Madagascar Ultimate Adventure

8 - 10 Days



12 Years

£ 2350

Biking, Hiking, Trekking And Wildlife

A great mix of wildlife and adventure as you discover some of Madagascar’s Southern rivers, forests & mountains.  With a mixture of camping and lodges – you’ll explore on foot, by canoe, train, bike and car, spotting lemurs and meeting locals. Madagascar is a one-off; there is no other place like it. Its landscapes, animals and plants are simply fantastic!

We will see much of the unique flora and fauna of Eastern Madagascar on this great tour. As part of our commitment to responsible travel and in conjunction with we finance a tree nursery and orchard in Italavina – which is a long term reforestation project.

Price £2,350 / $2,950

Based on 4 pax (Single supplement £300). Excludes international flights.


Upcoming Group Departures

2024: 6 May, 7 Jul, 28 Sep

2025: 7 May, 8 Jul, 29 Sep


Tailormade Departures

March - December


Day by Day

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.

Overnight – Hotel

After breakfast you will meet your guide and we will set out by car to Antsirabe.

Once out of Tana the journey takes approx. 3+ hours on a relatively good, windy road, and along the way you can choose to stop off and visit Ambatolampy (the biggest town between Tana and Antisirabe) where we may get the chance to see craftsmen building aluminium pots amongst other things. This afternoon we will have the chance to explore Antsirabe.

Overnight – Hotel

Today we will head by car to Anraikiba Lake.  This reservoir provides the drinking water for Antsirabe.  We will visit the lake and see the rice fields, fruit and vegetable plantations.    We then head on, as we reach the village of Belazoo we will be able to see Mount Tritriva and we continue on to reach another, more spectacular lake – Lake Tritriva.

This Crater Lake with its volcanic landscape was formed following the collapse of the now extinct volcano. Nestled at an altitude of about 1880m to the hollow of a small mountain, Tritriva Lake is a very sacred lake with much history.  We will learn about some of this history whilst we visit this area and local market.  After a picnic lunch we will start our cycle – back to Antsirabe through multiple small villages and rice fields as we get to experience authentic Malagasy life.

Overnight – Hotel

Today we will be setting off to Sahambavy.

If time allows in late afternoon we will visit the plantations and tonight we will stay at the Lac Hôtel with a breathtaking view of the islands unique tea plantation (520 hectares) which spreads out as far as the eye can see. The beautiful landscape with the charming lake is the perfect destination for a relaxing stop-off.

Sahambavy is a small town on the railway from Mankarana to Fianarantsoa. Its main attraction is the Sahambavy Lake, nested at the foot of a hill.  It is also famed for the only Madagascan tea plantations.

Overnight – Hotel

Today we head out on the next part of our adventure from Fianarantsoa to Manakara (by train and canoe!). The trip will take us trough dense forests and along a calm river (the few rapids we will encounter of the next few days are gentle and can be avoided if you don’t want the potential of a swim….. that said the first rapid tends to be the one to catch most of us out).

We start by a half day train journey through scenic and interesting landscapes. The train ride takes approximately 5-6 hours.  We will be travelling on reserved 1st class seats (the train can get pretty full!) and will disembark in Manampatrana, where the Faraony river winds gently between boulders, cliffs and cultivated banks.

We will meet our canoe team and set off on a short canoe downstream (grade 1 and 2 rapids) before stopping on one of the beaches to setup camp (afternoon showers are not unusual in this area). Your guides and canoe team are in charge of all the logistics (food, firewood etc.) and you only have to put up your own tent. All meals, mainly from fresh and local products are generously served and prepared with care.

Overnight – Camp

Today will be spent canoeing down the Faraony River.

The Faraony flows down from the central highlands of Madagascar into the Indian Ocean. Situated on the east of the island, the area is tranquil and fairly still. Like many rivers in this region it seems to bear exploitable amounts of precious minerals so there are ‘gold rushes’ on many of the river bends.

Along the way we will meet many smiling Malagasy people.

Overnight – Camp

This morning we will lay up our canoes and say goodbye to the Faraony – from here onwards the river starts to flow furiously through rapids and cataracts so we abandon it in its ocean race.   From here we have a 4 – 5 hour trek (12 miles walking), where we will rendezvous with our driver and vehicle before heading to the Indian Ocean Coast and the town of Manakara.

Overnight – Hotel

You can have a leisurely morning and a bit of relaxation by the coast before heading off to Ranomafana.

Overnight – Hotel.

We will head out on a forest trail today and have lunch in the park, so we should get a chance to see much of the wildlife first hand throughout the day.

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

This morning we will spend a couple of hours rafting on the Namorana River inside the National Park before heading to Ambalavao.

If time allows, you should get a chance to visit the vibrant town of Ambalavao before heading to your accommodation and taking some time to relax.

Situated in tropical surroundings in the most southern part of the central highlands, near Fianarantsoa, Ambalavao is noted for its houses with wooden balconies with elaborate carvings and tiled roofs.  It is also known for its lively cattle market on Monday and Thursdays on the outskirts of town where you will be able to see a large number of Zebu and herdsmen on the roads. Seen as one of the most beautiful towns in the high plateaus boasting brightly painted buildings on the main street that look a bit like gingerbread houses.

Overnight – Hotel

This morning we visit Anja Park, just a short drive from Ambalavao.

After visiting the reserve we will drive to our next destination – the Tsaranoro Valley (approx. 2 hrs away).  This afternoon we can explore on a short trekking adventure or simply relax. Our accommodation here will be a traditional bungalow situated at the foot of Tsaranoro’s cliff.

