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Travel to The Lost Continent in search of exotic wildlife, contrasting cultures and spectacular scenery. Africa meets Asia, and old meets new in the lively Malagasy capital of Tana, while lemurs hide in the wild forests of the island's more remote areas.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights simple community house
8 nights comfortable hotel
3 nights simple hotel
2 nights comfortable lodge
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Antananarivo, built over twelve hills, Madagascar's capital is a blend of the old and new - Old wooden style houses, french colonial buildings and modern offices and apartments.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 5pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Antananarivo at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at Ivato International Airport (TNR) which is around 15 minutes' drive from the hotel. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to explore independently. This once medieval capital, which is affectionately known as 'Tana', where the houses appear stacked one upon the other down the sloping hills of the highlands.
Hotel Au Bois Vert (or similar)
It's an early start to kick off the trip, leaving the city at around 7am, we will drive to Andasibe village which is also still sometimes referred to by it's French colonial name; Perinet. Although only eight square kilometres, Analamazoatra Reserve in Andasibe boasts nine species of Lemur, including the Indri Indri. The Indri's morning calls can be heard piercing through the forest. After lunch we will trek in search for the Indri families in the area. Although the paths are often easy to follow, sometimes pushing further into the bush is required to spot these exquisite creatures in the trees. An adventurous walk to kick off these two weeks searching for lemurs!
This evening, after dinner, we will head out once again with a local national park guide in search of the smallest of the lemur species; the mouse lemurs. Although nocturnal, these creatures can often easily be spotted along the 1km roadside route followed this evening. As well as spotting tiny lemurs, it's often common to see colourful chameleons, frogs and exotic insects.
Feon'ny Ala Bungalows (or similar)
Listen out this morning, as often the Indri's calls can be heard throughout the forest and surrounding village areas, including our accommodation! We'll be up early to drive to the nearby Analamazoatra reserve. Mantadia and Analamazoatra reserve are parts of the same precious forest ecosystem but due to continuous deforestation in the area they are now separate parks. We'll spend around 4 hours searching for the black and white ruffed and Diademed Sifaka lemurs, as well as opportunity to spot some birdlife.
After a busy morning searching for wildlife, we'll return Andasibe for lunch. Then this afternoon there will be optional visit to the small sleepy village of Andasibe itself where we can walk amongst its quiet streets and drop in on its market.
An early departure this morning, heading south to reach the spa town of Antsirabe, today will be a long travel day with plenty of comfort breaks and a stop for lunch.
Antsirabe's cool climate made it a favourite spot with European missionaries and French colonialists, and their influence can still be seen everywhere in the colonial architecture and churches. Set in the Central Highlands, the town is a clash of cultures with fading, ornate colonial architecture, colourful rickshaws wandering up and down the streets and souk-like stalls selling all different goods to both local residents and visitors.
Couleur Cafe (or similar)
This morning we drive to the volcanic Lake of Tritriva. Local myths and taboos surround this mysterious lake which seems to have many guises, changing colour from one day to the next. We'll take a short walk to the crater's edge, where we can relax and take in the view. There will be a short amount of free time to walk further if you wish.
From here we'll continue our journey to Ambositra in the afternoon, where we'll visit some of the local wood-carver's, who produce woodwork pieces depicting Malagasy life and detailed marquetry work which are both well known across the country for the fine standard of craftsmanship.
Tonight, we shall stay at a simple guest house. Although the accommodation we use on this night stop is modest and of a lower standard than what is provided throughout the rest of the trip, by staying here we directly support an important base for the development of health projects, agriculture, water supply and the empowerment of women within the local community. Any school supplies you may like to donate such as notebooks and pencils would be very gratefully received and passed on to the local children. The accommodation is dormitory style split by gender, simple but clean, with shared facilities. Hot water is not available. On arrival we'll head into town, purchase provisions and drinks for the evening and see the local market and wood carving shops (Ambositra is the centre of the woodcarving tradition of Madagascar). In the evening we will enjoy a wholesome feast of Madagascan locally prepared dishes, after which our family hosts will play music on drums and flutes and dance.
Voteta Bungalows (or similar)
Simple Community House
The drive to Ranomafana will take up most of the day, however the winding roads passes through rugged landscapes, rural villages and endless rice paddies, and along the way there will be comfort breaks, plus a lunch stop in Ialatsara. The end of the drive takes us down from the highlands where we'll head into the rainforest.
