Explore the wonders of Southern Madagascar experiencing its most diverse environments. We will visit some of the best national parks accompanied by a Malagasy naturalist guide to ensure you have the best chance of witnessing as well as learning about all of the wonderfully unique flora and fauna of Madagascar.
The south west is filled with adventure, iconic Madagascan animals, fabulous wildlife watching opportunities, outstanding landscapes, an abundance of culture and gorgeous hidden beaches lining the Indian Ocean; all waiting to be explored, encountered and cherished.
All through the people were so friendly, so welcoming and we certainly fell in love with Madagascar.
Madagascar is a one-off; there is no other place like it. Its landscapes, animals and plants are simply incredible! Near the equator with an astonishing array of habitats, ranging from rainforests to deserts and from mountain tops to mangrove swamps, it is one of the most important countries for biodiversity on the planet. The tropical climate is a perfect host to the process of nature and, like nowhere else, the variety and richness of life has flourished. We will see much of the unique flora and fauna of Southern Madagascar on this exceptional nature guided tour.
As part of our commitment to responsible travel and in conjunction with Woodenstock.org we finance a tree nursery and orchard in Italavina – which is a long term reforestation project.
Sophie Gorman travelled to Madagascar on our ‘South West Madagascar Nature Holiday – Land of the Lemurs’ with Pioneer Expeditions last year. Read about her experience here, in an article she wrote for The Independent (Ireland):
Madagascar Nature Holiday Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Tana
After arriving in Antananarivo (or Tana, as it is known by the locals), you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Antananarivo is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. It is buzzing with activity and full of people flooding the streets, selling everything you could imagine! Tana (as the locals call it) resembles a Mediterranean hill town and exploring its rich cultural and architectural sites on foot is relatively easy (as long as you are willing to climb hundreds of ancient stone steps).
Overnight – Hotel
Day 2: Antananarivo – Andasibe National Park (B,L,D)
This morning we will set off to the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (previously known as Perinet) where you will spend 1 ½ days exploring this wonderful environment. En-route we will stop at a farm specialising in Madagascan reptiles and butterflies, before arriving at our hotel. This afternoon you will get a chance to stroll around the private reserve of Vakona Lodge with the opportunity to spot lemurs and crocodiles. This evening, take a twilight/nocturnal walk, looking out for the nocturnal species of lemur by catching their eyes in the torchlight.
Overnight – Hotel
Day 3: Discovering Andasibe National Park (B,L,D)
Today we will explore Andasibe National Park.
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (formerly known as Perinet) is a 155 square kilometer protected area, about 150 km east of Antananarivo (approx. a three hour drive) consisting principally of primary growth forest. These are home to the teddy bear-like Indri, the largest of Madagascar’s lemur species, as well 11 lemur species in total and a wide array of bird life too. Listening to the piercing yet melancholy cry of the Indri in the morning is an evocative experience and for those who are prepared to follow them through the thick rainforest, the reward is often a close-up view of these beautiful creatures. This National Park was inscribed in the World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana.
Overnight – Hotel
Day 4: Antsirabe (B,L,D)
We will set off early this morning for a full day journey to Antsirabe (via Tana). The driving time is approximately 7 hours, however we will stop for lunch along the way. Upon arrival at Antsirabe, if time allows, you could choose to visit the stone cutting workshop where crystals are cut.
Antsirabe is a tidy, well maintained town which combines the tranquility of a small European provincial town with the exuberance of traditional Malagasy buildings. The third largest city in Madagascar, Antsirabe is known for its relatively cool climate (as the rest of the central region of the country), its industry and the high concentration of pulled rickshaws.
Overnight – Hotel
Day 5: Antsirabe to Ranomafana National Park (B,L,D)
We will set out after an early breakfast towards Ranomafana National Park (approx. 4 hours driving on good roads).
We will stay just outside Ranomafana (just 10 minutes from the park entrance).
This afternoon you have the option of visiting the thermal baths in Ranomfana or looking around the village.
Overnight – Hotel
Day 6: Discovering Ranomafana National Park (B,L,D)
Today you have the opportunity to explore Ranomfana and search for many of the lemur on a full day trek
Ranomafana is particularly rich and beautiful, a mountainous subtropical park which contains lowland moist forest, cloud forest and high plateau forest and is the home to a large number of lemur species (13 in total), as well as 118 birds and more than 70 amphibians and reptiles so is really a great place to see some of the unique species living in Madagascar. Lemurs include the brown lemur, golden bamboo lemur and the exceptionally rare greater bamboo lemur which is relatively easy to see in Ranomafana. Wildlife viewing is good all year round but is most productive from mid-Sept to May.
Overnight – Hotel
Day 7: Ranomafana – Isalo National Park (B,L,D)
Transfer to the Isalo National Park. This extraordinarily unique area of natural beauty is unlike any other place in Madagascar
Overnight – Eco-lodge.
Day 8 Discovering Isalo National Park (B,L,D)
Today we will visit this breathtaking National Park. Included will be the opportunity to swim in a natural pool with lunch on trail.
Isalo is the park of the Big South and the most visited parks of Madagascar. It is known for its exceptional landscape. The Isalo National Park protects over 81,000 hectares of widely eroded Jurassic sandstone massif. The grassy plains are surrounded by sandstone ridges. Most of the vegetated areas of the park are covered with dry grassland or sparse, low deciduous woodland, however near streams and in deeper canyons there are also ferns and feathery palm trees. Animal life isn’t the parks most prominent feature, but there a few species to look for including six species of lemur (three nocturnal, three daytime) including the ring tail lemur and the White (dancing lemur) sifaka. It is also home to approx 55 species of bird including the rare Benson’s rock-thrush.
