Magnificent North – Wildlife and Nature

Unearth Madagascar’s magnificently wild Northern region. Go truly off the beaten track on this adventure; passing through the remotest of villages and national parks, seeing striking diverse landscapes  and spotting incredibly unique Madagascan wildlife. Be a part of the adventurous minority! Starting from Madagascar’s last major highland forest, we’ll move through barren Tampoketsa  and the Tsingy of Ankarana before reaching the far Northern coast of Madagascar.



Madagascar is a one-off; there is no other place like it. Its landscapes, animals and plants are simply fantastic! 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 Northern Madagascar on this exceptional off-the-beaten-track, nature guided expedition. As part of our commitment to responsible travel and in conjunction with we finance a tree nursery and orchard in Italavina – which is a long term reforestation project.

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Day 1: Antananarivo

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.

Overnight Hotel

Day 2: Ambohitantely National Reserve (B,L,D)

After breakfast you will meet your guide and we will head towards Ambohitantely National Reserve (approx. 3 hrs). This afternoon we will spend the time hiking through this special reserve.

Ambohitantely special reserve protects the last of the original highlands forest. It is covered with natural forest and grassy plains and is known for its astonishing populations of palms. It is inhabited by 12 mammal species including the common brown lemur, the brown mouse lemur and the eastern woolly lemur (the latter two being nocturnal). It is a great location to see birds – with over 48 species including the Madagascar crested Ibis.

Overnight – Camp

Days 3: Trekking in the reserve & Ankarafantsika (B,L,D)

We will spend the morning trekking this reserve again before heading back to our car for our transfer to Ankarafantsika (approx. 6 hr transfer).

Ankarafantsika National Park, set on Lac Ravelobe, is a mixture of deciduous forests and wetlands.  It is known for its lakes and for being a haven for lemurs and endemic birds.  It is covered in varied fauna, mainly herbaceous and endemic woody plants.  It is the home to the beautiful Coquerel’s sifaka as well as 7 other species of lemurs (inc. western woolly, fat tailed dwarf lemur, mongoose lemurs) and exceptional birds (including roufous vanga and fish eagle). There is an organized network of paths that is perfect for wildlife viewing. 

Here you are able to take night walks to see some of the nocturnal species which are particularly prevalent in this park (including mouse lemur – the smallest primate in the world).

We will overnight at the bungalows in the national park – these are set discreetly in the forest and face Lake Ravelobe. They are clean, comfortable and simple, and are ideal for us to get an early start in the forest tomorrow (being a 2 min walk from the park entrance).

Overnight bungalow

Day 4: Visit of the Ankarafantsika National Park (B,L,D)

We set off after breakfast to explore this forest on foot, a superb and fauna rich day hike. We will take a picnic lunch to have on the trail in the national park. After dinner we will have the option of setting out on a night hike again to see some of the nocturnal inhabitants of the forest.

Overnight – Bungalow


Day 5: Antsohihy (B,L)

After another morning exploring the forest, we will drive to Antsohihy. Along the way we will pass through villages and animated markets so there is always something to look at en-route.

An isolated coastal village, accessible only by boat or plane in the rainy season.   Antsohihy is connected inland with the River Loza. The people of Antsohihy live from forestry, trade and transport activities and the area is renowned for seafood too.

Overnight – Bungalow

Day 6: Ambanja (B,L,D)

Today we will we head for Ambanja. Upon arrival in Ambanja, you may choose to go for peaceful bike ride around the plantations, relax on the beach or even partake in a mangrove canoe trip.

Ambanja boasts a stunning location on the Sambirano river and is a buzzing, farming community with plantations, with crops like coffee, ylang ylang pepper and vanilla but most importantly for the community, cacao. There is a local airport and a small maritime harbor at Ankify which notably is the gate to the Islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Komba.

Tonight we will sleep in bungalows on the beach.

