Northern Madagascar Tour

Our Northern Madagascar tour offers the diverse highlights of Eastern and Northern Madagascar. You first visit Andasibe National Park in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar and then head north to see Amber Mountain, Ankarana and Ankify. It ends with some time relaxing on the beach in Nosy Be after an action packed scenic and wildlife safari.

You first visit the lush eastern rainforests of Andasibe, famed for its large variety of rainforest animals and plants, before heading north to explore the diverse scenic delights of the far north of Madagascar. Visit the montane forest of Amber Mountain National Park and the dramatic scenery of the Ankarana National Park with its unique limestone tsingy formations and deep caves. En route you visit charming towns and villages and get a chance to experience local Malagasy life. Afterwards you meander through lush farmland to the coastal village of Ankify.

From here you take a boat across to the lovely island of Nosy Be to spend a few days enjoying the glorious sandy beaches. Here you can relax as well as take optional tours to smaller islands of Nosy Komba & Nosy Tanikely.

Northern Madagascar Tour at a Glance:

1 night Tana, Royal Palissandre Hotel, BB
2 nights Andasibe, Vakona Forest Lodge, BB
1 night Tana, Royal Palissandre Hotel, BB
2 nights Joffeville near Amber Mountain NP, Nature Lodge. BB
2 nights Ankarana National Park, Ankarana Lodge, BB
4 nights Nosy Be, Anjiamarango Beach Lodge, BB

There are now direct flights from Nosy Be to Johannesburg (but only once a week, currently Sundays). So you may not need a final night back at Tana. But if you are flying back to Europe, you may need an optional night at Lokanga Boutique Hotel at the end. We will include this once we know about your flight plans…

See Day by Day
Day 1
Overnight in Tana, Royal Palissandre Hotel,  Bed & Breakfast

On arrival in Antananarivo (Tana) airport, you proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where you are met by our English-speaking Malagasy agent. They will then assist you with exchanging money before you are transferred to the Lokanga Boutique Hotel or Pavillion de l’Ermyne for your overnight stay.

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 over the rolling central highlands of Madagascar surrounded by fields of rice paddies. Please click for background information.

The attractive 4 star Royal Palissandre Hotel is one of the more modern of the Tana hotels and is one of our favourites. It has a pleasant hillside setting overlooking the ‘City of Thousands’. It is an attractive building with rose-coloured brickwork, Mantasoa stonework, and much use of rosewood and marble in the interior.

Accommodation: Royal Palissandre Hotel
Located in: Antananarivo - Madagascar

Day 2
Scenic Road Transfer to Andasibe, Vakona Forest Lodge, Bed & Breakfast

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 Andasibe National Park in 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.

Day 3
Explore Andasibe-Mantadia

The next day you have the whole day to explore the rainforest with the Park’s specialist guides. We recommend taking the very 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. Click here for more information on Andasibe National Park.

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

Day 4
Morning lemur walk, Return to Royal Palissandre Hotel,  Bed & Breakfast

This morning you enjoy a full morning visit to the wilder, nearby rainforest of Mantadia National Park. This offers fairly challenging terrain, so it best if you are reasonably fit, but there are some easier trails as well.

You return to the hotel for lunch and then depart back to Antananarivo after lunch arriving in the late afternoon. Stay overnight at the Royal Palissandre again.

Accommodation: Royal Palissandre Hotel
Located in: Antananarivo - Madagascar

Day 5
Fly to Diego Suarez and transfer to 2 nights at Nature Lodge, Bed & Breakfast

Today you have a road transfer back to Ivato Airpport and take the scheduled flight from Tana to Diego Suarez in the far north.

On arrival you are met by your next local guide. Flight schedules permitting you may have time explore the town a little before heading off to the small town of Joffreville about 45 minutes drive south from Diego. Joffreville is an French colonial town with some dilapidated old buildings and a relaxed village ambience.

Stay for 2 nights at Nature Lodge. Its setting on a small hill offers panoramic views of the Diego Suarez bay and the Mozambique Channel. There are 12 spacious thatched chalets built from local wood and bamboo, with mosquito net and spacious en suite shower room. In front there is a private terrace so that you can enjoy the bay views.

Accommodation: Nature Lodge
Located in:

Day 6
Explore the Montane d’Ambre National Park (Amber Mountain)

You have the whole day to explore the Amber Mountain National Park. This montane rainforest on a volcanic massif ranges has its own micro-climate with a rainfall equal to the eastern rainforests (so it’s quite a contrast to the dry and sometimes hot Diego Suarez!)

