South West Madagascar Nature Holiday – Land of the Lemurs

It’s known as the Land of the Lemurs! Explore the wonders of Southern Madagascar on this nature guided trip of a lifetime, whilst taking in the most diverse environments at a comfortable pace. We will visit some of the best national parks, sites and arboretums & of course some off the beaten track places along the way. You’ll be accompanied by a naturalist guide to ensure you have the best chance of witnessing as well as learning about all of the wonderfully unique flora and fauna of Madagascar. The south west is filled with adventure, iconic Madagascan animals, fabulous wildlife watching opportunities, outstanding landscapes, an abundance of culture and gorgeous hidden beaches lining the Indian Ocean; all waiting to be explored, encountered and cherished.

All through the people were so friendly, so welcoming and we certainly fell in love with Madagascar.

– R. Walmsley

Madagascar is a one-off; there is no other place like it. Its landscapes, animals and plants are simply incredible! Near the equator with an astonishing array of habitats, ranging from rainforests to deserts and from mountain tops to mangrove swamps, it is one of the most important countries for biodiversity on the planet. The tropical climate is a perfect host to the process of nature and, like nowhere else, the variety and richness of life has flourished. We will see much of the unique flora and fauna of Southern Madagascar on this exceptional nature guided tour.

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Sophie Gorman travelled to Madagascar on our  ‘South West Madagascar Nature Holiday – Land of the Lemurs’ with Pioneer Expeditions last year. Read about her experience here, in an article she wrote for The Independent (Ireland):

‘Made in Madagascar: Natural highs in the land of the lemur’ by Sophie Gorman

Madagascar Nature Holiday Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Tana

After arriving in Antananarivo (or Tana, as it is known by the locals), you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Antananarivo is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. It is buzzing with activity and full of people flooding the streets, selling everything you could imagine! Tana (as the locals call it) resembles a Mediterranean hill town and exploring its rich cultural and architectural sites on foot is relatively easy (as long as you are willing to climb hundreds of ancient stone steps).

Overnight – Hotel

Day 2: Antananarivo – Andasibe National Park (B,L,D)

This morning we will set off to the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (previously known as Perinet)  where you will spend 1 ½ days exploring this wonderful environment. En-route we will stop at a farm specialising in Madagascan reptiles and butterflies, before arriving at our hotel. This afternoon you will get a chance to stroll around the private reserve of Vakona Lodge with the opportunity to spot  lemurs and crocodiles. This evening, take a twilight/nocturnal walk, looking out for the nocturnal species of lemur by catching their eyes in the torchlight.

Overnight – Hotel

Day 3: Discovering Andasibe National Park (B,L,D)

Today we will explore Andasibe National Park.

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (formerly known as Perinet) is a 155 square kilometer protected area, about 150 km east of Antananarivo (approx. a three hour drive) consisting principally of primary growth forest.  These are home to the teddy bear-like Indri, the largest of Madagascar’s lemur species, as well 11 lemur species in total and a wide array of bird life too. Listening to the piercing yet melancholy cry of the Indri in the morning is an evocative experience and for those who are prepared to follow them through the thick rainforest, the reward is often a close-up view of these beautiful creatures. This National Park was inscribed in the World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana.

Overnight – Hotel

Day 4:  Antsirabe (B,L,D)

We will set off early this morning for a full day journey to Antsirabe (via Tana). The driving time is approximately 7 hours, however we will stop for lunch along the way. Upon arrival at Antsirabe, if time allows, you could choose to visit the stone cutting workshop where crystals are cut.

Antsirabe is a tidy, well maintained town which combines the tranquility of a small European provincial town with the exuberance of traditional Malagasy buildings.  The third largest city in Madagascar, Antsirabe is known for its relatively cool climate (as the rest of the central region of the country), its industry and the high concentration of pulled rickshaws.

Overnight – Hotel

Day 5: Antsirabe to Ranomafana National Park (B,L,D)

We will set out after an early breakfast towards Ranomafana National Park (approx. 4 hours driving on good roads).

We will stay just outside Ranomafana (just 10 minutes from the park entrance).

This afternoon you have the option of visiting the thermal baths in Ranomfana or looking around the village.

Overnight – Hotel

 

Day 6: Discovering Ranomafana National Park (B,L,D)

Today you have the opportunity to explore Ranomfana and search for many of the lemur on a full day trek

Ranomafana is particularly rich and beautiful, a mountainous subtropical park which contains lowland moist forest, cloud forest and high plateau forest and is the home to a large number of lemur species (13 in total), as well as 118 birds and more than 70 amphibians and reptiles so is really a great place to see some of the unique species living in Madagascar. Lemurs include the brown lemur, golden bamboo lemur and the exceptionally rare greater bamboo lemur which is relatively easy to see in Ranomafana. Wildlife viewing is good all year round but is most productive from mid-Sept to May.

Overnight – Hotel

 

Day 7: Ranomafana – Isalo National Park (B,L,D)

Transfer to the Isalo National Park. This extraordinarily unique area of natural beauty is unlike any other place in Madagascar

Overnight – Eco-lodge.

