Natural Madagascar Safari & Beach

This 12 night Natural Madagascar safari & beach tour visits three of the natural highlights of Madagascar: the eastern rainforest of the Andasibe Mantadia National Park, the dry spiny forest of the south and the lush tropical coastline south-east coast.

To see a reasonable spectrum of Madagascar’s endemic mammals, birds, reptiles and flora you need to visit a variety of climatic / floral zones. You begin with the lush Eastern rainforest area of the Andasibe-Mantadia Natural Park. Famous for its rainforest animals including the indri indri as well as birds, insect life and frogs. You enjoy morning walks in the forest and night walks in season. Next you head south to the unique dry spiny forest. Home to the friendly ringtail lemurs, where you have a chance to meet some of the local people and experience the baobab forest.

The holiday ends with some relaxation on the south-east coast at Manafiafy Beach Lodge where you can choose to be as active or relaxed as you wish. In between you spend a night (or two depending on flight schedules) at the capital city of Tana (Antanarivo). A colourful hillside city with a heady mix of shanty life and French colonial architecture.

As Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, the prime wildlife hotspots are far from each other, so getting to each involves domestic flights and scenic road transfers. ‘Semi-escorted’ means that you are guided in each area but fly independently between the regions.

This itinerary is perfect for first time visitors wishing to see a broad spectrum of Madagascar’s flora and fauna.

Accommodation at a glance:

1 night Hotel Palissandre (or upgrade to Lokanga Boutique Hotel), Antananarivo (Tana), Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
2 nights Vakona Forest Lodge, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
1 night Royal Palissandre Hotel, Tana, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
3 nights Mandrare River Lodge, Dry Spiny South, Fully Inclusive
4 nights Manfiafy Beach Lodge, Southern rainforest beach, Fully Inclusive
1 night Lokanga Boutique Hotel, Tana, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast

See Day by Day
Day 1

Arrive in Tana and overnight at Palissandre or Lokanga Boutique Hotel, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast

On arrival in Antananarivo (Tana) airport, you are met and transferred to your hotel.

Tana, (as the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo, is called) is a brightly coloured melange of French colonial architecture, multi-storeyed houses and narrow alleys. A city with unique architecture, oodles of charm and bustling streets, it overlooks the rolling central highlands of Madagascar surrounded by fields of rice paddies.

Lokanga Boutique Hotel is a small boutique hotel in the old part of Tana high on the sacred Royal Hill near to the old Queen’s Palace. The hotel aims to combine the charm of a bygone era – with much use of antiques, family artefacts, old prints and photos – and modern amenities.

Accommodation: Lokanga Boutique Hotel
Located in: Antananarivo - Madagascar

Accommodation: Royal Palissandre Hotel
Located in: Antananarivo - Madagascar

Day 2

Scenic road transfer to Andasibe, 2 nights Vakona Forest Lodge, Dinner B&B

You are collected by your guide and drive to the Eastern Rainforests and Andasibe. This scenic transfer takes approx 3-3½ hours on a good but winding road with picturesque scenery en route. Along the way there are lovely views of rice paddies and the unique red-bricked houses of the Merina people, the dominant culture in this region.

You have the rest of the day to explore the forests at your own leisure. From late August to March you may be able to join an optional night walk into the park to see the nocturnal lemur species and tenrecs amongst others.

Andasibe National Park

The eastern rainforests of Madagascar are a must-see on any Madagascar lemur safari. The tropical montane rainforest of Madagascar is one of the densest in the world and its floral diversity is particularly rich. A big part of that attraction is the appeal of the Indri lemurs which have their own special protected part of the Andasibe park.

The lovely Vakona Forest Lodge lies 8 kilometres from Andasibe (Périnet), between Andasibe and the Mantadia National Park. The building has been designed around an octagonal reception area (common in Malagasy architecture) with a lounge, bar and restaurant with a huge fireplace in the middle to keep the airy space warm in winter. There’s also a small library. Outside you can relax on the veranda overlooking the forest and lake or around the large central swimming pool.

Accommodation: Vakona Forest Lodge
Located in: Andasibe National Park - Madagascar

Day 3

Mantadia National Park hike

Today you have the whole day to explore the rainforest with the Park’s specialist guides. Dinner, Bed & Breakfast

You set off early for a walking tour of the Mantadia National Park. Typically this is usually a morning tour of 4-5 hours but there are longer trails on offer. This offers fairly challenging terrain, so it best if you are reasonably fit, but you can do as much as you feel comfortable with. There are shorter flatter walks on offer as well.

The forest is thicker than Perinet (tomorrow) and you are rewarded with varied wildlife sightings such as the diademed sifaka (the so-called dancing lemur), the black-and-white ruffed lemur, common brown lemur, red-bellied lemur and the grey bamboo lemur.

Birding in Mantadia is especially good with the likes of the rare Brown mesite, Pitta-like ground-roller, Brown emutail and the velvet asity all to be seen. (Your chances of good birding increases on the longer trails.)

Optional Night Walk
If you travel in spring or summer (late August to March), pack a headtorch as you can join a night stroll to see nocturnal wildlife such as tenrecs (spiny hedgehog like creatures) with the Perinet guides. At night another world emerges in the forest, making night walks especially interesting. Nocturnal lemurs include the Eastern woolly lemur, Goodman’s mouse lemur and the furry-eared dwarf lemur.

Accommodation: Vakona Forest Lodge
Located in: Andasibe National Park - Madagascar

Day 4

Perinet Special Reserve & Return to Tana, 1 night Royal Palissandre Hotel, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast

Enjoy an early morning walk into the most accessible part of Andasibe National Park, the Indri Special Reserve to see the lemurs whilst they are most active. The 810ha ‘reserve within a reserve’ has several well-maintained forest paths, which are mostly gentle in terrain.

