An eco-tourism trip where we continue to offer you a great trip off the beaten path, whilst giving you the opportunity to compensate for your trip by actively participating in local reforestation /eco conservation projects. You have the option of the full eco-adventure or just adding on a couple of days to your itinerary to help out.
As part of Pioneer Expeditions commitment to responsible travel, we have decided to launch a new range of eco-tourism expeditions in partnership with Wood En Stock a local Madagascan NGO (specialising in reforestation)
The basic idea is to continue to offer you a great trip off the beaten path, whilst giving you the opportunity to compensate for your trip by actively participation in local reforestation /eco conservation projects. These tours intend to present a very positive carbon balance and results in consequent planting of young trees on the basis of 10 to 15 trees per person per day.
Not only will you get the chance to discover great sceneries, people and cultures but have the privilege to interact with the projects and really make a difference whilst you are on holiday. The duties and missions set in these eco-friendly adventures depend mainly upon the season of travel. Different sites, different tasks – there is so much to do before we can physically replant a young tree in the ground! Starting from scratch and seeds, we also have to tend to past plantations, protect new ones and so on.
Different types of tree are planted in different locations :
– Fast growing species on community lands for locals needs
– Fruit bearing species are given directly to villager’s
– Forest and oil bearing species are planted on public land
That means very diverse day chores and we’ll try to alternate between working with locals and exploring these stunning surroundings Specific arrangements can be organised for groups and families, whether you are looking for a 1 day eco add-on or your own special eco tour. We will be happy to fit your plans.
Madagascar Eco Expedition Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Tana
After arriving in Antananarivo (or Tana, as it is known by the locals) late pm, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel – the Au Bois Vert
Day 2: ANTSIRABE & ANDRANOMANGATSIAKA (B,L,D)
After breakfast you will meet your guide and we will set out by car to our first eco-camp, south of Antsirabe.
The journey takes approx. 4+ hours on a good, windy road. There stands Mount Ibity, fourth mountain range in the country, standing over 2250m high.
Wood En Stock, started a reforestation project just two years ago along Manandona river and is currently developing a local campground on the foot of these steep gorges. The association maintains a 5000 tree nursery and the project works in a 1000 Ha zone, totally barren from the riverside to the top of the mountains.
We usually have an early lunch in Antsirabe, (a tidy, well maintained town which combines the tranquility of a small European provincial town with the exuberance of Madagascar) so we can proceed on our trail early in the afternoon. This splendid hike (mainly flat and downhill) towards sunset takes us to Andranomangatsiaka where a group of enthusiastic young locals terraced the ground and developed a campground for visitors on this off the beaten path spot, away from mass tourism. The scenery is spectacular with unique mineral formations and interesting vegetation growing on rock faces and boulders. Kalanchoes, succulents and pachypodiums will delight the botanist as well as curious travelers. The trail goes through a couple of villages involved in this project and will allow us to see the rural, social and geographical organisation of those remote communities. Tonight we will camp in tents under thatched roofs nearby the roaring Manandona rapids. Andranomangatsiaka is a cold spot (as it’s name implies), so be prepared for cold evenings by the fireplace with occasional showers.
Day 3 Planting Day (B,L,D)
Mornings are cool in the highlands and after breakfast, we start the day’s work. Duties will depend on the season. Planting goes from Nov to May as the area receive fairly frequent rainfall, especially on the mountain top. On this site, we also have to maintain alot of fire barriers, mulch as much as we can and hopefully will start tending the growing young trees from past seasons Whatever the duties, we’ll work with the local manager of the project, on the fields with a stunning backdrop, as well as have great interaction with the locals.
People are very dedicated to work in this area and their energy could surprise you. They are far from the typical « mora-mora » laid back attitude popularized by poorly documented guide books. Asian influence is strong on those highlands and farmers do work a lot compared to other Malagasy tribes. The name itself of the Betsileo means « the many not lazy » gives a clear indication of their courage and energy.
Day 4: Hiking and Planting (B,L,D)
Combined hike and work through the morning. We usually climb to the top of the mountains we want to replant, put in a few more trees and hike down to a vehicle for an afternoon transfer further south.
