An action packed expedition through the wild North West. Starting from the red highlands, we move on through the wide open spaces and the green valley of Sambirano to the white sands of Diego Suarez. Rafting, canoeing, hiking the Tsingy, sleeping in tree huts, exploring Ankarana, you’ll get plenty of excitement in this 2 week adventure.
Thanks for all your help and the crew! I had a fantastic time in Madagascar and thoroughly enjoyed my trip! C. Nursaw
Madagascar is a one-off; there is no other place like it. Its landscapes, animals and plants are simply fantastic! 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.
As part of our commitment to responsible travel and in conjunction with Woodenstock.org we finance a tree nursery and orchard in Italavina – which is a long term reforestation project.
Day 1: Arrival to Tana
After arriving in Antananarivo (or Tana, as it is known by the locals) late pm, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel
Day 2: Gondwana Island (B,L,D)
After breakfast you will meet your guide and we will set out by car and head towards Gondwana island on the Ikopa river (approx. 5hrs). Upon reaching the river we will transfer to our rafts and spend the next hour paddling to the island – the river is quite wide, and the rapids are easy. Gondwana is a relatively new camp on this 50 ha island and is a great place for bird and crocodile watching.
Day 3: ANTSOHIHY (B,L,D)
We will get back in our rafts for our return journey back to shore. Our car will be waiting for us and we will set out on our relatively long journey to Antsohihy. This journey provides a great chance to view Malagasy life on the roads. (driving time approx. 6 hrs, depending on road conditions).
Day 4: ANTSOHIHY – AMBANJA
Later in the season (August onwards) the Sambirano river levels are too low for the canoe trip. We therefore have 2 programs depending on the time of year for this trip.
|April – July|
|DAY 4: AMBANJA & Canoe Trip (B,L,D)|
|Today we will head to Ambanja (approx. 3 hours), a pleasant little town set amongst a green backdrop. We will stop for lunch while the team prepare the canoe on the Sambirano river. This afternoon we will transfer by car to our put in point where we meet up with our canoe team and reach our camp for tonight.
|DAY 5: CANOEING THE SAMBIRANO RIVER (B,L,D)
|This morning we set off by canoe along the Sambirano river. The river is mainly flat with a small rapid midway and we will spend the next two days making our way back to Ambanja. There is great bird watching along this river and we will also be able to see a lot of agricultural activity along the banks as well as some traditional fisherman.
|DAY 6: END OF THE CANOEING DESCENT (B,L,D)|
|We continue our descent down the Sambirano river until we arrive back at Ambanja. We will then head just up the road to Ankify . Tonight we will stay at the beautiful Baobab Hotel. This afternoon will be at leisure on the in the beach outside our bungalows.
|August – November|
|DAY 4: AMBANJA & Canoe Trip (B,L,D)|
|Today we will head to Ambanja (approx. 3 hours), a pleasant little town set amongst a green backdrop. We will stop for lunch while the team prepare the canoe on the Sambirano river. This afternoon we will set off by canoe for approx. 3 hours. This evening we will camp by the village of Ankatafana.
|DAY 5: CANOEING THROUGH THE MANGROVES (B,L,D)
|We leave Ankatafana after the breakfast , we can stop on the mangrove to visit the daily life of the fisherman,
Camp on the beach.
|DAY 6: KAYAK TO ANKIFY (B,L,D)|
|We will paddle for 02 – 03hours this morning before arriving at Ankify before lunch. Tonight we will stay at the beautiful Baobab Hotel. This afternoon will be at leisure on the in the beach outside our bungalows.
DAY 7: ANKIFY TO ANKARANA RESERVE (B,L,D)
We have a short hop this morning (approx. 4hrs driving time) to Ankarana. We will stay at a lovely lodge just outside the park.
After enjoying a lunch at this lodge, we will head out for our first trek into Ankarana
The next two days will be spent trekking through this reserve.
DAY 8: EXPLORING ANKARANA PARK (B,L,D)
Today will be spent exploring this amazing park. The trails are not easy but are feasible for anyone with a moderate level of fitness and we recommend visiting this park in the dry season (May-Nov).
You will hopefully get a chance to cool off in the lodge swimming pool at the end of a hard days trekking
DAY 9: ANKARA TO Montagne d’ambrE (B,L,D)
After another morning in Ankara we will head back to the car and drive to Jofreville (approx. 3+ hrs on another bumpy road) and the Montagne d’Ambre – the Amber Mountain.
Our accommodation whilst here will be a charming boutique hotel The Litchi Tree.
DAY 10: Trekking in the AMBER MOUNTAIN (B,L,D)
We can spend the day trekking in this national park before heading back to the hotel in the late afternoon.
Day 11: Montagne de Francais (B,L,D)
Today we head to Montagne de Francais, just a short 1 ½ hour by road, but a very different environment – a tropical dry forest with baobabs, caves and fish eagles and different species of lemurs. This reserve protects deciduous dry forest characteristic of the north of Madagascar. Much of the forest is on a calcareous massif that has been eroded into Tsingy. The forested area ranges from 100-450 metres above sea level. This is one of the best places to see one of the most beautiful baobabs, Adansonia suarezensis. We will have a unique experience here as we will overnight in the tree bungalows – literally huts built in trees!
