Spend 11 unforgettable days exploring the southern part of our planet’s fourth-largest island. Madagascar is an 88-million-year-old biodiversity hotspot – about 90 percent of all its animals and plants are found nowhere else in the world! These include the island’s cat-like fosa; the world’s smallest chameleon (which clocks in at a miniscule 30mm / 1.2in); and Madagascar’s flagship mammal species, lemurs.
Start your journey with a stop-over in the colourful and vibrant capital, Antananarivo (also known as Tana) before transferring to Antsirabe, a beautiful city in the subtropical highlands of Madagascar. It is cradled by emerald rice fields and extinct volcanos, many of which are filled with water to create gorgeous lakes.
Your next stop is Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar’s wood-carving industry. Here, the island’s Zafimaniry people are celebrated for their remarkable woodworking skills and art, which was recognised on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Next, you board a train for a picturesque ride through the lush green forests, tea plantations and red highlands of eastern Madagascar to a beautiful vintage train station in Manakara. Take a walk through this port city’s colonial streets or hop on a pirogue (long dug-out canoe) and glide along a stretch of the Canal des Pangalanes.
Halfway through your adventure you find yourself in the Ranomafana National Park – home to over 100 000 acres of tropical rainforest; several rare species of lemur and birds; over 130 species of frogs; and part of the World Heritage Site, Rainforests of the Atsinanana. Next stop is the city of Fianarantsoa, the cultural and intellectual centre for the entire Madagascar and its unofficial wine capital.
Stop in the Anja Community Reserve to meet Madagascar’s most recognised lemur, the ring-tailed lemur. See some the traditional tombs of the Betsileo people and learn more about this fascinating ethnic group. Spend a night in the middle of the stunning Tsaranoro Valley, beautifully sculpted by the three massive granite mountains that surround it. Enjoy a guided hike through the ‘Canyon of Lemurs’ for encounters with sifaka, ring-tailed and brown lemurs.
End your epic adventure in the port town of Tuléar, a melting pot of cultures and ethnic groups. Visit the Antsokay Arboretum: the 128-acre sanctuary for lemurs, radiated tortoises, snakes, chameleons and more than 920 plant species.
This itinerary is ideal for active and adventurous travellers who do not mind some serious road tripping.