 

Day 8 Discovering Isalo National Park (B,L,D)

Today we will visit this breathtaking National Park. Included will be the opportunity to swim in a natural pool with lunch on trail.

Isalo is the park of the Big South and the most visited parks of Madagascar. It is known for its exceptional landscape. The Isalo National Park protects over 81,000 hectares of widely eroded Jurassic sandstone massif. The grassy plains are surrounded by sandstone ridges. Most of the vegetated areas of the park are covered with dry grassland or sparse, low deciduous woodland, however near streams and in deeper canyons there are also ferns and feathery palm trees.  Animal life isn’t the parks most prominent feature, but there a few species to look for including six species of lemur (three nocturnal, three daytime) including the ring tail lemur and the White (dancing lemur) sifaka. It is also home to approx 55 species of bird including the rare Benson’s rock-thrush.

Overnight – Eco-lodge

Day 9: Transfer to Ifaty (B,L,D)

Today we head to Ifaty and the Indian Ocean. If time allows, we will stop by Zombiste National Park en-route.

Facing the Mozambique Channel and the superb coral reef of Ifaty, less than 20 kms from Tuléar, you will discover the beauty of beaches not tainted by mass tourism. Ifaty is a small fishing village with palm-fringed white beaches on the south-western coast of Madagascar, and is an ideal place to relax after visiting the central highlands.   The beach is relatively narrow, but the (off shore) snorkeling and diving is good. In July and August, you may see migrating whales pass nearby through the Mozambique Channel. Between May and October, the humpback whales can sometimes be seen with their whale-calves.

Overnight – Hotel

Day 10: Discovering Ifaty  (B,D)

Just north of Ifaty you can find the Reniala Nature Reserve ‘Spiny Forest’ , a remarkable habitat adapted to the heat and drought of the area giving it the resultant thorny &/or bloated drought resistant trees and plants. The spiny forests inland from Ifaty are of great interest to birdwatchers and botanical enthusiasts alike. Here you will be able to see some very large iconic Baobab trees, an abundance of birds (a true paradise for ornithologists) as well as possibly some locally endemic species such as the long-tailed ground roller and sub-desert mesite. This unique habitat is severely threatened by deforestation and by visiting these sites, you will not only enjoy some of the little remaining spiny forest in Madagascar, but also actively contribute to its conservation (the sites are currently not protected). A visit here can be organized by the hotel, and you can even travel there by pirogue – which we highly recommend.

 

Day 11: Ifaty to Antananarivo  (B)

We will catch the Air Madagascar flight from Tulear to Tana.  Depending on your time of arrival in Tana you can visit the handicraft market.

 

Day 12: End of Trip (B)

Transfer to airport in time for flight home. If you are on the Air France or Air Kenya trip which leaves early morning of day 13, you can opt to have a day use room &/or driver/guide for the day (not included).

 

NB: This itinerary is subject to change – arrangements, routes and facilities are subject to variation depending on local conditions.  Please note times given are approximate driving times and do not include stops, the journey times are therefore longer. When driving times are given, this is only an indication.  It aims to reflect the actual driving time (and doesn’t include stops, lunch, traffic). The road journeys, while often long, are one of the great ways to experience Madagascar.  There is so much life on the road and many photographic opportunities along the way from a natural and people perspective.  

We can also tailor itineraries to suit your exact requirements.

OPTIONAL BEACH EXTENSION

BEACH EXTENSION OPTION 1: IFATY

BEACH EXTENSION OPTION 2: ANAKAO

OPTIONAL MORONDAVA EXTENSION

If you have time, why not add an extension to Morondava onto your Madagascar trip.  This will allow you to experience the Tsingy des Bemaraha as well as the Avenue des Baobabs (approx. 7 days needed – email us for details).

 

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  • Duration12 days / 11 nights
  • Price£2,150$2,595
    Full board. Excludes external flights. Includes internal flights
  • Upcoming Group Departures2017: 12th Apr'; 16th May'; 13th Jun'; 1st Aug'; 12th Sep'; 10th Oct'; 10th Nov'; 19th Dec' //2018: 20th Mar'; 11th Apr'; 15th May; 12th Jun'; 26th Jul'; 31st Jul'; 11th Sep'; 9th Oct'; 6th Nov'; 18th Dec
  • Tailormade DeparturesOn request

Extraordinary Sights

Visiting Pereyas Reptile and Chamelon Park Getting close to a bamboo lemur at Lemur Island Andasibe National Park The majestic Indri at Andasibe National Park Life on the road in Antsirabe Ranomafana National Park Trekking in Ranomafana Bamboo-lemur - Ranomafana Trekking in Isalo National Park Ring-tailed lemur Isalo National Park Natural Pool in Isalo National Park The road to Ifaty Ifaty A traditional Dhow at Ifaty Chameleon Getting close up with a Chameleon _-8 _-8
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