, beat the local tribe, the Zafimaniry, and castrated the losers. The cultural influence of this tribe can be found in the traditional motifs of the local houses with their complicated design in terraces, panels and holds.

Ambalavao

Ambalavao

Ambalavao is famous for its paper production that follows an old tradition and is hand made. This process reminds us of the Arab influences that this island has known. This lovely city is situated to the South of Fianarantsoa. Here, the temperature is much higher because you've left the highlands behind you.

Isalo Nationaal Park

Isalo Nationaal Park

The park of 81.540 hectares lays in the Isalo- massif, an impressive mountain range consisting of bizarrely eroded sandstone formations. The sandstone carved by wind and rain is alternated by grassy plains. This landscape of the ‘Wild West’ on a height of 514 and 1270 metres invites you to fantastic hike.

Ifaty

Ranomafana N.P

Mananjary

Mananjary

Mananjary is a important commercial centre, thanks to the Canal des Pangalanes. During the colonial days, foreign concession holders made a fortune with the coffee and clove plantations in this area. The city with its colonial architecture and local houses next to each other remains a lovely destination. The surroundings are beautiful and varied: vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and pepper are grown here. You can also spend a day at the beach.

Nosy Varika

Mahanoro

Mantasoa

Andasibe

Andasibe

Andasibe is the starting point for a visit of the Réserve Spéciale d'Analamazaotra. Better known by its French name of the nearby city and train station, Périnet. This is the territory of the black and white Indri Indri, the biggest of all half-and half apes, that can reach a maximum height of one meter.

Day to Day description

Transport Route Overnight stay
1 Antananarivo Antananarivo
2 Bus Antananarivo - Antsirabe - Ambositra - Antoetra Antoetra
3 Antoetra Antoetra
4 Bus Antoetra - Ambalavao Ambalavao
5 Bus Ambalavao - Isalo N.P Isalo N.P
6 Isalo N.P Isalo N.P
7 Bus Isalo N.P - Ifaty Ifaty
8 Ifaty Ifaty
9 Ifaty Ifaty
10 Bus Ifaty - Isalo N.P Isalo N.P
11 Bus Isalo N.P - Ranomafana N.P Ranomafana N.P
12 Ranomafana N.P Ranomafana N.P
13 Bus Ranomafana N.P - Mananjary Mananjary
14 Boat Mananjary - Nosy Varika Nosy Varika
15 Boat Nosy Varika - Mahanoro Mahanoro
16 Bus Mahanoro - Andasibe Andasibe
17 Andasibe Andasibe
18 Bus Andasibe - Mantasoa Mantasoa
19 Mantasoa Mantasoa
20 Bus Mantasoa - Antananarivo Antananarivo - End of tour

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Day 1: Antananarivo

Welcome to Madagascar!

Your tour starts in the capital Antananarivo, or simply ''Tana'', as everyone calls it (to avoid having to wrap your tongue around it!). You stay in a good hotel just outside the city, close to the airport so that we can leave early the following morning.

Your travel companions will also arrive this morning (exact time depending upon flight schedule). Take your time this first day and adjust to your new surroundings.

Day 2: Antananarivo - Antsirabe - Ambositra - Antoetra

How green can you go? TIP

We drive to the city of Ambositra that lies between the hills and has a very different climate. On the way we stop in Antsirabe where we will have lunch. Antsirabe is the city of the pousse pousse or rickshaws. Another attraction is the station, a relic of the colonial era. Ambositra (pronounced 'Ambousjt') is located between the rice fields in the area of the ​​Zafamaniry tribe. Literally translated Ambositra means the "City of Roses". The Zafimaniry are famous for their beautiful carvings, and you can often buy these carvings in the various souvenir shops in Ambositra.

We spend the night in Sous le Soleil de Mada, a guesthouse on the way from Ambositra to Antoetra. This accommodation is eco-friendly! For more information click here.

Day 3: Antoetra

Today you can explore the area by going on an accompanied walk with a local guide to the Zafimaniry villages, located in a beautiful hilly landscape. The Zafimaniry are a subgroup of the Betsileo and are known for their exquisite carvings. Many of their homes are true works of art and you will have the opportunity to get closely acquainted with village life. You see the wood carvers at work and enjoy the surroundings.

The villages are small, culturally attractive with their wooden houses and sculptures and with a lot of children - they are the main attraction and their singing, their shyness and genuine interest in you as a foreigner (''vazaha'') is endearing. It makes the walk for many, one of the most unique experiences in Madagascar. The area also has many Asian rice terraces.

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Day 4: Antoetra - Ambalavao

On the way to Ambalavao you may join an optional visit to the Anja Reserve, a private park where you can encounter various types of lemurs from up-close. There are a number of different lemur species, some nocturnal and others diurnal. Lemurs are probably the evolutionary predecessors of the monkeys. They are omnivores, eating fruit, flowers and leaves but also insects and spiders.

