DIFFICULTY

Medium

MIN. AGE

12 Years

£ 2595

A Truly Off The Beaten Track Adventure

Unearth Madagascar’s magnificently wild Northern region. Go truly off the beaten track on this adventure; passing through the remotest of villages and national parks, seeing striking diverse landscapes  and spotting incredibly unique Madagascan wildlife. Be a part of the adventurous minority! Starting from Madagascar’s last major highland forest, we’ll move through barren Tampoketsa  and the Tsingy of Ankarana before reaching the far Northern coast of Madagascar.

Price £2,595 / $2,995

Price based on 4 pax, £250 supplement is less. 2 Optional Beach Extensions: 1 Island Hopping, 1 Nosy Sakatia.

Excludes international flights.

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Day by Day

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.

Overnight Hotel

After breakfast you will meet your guide and we will head towards Ambohitantely National Reserve (approx. 3 hrs). This afternoon we will spend the time hiking through this special reserve.

Ambohitantely special reserve protects the last of the original highlands forest. It is covered with natural forest and grassy plains and is known for its astonishing populations of palms. It is inhabited by 12 mammal species including the common brown lemur, the brown mouse lemur and the eastern woolly lemur (the latter two being nocturnal). It is a great location to see birds – with over 48 species including the Madagascar crested Ibis.

Overnight – Camp

We will spend the morning trekking this reserve again before heading back to our car for our transfer to Ankarafantsika (approx. 6 hr transfer).

Ankarafantsika National Park, set on Lac Ravelobe, is a mixture of deciduous forests and wetlands.  It is known for its lakes and for being a haven for lemurs and endemic birds.  It is covered in varied fauna, mainly herbaceous and endemic woody plants.  It is the home to the beautiful Coquerel’s sifaka as well as 7 other species of lemurs (inc. western woolly, fat tailed dwarf lemur, mongoose lemurs) and exceptional birds (including roufous vanga and fish eagle). There is an organized network of paths that is perfect for wildlife viewing. 

Here you are able to take night walks to see some of the nocturnal species which are particularly prevalent in this park (including mouse lemur – the smallest primate in the world).

We will overnight at the bungalows in the national park – these are set discreetly in the forest and face Lake Ravelobe. They are clean, comfortable and simple, and are ideal for us to get an early start in the forest tomorrow (being a 2 min walk from the park entrance).

Overnight bungalow

We set off after breakfast to explore this forest on foot, a superb and fauna rich day hike. We will take a picnic lunch to have on the trail in the national park. After dinner we will have the option of setting out on a night hike again to see some of the nocturnal inhabitants of the forest.

Overnight – Bungalow

After another morning exploring the forest, we will drive to Antsohihy. Along the way we will pass through villages and animated markets so there is always something to look at en-route.

An isolated coastal village, accessible only by boat or plane in the rainy season.   Antsohihy is connected inland with the River Loza. The people of Antsohihy live from forestry, trade and transport activities and the area is renowned for seafood too.

Overnight – Bungalow

Today we will we head for Ambanja. Upon arrival in Ambanja, you may choose to go for peaceful bike ride around the plantations, relax on the beach or even partake in a mangrove canoe trip.

Ambanja boasts a stunning location on the Sambirano river and is a buzzing, farming community with plantations, with crops like coffee, ylang ylang pepper and vanilla but most importantly for the community, cacao. There is a local airport and a small maritime harbor at Ankify which notably is the gate to the Islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Komba.

Tonight we will sleep in bungalows on the beach.

Overnight – Bungalow

This morning we head to Ankarana (approx. 4 hrs by road). Upon arrival we will set up our camp and we will then get a chance to explore. This afternoon we will visit Perte de Riviere – which is the gateway to a series of caves leading to the ocean.

Overnight – Hotel

Today will be spent exploring this amazing park along with the Tsingy and the canyons. 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).

Ankarana Special Reserve covers 18,220ha and is known for its limestone karst pinnacles called Tsingy along with its extensive cave system and network of underground rivers. Ankarana possibly has the highest density of primates of any forest (with 11 species of lemurs being found here) and here you may see the crowned lemur, Sanford’s brown lemur, Perrieri’s (black sifaka) lemur, the northern sportive lemur and dwarf lemurs as well as a variety of chameleons and leaf-tailed Uroplatus gecko and great flora.

