Madagascar is one of the biggest islands in the world and the people are very warm. It is often described as a mix of Africa's intense colours with the mysteries of Asia. With its unparalleled flora and fauna, Madagascar is like a continent in itself. During your tour of Madagascar, enter into the fascinating world of lemurs, chameleons, baobabs and orchids. The indri, endearing lemurs with big eyes, can only be found in Madagascar. Isalo N.P. is dominated by narrow ravines and rocks sculpted by wind and water. The beautifully located Ranomafana is one of the most pleasant places of the country, with friendly people and many hot springs. Ifaty offers relaxation aplenty, where you can rent a boat to the reef and snorkel or dive. The boat trip on the "Canal des Pangalanes" is one of the highlights of this wonderful Madagascar group trip!
Passport and Visa requirements:
You are responsible for making sure that your travel documents are in order.
Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after having left Madagascar. Also keep in mind that your passport needs at least 2 consecutive blank pages. A photocopy of your passport is a great idea (keep it somewhere separate in your luggage).
At present, a visa is required for entry as a tourist into Madagascar. You need to arrange this yourself. Single entry visas (up to 30 days) can be obtained upon arrival.* Please check the visa requirements for your country well in advance of travel as they can of course change at any moment. You can check visa requirements through a site such as this one.
*Local Malagasy law requires that all visitors have a return air ticket and will be asked to produce this on arrival.
Accommodation and transport
During this trip we make use of a private bus. Please note that the buses in Madagascar have limited legroom compared to those you may be used to. The luggage is carried on the roof of the bus, covered with a tarp. We recommend you carry your luggage in a flight bag. On days 14 and 15 you have a two-day boat trip. Please note that airport transfers are not included.
Boat Tour Canal des Pangalanes
The bus will not be available during the cruise (lunch and overnight). Once in Mahanoro, the bus is present once more. During the days on the boat, you should take a daypack and leave your large luggage on the bus to be taken on to Mahanoro and delivered to your hotel, where the driver will also stay. Make sure to always keep your valuables with you in your daypack. It may happen that during the cruise, we must use a boat without a toilet but stops can be made at anytime along the banks. The choice of boat depends on the availability, rainfall, and the levels in the Canal des Pangalanes. (Especially in the months of January to March, there is much rain on the east coast).
During this trip you'll stay in simple hotels (cottages) with double and triple rooms (often one double with an extra bed), with shower and toilet in the room except in Nosy Varika where some rooms do not have a private shower and toilet. In the selection of the hotels we especially consider the location, cleanliness and atmosphere. The quality of the hotels may vary by location. Thus, in the small towns we often have little choice in hotels, or the usual hotel - despite timely booking - is already full. Note: accommodation in Nosy Varika is very basic and it can be that you must share washing facilities. It is also possible that the hotel in Antoetra is overbooked. If this is the case, then we stay overnight in nearby Ambositra and there is the possibility to take an optional excursion from here to the villages in the vicinity of Antoetra.
Throughout the journey (almost) every room has mosquito nets available.
Taking a sleeping bag is not necessary, it is advisable however to take your own sleeping bag liner.
Participants who register individually will share a room with another participant. We keep in mind that of course to share the room with someone of the same sex is the preference. If you would like a room for the whole trip for yourself, it could in principle be arranged. You should then add the single room supplement to your booking. We would like to point out that the single rooms in Madagascar are SMALLER than the double rooms, albeit with the same facilities but the space is smaller and often these rooms are further from the restaurant and the lobby than the double rooms.
Tana - Ambositra: 260 km, 6 hours
Ambositra - Antoetra: 12 km, 1 hour (due to bad road)
Amobistra - Ambalavao: 206 km, 5 hours
Ambalavao - Isalo N.P.: 233 km, 7 hours
Isalo - Ifaty: 270 km, 5 hours
Isalo - Ranomafana 350 km, 8 hours
Ranomafana - Mananjary: 130 km, 3-4 hours
Mananjary - Nosy Varika - Mahanoro: 2 days, 1 night Canal des Pangalanes.
Mahonoro - Andasibe: 170 km, 4-5 hours
Andasibe - Mantasoa: 100 km, 2-3 hours
Mantasoa - Tana: 100 km, 2-2,5 hours
Note: The above-mentioned journey times are of course approximate.
*If there is a single tour and a regular group tour both guaranteed and starting on the same date, the single tour is operated in reverse order.
Our tours are led by trained, local English speaking tour leaders. We know that our travellers appreciate being accompanied by these local tour leaders who, compared to their counterparts (living outside of the destination) have more detailed knowledge of their country. He/she knows the area well, can provide background information and ensure that the trip goes smoothly. He/she knows what to do if something were to go wrong, but is not a "walking encyclopedia". Therefore we would like to refer you to study a good travel guide (book) in advance of travel.
Your tour leader understandably expects a tip at the end, if she/he has completed the job well. Shoestring pay the tour guides a wage which is higher than that of most adventurous travel companies. Our guideline for tipping is between € 1, - and € 2, - per passenger per day (the equivalent thereof).
This holiday is classified as Category C
The difficulty of our trips varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that travel difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an impression of the difficulty of a particular holiday we have developed a classification system.
Category A: Light travel for everyone to do. Short distances, good hotels, travel at a slow pace.
Category B: For everyone to do as well. Sometimes long distances. Good hotels and camping facilities, sometimes an adventurous overnight experience, travel at a normal pace.
Category C: Good to do for anyone who prepares themself well and is flexible. There are tougher parts of the journey, such as longer distances or walking tours. Several nights can be spent in basic accommodation.
Category D: A relatively difficult journey, travelling long distances, often primitive accommodation or tents, and challenging walking tours.
category C. The trip is suitable for every reasonably fit person. Take into account that you’re travelling in a developing country with a distinctly lower living standard than what you are used to at home. It is also possible that due to weather or poor road maintenance roads are temporarily impassable and we must deviate from the advertised route. Participants who register for this trip must realize what is being asked of them and that a flexible and positive attitude is just as important as general physical fitness.
The Madagascar trip falls into
We know that travelling to remote corners of this planet has its effects. At Shoestring we really try to make an effort to keep our impact to a minimum. We try to avoid the use of plastic water bottles on our treks through Nepal and we do not dump our litter during our trips through Africa. All of our staff have been trained to take special care to ensure we make as little impact on the environment as possible.
Furthermore we support a lot of local projects which are mostly related to clean drinking water or making sure that children get vaccinated against illnesses such as tuberculosis. On most tours you will be able to visit some of the projects we support through our local agents. Find out more about the different projects Shoestring are involved with, how you can make a difference and our environmental policies here
Travel insurance, including medical repatriation insurance, is mandatory. It is not included with our packages and it is your responsibility to purchase suitable travel insurance. Make sure that it covers all the activities that you are likely to undertake, such as rafting and trekking. Many ‘free’ insurances that come with banking packages, credit cards etc, are quite often inadequate to cover you on our tours, so make sure you check the policy before you travel. You should enter your travel insurance details via your my.shoestring account and you are required to give a copy of your insurance policy to your tour leader upon arrival. Without proper insurance like this, you will not be allowed to join the tour as we will not be able to respond adequately in case of an emergency if you do not have the right insurance.
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You can call us on number +31 20 6850203 or +44 (0)1306 744797 and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening hours Monday to Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM (Local times in Netherlands).
More country information about Madagascar
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions about Madagascar