Ambalavao is one of the most beautiful villages on the high plateau in the area. The name literally means "New Valley". The houses are colourfully painted and have characteristic wooden balconies.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday in Ambalavao, the largest zebu market of all Madagascar takes place. Merchants travel from afar with their herds of zebu. This area is also known for its deckle, or 'Antemoro' paper. You can visit a workshop where the paper is created or you can see silk-spinning, local traditions here are still very much alive.

Day 5: Ambalavao - Isalo N.P

Today you embark on a long journey to Isalo. You travel via Ihosy and at the end of the day you reach Ranohira (351 km), starting point for several hikes in the Isalo NP. The small village is located next to one of the most unique national parks of Madagascar.

Isalo is sacred to the Bara tribe who live in the area. The Bara have used the caves and coves in the rock for hundreds of years as cemeteries. The Bara attach (as many other tribes do) great importance to the possession of zebu (Indian cows with their big fat hump on their backs that you see everywhere in Madagascar). Isalo is dominated by narrow ravines and wind and water have sculpted the face of the rocks. This fascinating park covers an area of 80,000 hectares and we recommend an optional visit where you can see lemurs, chameleons and different bird species.

Day 6: Isalo N.P

Free day. In the morning you can hike to la Cascade des Nymphes, le Lac Bleu and Le Lac Noir. Maybe you will see ring-tailed lemurs or dancing sifakas. After lunch it is possible to go for a walk. A climb across the plateau leads you to the Piscine Naturelle where you can take a refreshing dip in the pandanus palm-fringed natural pool.

Day 7: Isalo N.P - Ifaty

A ride of about seven hours (253 km) takes you to your ultimate goal: the beach town of Ifaty, a lovely wide sandy beach. Along the way you see the landscape change, you see the typical "spiny forest" vegetation and the bottle-shaped baobab trees. We stop for lunch in Tulear. As you sit here on the coast, you can enjoy the wide variety of seafood. The last 30 km to Ifaty is unpaved road. In Ifaty you can relax and enjoy the sun and the beautiful sunsets. You stay in beach-front cottages.

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Day 8: Ifaty

Free day in Ifaty. This is a typically African village, consisting entirely of thatched huts where time seems to stand still. Fishing plays an important role and children can often be seen playing on the beach with homemade fishing boats while women try to earn some money by selling sarongs or offering massages. The bizarre forest beyond demonstrates unparalleled beauty. Baobabs, Pachypodium and various cacti set the tone. An optional excursion in the late afternoon to the "spiny forest" delivers fantastic photos. A path takes you deep into the forest and after just a few kilometers you arrive at a huge baobab.

Day 9: Ifaty

In July and August you can see migrating whales as they migrate along the coast by the Mozambique Channel. You can rent a boat and take a ride along the coast and if you wish, you can stop along the way at the reef to snorkel. There is also opportunity to dive. In the evening there is often a local band at the hotel bar, where you can relax and enjoy the African music.

Day 10: Ifaty - Isalo N.P

You travel through the more African part of Madagascar. The Zombitse National Park forms the border between west and south Madagascar, reflected in the unique vegetation. We will visit this park (if sufficient time) where, with a bit of luck, you can see the sifaka.

Day 11: Isalo N.P - Ranomafana N.P

From Isalo N.P it is about a five hour drive to the beautifully situated Ranomafana, one of the most pleasant places in the entire country, with friendly people, hot springs and the homonymous National Park. Rano means 'water'; Mafana means 'hot'. After discovering the hot springs of Ranomafana a century ago, a Frenchman built a spa cum hotel close by. Around the hotel, people settled and soon the village of Ranomafana developed. The hotel is still there, but is in need of renovation to restore the spa to its' former glory.

In 1986 a new species of lemur was discovered in the nearby bamboo forest and in 1991 it was decided to create Ranomafana National Park to preserve such rare species. The name of this species is the golden bamboo lemur and only 30 of them have been counted, thus they are unfortunately high on the list of endangered species. You can visit the park accompanied by a (mandatory) guide where there are several walks possible (optional excursions).

Day 12: Ranomafana N.P

How green can you go? TIP

Free day in Ranomafana. There are several walks through the Ranomafana NP ranging from 2 to 6 hours. The village is a lovely place to stay and to get acquainted with the hotely's, the small restaurants on the side of the road where you can taste zebu steak and other local dishes or join a game of soccer with the local youth.

