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Madagascar Safari 18 Days


18-Day Madagascar Safari: A Journey Through the Island’s Diverse Landscapes

This comprehensive 18-day Madagascar safari offers participants an extensive exploration of the island’s unique ecosystems, wildlife, and cultural heritage.

Duration: 18 Days

Places to Visit: Antananarivo, Antsirabe, Morondava, Bekopaka, Bemaraha National Park, Belo sur Mer, Morombe, Salary Bay, Ifaty, Ranohira, Isalo National Park


Day 1: Arrival in Antananarivo

Arrive in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital city with a population of about 1.3 million. Visit the Rova of Antananarivo, a royal palace complex that offers panoramic views of the city and insights into Malagasy royal history. Explore the Analakely Market, the city’s main bazaar, to observe daily life and sample local cuisine. Try traditional dishes like romazava (meat and greens stew) or koba (peanut and rice cake). Learn about Madagascar’s unique biodiversity at the Tsimbazaza Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which houses lemurs, chameleons, and other endemic species.

Accommodation: Hotel Colbert or similar

Day 2: Antananarivo – Antsirabe

Drive to Antsirabe (approximately 3 hours), a city known for its thermal springs and colonial architecture. Antsirabe, meaning “where there is salt,” has a population of about 250,000. Visit local artisan workshops to observe the production of miniature bicycles and other toys from recycled materials, a craft unique to Antsirabe. Take a tour of a gem-cutting workshop. Madagascar is famous for its precious and semi-precious stones, including sapphires and tourmalines. Explore the city in a pousse-pousse, a colorful hand-pulled rickshaw typical of Antsirabe.

Accommodation: Couleur Café or similar

Day 3: Antsirabe – Morondava

Drive to Morondava (approximately 8 hours), a coastal town known as the gateway to the famous Avenue of the Baobabs. Morondava has a population of about 60,000 and is the center of the Sakalava people’s territory. En route, pass through the central highlands, observing traditional rice terraces and rural Malagasy life. Arrive in time for sunset at the Avenue of the Baobabs, a striking group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina. Learn about the cultural significance of baobab trees to the Malagasy people, who call them “mother of the forest.”

Accommodation: Palissandre Côte Ouest or similar

Day 4: Morondava – Bekopaka

Take a boat trip up the Tsiribihina River to Bekopaka, the gateway to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. This journey offers views of rural riverside life and diverse birdlife. Learn about the Sakalava people’s traditional fishing methods and river-based livelihoods. Upon arrival in Bekopaka, visit a local village to learn about the customs and daily life of the people living near the park.

Accommodation: Soleil des Tsingy or similar

Day 5: Bemaraha National Park

Explore Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its unique limestone formations. The park covers 1,575 square kilometers and is home to 11 lemur species. Take a guided hike through the “Little Tsingy” to observe the unique flora and fauna adapted to this harsh environment. Learn about the park’s conservation efforts and the challenges of balancing tourism with environmental protection.

Accommodation: Soleil des Tsingy or similar

Day 6: Bekopaka – Morondava

Return to Morondava by road, stopping at small villages along the way to observe rural Malagasy life. Visit a traditional Sakalava tomb, elaborately decorated with erotic carvings and zebu horns, reflecting the culture’s beliefs about the afterlife. In Morondava, visit the local market to see a variety of local products, including vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang, all important exports for Madagascar.

Accommodation: Palissandre Côte Ouest or similar

Day 7: Morondava – Belo sur Mer

Drive to Belo sur Mer (approximately 4 hours), a small fishing village known for its traditional dhow building. Observe the process of dhow construction, an art passed down through generations. These sailboats are still a crucial part of local transportation and fishing. Take a walk along the beach to observe local fishing practices and the vibrant marine life in the tidal pools. Learn about the Vezo people, known as the “nomads of the sea,” and their traditional fishing techniques.

Accommodation: Ecolodge du Menabe or similar

Day 8: Belo sur Mer – Morombe

Continue south to Morombe (approximately 6 hours), a remote coastal town rarely visited by tourists. En route, pass through spiny forest habitats, unique to southern Madagascar, and home to many endemic plant species. In Morombe, visit the local market and observe the mix of cultures, including Vezo, Masikoro, and Sakalava peoples. Learn about the traditional production of sea salt, an important local industry.

Accommodation: Basic local guesthouse

Day 9-10: Morombe – Salary Bay

Travel to Salary Bay (approximately 3 hours), a beautiful and secluded beach area. Spend two days relaxing on the beach and exploring the local marine environment. Take a snorkeling trip to observe the rich marine life of the Mozambique Channel. Visit a local Vezo village to learn about traditional fishing methods and daily life in this remote coastal area. Participate in a traditional Vezo music and dance performance.

