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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.

Suggested itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Day 2: 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

  3. Days 3-4 : 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).

  4. Day 5: 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

  5. Days 6-7 : 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

  6. Day 8: Drive to Fianarantsoa

    Today you continue the drive south along RN7 through the highlands to Fianarantsoa, the capital of the Betsileo tribe.

  7. Days 9-10 : 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.

  8. Days 11-12 : 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.

  9. Day 13: 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.

  10. Day 14: Transfer to Antananarivo airport and depart

  11. Day 15: Arrive UK

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

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 15 days from £3,245 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 13 days from £2,345 pp
  • Single supplement: From £480
  • When to go: Jan-Dec
Featured locations:

Ranomafana National Park

Established in 1991 to protect the then newly-discovered golden bamboo lemur, Ranomafana is a World Heritage Site and one of the island’s most important wildlife sites and best rainforest reserves. Its pleasant climate, misty forest slopes, picturesque river and huge species diversity make it a deserved favourite.

  • Where: Haute Matsiatra Region
  • Ideal for viewing: giraffe-necked weevil, golden bamboo lemur, Malagasy striped civit, Milne-Edwards’ sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is arguably Madagascar’s premier rainforest reserve, combining Analamazoatra Reserve with the forests of Mantadia. The extensive network of trails throughout the reserve offers frequent sightings of spectacular wildlife and virtually assured views of the fabulous indri.

  • Where: Alaotra-Mangoro Region
  • Ideal for viewing: diademed sifaka, indri, Parson’s chameleon, red-fronted coua, leaf-tailed gecko
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography

Isalo National Park

Isalo is a remarkable landscape of eroded sandstone outcrops and canyons dotted with rare plants. There are spectacular vistas at every turn; the valleys are ribbons of green with delicate feather and screw palms and the deep rocky gorges flourish with endemic succulents such as the elephant’s foot plant.

  • Where: Ihorombe Region
  • Ideal for viewing: Benson’s rock thrush, Madagascar cuckoo roller, ring-tailed lemur, Verreaux’s sifaka, red-fronted lemur

Ifaty Spiny Forest

The spiny forests near Ifaty are of great interest to birdwatchers and botanists alike. The area includes two of the island’s most threatened birds; the long-tailed ground roller and sub desert mesite. You will also find bizarre flora such as spined octopus trees, a sharp contrast to the ancient baobab trees.

  • Where: Atsimo-Andrefana Region
  • Ideal for viewing: banded kestrel, horned chameleon, long-tailed ground roller, sickle-billed vanga, sub-desert mesite
  • Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Birdwatching

Antananarivo

Madagascar’s vibrant capital city is the beginning and end point of any trip to the island. Built on a series of hills, many of the old buildings and narrow, cobbled streets retain an almost medieval quality. Walking around the city, you will find evidence of several cultures, neither exclusively African nor Asian,

  • Where: Antananarivo Province
  • Excellent for: City stopover
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Setam Lodge

Setam Lodge occupies a lovely location above a river at the edge of Ranomafana National Park, and surrounded by fine views of mountains and rainforest. Ten chalets, each of which has two bedrooms and a terrace, are scattered across the hillside above the main building.

Vakona Forest Lodge

Located between the two parts of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Vakona is set in a natural amphitheatre that echoes with birdsong. Its cottages are built on a hillside, and a short walk from the lodge, four or five habituated lemur species live on a private reserve occupying a small island.