The Indri or Perinet Special Reserve protects the largest of all the lemurs, the Indri. Standing about a metre high, with a stump for a tail, black-and-white markings and a beguilingly startled expression, the Indri looks more like a bizarre panda than a lemur. You will see them relatively easily, even if you stay on the marked trails, but for longer sightings you must scramble after them through the forest, craning up to exclaim as they execute balletic leaps from tree to tree. Their long back legs are immensely powerful, and an indri can propel itself 10 metres (30ft), executing a turn in mid-air, to grab a new tree and then gaze down benevolently at you!

Typically you visit Indri Special Reserve at dawn to see the Indri lemurs when they are most active. Walking through the rainforest, as its distinctive siren-like calls emanate from the mist-covered canopy is one of the most memorable experiences of your Madagascar lemur safari.

As well as the amazing Indri you may also see the Eastern grey bamboo lemur, red-fronted brown lemur as well as impressive reptiles like Malagasy tree boa and two foot long Parson’s chameleon. You might even be fortunate to see the giraffe-necked Weevil or the golden Mantilla frog.

After lunch (for your own account), you return to Tana in the afternoon to stay a second night at the Royal Palissandre.

Accommodation: Royal Palissandre Hotel
Located in: Antananarivo - Madagascar

Days 5 to 7

Fly to Fort Dauphin and transfer to Mandrare River Camp, 3 nights, Fully Inclusive

Today you have a road transfer back to Ivato Airpport and take the scheduled flight from Tana to Fort Dauphin in the south.

On arrival you are met by your guide from Mandrare River Camp. The three hour road journey offers a marked change of landscapes going from the rice paddies of the tropical south-eastern coast to the drier arid region of sisal plantations and ‘spiny forest’ arriving at Mandrare River Camp on the banks of the impressive Mandrare River. This will be the base camp for the next three days from which to explore the natural wonders of this unique part of the world.

Enjoy morning and afternoon walks or nature drives in search of the unique wildlife of this area, visit the baobab trees and unique spiny forest vegetation. Another interesting excursion is to visit the markets in one of the nearby Antandroy villages where complex network of taboos and tradition rule every area of life. Perhaps even take an excursion to Lac Anony with its azure blue waters and dune surrounds.

Mandrare River Camp is set in a grove of tamarind trees amidst unspoilt bush. Six private tents are sited along the riverbank, each enjoying spectacular views of the river. Each has en-suite facilities shower and flush loo. There’s solar water heating and solar power for night time lighting. The sun rises in front of the tents giving wonderful early morning light – a paradise for photographers. On the river’s edge is a larger terrace – the perfect place to relax with a book and a pair of binoculars and simply immerse yourself in the special ambience of the place.

Accommodation: Mandrare River Camp
Located in: Madagascar - Southern Madagascar

Days 8 to 11
Scenic road transfer to Manafiaty via Fort Dauphin. Manafiafy Camp, Fully Inclusive

Today you have a pretty long transfer day as you return to Fort Dauphin, where you break the journey for lunch before continuing onto Manafiafy where you spend 4 nights.

Indeed Manafiafy Beach Lodge, with just six private bungalows is an intriguing combination of rain forest lodge and barefoot luxury beach property all rolled into one. As such it is perfect for people who don’t just want a beach stay.

Each spacious en suite chalet is set amongst the trees. They are constructed of local stone and mangrove poles under a palm-thatched roof. They are beautifully furnished with large glass windows which can be opened fully to enjoy the sea breezes or closed if you prefer. Each has a mosquito net, fan, solar electricity supply, safe, shower and flush toilets. In front is a large private sea facing deck, complete with hammock, sun loungers, outside shower and private access to the magnificent unspoilt beach and Indian ocean.

Days at Manafiafy Camp are not just for lazing on the beach – though that’s certainly an option. There are morning walks on offer into the surrounding rainforest, boat excursions to explore up the river, deserted beaches for picnics, snorkelling spots in the crystal clear water, sea kayaking and massages accompanied by the gentle lapping of the ocean waves.

Accommodation: Manafiafy Beach Lodge
Located in: Madagascar - Southern Madagascar

Day 12
Return to Tana for overnight stay at Lokanga Boutique Hotel, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast

Today you are transferred back to Fort Dauphin in time for your return flight to Tana. On arrival you return to Lokanga Boutique Hotel for a final night.

Sightseeing tours in Tana (Antananarivo) are a great way to spend the afternoon (or the following morning) and usually include the Queen’s Palace (rova), the artisans’ market outside town and also climbing the steep steps between the newer part of the city around Independence Avenue and the more chi-chi ‘haute ville’ or high town. (Optional – not included in tour price at this stage)

Accommodation: Lokanga Boutique Hotel
Located in: Antananarivo - Madagascar

Day 13

Morning at leisure and then transfer back to Ivato Airport.

View Interactive Itinerary
See Route on Map
Accommodation, meals as specified, Reserve guides in the National parks (only reserve guides are allowed to guide visitors) and all Park Fees, all entrances as mentioned in the itinerary
Domestic flights – typical prices are shown but a confirmed price is given on the quote, optional tours, all meals not specified, drinks, visa costs and items of a personal nature eg. tips, curios
Best time to go:
April-May to Early December
Health requirements:
Anti-malaria precautions essential. It is also suggested that you drink bottled water and take care to avoid uncooked & unpeeled fruits and vegetables. Medical facilities are few and far between.
Flight schedules change regularly in Madagascar. In order to connect with your homeward flight, you may need to change to have the final night in Tana as well (or add a night.)
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