Overnight – Bungalow


Day 7: Ankarana  (B,L,D)

This morning we head to Ankarana (approx. 4 hrs by road). Upon arrival we will set up our camp and we will then get a chance to explore. This afternoon we will visit Perte de Riviere – which is the gateway to a series of caves leading to the ocean.

Overnight – Hotel


Day 8: Visiting Ankarana Reserve (B,L,D)

Today will be spent exploring this amazing park along with the Tsingy and the canyons. The trails are not easy but are feasible for anyone with a moderate level of fitness and we recommend visiting this park in the dry season (May-Nov).

Ankarana Special Reserve covers 18,220ha and is known for its limestone karst pinnacles called Tsingy along with its extensive cave system and network of underground rivers.    Ankarana possibly has the highest density of primates of any forest (with 11 species of lemurs being found here) and here you may see the crowned lemur, Sanford’s brown lemur, Perrieri’s (black sifaka) lemur, the northern sportive lemur and dwarf lemurs as well as a variety of chameleons and leaf-tailed Uroplatus gecko and great flora.

Overnight – Hotel               


Day 9: Jofreville & Amber Mountain (B,L,D)

Today we head to Joffreville (approx. 3 hrs on a slightly bumpy road) and the Montagne d’Ambre – the Amber Mountain.

This stunning National Park is comprised of a huge tropical forest with waterfalls and volcanic lakes.   This islet of verdant forest is a haven of freshness that escaped the stuffy heatwave of this region.  There are numerous animals that inhabit this national park including the ring-tailed mongoose, the fossa and 8 lemurs (which are not always easy to see).  It is also home to 75 bird species – 35 of them are endemic, 60 reptiles (from leaf tailed gecko’s to a number of chameleon species, 35 frogs and 40 butterflies. Due to its relative proximity to Diego, this park can get quite busy (by Madagascan standards) in the high season, however it is really worth visiting.

Our accommodation whilst here will be a charming boutique hotel

Overnight – Hotel


Day 10: Amber Mountain (B,L,D)

Today we will spend the day exploring the forest trails and waterfalls in the Montagne d’Ambre.

Overnight – Hotel


Day 11: Flight Home or Optional Beach Extension (B,L,D)

We will catch the Air Madagascar flight from Diego to Tana.  Depending on your time of arrival in Tana, you can visit the handicraft market .


Overnight – Hotel


Day 12: End of Trip (B)

Transfer to airport in time for flight home.  We can arrange a day use room if you are on a late night flight (not included)



This is the Wild North and is not on the usual tourist route, so the accommodation quality does vary and some of the drives are long.

This itinerary is subject to change – arrangements, routes and facilities are subject to variation depending on local conditions.  We can also tailor itineraries to suit your exact requirements. 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.  



Day 11: Diego to Nosy Be (B)

We head to Diego where we will take an Air Madagascar flight to Nosy Be. Upon arrival we will transfer to a hotel where we will spend the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight Hotel

Day 12: Nosy-be/Anjiabe (B,L,D ) 

We board a dhow Sakalava to explore an area where the sea is the only path.   Swimming, snorkeling and diving discovery of an incredibly rich and diverse underwater world awaits us.  After a dhow journey we will land at Anjiabé, a 3km long beach bordered by a semi-abandoned coconut plantation, a site with extraordinary low tide. This is where we will camp for tonight.  After a drink and a stunning meal of seafood prepared for us by our chef, we will have the chance to nap, swim and for those who wish, walk trails to observe the many species of birds, mostly endemic to Madagascar. Sunset, cocktails, meals … And good night!

Overnight Camp.


Day 13: Radama (B,L,D)

Depending on the tide we will depart relatively early towards the Island’s northernmost archipelago Radama. (approx. a 2 1/2hr crossing).  Along the way we will get a chance to swim. Nosy Ambariopôtaka rises to 166 meters and includes a different landscape to last night and we camp facing the majestic Mozambique Channel.  In the next bay we tend to find a Sakalava carpenter at work – with one or more shells of dhows resting on a bed of pink and white periwinkles. The whole island is surrounded by a lagoon. Scuba diving, nature walks in the jungle and lazing are the order of today.