Tonight we will stop in Ambohimasoa, a rustic, but charming lodge, north of Fianarantsoa, set in the forest, which provides tented bungalows for our accommodation and home grown/raised food. The owners/managers of the structure are in charge of a large 2600 Ha of forest and struggle to keep at bay illegal logging and poaching. They have developed some great eco trails, employing local guides in their conservation effort and working closely with local communities. This is not an easy task with the pressure of an increasing population.
Even though we don’t physically participate in this restoration/protection work our presence and money have direct and positive effects on this large patch of forest. This is also an excellent occasion to discover the eastern version of Malagasy culture through dense tropical rain forest.
Day 5 : Hiking in the Forest (B,L,D)
Today starts with a good hike, hunting for Varricas, Indris and other goodies from the forests. Your local guide is just as endemic to this forest as the other plants and living creatures so is a passionate and interesting source of information. We should be back in camp around midday and will then drive down to Fianarantsoa (1 hr) for a quick lunch in town. The owner of this restaurant is a supporter of our project, the food is good and atmosphere very convivial with lots of locals hanging out.
That is the last urbanized setting for a while. This afternoon, we drive two more hours before leaving the paved road south of Ambalavao and roughing up dirt tracks to the Sahanambo valley on the western side of Andringitra mountains. The location of our camp there is totally spectacular. On base of Langela, facing Tsaranoro 800ms cliffs and the 1500ms of Andringitra western side, the panoramic views are stunning. Simple bungalows offering comfort, country cooking, solar energy and large nurseries will be the basic bio diet for the next few days.…
Day 6 – 9: Tsarasoa (B,L,D)
Tsarasoa itself is the base for our local agents reforestation which is a big passion which is shared (via wood-en-stock) by Pioneer Expeditions. Planting 100,000 trees per year is a challenge and although we have totalled over 300,000 trees over the three seasons of activity, we’re never totally satisfied and try to increase the figures every season. For you, that means a lot of work to be done over those action packed days. From the village orchards, to mountains summits, we have numerous planting sites spread in the Andringitra-Tsaranoro complex. Depending on the season, duties can be very different and in any case we try to combine your actions with great trails, discovery of Nature, real interaction with locals and very unique moments of pure contemplation. Prepare to be enchanted by the astounding landscapes, stunning red land and the beautiful and awe-inspiring Massif of Andringitra. You will be able to see many kinds of orchids, three sorts of palms including one kind which is endemic to the Andringitra, chameleons, lizards, snakes, batrachians, birds including the famous peregrine falcon as well as the especially friendly ring-tail lemurs living in this area.
Day 10: To Ifaty (B,L)
At mid morning, we will leave this blessed valley for a long road transfer, all the way to the Mozambique channel (6-7hrs away). We will stay in Ifaty , a great beach area, away from the touristy parts for a couple of days of well-earned relaxation in the sun.
Day 11: Leisure Day (B)
Facing the Mozambique Channel and the superb coral reef of Ifaty, less than 20 kms from Tuléar, you will discover the beauty of beaches not tainted by mass tourism. Between May and October, the humpback whales can sometimes be seen with their whale-calves. Snorkelling and diving are highly recommended (the coral reef is totally captivating) & visibility is great. Local fishermen will also be happy to offer you a trip in their traditional fishing boats (pirogues). Today is spent at leisure.
Day 12: Visit Antsokoay Arboretrum (B)
Today, we will visit Antsokoay arboretum near Tulear to discover the most exotic vegetation from malagasy south west. These are mostly spiny and thorny plants and trees as local bush adapted to scorching sun, extreme dryness and sandy soils. Tonight you’ll sleep in vibrant Tulear, the southern city which openly admits its festive mind. Tulear – “The city that doesn’t sleep”
Day 13: Back to Tana for flight (B)
Unfortunately today is the end of our trip and we will catch the morning Air Madagascar flight from Tuleur to Tana. Depending on your time of arrival in Tana you can visit the handicraft market (time to fill up your suitcases with curios and vanilla pods) and you will also have a day use room and dinner at Au bois vert.
Day 14: Flight Home (B)
Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home
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