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Take in the must-see, must-do locations in the southern half of Madagascar.

The itinerary will follow Route Nationale 7 south from the capital of Antananarivo, through the mountainous central highlands to the dry spiny forest. This cross section reveals some of the many different aspects of the island: its unique wildlife and birds, its culture and varied topography. Staying at comfortable accommodation throughout, you also visit Andasibe-Mantadia National Park to see more lemurs and the iconic indri.

Suggested itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Days 2-4 : Arrive Antananarivo and drive to Andasibe-Mantadia, 3 nights

    Forest walks in Andasibe-Mantadia to see indri

  3. Day 5: Drive to Antsirabe, 1-night. Visit the capital

    Today you set off for Antsirabe, a drive of around 315 kilometres (7-8 hours), skirting the capital, Antananarivo en route.  Antsirabe is an industrial and agricultural centre that is also well known for the production of precious and semi-precious stones.

  4. Days 6-7 : Drive to Ranomafana, 2-nights. Lemur spotting

    Today you continue southward along the RN7 to Ranomafana, a drive of around 270 kilometres (7 hours).

  5. Day 8: Drive to Fianarantsoa, 1-night. Visit the Betisleo capital

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Day 14: Transfer to Antananarivo airport and depart

  10. 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 is arguably Madagascar’s premier rainforest reserve. It combines 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 indri, which have been habituated.

  • 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


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