Overnight – Hotel  

Today we head to Joffreville (approx. 3 hrs on a slightly bumpy road) and the Montagne d’Ambre – the Amber Mountain.

This stunning National Park is comprised of a huge tropical forest with waterfalls and volcanic lakes.   This islet of verdant forest is a haven of freshness that escaped the stuffy heatwave of this region.  There are numerous animals that inhabit this national park including the ring-tailed mongoose, the fossa and 8 lemurs (which are not always easy to see).  It is also home to 75 bird species – 35 of them are endemic, 60 reptiles (from leaf tailed gecko’s to a number of chameleon species, 35 frogs and 40 butterflies. Due to its relative proximity to Diego, this park can get quite busy (by Madagascan standards) in the high season, however it is really worth visiting.

Our accommodation whilst here will be a charming boutique hotel

Overnight – Hotel

Today we will spend the day exploring the forest trails and waterfalls in the Montagne d’Ambre.

Overnight – Hotel

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

 

Overnight – Hotel

Transfer to airport in time for flight home.  We can arrange a day use room if you are on a late night flight (not included)

NB:

This is the Wild North and is not on the usual tourist route, so the accommodation quality does vary and some of the drives are long.

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. 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.  

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Area Map

OPTIONAL BEACH/ISLAND HOPPING EXTENSION – £695

Day 11: Diego to Nosy Be

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.

Overnight Hotel

 

Day 12: Nosy-be/Anjiabe

We board a dhow Sakalava to explore an area where the sea is the only path.   Swimming, snorkeling 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!

Overnight Camp.

 

Day 13: Radama

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.

Overnight Camp

 

Day 14: Ambariomena 

We set off early to head Ambariomena. 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!

Overnight Camp

 

Day 15: Nosy be – Tana

Flight Back to Tana

Extension:  £695

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Pioneer Expeditions
Average rating:  
 9 reviews
 by Howarth
Mad Nature guided north

We had a great time, thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the amount of wildlife we saw. I think we were probably lucky to be among the first of the tourists getting back into Madagascar, we were the only guests in a couple of hotels and the parks weren't very busy. Ankarafantsika was fine, although basic, the national park was great and we saw almost all the types of lemur plus plenty of birds. All the other hotels were very good, although Baobab Hotel didn't have hot water. We were the only ones there and I hope they manage to get going again.
Nosy Sakatia was delightful, we dived a couple of days and snorkelled with whale sharks and turtles.
Star rating - 4 ½ stars – the Southern trip we did with you would undoubtedly be a 5, I think 4.5 for this, but that is partly because facilities were a bit sparse in a couple of the hotels. There is every chance that when they get back to normal, these problems will be ironed out. All in all, your organisation was great, I know it's not easy to plan, especially with things the way they still are.
We will definitely come back to you for any future trips.

Mada nature guided north

Andy and I just wanted to thank you for organising and then reorganising our trip to Madagascar. We returned yesterday after an amazing experience. I don't know where to begin, with all the highlights.

Guides and Drivers were fantastic and at Sakatia Lodge we were treated like family. So much so that we are returning to them next October for further diving!!!!

Just an enormous thank you Laurenne.
Warm wishes to all at Pioneer.

Madagascar Nature North

Returning from the fabulous fortnight we enjoyed in Madagascar, we can only say a big, big thank you for everything. It really was a memorable trip with such a diversity of scenery and experience it is difficult to do it full justice by way of a thank you note. Up front we must acknowledge the excellent support from your local agent, MadaMax. They were excellent in their support to their Tour Guide, Blaise (Ravelon Blaise Fabien) who was himself a superb tour leader. He is a knowledgeable and thoroughly effective operator. He had to make several decisions affecting our itinerary when vehicles broke down and circumstances dictated. In these, head office in Tana, was very responsive too and delays were actually pretty minimal. We always felt that things were under control and we were amply consulted along the way. We really do commend Blaise as a tour leader with excellent English and skills in dealing when things go slightly wrong as they inevitably will given distances, road conditions and other unexpected glitches.

Overall, a rewarding and memorable trip. Would love to go back and see other parts - joints and stuff permitting

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    Laurenne Mansbridge

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