Overnight Camp


Day 14: Ambariomena (B,L,D)

We set off early to head Ambariomena. We set up camp a lovely little village and, depending on the tides, in the afternoon, we head out to the sea in a canoe or explore the island on foot.  After our evening aperitif, we will enjoy a meal under the stars!

Overnight Camp

Day 15: Nosy be – Tana (B)

Flight Back to Tana



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Pioneer Expeditions
Average rating:  
 6 reviews
byA Vaughan onPioneer Expeditions
A great and faultless trip!

We had a brilliant time, saw lots, learned lots and were made to think lots! It was the right balance of wildlife, scenery and culture. We expected ‘adequate’ accommodation but that was the biggest surprise of the holiday. The hotels were lovely and the food universally splendid: it made our ‘spare’ time very pleasurable. Special mention for:
Relais de Plateaux - they could not have been more helpful.
Tsarasoa - very friendly and relaxing and you felt part of the village.
Le Paradisier - what a setting!

Our guide, Blaise, was excellent. Very knowledgeable, patient, good English and a good sense of humour. His driver was spot-on too. The right balance of caution and assertiveness in tricky driving circumstances.The people were very friendly and welcoming, even thanking us for going as they ‘need tourists’!
It all went remarkably smoothly and although almost nothing was as we expected, it was a very special holiday.
In the meantime, thank you for putting together a great holiday with admirable professionalism: it was faultless .... not often said about holidays!

byE. Gussin onPioneer Expeditions
Fantastic experience in a special country.

Planning the trip so that we had two weeks of national parks, hiking, camping and canoeing and then allowing ourselves 4 days 'relaxing' on the beaches afterwards was definitely the right thing to do. Travelling is slow and tiring in a country with very poor infrastructure.Flora and fauna was outstanding. Local guides were superb.

byU.Berg onPioneer Expeditions
Madagascar nature guided north

Thank you for your patience in the planning process Well organized and accompanied trip.

byL.Taylor onPioneer Expeditions

Trip was great and a welcome break from work!

My only comment would be that it would have been nice to have more local food.

byMary P. onPioneer Expeditions

It was a great hols & thank you so much for arranging it. everything went like clockwork. The choice of Mammy & our driver Zoo was an excellent plan & we couldn't fault their professionalism .We did think that it would have been better to have visited less places & had a bit more down time. The stay at Eden Lodge was super.

byRyland Day Family onPioneer Expeditions
Tailormade North

Just a quick note to say very many thanks for arranging our trip last week to Madagascar - we had an amazing time. Everything worked well with connections and arrangements. The guides assigned were excellent - Apolinia's eyesight was just amazing and he spotted so many wonderful things. We really enjoyed the trekking and the camping, and overall the itinerary was a good mix and timings were perfect too. The boys are already asking when we can go back to Madagascar, so we may have to look into some family friendly itineraries in another part of the country next year. Thank you again for a great trip and all your help.

  • Duration12 days/11 nights
  • Price£2,195$2,750
    Price based on 4 pax, £250 supplement is less. 2 Optional Beach Extensions: 1 Island Hopping, 1 Nosy Sakatia
  • Upcoming Group Departures

    2021: 2-May, 6-Jun, 8-Aug, 05-Sep, 07-Nov

  • Tailormade DeparturesMar - Dec

Extraordinary Sights

Breakfast at Antsohihy Passing villages along the way Ankarafantsika National Park is the place for bird watchers A common brown lemur & baby at Ankarafantsika Crocs on the lake at Ankarafantsika The beautiful Coquerel's Sifaka Visiting a local market en route to Antsohihy Bungalows on the beach at Ankify A chameleon crossing Trekking at ankarana Ankarana caves Crowned lemur at Ankarana National Park Meeting the wildlife at Ankarana Meeting the locals
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