Overnight – Tree bungalow
Day 12: Hiking to Sakalava (B,L,D)
Today we will hike the 3 hours to Sakalava. With beautiful white sand and a shallow lagoon with pristine waters this is the perfect place to relax and unwind after all the activity of the past 12 days.. It is a ” bush ” hotel, for guests who want to stay off the beaten path , in a quiet and magical environment. The hotels incorporates 7 acres which are inhabited by wild lemurs and thousands of birds. Sakalava bay, with a 3 mile stretch of beach enclosed by barrier reef is a perfect place for wind or kite surfing (it’s a safe place to learn as the wind blows you back into shore).
Overnight Sakalava Bungalow
DAY 13: FROM DIEGO TO TANA (B)
We will leave Sakalava and head to Diego, where we will take an Air Madagascar flight back to Tana. Depending on your time of arrival in Tana you can visit the handicraft market en-route to your hotel.
DAY 14: FLIGHT HOME (B)
Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.
NB: This itinerary is subject to change – arrangements, routes and facilities are subject to variation depending on local conditions. We can also tailor itineraries to suit your exact requirements. 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.
Optional Beach / Island Hopping Extension
Nb. other beach extensions available, please contact us for more info
DAY 14: from diego to nosy-be (B)
We head to Diego where we will take an Air Madagascar flight to Nosy Be. Upon arrival we will transfer to a hotel where we will spend the afternoon at leisure.
|With the air scented with Madagascan vanilla and tranquil, sparkling clear turquoise water, Nosy be is a charming destination for anyone. There are plenty of hotels and excellent restaurants serving seafood feasts on the sand. The sunset over the beach is unbeatable – a real escape from the hustle and bustle of Madagascan city life. Nosy Be means ‘big island’ in traditional Malagasy language and is a fantastic place to dive and snorkel.|
DAY 15: Nosy-be / Anjiabe (B,L,D)
First thing this morning we will meet at the beach for where we board a dhow Sakalava to explore an area where the sea is the only path. Swimming, snorkelling and diving discovery of an incredibly rich and diverse underwater world awaits us. After a dhow journey we will land at Anjiabé, a 3km long beach bordered by a semi-abandoned coconut plantation, a site with extraordinary low tide. This is where we will camp for tonight. After a drink and a stunning meal of seafood prepared for us by our chef, we will have the chance to nap, swim and for those who wish, walk trails to observe the many species of birds, mostly endemic to Madagascar. Sunset, cocktails, meals … And good night!
DAY 16: SCUBA DIVING & NATURE WALKS (B,L,D)
Depending on the tide we will depart relatively early towards the Island’s northernmost archipelago Radama. (approx. a 2 1/2hr crossing). Along the way we will get a chance to swim. Nosy Ambariopôtaka rises to 166 meters and includes a different landscape to last night and we camp facing the majestic Mozambique Channel. In the next bay we tend to find a Sakalava carpenter at work – with one or more shells of dhows resting on a bed of pink and white periwinkles. The whole island is surrounded by a lagoon. Scuba diving, nature walks in the jungle and lazing are the order of today.
DAY 17: AMBARIOMENA (B,L,D)
We set off early to head Ambariomena.
|Situated on the coast just west of Ambanja, Ambariomena is a quiet Malagasy fjord like a lake surrounded by small patches of orange sand, dominated by a steep forest crisscrossed by tongues of pink sandstone. The island plunges into a maze of mangroves and primary forest.|
We set up camp a lovely little village and, depending on the tides, in the afternoon, we head out to the sea in a canoe or explore the island on foot. After our evening aperitif, we will enjoy a meal under the stars and camp the night.
DAY 18: Flight BACK TO TANA (B)
This morning we head back to Nosy Be where we will take an Air Madagascar flight back to Tana. Depending on time of arrival you will have the option of a visit to the handicraft market and also day use of a hotel. International flights are usually at 01:00hrs. Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.
DAY 19: Flight home
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Thanks for all your help and that of the Madamax crew!
I had a fantastic time in Madagascar and thoroughly enjoyed my trip!
I have wanted to visit Madagascar for some time and this trip looked like a wonderful way to do so - I was especially attracted by the range of activities and the small group size.
Highlights of the trip - Lemurs. Chameleons. The beauty of Madagascar. The friendliness of the Madagascan people. A very unexpected highlight was the food, which was excellent!
I loved this trip! Our driver Ju (hope I've spelled that right) deserves special mention, as he was a real star, as does our additional river guide and superb chef.
Our Madagascan trip was excellent. I think your local partners and their knowledgeable freelance guide really made the trip for us . The local company could not do enough for us and I would recommend them . Everything was extremely well organized .
'We had a great holiday thank you! We really enjoyed the trip and the company of our guides. The team were fantastic and were completely dedicated to delivery the best service to us. The Alefa boat trip was a sensational experience - luxury with food that was out of this world!'
We really enjoyed our trip. Madagascar is fascinating, we loved the parks and the wildlife, and our guides were excellent. The food provided (both by the guides and at the hotels) was of a very high standard, and we liked the mix of hotels - especially the tree house, which was our favourite!
We wanted to let you know we had a fantastic Madagascar trip!! It was well organised and the local guides / driver were terrific!!
This has been an amazing trip. We have really really loved it. The organisation was superb. The guides completely trustworthy. Food was superb and our safety was paramount when out and about. It is truly away from everything. Thank-you