This afternoon we will be able to go on a short trek to explore the area or simply relax.

Overnight – Bungalows

We will spend today exploring this stunning area on foot and meeting all the locals.

We will also have the chance to visit the base for our local agents reforestation effort (a passion which is shared (via wood-en-stock) by Pioneer Expeditions). Here we will have the opportunity to visit and see the reforestation effort for ourselves.  Depending on the time of year we may also get to plant some young saplings.

Overnight – Bungalow

Today we must start our long journey back to Tana, so we will head to Ambositra.

Overnight – Hotel

We will head back to Tana today, so that it suits an afternoon flight.  If you are booked on the Air France flight (which leaves around 1.30am), you can visit the handicraft market in Tana and have the option of a day use room at a local hotel.  If you are on an earlier morning flight, you may need to spend an additional night in Tana, which we are happy to organise for you.

Overnight – Hotel

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. 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.  

DAY 13 : Heading to Isalo National Park

After visiting the reserve we will drive to our next destination – Isalo National Park. This extraordinarily unique area of natural beauty is unlike any other place in Madagascar.

Overnight – Eco-lodge


DAY 14 : Unearthing the wonders of the remarkable Isalo National Park

Included will be the opportunity to swim in a natural pool with lunch on the 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 15 : Journeying to Zombiste National Park and the stunning coastal town of Ifaty

Today we head to Ifaty and the Indian Ocean. We plan to stop by Zombiste National Park en-route.

This south-western National Park is known for the huge variety of rare bird species as well as its unique diversity. Zombitse is home to 8 species of lemurs including the Verraux Sifaka (aka. the dancing lemur) and the threatened Fork-marked Lemur. The park also shelters 47% of the endemic birds of Madagascar as well as the local endemic Appert’s tetraka bird. Zombitse boasts fantastic flora as well including orchids and ficus making this a stunning national park!
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.

Upon arrival in Ifaty, your driver and guide will leave you. Your time at the coast will be at your leisure

Overnight – Hotel


DAYS 16: Discovering the surrounding fascinations of Ifaty

Today can be spent at your leisure, experiencing what beautiful Ifaty and its surrounding areas have to offer.

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.

Overnight – Hotel


DAY 17 : Back to Antananarivo

You will have a transfer to Tulear Airport, where you will catch the Air Madagascar flight from Tulear to Tana. We will meet you again at Tana airport and depending on your time of arrival, you can visit the handicraft market, before transferring to your hotel.

Overnight – Hotel


DAY 18 :  End of Trip

Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.  If your flight home is late in the day (or early the following morning) we are happy to organise a day use room for you &/or a driver guide. (Not Included)


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Pioneer Expeditions
Average rating:  
 11 reviews
Madagascar Ultimate Adventure

The organisation by Pioneer was excellent, and our guide and driver, Hari and Pica, took great care of us every step of the way to ensure that we were safe, and seeing as much as possible. As other reviewers have said, the transport infrastructure is truly awful, and there are long periods of time in the car bouncing very slowly towards your destination. Our most memorable moment will definitely be the train derailment (very slow and not at all scary). The train crew manoeuvred the carriage about 2m back onto the rails over the course of the next 6 hours and off we went again. However, the people are wonderful! Almost everyone you pass smiles and greets you. Children are delighted if you take a photo of them and show them - and you will quickly gather a crowd around you if you are prepared to show them photos of other things that you have seen. I wish I had taken some pens, as many of the children asked if I had a pen that I could give them for school. The determination, positive attitude and resourcefulness of people who have next to nothing is incredible. For mile after mile every usable inch of land is cultivated, back-breakingly by hand, or occasionally by ox (zebu). The clay is dug out to form paddy fields, and turned into bricks, dried in enormous piles by the roadside. We saw people sawing wood into planks by hand, and met children as young as 6 or 7 walking 30km to market. The highlight was, of course, the lemurs: a night walk to see the mouse lemur; ring tailed lemurs sunworshipping on a rock; but also cycling through crowded streets dodging rickshaws, ox carts, potholes and pedestrians; the visit to the zebu market; the wood carvers (who created their own saws out of steel recovered from car tyres, bashed flat and then teeth hand cut into it); the people sand casting cooking pots out of recycled aluminium. Some tolerance is required when things don't go to plan, and you do need a good level of fitness for this particular tour…It's definitely off the beaten track, and there aren't many other tourists around which is great, but the time between activities (on those roads) can be very long.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Pioneer, who were very supportive both before and during the trip. Madagascar itself is a unique destination, and an amazing experience.

 by Sarah
Madagascar Ultimate adventure - Nov 2022

Just a note to say what a fantastic time we had in Madagascar ! The trip was so well planned and really allowed us to explore many different elements (from cycling up that mountain to relaxing by the sea). What really made it though was the fantastic guides you paired us with – both Blaize and Gerard (driver) were so great – they always made sure everything was taken care of and so incredibly helpful. I was especially grateful when I did not feel well (chalk that up to dehydration and a bit of a travel bug) and they were able to make sure I got to our next stop a bit earlier than planed so I could rest and Nick could carry on – made all the difference. We would highly recommend the trip and the guides, please pass on again how delighted we were with everything – and really again appreciate the thought and balance that went in to ensure the trip hit on both what Nick and I were after (that balance of rugged adventure as well as some more refined relaxation!).

 by Janet White Spunner
National Parks, Lemurs and Chameleons

Great holiday. Stayed in some lovely places. People were very friendly. Food was good and rum was cheap!!

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