Take in the essential wildlife locations in the southern half of Madagascar to reveal some of the many different aspects of the island.
Travelling south from the capital, Antananarivo, through the mountainous central highlands to the dry spiny forest of Ifaty, this two week trip gives you plenty of opportunities to discover Madgascar’s unique wildlife and birds, its culture and varied topography.
Staying at comfortable accommodation throughout, you will also visit Andasibe-Mantadia National Park for more lemurs and virtually guaranteed sightings of the iconic indri.
Arrive Antananarivo & transfer to Andasibe-Mantadia
On arrival at Antananarivo airport, you will be met and transferred to Andasibe-Mantadia, approximately four hours' drive.
Accommodation: Vakona Forest Lodge, 3-nights
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Over the next couple of days, enjoy forest walks in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, arguably the island's premier rainforest reserve.
Excursions include guided walks in Analamazaotra National Park (formerly Périnet) to see Madagascar’s largest lemur - the indri indri; visits to Mitsinjo, Vakona and Vohimana Private Reserves to see lemurs and endemic flora, together with night walks to see some of the country's nocturnal lemur species plus a variety of chameleons and frogs (best seen at night).
Drive to Antsirabe
It is a full day's drive to Antsirabe, around 315 kilometres, skirting the capital Antananarivo en route. The journey will take you through typical highland landscape of rice paddy fields, villages of the Merina tribe, and rocky hillsides, before reaching the town of Antsirabe, well known for the production of precious and semi-precious stones.
Accommodation: Hotel Les Chambres des Voyageurs, 1-night
Drive to Ranomafana
Today, continue southward along the RN7 to Ranomafana, a drive of around 270 kilometres taking most of the day.
The following day, enjoy guided walks in Ranomafana National Park, to see Milne-Edwards' sifaka, golden bamboo lemur and red bellied lemur, plus a variety of endemic birds such as ground rollers, vanga and couas.
Accommodation: Centrest Hotel or Setam Lodge, 2-nights
Drive to Fianarantsoa
Today you continue the drive south along RN7 through the highlands to Fianarantsoa, the capital of the Betsileo tribe.
Drive to Isalo, 2-nights. Walks to look for lemurs and birds
Drive to Ranohira (approximately 8 hours), with plenty of opportunities for photo stops en route at scenic locations such as the South Gate, the Bishop's Hat and the Horombe tableland. Keep a eye out for the Reunion harrier in the skies. Your eventual destination is Ranohira, beside Isalo National Park.
The journey by car from Ranomafana and Fianarantsoa to Isalo takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Madagascar, although the wildlife interest of this stretch is limited. As you descend from the highlands there is a fabulous view of the plains of the savannah and huge granite mountains known as inselbergs. You pass through Madagascar’s small wine growing region, where it may be possible to visit a vineyards. The elusive Reunion harrier is sometimes sighted in this area. Plants endemic to the region include the dwarf baobab, Isalo aloe, kalanchoes and pandanus.
Drive to Ifaty, 2-nights. Visit the spiny forest
The final leg of your drive south along Route Nationale 7 to Ifaty takes you through the villages of sapphire miners. Here the landscape changes to savannah dotted with bushes, with the heavily decorated tombs of the southern tribes scattered along the roadside.
Drive to Toliara and fly to Antananarivo, 1-night
Transfer to Toliara airport and take a domestic flight back to Antanararivo, where you will be met and transferred to your accommodation in the city. Depending on the time of your arrival (the flight schedule varies from day to day), there may be time for an afternoon guided tour to see something of the city and visit Ambohimanga, 21 kilometres to the northeast. The royal palace, whose name means blue hill, was the residence of King Adrianamapoinimerina (1787-1810). For many years access was forbidden to Europeans, but it now provides a fascinating insight into life at that time.
Transfer to Antananarivo airport and depart
You should note: You can extend this trip by flying from Toliara to Fort Dauphin to visit Berenty Private Reserve or Ifotaka Community Forest before returning to Antananarivo