It is one of the most visitor-friendly of all the protected areas of Madagascar, with broad walking trails, lush montane forest, crater lakes, spectacular waterfalls and a comfortable climate (cool and fresh). Its name comes not from precious amber deposits, but from the amber-coloured resin that oozes from some of its trees and is used medicinally by the local Malagasy people. There’s a lovely walking circuit which takes in three different waterfalls including Antomboka & Sacred waterfalls which has a picturesque pool surrounded by orchids as well as plenty of lemurs, orchids and birds.

Days 7 & 8
Head to Ankarana National Park for 2 nights Relais de Ankarana or Iharana Bush Camp, Bed & Breakfast

Today you continue to the strikingly different Ankarana National Park for a full day of exploration.

The dry, deciduous Ankarana is a really spectacular, bizarre area of natural beauty. The Ankarana reserve is a limestone massif (plateau) surrounded by formidable cliffs and marvellously impressive fields of razor sharp pinnacles which are called tsingy. These are ancient corals which have been sculptured by erosion.

You explore the park on foot to look for lemurs, chameleons and of course the famous limestone tsingy. Underneath the Tsingy are miles of caves, passages and rivers, where one can find crocodiles and blind fish. There’s even an option to descend into one of the bats’ caves. Some of the largest caves have collapsed, forming isolated pockets of river-fed forest with their own perfectly protected flora and fauna such as Crowned and Sanford’s brown lemur as well as the fossa, one of Madagascar’s few carnivores, the striped civet and ring-tailed mongoose.

There’s a choice of trails from easy to more challenging. A highlight is the famous heart-raising rope bridge across one of the larger canyons. You may visit places such as the emerald green Lac Vert, which is a natural deep sinkhole, see some spectacular areas of pinnacle fields as well as interesting flora and fauna. Weather permitting a swim in one of the natural cave pools is highly refreshing.

Accommodation: Le Relais de l’Ankarana
Located in:

Day 9
Head to Ankify and across by boat to Nosy Be, 4 nights Anjiamarango Beach Lodge, Bed & Breakfast

Today you continue south through the mango, ylang ylang, vanilla and cocoa plantations. See how local villages cultivate cocoa, spices (vanilla, pepper, bay rose) and perfume plants (ylang ylang and patchouli) on large plantations. You arrive at the small fishing village of Ankify where you catch an afternoon boat transfer across to Nosy Be.

Nosy Be

Nosy Be is the largest and best known of several beautiful, seductive islands off the north-west coast of Madagascar. This ‘Perfumed Isle’, as Nosy Be is known, offers lovely sandy beaches and a lush interior alive with the smells of vanilla, ylang-ylang and coffee.The climate is excellent with warm temperatures throughout the year and brief showers in the rainy summer season which are usually at night. More on Nosy Be.

Accommodation: Vanila Hotel
Located in: Madagascar - Nosy Be & Islands

Days 10 to 12
Relaxing on Nosy Be, Bed & Breakfast

You can opt for relaxing on the beach or around the hotel pool or you can take one of the many optional tours. Close to Nosy Be lie the small mountainous islands of Nosy Komba and Nosy Tanikely. These can be visited jointly as a day excursion from Nosy Be.

Nosy Komba is a beautiful rocky island where lush rainforest-covered hills drop steeply into the surrounding azure waters. It is known for its ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs and black lemurs. The lemurs at Nosy Komba are very tame, providing very good photo opportunities. The bustling island markets are full of embroidered white lace, colourful sarongs and wooden carvings. After visiting the lemur sanctuary, you head to Nosy Tanikely which is a marine reserve, with coral reefs offering wonderful opportunities for snorkelling and diving. Here you enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach with time set aside for swimming and snorkelling on the reef.

Aternatively you can visit Lokobe Reserve which is a small rainforest reserve in the south of the island known for its brown lemurs as well as the smallest chameleon in the world. You are transferred to Ambatozavavy village where you take a pirogue (dugout canoe) for a boat cruise over to Ampasipohy village and the Lokobe reserve. You spend the morning walking in the tropical rainforest of the reserve spotting the lemurs, chameleons, geckos and even snakes, returning to the Malagasy village for lunch and back to your hotel in the late afternoon.

Day 13
Fly back to Tana

Today you are transferred back to Nosy Be airport. Fly to Antananarivo.

Note: You may not need to fly back to Tana if you are departing on a Sunday back to Johannesburg. We will adjust the quotation in this case. You are also welcome to add on a night in Nosy Be if time permits. Contact us for a quote.

View Interactive Itinerary
See Route on Map
Accommoation and meals as in text, domestic flights, services of a driver-guide, park fees and entrances.
Other meals, items of a personal nature, gratuities
Best time to go:
All year round but best to avoid the cyclone months of mid January to mid March
Minimum number:
2 pax
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