Accommodation: Salary Bay Hotel or similar (2 nights)

Day 11: Salary Bay – Ifaty

Drive to Ifaty (approximately 4 hours), a beach town known for its proximity to the Spiny Forest. Visit the Reniala Nature Reserve, a small private reserve protecting a patch of spiny forest. Learn about the unique adaptations of plants and animals in this harsh environment.  Take a sunset walk on the beach and observe local fishermen bringing in their daily catch.

Accommodation: Les Dunes d’Ifaty or similar

Day 12: Ifaty – Ranohira

Drive to Ranohira (approximately 6 hours), the gateway to Isalo National Park. En route, pass through the sapphire mining town of Ilakaka. Learn about the impact of gemstone mining on local communities and the environment. Visit the Ilakaka open-air gem market to observe traders and miners negotiating over rough stones. Upon arrival in Ranohira, visit the Interpretation Centre to learn about the geology and cultural significance of Isalo National Park.

Accommodation: Isalo Rock Lodge or similar

Day 13: Isalo National Park

Spend a full day exploring Isalo National Park, known for its rugged sandstone formations, deep canyons, and diverse wildlife. Take a guided hike to see some of the park’s highlights, such as the Natural Swimming Pool and the Canyon des Makis. Learn about the Bara people, the traditional inhabitants of this region, and their pastoral lifestyle. Observe various lemur species, including ring-tailed lemurs and Verreaux’s sifakas. Visit a local community project that aims to reforest areas around the park with native species.

Accommodation: Isalo Rock Lodge or similar

Day 14: Isalo National Park – Fianarantsoa

Depart Isalo for Fianarantsoa (approximately 6 hours), the capital of the Betsileo region. Fianarantsoa, meaning “Good Education” in Malagasy, is known for its traditional architecture and as a center of tea production. En route, stop at Anja Community Reserve, a small, community-managed protected area famous for its ring-tailed lemurs. Learn about community-based conservation efforts and their impact on local livelihoods. Upon arrival in Fianarantsoa, take a walking tour of the old town, known as Tanana Ambony, with its steep, narrow streets and traditional Betsileo houses. Visit a local tea plantation to learn about the cultivation and processing of Madagascar’s renowned tea.

Accommodation: Tsara Guest House or similar

Day 15: Fianarantsoa – Ranomafana National Park

Drive to Ranomafana National Park (approximately 2 hours), a rainforest area known for its high biodiversity. The park covers 41,600 hectares and is home to 12 lemur species. Take a guided night walk to observe nocturnal species, including mouse lemurs and chameleons. Learn about the discovery of the golden bamboo lemur in 1986, which led to the creation of the national park. Visit Centre ValBio, a state-of-the-art research station, to learn about ongoing conservation and research efforts in the park.

Accommodation: Setam Lodge or similar

Day 16: Ranomafana National Park

Spend a full day exploring Ranomafana National Park. The park’s name means “hot water” in Malagasy, referring to the hot springs in the area. Take a guided hike through the rainforest to observe various lemur species, including the rare golden bamboo lemur and the greater bamboo lemur. Visit a local village to learn about the Tanala people, their traditional customs, and how the creation of the national park has affected their lives. Learn about the medicinal plants used by local communities and ongoing ethnobotanical research in the area.

Accommodation: Setam Lodge or similar

Day 17: Ranomafana – Antsirabe

Depart for Antsirabe (approximately 6 hours), passing through the central highlands with its terraced rice fields and traditional villages. Stop at Ambositra, the center of Madagascar’s wood carving industry. Visit artisan workshops to observe the intricate Zafimaniry woodcarving techniques, recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. In Antsirabe, visit a zebu market to learn about the cultural and economic importance of these humped cattle in Malagasy society. Take a late afternoon tour of a local brewery to taste Madagascar’s famous Three Horses Beer (THB).

Accommodation: Couleur Café or similar

Day 18: Antsirabe – Antananarivo

Return to Antananarivo (approximately 3 hours) for the final day of the safari. Visit the Andafiavaratra Palace, which houses artifacts saved from the fire that destroyed the Rova in 1995, to gain further insights into Madagascar’s royal history. Explore the craft market at La Digue for last-minute souvenir shopping, supporting local artisans. Enjoy a farewell dinner featuring traditional Malagasy cuisine and music. Transfer to Ivato International Airport for departure, concluding the safari.

End of Safari

This 18-day Madagascar Safari offers participants a comprehensive exploration of the island’s diverse landscapes, unique wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. The itinerary combines varied ecosystems, wildlife viewing opportunities, cultural interactions, and historical insights, providing a well-rounded experience of Madagascar’s natural and cultural wonders.

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