On this trip we will explore an interesting combination of rivers, forests, mountains and seaside through very different landscapes, cultures, climates and biotopes, before relaxing and enjoying Anjajavy seaside. The itinerary provides a great chance to enjoy the natural highlights of the red island on foot, on horseback, by canoe, train and by car.
Madagascar is a one-off; there is no other place like it. Its landscapes, animals and plants are simply fantastic! Near the equator with an astonishing array of habitats, ranging from rainforests to deserts and from mountain tops to mangrove swamps, it is one of the most important countries for biodiversity on the planet. The tropical climate is a perfect host to the process of nature and, like nowhere else, the variety and richness of life has flourished. We will see much of the unique flora and fauna of Eastern Madagascar on this great tour and the beauty of the North West coast.
As part of our commitment to responsible travel and in conjunction with Woodstock.org we finance a tree nursery and orchard in Italavina – which is a long term reforestation project.
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After arriving in Antananarivo (or Tana, as it is known by the locals) late pm, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Antananarivo is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. It is buzzing with activity and full of people flooding the streets, selling everything you could imagine! Tana (as the locals call it) resembles a Mediterranean hill town and exploring its rich cultural and architectural sites on foot is relatively easy (as long as you are willing to climb hundreds of ancient stone steps).
This morning you will be met with your guide and driver who will be with you for the next 13 days we will drive for 2h to arrive to Andasibe National Park. (approx. 2 – 3 hours driving time). En-route we will stop at a farm specialising in Madagascan reptiles and butterflies. This afternoon you will get a chance to stroll around the private reserve – lemur island with the opportunity to spot lemurs and crocodiles. This evening, take a twilight/nocturnal walk, looking out for the nocturnal species of lemur by catching their eyes in the torchlight.
Today we will explore Andasibe National Park.
After breakfast you will meet your guide and we will set out by car to Antsirabe.
Antsirabe is a tidy, well maintained town which combines the tranquility of a small European provincial town with the exuberance of traditional Malagasy buildings. The third largest city in Madagascar, Antsirabe is known for its relatively cool climate (as the rest of the central region of the country), its industry and the high concentration of pulled rickshaws.
The journey takes approx. 6 hours on a good, windy road, and along the way you can choose to stop off and visit Ambatolampy (the biggest town between Tana and Antsirabe) where we may get the chance to see craftsmen building aluminium pots amongst other things.
Upon arrival at Antsirabe you could visit the stone cutting workshop where they cut crystals according to what time we will arrive in the city.
Today, we will head to Sahambavy (driving time 5 hours).
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.
Upon arrival, if time allows, we can 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.
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.
Days spent canoeing
The Faraony, like many rivers in this region seem to bear exploitable amounts of precious minerals so there are ‘gold rushes’ on many of the river bends. We will have the chance to observe hundreds of smiling folks digging and sifting patiently through the sands and gravel.
We will have the chance to observe hundreds of smiling folks digging and sifting patiently through the sands and gravel.
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, where we will rendezvous with our driver and vehicle before heading to Ranomafana (driving time – approx 4 hours). After our check-in at the hotel, you will have the option to relax at Ranomafana baths.
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.
All tour descriptions and conditions are given in accordance with the information of Pioneer Expeditions