Arrive in "Tana" any time and make your way to the joining point hotel. A brief departure meeting will be held in the hotel reception area in evening on Day 1 of your tour. Upon arrival look for information from your tour leader on the hotel bulletin board from regarding meeting time. Take today to wander the streets of central Antananarivo, taking in old colonial architecture and the brightly colored crowds to get a feel for this unique country. As the capital, Tana is the commercial, administrative, and cultural centre of the country. The city was founded in the 17th century by King Andrianjaka, and was the capital of the Hova chiefs. It is located within, and surrounded by twelve sacred hills of the plateau of Imerina. Within the city centre, flights of steps lead up to a rocky ridge at 1,431 m, on which stands the palaces built by the Imerina kings who captured the capital in 1794 and rules there until the end of the 19th century. At present day, Antananarivo is a large city, with population exceeding one million, whose historic past is not easily missed. You may wish to spot in to the tourism centre, called “Office national du Tourisme” the ex “la maison du tourisme”, close to the American Ambassy, for information on the local sites and attractions. Be sure to visit Ambohimanga Palace, the residence of the famous king Andrianampoinimerina, the first king who conquered his neighbouring kingdoms. Antananarivo was famous for its Zoma (market), once the largest market of the world, displayed along the main avenue. Now a days the ex Zoma is splited up in many different little markets around the city. The independence avenue becomes a wonderful place for strolling
Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 135 km Depart the capital and continue east with stops along the scenic route to this world-renowned upland rainforest, rainforest which forms the Mantadia National Park (formerly known as the Perinet Reserve) part of which is dedicated to protect the world’s largest lemur species, the Indri. Before getting there however, we may as an option stop by a small private reserve called Peyrieras (see optional activities) where you get to see the first lemurs of the trip besides a number of really fascinating creatures like the smallest chameleon or the different species of leaf-tailed geckos. The road to the east will then take us to the town of Moramanga, the historical capital of a fertile and mineral-rich region, and to our destination which is about 27 km from there. We will spend the next day exploring this national park/reserve situated on the central eastern coast of the island, 1.5 km from the town of Andasibe. It covers a total of 12,810 hectares on an extensive region of hills covered by a dense primary rainforest. One of the park’s primary purposes is to protect the natural habitat of the Indri, a large black and white diurnal species that feeds on leaves and fruit. There are around 62 different groups of Indri spending their time high up in the trees eating and enjoying the sun usually in the morning. Its native name, "Babakoto", supposedly originated from a local legend thattells about a boy named Koto who climbed a tree in the forest to collect wild honey and was severely stung by the bees. Losing his hold, he fell, but was caught by a indri which carried him on its back to safety. In addition to the Indri, the park has 10 otherdiurnal and nocturnallemur species, large chameleons and the rarely seen blue boa. The flora is just as spectacular with numerous species of trees, palms, orchids (which flower in October/November), and other intriguing endemic species. Optionally, you may visit at your own expenses other small private or community reserves around Andasibe, go on guided night walks inside those reserves or along the main road (See Optional Activities), walk to the little town of Andasibe or simply enjoy the relaxing tranquility of the surrounding forest before moving on to a different setting.
Day 4: Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours Approximate Distance: 305 km Travel to Antsirabe, the "Vichy Malgache", an ancient colonial town. All along this stretch of road you will see Merina tombs, and the labour-intensive cultivation of rice paddies. We will also stop at Ambatolampy for a visit of a traditional family-run aluminum cookware factory. Antsirabe is known as a thermal city because of it the volcanic lakes and is famous for its precious, semi-precious stones and handcrafts. You may have the opportunity to explore this quaint little city upon arrival there or the next morning before we set off depending on the time and the weather. Day 5: Antsirabe – Ambatonikolahy Estimated Travel Time: 50 minutes (bus), 1,5 hours (trekking) Approximate Distance: 30 km (bus), 6 km (trekking) After a short visit to Lake Andraikiba, about 7 km from Antsirabe, we will make our way to the small village of Ambatonikolahy. This beautiful village is surrounded by a breathtaking landscape of rice fields and panoramic mountain views. We will get to know the villagers’ daily rural life, interact with them and have a chance to learn their rituals - an authentic community experience that you will take home in your heart. Tonight we will stay with one of the families in their traditional house. Please note that the accommodation will be very basic tonight; there will be 4 people or more sharing one room sleeping on a traditionally women mat or a typically local mattress. A similar mattress will be provided per person on request; please only bring your sleeping bag for tonight.
Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours Approximate Distance: 211 km After an early breakfast, which will consist of a soup of rice and some bread and tea/coffee, we will go on an optional hike (approx 1,5 hours) to capture the stunning views of Mont Ifasina (2.155 m) and surroundings. Don't forget your camera! We will head our way to Ranomafana (Malagasy for hot water), a little village which owes its name to the discovery by a local about a hundred years ago of hot springs down in the valley where the French created an open thermal swimming pool and a spa which look quite old but are still in use. The village in turn gave its name to Madagascar’s fourth largest park, the Ranomafana National Park located on the edge of Madagascar's High Plateau. This park is extremely mountainous stretching over 41,600 hectares of hills covered by rainforest at altitudes between 800 and 1,200 m. The area is dominated by the Namorona river which, fed by many streams flowing from the hills, plunges from the eastern escarpment close to the park entrance. The steep slopes are covered with a mixture of primary and secondary forest; much of the secondary growth is dominated by dense stands of introduced Chinese guava and clumps of giant bamboo. In 1986, Golden Bamboo Lemurs(Hapalemuraureus) were discovered in the forest about 6km from the town (the Greater Bamboo Lemur or Prolemursimus was rediscoveredabout the same time) and Dr. Patricia Wright worked with the government of Madagascar to create a National Park to protect the two species. During our walk the next morning, we are likely to see them along with other lemur species and possibly reptiles such as the Madagascar Boa (Sinziniamadagascariensis), chameleons like the largest rainforest species Parson's Chameleon, or well camouflaged Leaf-tailed geckoes (Uroplatus). Today, Ranomafana is one of the most important mammal sites in Madagascar. Most notable are golden bamboo lemur, greater bamboo lemur, grey bamboo lemur, Milne-Edwards’ sifaka, red-bellied lemur, red fronted brown lemur, and brown mouse lemur. Others include the fanaloka, the eastern ring-tailed mongoose, and the red forest rat. Present but hard to see are fosa and the aquatic tenrec. This park also has a huge varierty of bird life, including the Blue coua, red-fronted coua, Pollen’s vanga, Tylas, velvet asity, sunbird asity, pitta-like ground roller, scaly ground roller, short-legged ground roller, rufous-headed gound roller, brown mesite, Madagascar flufftail, slender-billed flufftail, collared nightjar, and green jery (among others!). The flora is diverse, and you will see a variety of ferns, palms, orchids and giant bamboos.
Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours Approximate Distance: 106 km We embark on a morning forest walk to get a feel for this incredible wildlife area in the early hours as nature awakens in front of us. We then enjoy a scenic travel day as we head south through Madagascar's wine-producing region and enjoy the wonderful changes of landscape along the way to the pleasant rural town of Ambalavao. Ambalavao is a little town famous for its "PapierAntemoro", a papyrus-type paper impregnated with dried flowers and sold throughout the island. We will visit a little paper factory where the locals will share with us their traditional methods of producing this unique, hand-made paper. A silk factory in town is also worth visiting for you to learn about the local way of making fabric or a piece of clothing from silk and dying them with natural dies.
Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 250 km Today, we drive through south-central Madagascar to Ranohira on the edge of Isalo National Park. Before heading on to Ranohira, however, we will stop at the Anja community reserve as, having some of the most accessible groups of ring-tailed lemur, it is totally worth a visit; you simply can’t miss it! After Anja, we continue our journey through the warm weather of the south amidst a different scenery and the savanna of the vast plateau of Ihorombe up to the point where the Massif of Isalo becomes clearly visible as we approach Ranohira. The Isalo National Park was created in 1962 to preserve the ancestral beauty of the site. Archaeological relics and funeral sanctuaries create a magical atmosphere made of strong contrasts: silence and sunlight on sandy cliffs with rare ripicolous vegetation; lemur calls and bird chirps within this green oasis along rivers filled with lush plants. The park covers an area of 81,540 hectares of this semi-arid region of the country. The territory is spotted with meadow, and has open areas void of vegetation, along with series of sandstone rocks, cliffs, and canyons, and is home to many rare and endemic plants, such as pachypodium rosulatum and a native species of aloe (aloe isaloensis). The sandstone massifs sculpted by wind and rain create a scenic and odd landscape, at times almost lunar. We spend a full day exploring this fantastic park on foot. After a short trek, within a small canyon, we have a break from the sun and stop at fresh natural swimming pool. We continue on to "cascades" which is considered to be one of the best waterfalls in Madagascar with its large natural swimming pool. If you are lucky you may see Sifaka, brown lemur and ring-tailed lemurs. This fantastic place, it is not just the abstract sculpturing and colours of the eroded terrain or the sweeping panoramas which is so impressive but also the absolute and enveloping silence. As well as the scenery and local history, there are 55 resident species of birds within the park, along with Catta lemurs, blackhead lemurs and Verreaux Sifakas. Between September and October, in the most arid zones, the Pachypodium blooms.Besides these lemurs, the impressive scenery and the fascinating local customs, you may come across some of the 55 resident species of birds within the park. The Pachypodium blooms between September and October in the most arid areas.
