21 October 2016
Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, beaches, desert, trekking and diving . . . Madagascar is a dream destination for nature and outdoor lovers – and half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions. The world's fourth largest island is unique and five per cent of all known animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. The remarkable fauna and flora is matched by epic landscapes of an incredible diversity as you can go from rainforest to desert in just 250 miles. Few places on earth offer such an intense kaleidoscope of nature and on this tour of the south of the island you see so many of the highlights.
On arrival at Ivato International Airport you will be met and assisted with formalities including currency exchange. Then you will be taken to your comfortable hotel in the city of Antananarivo. The island’s capital, which is often called Tana, is 1370m above sea level and has French and Asian inspired architecture, winding cobblestone streets and stairways that create a medieval ambiance. Walk around the Independence Avenue and enjoy the rhythm of the city.
After breakfast, you will be driven to the pleasant city of Antsirabe. On the way you will pass lots of photogenic and scenic traditional villages in the highlands. Antsirabe is also called the rickshaw town as there are thousands of rickshaws on the roads. Antsirabe has lots to offer because it is the “Vichy’ town in Madagascar with its thermal bath centre. It is also the country's main industrial and agricultural town.
This morning take a tour of Antsirabe stopping at the precious and semi- precious stone work shops, the zebu horn craft workshop and the miniature workshop or just enjoy a rickshaw tour in the Avenue de l’Independance. Later travel to the spectacular Ranomafana rainforest, stopping on the way at the city of Ambositra, the craft town of Madagascar, where you can see and buy some fine local woodcarving products. Lunch at the Artisan Hotel then drive on to Ranomafana.
Today is set aside for a visit to Ranomafana National Park. This lush green rainforest is home to 29 species of mammals and 12 species of lemurs including the Golden bamboo lemur, le greater Bamboo lemur, the Milne Edwards Sifaka, as well as the mouse lemur and lots of exotic birds. The diversity of the flora is incredible with orchids, ferns, mosses and palms, some of which have medicinal properties. After lunch, visit the park's museum and the thermal-bath centre. In the evening you have a night walk into the park with a good chance of seeing striped civets.
This morning drive down to the south and pass through the big town of Fianarantsoa. The upper town is the old part of the city where churches are dominant alongside traditional houses. After a quick sightseeing tour, continue to Ambalavao which is a silk weaving town and the vineyards centre of Madagascar. Then continue south to Anja park where you stop for lunch. Visit the forest and rock caves which are home to hundreds of Ring Tailed Lemur as well as chameleons and birds. Leave the highlands for the desert-like area of Isalo and after a leisurely afternoon wait for sunset at “la fenetre de l’Isalo”.
Today is is spent in the national park of Isalo. Although animal life is not the park's prominent feature, the landscape is breathtaking. It has been dominated by the sculpted sandstone cliffs dotted with palm-trees and pachypodiums commonly called Elephant’s foot. While in Isalo you visit a natural swimming pool and have a picnic lunch there. Here you will see some lemur species living in the beautiful sandstone parl. Also there is an endemic bird, the Benson’s rock Thrush as well as lots of reptiles and insects.
Today you travel to Zombitse national park where the protection of birds and their habitat was the reason for its creation. This national park is well known especially for the Appert’s Greenbul and there are some lemurs such as the Verrauxi’s Sifaka and the brown Lemur. Later arrive at Tulear, the biggest city in the south west part of the country. Tulear is also called the sun city because of the weather there in summer and the fact that the Tropic of Capricorn passes nearby.
After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to Tulear airport for your flight back to the capital. If your flight out of Antananarivo is departing late in the day you will be collected from the airport and driven to the Relais des Plateaux where you will have use of a room until it is time to leave. This tour of south Madagascar is a great way to see so many of this unique island's highlights.
Standard fr £2097pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated