This tour takes you to the diverse Island of Madagascar, the 4th largest island in the world. From the capital city of Tana (Antananarivo) you head via Antsirabe to Ranomafana. This beautiful reserve protects a humid rain forest and is home to an array of wildlife including lemurs, reptiles and teeming with birds.
You then head via Fianarantsoa - the capital of the Betsileo tribe, to Ranohira and Tulear which is a coastal town with a port. The old buildings make for a spectacular setting against the backdrop of mangroves on the town's outskirts.
Morondava is a vibrant west coast town, well known for its seaside resort and laid-back atmosphere. Not only is it a prosperous rice-growing area, but it is also the southern gateway to the attractions of the west, such as the Kirindy forest, and the famous baobabs.
Your Madagascar Beach & Rainforest Tour ends back in Antananarivo.
With its bustling markets, friendly people and the old town with freestone churches and ancient royal places, it is a fascinating city.
On day two we set off for Antsirabe, a pretty town, where typical Malagasy style and the tranquillity of a small European village blend together.
Antsirabe means ‘where there is much salt' and is one of Madagascar's major trading centres for semiprecious stones and minerals. We will drive through the rural landscape, which is mainly composed of mountains and rice fields.
In Antsirabe we will go on a city tour with a visit to Andraikiba lake and the legendary Tritriva crater lake. It is said that the lake's water level decreases during rainy season and increases in the dry season.
We will visit a gemstone factory, where you can watch the cutting and polishing process and purchase souvenirs.
After breakfast, we will drive to Ranomafana National Park, one of Madagascar's richest humid forests in terms of biodiversity.
The park is nestled in a mountainous and extremely rainy region, which accounts for its nickname the ‘misty land'. The tropical forest is home to 12 species of lemurs such as the golden bamboo lemur, brown lemurs and various species of birds, colourful chameleons and frogs.
In Ambositra we will stop for the visit of some Zafimaniry woodcarving shops. This art, classified as World Intangible Heritage by UNESCO, was revealed to the public in the fifties when food shortage obliged this population of foresters to sell their furniture and sculptures on the market. Zafimaniry Art expresses itself through daily life objects (honeypots, weaving-looms, stools, plates and more), as well as construction parts (doors and windows).
We then head to Ranomafana Park and unwind before our exploration of the national park the following day.
In the morning we will explore the National Park to see lemurs, chameleons and frogs living in the rainforest and discover some of the pandanus, ferns, orchids and medicinal plants in the undergrowth.
After lunch, we will go on a city tour of Fianarantsoa - the capital of the Betsileo tribe.
Fianarantsoa was built on three levels and the highest level and its old and picturesque quarters are classified as a protected area, because of its historical and architectural interest. It lies in the heart of the most fertile agricultural area in Madagascar and is renowned for its vineyards, tea plantations and terraced rice fields.
In the morning we leave Fianarantsoa early and travel to Ranohira.
On our way we stop in Ambalavao - the commercial centre of the southern Betsileo region, renowned for its folks, arts and crafts - we will visit a wine producer for a wine tasting and the "Antemoro Paper" factory, where you can watch the paper being made and buy locally made cards and other paper products. The famous Antemoro paper is a delicate, handmade, flower-decorated paper made of the fibres of a tree called "Avoha".
We continue our drive to Ranohira and visit Anja Park along the way, where you can see some families of ring-tailed lemurs in their natural habitat. On arrival in Ranohira we check in at our overnight ranch and simply relax to prepare ourselves for the next day of trekking.
Today we will spend the whole day trekking in Isalo National Park, the second oldest national park in Madagascar. Here, erosion has carved fantastic figures in the sandstone, from sharp needles standing up in the sky to rocky blocs apparently unstable on their base.
Seemingly dry, the Isalo National Park is a land endowed with an important network of streams feeding the tributaries of the river Mangoky. It is a sacred land, as it also shelters the Bara ancestors' cemeteries, dug on the cliff sides to prevent pillaging. We will discover the massif of Isalo, its canyons and endemic flora such as Pachypodium and aloes, and fauna including lemurs and birds. We will even have the chance to go for a refreshing swim in the natural cascades swimming pool.
After breakfast, we drive along a long straight road, where the landscape is composed of dry and spiny forests, baobab trees and some proudly decorated Mahafaly tombs.
We will visit the Arboretum, an interesting private garden, established by a Swiss botanist, has close to 1000 species of plants endemic to south-western Madagascar.
We will then go on a city tour of Tulear, which is Madagascar's most recently established provincial capital and the major town in south-western Madagascar. The city tour also includes a visit to the museum.
After breakfast this morning you are transferred to the local airport of Tulear for your flight back to the capital, Antananarivo. Arriving at the airport in Antananarivo you will be collected and driven to your overnight hotel in the city. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free for you to get to know the city better and take in some of the sights, or simply rest at the hotel.
You will be transferred to the Antananarivo airport for your flight to Morondava, where you will be met and transferred to the city.
Morondava is situated in the heart of Sakalava territory and is known for the royal sculpted tombs of the Menabe ancestors. These tombs are frequently decorated with well-executed, often erotic, funerary carvings representing life and fertility.
Today we take a day trip to the Kirindy Reserve - a dry forest that covers approximately 10,000 ha. You will have the chance to see 6 species of lemurs, including the fat-tailed lemur and the tiny Microcebus Myoxinus, believed to be the world's smallest primate.
There are also 45 bird species and 32 reptile species, including the rare Madagascan flat-tailed tortoise, the side-necked turtle, Madagascar's only freshwater turtle, and numerous chameleons.
On our way back to Morondava, we will stop to admire the beauty of the famous Baobab Avenue.
The next three days are spent at leisure in and around Morondava. Soak up the sun and enjoy the pristine white beaches and the warm Agulhas current.
Explore the area on excursions and day trips or discover the marine life on deep-sea fishing trips or diving excursions.
On the southern edge of town are tranquil mangrove swamps, which you can explore by pirogue, observing kingfishers, egrets and more along the way.
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Antananarivo, where you will be met and transferred to the city.
You can wander through the capital's steep and narrow streets, taking in its architecture, atmosphere and pace. Or you can climb up to the old rova (palace) and enjoy the views over Antananarivo and the surrounding countryside.
The town is at its best in the evening when the setting sun spectacularly illuminates the hillsides.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight, bringing this unforgettable Madagascar Beach & Rainforest Tour to an end.
We hope to welcome you back in Africa and Madagascar again soon!
Accommodation on this Madagascar Beach & Rainforest Tour is in basic, yet clean and comfortable mid-range hotels. We stay in standard rooms with en-suite bathrooms.
The Madagascar tourism industry is relatively young, therefore accommodation is sometimes limited. Similar accommodation establishments of the same standards are used depending on availability.
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