Day 10 Ranohira - Ifaty Estimated Travel Time: 8 hr Approximate Distance: 250km En route from Ranohira to Toliara, you will drive through a wide-open, vast desert landscape that is truly magnificent in its own way. You will pass through several unique frontier-style sapphire mining towns, see the remarkable fire-resistant Baobab trees and the Mahafaly tombs. After a short stop in Toliara, we drive on to Ifaty to relax and enjoy the breathtaking beaches of the Mozambican Channel. En route from Ranohira to Tulear, you will drive through a wide-open, vast desert landscape that is truly magnificent in its own way. You will pass through several unique frontier-style sapphire mining towns, see the remarkable fire-resistant Baobab trees, and as well see the Mahafaly tombs before boarding your flight back to Tana. Travel from Ifaty to Tulear (6 hours) you will see Mahafaly's tomb on the way, see baobab trees. Visit spiny forest. Relax and enjoy the breathtaking beaches of the Mozambican Channel. Ifaty is the final bouquet offered by the spectacle of the road from the center to the South. At the end of this long tour and after having enjoyed the various visits between the Malagasy culture to the landscape and the various forest walks all along the road, Ifaty is the ideal place to rest. Located at the north of the capital city of Tuléar, this region is very appreciated by all of the tourists who already took their chance to visit Madagascar. Known under the current name of Ifaty, several Vezo villages form this magic place. These villages are spread out along the northern part of this lagoon which extends on the south-western coast, up to twenty kilometers north of Tuléar. Tourists from different countries visit this region to enjoy the luxury of strolling along this zone of coral reef dominated by a zone of sand dune where fishermen’ s villages are built close to one another with houses mostly made with rudimentary materials (branches, foliage, straw…). This coral reef extends on nearly 100 kilometers length. This ecological wonder made up of coral forms an uninterrupted barrier which limits the large waves and offers an ideal place perfect for various nautical activities. What you can do in Ifaty is only limited by your imagination. This coral reef has an almost entirely wild appearance but it is very captivating. It is easy to enjoy its translucent and turquoise water along the white and fine sand beaches. The lagoon constitutes a very well attended place by all Vezo whose principal activity include artisanal fishing. The most outstanding stereotype of this coral is the procession of myriads of fascinating, colorful, dugout canoe with veils hoisted and carried by the wind. It remains the only means of transportation allowing villagers to move around and connect with one another. In addition to being a place of predilection for the vezo, the lagoon also plays a great part in products trading and supplying .In Ifaty, you have a choice between rides in dugout canoes, snorkeling or diving in the reef, or relaxing on the beach. For the rides, you can choose between many different colorful dugout canoes. As for diving in this relatively interminable lagoon, many sites, offering an immense pleasure from underwater exploration, are to be discovered. Taste the dive in the silky sea of lagoon in order to appreciate the abundant, rich and colorful coral … However, one should not forget to carry a mask and a tuba. This abundance makes this lagoon a privileged diving destination of the south of Madagascar, even of the entire island. In addition to diving in the coral reef, one can also enjoy a diving tour in the lagoon of Ranobe, which is also an exceptional site for fishing and another underwater discovery. Ifaty is well adapted to the tourists who come in groups to enjoy the beaches.There’s plenty to do in Ifaty; what you can do is only limited by your imagination. Among the options are a visit of a spiny forest reserve that shelters most of the plants characterizing the the dry south (including baobabs), the "Village des tortues", canoe ride, fishing, diving, and snorkeling (bring your own mask and tuba) (See Optional Activities).
Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours (bus), 45 mn (direct flight) Approximate Distance: 25 km (bus) Travel from Ifaty on to Tulear, then fly back to Antananarivo. This tour ends upon arrival into Antananarivo at approximately 5pm (17:00). As the airline G Adventures uses doesn't schedule later than 3 months in advance, we recommend that you confirm with G Adventures your return flight prior to booking your international tickets, if you wish to leave on the departure day.
Depart at any time.