In 1987, a new species of lemur named the Golden Bamboo was found in Ranomafana National Park. This lush forest area is also known for it's hidden waterfalls and the Namorona river which flows through impressive gorges, flanked on either side by tropical rainforest.
Centrest Sejour Hotel (or similar)
After an early wake up call this morning, we will enter the park for a morning walk in the hope of spotting the Golden Bamboo Lemur, which are endemic to the forests in South-Eastern Madagascar. It's the only location in Madagascar where we can see all three species of Bamboo Lemur, namely the lesser Bamboo Lemur, the greater Bamboo Lemur and the Golden Bamboo Lemur which gets its golden colour from the cyanide compounds found in the bamboo it eats.
Depending on how lucky we are finding lemurs, we'll spend around three to four hours trekking along the forest trails in search of wildlife. As well as the Bamboo Lemurs, we may have the chance to see Red-Fronted Brown Lemur, Red-Bellied Lemur and Milne-Edwards Sifaka. Most lemur species are sadly now endangered, the last survivors of a once abundant family of primates, now confined to pockets of forest and bush throughout Madagascar. Deforestation has taken a heavy toll on these arboreal creatures - it's estimated only 80 species remain. With luck we may also spot the Malagasy boa constrictor, chameleons, the black parrot, cuckoo roller and many other birds.
The afternoon will be free to relax, or to go on an additional optional walk within the park with a chance to spot the species not already seen during the morning.
Returning to the main road this morning, we continue south via the regional capital of Fianarantsoa, the academic centre of Madagascar. Leaving the highland plateau and descending through superb mountain scenery to the plains we pause at Ambalavao paper workshop before arriving at Anja Community Reserve. Here we have the chance to watch troupes of ring-tailed lemur among the granite boulders.
Continuing south the pine trees thin out and the fertile soil of the highlands gives way to drier savannah, cactus, termite mounds, and the dust of the midsouth. We finally reach our destination late in the afternoon; Ranohira, situated on the edge of the Isalo National Park.
Hotel Relais de la Reine (or similar)
One of the highlights of our trip is Madagascar's Grand Canyon in Isalo National Park. Dervla Murphy, in her book Muddling through Madagascar describes it as follows - Landscapes that are literally incredible. You don't believe it. You think you're hallucinating. How can wind and water have done all this?
The natural erosion that has occurred here has produced fantastic canyons and bizarre outcrops of wind-blasted sandstone. We will take an approximately 90 minute walk along dry, dusty paths across slightly ascending terrain to a natural oasis pool known as Piscine Naturelle for a picnic lunch. After eating we'll continue exploring to see tombs of the Bara people and the sparse, dry forest species of dwarf-like baobab.
This afternoon you have the opportunity to take an optional walk within the park with a local guide to Namaza to see the Cascade des Nymphes, before all meeting again to enjoy sunset at La Fenetre where the perfectly natural rock window frames the setting sun.
This morning we continue our journey south for about four hours. The temperature rises as we lose height and head for the coast, crossing the savannah plain that are dotted with herds of Zebu cattle.
The south of Madagascar is largely desert and weird cactus-like plants unique to the island smother the land, hence the name the 'Spiny Forest'. We'll stop at Zombitse National Park, where we'll stretch our legs on a two hour walk through the remarkable dry forest which is home to many birds, including black parrots, the Madagascar buzzard and the cuckoo roller. There's also opportunity to spot the shy ring-tailed lemur here!
As we continue our drive, we'll pass by a number of fascinating Mahafaly Tombs before reaching the town of Toliara once an important port of call for Dutch and English ships plying the trade routes during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Victory Hotel (or similar)
After breakfast this morning we transfer by boat from Toliara to the small fishing village of Anakao, located to the south, just past the Onilahy river estuary.
The estuary has extensive mudflats which make embarking from the waters edge difficult, we therefore use zebu carts to get us from the banks of the river to our boat. The money for this service goes directly to the handlers who make their living loading and unloading goods and people from the local area, given how impoverished this part of Madagascar is, this extra income from our group is very welcome. Please note that due to limited space on the boat we kindly request that you take a smaller overnight bag to Anakao. Your main luggage will be stored in Toliara. The boat journey is around one hour.
Anakao is a truly picturesque beach paradise, with a vast unspoilt white sand beach stretching into the distance. Its relative isolation (you need to travel by boat to get here or take a long 12 hour road journey) means the village has remained relatively undeveloped. It's possible to see lines of brightly painted dugout canoes hauled out onto the sandy beach used by nomadic fishing tribe that live in the village. The rich turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean are a short walk from our beach hideaway offering great swimming opportunities. After a busy ten days travelling it's a time to relax, unwind, snorkel and take in the prolific birdlife including Rock Thrush and wading birds such as Whimbrel as well as hoopoes and bee-eaters that nest in the adjacent spiny forest gardens behind our hotel.