Day 13: Ranomafana N.P - Mananjary

In the morning we continue our trip to Mananjary, a tropical green environment about 4 hours away. The road is lined with the travellers palm and the area we drive through is famous for the mining of gold. In the villages you will see women with gold teeth; the sign of wealth. In Mananjary we stay in cottages near the beach.

Upon arrival in Mananjary, your large luggage can be left on the bus. You need a day-pack to carry your necessities, including valuables, for the cruise on the Canal des Pangalanes. The bus will depart today because the roads are very poor or even impassable and sufficient time is needed to reach Mahanoro.

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Day 14: Mananjary - Nosy Varika

Today begins the cruise on the "Canal des Pangalanes". This channel was built at the end of the 19th century by the French, using Chinese prisoners. The channel was used to transport coffee, bananas, vanilla, pepper and other spices along the East Coast from Manakara to the port of Tamatave, so it could then be exported abroad. Today you sail between 8 and 12 hours. En- route visit some small villages on the banks of the canal.

Meals are not included, the costs are about 40 euros per person for 2 dinners, 2 lunches and 1 breakfast. This is settled with the tour guide on the spot. The larger luggage is not taken on board, instead you take only a day-pack. The larger luggage is transported by bus to Mahanoro.

NOTE: The cruise depends on the weather! If there is too much wind or too much rain you travel by bus.

Day 15: Nosy Varika - Mahanoro

Today we sail between 6 and 8 hours through the channels. Along the way you'll meet local fishermen and families who may be travelling by pirogue to go do their shopping. Sometimes the low water level in the canal means that you may have to give the boat a push! Along the way you see women doing laundry or washing the dishes, or even taking a bath. Children are swimming and the geese and ducks are at play. The men go fishing with large nets. Without roads in this area, the channels are the only way to get anywhere.

By the evening we arrive in Mahanoro. The cottages where we stay are close to the beach. Swimming is possible but only where the current is not too strong.

Day 16: Mahanoro - Andasibe

Today will be a long travel day through stunning natural scenery as you make your way to Andasibe, base for discovering the Andasibe National Park.

Day 17: Andasibe

Early in the morning you'll wake up in the Andasibe NP to the characteristic cry of the indri. The sound carries for miles, and is intended to delineate their territory. Sometimes you hear ten different families, some distant, others nearby. Under the guidance of a (mandatory) local guide you can take an optional half day trip, during which, you will certainly start to see the various species.

The guides help you to find the indri and almost always they'll find a family of them. Also 'Woolly Lemurs' and 'Brown Lemurs' are frequently seen. Furthermore there are chameleons, various very special frogs and many species of birds including coua's. The tour will largely be along well-trodden paths, but to see lemurs you will occasionally need to leave the path and embark on a little scrambling and climbing. The guides generally speak quite a bit of English and can explain the flora and fauna.

Day 18: Andasibe - Mantasoa

During the course of the morning you travel to Mantasoa. Mantasoa is located on an artificial lake, built in 1931, where you can undertake various activities. It is a popular place for people from the capital to go at the weekend.
We stay 2 nights in a beautiful lodge on the edge of the lake.

Day 19: Mantasoa

Free day in Mantasoa. You may choose from a number of water sports on the lake or perhaps take a walk or ride a horse in the woodlands. There is also the possibility to spend your day at the pool and simply relax at the end of your trip.

Mantasoa is the place where the industrial revolution of Madagascar began. In 1833, the Frenchman Jean de Laborde built a palace for Queen Ranavalona I and next to this carpentry and gunsmith workplaces, an ammunition factory, an ironsmith and a foundry. The primary goal was to supply the monarch with swords, weapons and ammunition. Much was destroyed in 1851 when the slaves revolted. Part of this estate is now underwater but some remarkable buildings can still be visited. It offers a fascinating insight into Madagascar and its heyday as an industrial powerhouse.

Day 20: Mantasoa - Antananarivo

It is about two hours drive to Antananarivo. You have the afternoon to discover Antananarivo. The La Digue marché is a classic large craft market, well worth a visit and an opportunity to buy the latest souvenirs.

We return to the hotel in Tana where you have the possibility of using one of the few day-rooms to freshen up. Your tour will now conclude here in the early evening. A transfer back to the airport is not included but can easily be arranged locally and the cost is little. Please make sure to book your return flight after 20.00 hrs.

We wish you a comfortable journey home and are sure you will take with you some wonderful memories of Madagascar.

Your personal ‘my.shoestring’ page on our website is the perfect way to make contact with other travellers before and after your trip. You can read and create journals from trips and upload your photos onto the photo gallery. Visit my shoestring today.

When booking your tour, please check to see whether you need any post-tour nights, bearing in mind that accommodation for the night of the final day of the tour (day 20) is not included.

NOTE:
The single tours travel in reverse order if both the regular and the single tours on the same date are guaranteed departures.
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