Madagascar: Southern Highlights (10 Nights)
This itinerary has a heavy focus on wildlife and culture and is what we consider to be the best way to see the highlights of southern Madagascar in the most time efficient, away from the tourists and without too much driving.
Depending on what time your inbound flight lands, your holiday may start with an overnight at a hotel in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo (or just Tana for short). The following morning, your guide will take you east to Andasibe, a stunning rainforest park, about 5 hours drive from the city.
Andasibe consists of two protected areas, the Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia National Park. Perinet is world famous for its population of Indri lemurs, which are the largest living lemur species. This first element of your trip would allow you to get a close encounter with these incredible animals.
You would spend two nights here exploring the ecosystems with a visit to Lemur Island, Vakona Lodge’s private reserve that protects a number of habituated lemurs. There are four species to see, the bamboo lemur, the black & white ruffed lemur, brown lemur and one diademed sifaka. You would also spend time exploring Mantadia National Park – a naturalist’s goldmine with many seldom seen species of endemic mammals, reptiles and birds.
After your two amazing nights in Andasibe, you would drive back to Antananarivo for a flight south to Fort Dauphin.
Landing at Fort Dauphin airport, you will be met as you step off the plane and driven up to the beautiful Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge for three nights of secluded bliss.
This beach experience would be completely different to anything you’d find elsewhere in the world! While you could of course just relax with a cocktail in a hammock, there are also so many activities on offer such as whale watching from the lookout tower, enjoy an open air massage in the spa pavilion, travel up the coast for a picnic lunch, tour the local fisherman’s village of Manafiafy, visit the local markets and schools. All of this while enjoying day and night guided walks through the surrounding rainforest to search for lemur, flying fox, chameleon, or any number of the endemic animals that live in this area.
You’ll be welcomed back to the lodge every evening with open arms to enjoy a sundowner on the beach before tucking into a delicious cooked meal on the deck.
After three nights at Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge, you will drive across to Mandrare River Camp (via Fort Dauphin) for the final portion of your holiday.
Mandrare River Camp is a unique lodge that has garnered a very special relationship with the local Antandroy tribe. The Antandroy tribe are nomadic people ‘of the thorns’ who were never conquered by French or Madagascan government. Think of the Maasai tribe of Kenya that have only really very recently become accustomed to tourism. They believe their ancestors live in trees so protect the forest that surround them.
Your time at Mandrare would be spent exploring lemur filled forests (including an amazing baobab area) and visiting the tribe’s sacred areas with the village chief. It really would be a truly unique and phenomenal experience! With only 4 ‘rooms’ at Mandrare, every day can be tailored to you. If you’d rather just relax by the pool, no problem!
After your three incredible nights at Mandrare River Camp, you will drive back to For Dauphin for your return flight back to Antananarivo. Depending on your outbound flight departure time from Antananarivo, you may have to overnight again at one of our preferred hotels.
Madagascar is a truly unique country full of surprises and beauty. This huge island (the fourth largest in the world) has incredibly varied landscapes, from huge sweeping sand dunes, palm-fringed beaches, volcanoes, jagged limescale pinnacles and stunning baobab forests, many of which have been protected by the government.
Owing to Madagascar’s impressive size and relative underdevelopment, many of these incredibly beautiful areas are difficult to access. What this does mean however is that the few who do make the journey are handsomely rewarded!
Having been isolated from Africa for such a long time, Madagascar has essentially been in an evolutionary ‘bubble’ where flora and fauna has been allowed to evolve independently from the rest of the world. The result of which is an incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem where more than 80% of its wildlife is endemic.
With over 100 species of lemurs (including one that could comfortably sit in an eggcup!), over 75 species of chameleon, the bizarre fossa and roughly 13,000 plant species all found nowhere else on Earth, Madagascar is the perfect destination for anyone wanting a holiday full of fascination and intrigue!
When to Go
As the weather in Madagascar varies significantly month by month, it is important to time your visit well.
From late December to April is cyclone season when we would recommend avoiding travel to the country. From April to June the weather can be intermittent with some periods of glorious sunshine, then heavy downpours.
July to November is the best time to visit as the weather is predominantly dry and cooler. The days get hotter and hotter throughout the year until November and December when the rains start again.
If you are travelling to Madagascar to see humpback whales as the migrate from the Antarctic to calve, try to plan your visit between July to September.
Time Zone: UTC +3
Currency: Madagascar Ariary Pula (MGA)
Visa: The majority of nationalities require a visa to enter Madagascar.
Travel Advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/madagascar