Hotel Safari Vezo (or similar)
Today has been left free to enjoy Anakao. Options include relaxing on the paradise beach, snorkelling in the azure waters or taking a trip out to the sacred island of Nosy Ve, located just off Anakao's western shore. Nosy Ve's reefs and colonies of Red-tailed tropicbirds (the only breeding site in Madagascar) make it the ideal place to soak up the tropical atmosphere.
This morning we depart Anakao, returning to Toliara by boat before flying north back to Tana, where we will spend the night.
Today is a chance to absorb the atmosphere of the capital city but before getting amidst the chaos of the bustling streets, we'll drive out of the city to explore the oldest palace in Madagascar situated on Ambohimanga, a forested hill, north of Antananarivo. It was from this fortress that the Merina, a highland tribe, first established an effective administration and military command under the King Andrianampoinamerina. The fort still includes the original king's hut and later European buildings, and from this high point you can take in magnificent views over the fertile rice fields below, the surrounding hills and the city in the distance.
We'll stop somewhere for a lunchbreak, before returning to the city later this afternoon, and if traffic allows there will be time for some last minute shopping in Tana before our final dinner of the trip.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Antananarivo.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Antananarivo at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Ivato International Airport (TNR) which is around 15 minutes' drive from the hotel.
The climate is tropical, but cooler in the highlands (dropping as low as 5°C at night in July/August in Antananarivo and Andasibe). The dry season is March to October continuing into November in most areas. The east coast is best March-May and September-November, January-March is cyclone season. The south west area is hot, dry and semi-arid. March-April is the best time for flowers and reptiles. November (spring) is generally the best time for wildlife and birds, but lemurs can be viewed all year round. Seasonal weather patterns can be unpredictable.
2 Pin Round
Andasibe - Dawn Birdwatching £20. Extra Park or village walk £15. Private Reserve £7 Ranomafana - Bird walk approx £6 depending on numbers. Optional Forest walk £15 Anakao - Snorkelling from Nosy Ve Island £20, piroque to Nosy Ve Island £20 \b Please note all excursions are to be paid for in local currency in cash.
Clothing should be lightweight, but a warm sweater or jacket is advisable as nights at altitude and under desert conditions can be very cold (>10°C), even in summer and especially in July to September. Rainwear is highly recommended on all tours for the occasional shower. Warmer layers will be required during the winter months. Don't forget your swimwear and towel.
Lightweight walking bootshoes and trainers or sandals.
One kitbag/rucksack or old but sturdy suitcase (luggage travels on the roof rack during the day) and a daysac. You will also need a smaller overnight bag for Anakao.
Take a strong torch for nocturnal wildlife walks, a water bottle, camera film (and spare batteries), binoculars and a beach towel and swimming costume. Rain proof pants are very handy for walks in the rainforest. Walking poles maybe useful in Ranomafana NP and Andasibe.
Boat, Flight, Minibus
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Madagascar: If you are visiting for less than 16 days, there is no visa requirement. However, travellers must pay a 10 Euro administrative fee on arrival. For stays of 16 days or more an entry visa is required by UK, New Zealand, Australian, US & Canadian citizens and can be obtained at the airport on arrival. The visa cost is €35 or $37 USD. Only cash is accepted so please ensure you have this with you. Please note GBP sterling is not accepted. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. For a single entry tourist visa you can now apply via the e-visa website: https://evisamada-mg.com/en/home If you needed to obtain a visa you will need to print a copy of your disembarkation authorisation and present this with your passport at the eVisa counters upon arrival in Madagascar. You will be permitted to stay within Madagascar for a maximum of up to 30 days. There is an alternative more expensive tourist visa available for stays of up to 60 days. We strongly recommend for you to read the FAQ section on the e-visa website before applying. Your passport must have at least 6 months validity remaining from the date of your entry into Madagascar and at least 2 blank pages.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A plus Polio and diptheria. Please note that all travellers aged over 9 months old that have travelled from or have transit via a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission, will need to present a Yellow Fever certificate at immigration/borders in Madagascar for inspection. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Following the advice given by the Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we strongly recommend the wearing long sleeved shirts and the liberal application of insect repellent as a precautionary measure to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. These precautions should be taken at all times as the mosquitoes are also active during daylight hours. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.