Overnight – Eco-lodge
Day 9: Transfer to Ifaty (B,L,D)
Today we head to Ifaty and the Indian Ocean. If time allows, we will stop by Zombiste National Park en-route.
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. Ifaty is a small fishing village with palm-fringed white beaches on the south-western coast of Madagascar, and is an ideal place to relax after visiting the central highlands. The beach is relatively narrow, but the (off shore) snorkeling and diving is good. In July and August, you may see migrating whales pass nearby through the Mozambique Channel. Between May and October, the humpback whales can sometimes be seen with their whale-calves.
Overnight – Hotel
Day 10: Discovering Ifaty (B,D)
Just north of Ifaty you can find the Reniala Nature Reserve ‘Spiny Forest’ , a remarkable habitat adapted to the heat and drought of the area giving it the resultant thorny &/or bloated drought resistant trees and plants. The spiny forests inland from Ifaty are of great interest to birdwatchers and botanical enthusiasts alike. Here you will be able to see some very large iconic Baobab trees, an abundance of birds (a true paradise for ornithologists) as well as possibly some locally endemic species such as the long-tailed ground roller and sub-desert mesite. This unique habitat is severely threatened by deforestation and by visiting these sites, you will not only enjoy some of the little remaining spiny forest in Madagascar, but also actively contribute to its conservation (the sites are currently not protected). A visit here can be organized by the hotel, and you can even travel there by pirogue – which we highly recommend.
Day 11: Ifaty to Antananarivo (B)
We will catch the Air Madagascar flight from Tulear to Tana. Depending on your time of arrival in Tana you can visit the handicraft market.
Day 12: End of Trip (B)
Transfer to airport in time for flight home. If you are on the Air France or Air Kenya trip which leaves early morning of day 13, you can opt to have a day use room &/or driver/guide for the day (not included).
NB: This itinerary is subject to change – arrangements, routes and facilities are subject to variation depending on local conditions. Please note times given are approximate driving times and do not include stops, the journey times are therefore longer. When driving times are given, this is only an indication. It aims to reflect the actual driving time (and doesn’t include stops, lunch, traffic). The road journeys, while often long, are one of the great ways to experience Madagascar. There is so much life on the road and many photographic opportunities along the way from a natural and people perspective.
We can also tailor itineraries to suit your exact requirements.
OPTIONAL BEACH EXTENSION
BEACH EXTENSION OPTION 1: IFATY
BEACH EXTENSION OPTION 2: ANAKAO
OPTIONAL MORONDAVA EXTENSION
If you have time, why not add an extension to Morondava onto your Madagascar trip. This will allow you to experience the Tsingy des Bemaraha as well as the Avenue des Baobabs (approx. 7 days needed – email us for details).
OPTIONAL WILDLIFE EXTENSION
This extension will give you an extra day in each of the following destinations: Andasibe National Park, Ranomafana National Park, Isalo National Park and Ifaty. It will also including a day of rafting on the Namorana River and a visit to Ambalavao and Anja Reserve.
Click here to see the full itinerary
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Great experience. Highlights - Visits to Rainforest national park and tropical national park
Beautiful country, extreme poverty but rich in landscape and natural resources. Not for the faint hearted.
I wanted to send a quick note letting you know how wonderful our trip to Madagascar was, and what a great job your group did in organizing the adventure. The pickups, transfers and other details were so well organized and thought out. We could tell our hotels were among the best that the various towns had to offer and were appreciative of that. Our driver Danny was wonderful and our guide Hery was really top notch. Hery’s knowledge and helpfulness were a highlight of the whole trip.
Again thank you for a wonderfully organized trip and I hope to look to pioneer for future tours.
Highlights - Seeking the wildlife especially the lemurs in the wild. Glamping was superb. We loved our stay in Isalo Mamy was amazing , informative, knowledgeable, kind ,friendly and so gentle. He was just awesome.
A magical Madagascan experience full of wildlife. We had the opportunity to see a large number of national parks, diversity of animals, and the more adventurous elements of canoeing down a river Call of the Indri, seeing the Diademed Sifaka in Andasibe, the view and swimming in Isalo national park. The activities such as paper making and silk making were fantastic.
Good organisation and a very appreciated holiday indeed. Most memorable part of the holiday was seeing the Indri close up in the wild and spotting chameleons and birds.
The amazing countryside, the lemurs, the Malagasy people, the food, the wonderful lodges......
This tour was a roller-coaster introduction to the Land of the Lemurs: a kaleidescope of mountains, rivers, forests, deserts. Throw in the fantastic wildlife, people and food and the result is an amazing travel experience.
Highlights of the trip - All good . I liked seeing the indri. I generally liked the road trips across the country to see the diversity of landscapes Would have been good to have more in-depth information on the country and lemurs. Would also have been good to have been able to photograph the different types of landscapes as we whizzed by although not really clear how to best achieve this without stopping the car every 5 minutes.
We are safely back from our Madagascar trip.
We had a brilliant time, saw lots, learned lots and were made to think lots!
It all went remarkable smoothly and although almost nothing was as we expected, it was a very special holiday.
Thank you for putting together a great holiday with admirable professionalism: it was faultless .... not often said about holidays!
Listening to the Indri Lemur's call has got to be up there on the highlights. As well as the huge variety of plants and other animals. The journey's were great as we got to see glimpses of local life and a vast variety of scenery.
So pleased to have found a way, at our age, to still successfully get a huge amount out of such a trip