Classic Madagascar Overland: the RN7 Route and Andasibe
Verreaux's Sifaka at Zombitse Forest National Park  
Ruiniforme sandstone formations at Isalo National Park  
Typical Hauts Plateaux scenery  
Giraffe weevil, one of Madagascar's many odd rainforest denizens  
The Pittalike ground-roller is best sought in Ranomafana National Park  
Ranomafana protects the critically endangered Greater bamboo lemur  
Ifaty's famed Spiny bush (Craig)  
Ringtailed lemurs abound in Anja and Isalo National Park  
Milne-Edward's sifaka, Ranomafana (Craig)  
Satanic leaf-tailed gecko is best sought around Ranomafana  
Parson's chameleon, male (Derek)  
Dense upland rainforest in Ranomafana NP (Craig)  
Zebu herders guiding cattle near Ambalavao (Craig)  
Granite formations near Ambalavao (Craig)  
Elephant's foot pachypodiums in Isalo National Park  
Tall Pachypodium at Arboretum d'Antsokay  
Ringtails, Anja Parc (Max)  
Hubbard's sportive lemur, unique to Zombitse (Daniel Austin)  
Giant coua is found in Zombitse and Ifaty (Craig)  
Ifaty Beach (Craig)  
Terraced riziculture, Betsileo country (Craig)  
Indri, the critically endangered icon of Andasibe-Mantadia NP  
Red-bellied lemur is found in Ranomafana and Mantadia NPs  
Long-tailed ground-roller, Ifaty Spiny Forest (Toky)  
Sicklebill vangas, Ifaty (Clive Marks, Sep 2018 Group Tour)  
Painted mantella, Ranomafana NP  
Nose-horned chameleon  
15 day tour
Including flights and transfers
Prices from
£4575 - £4925

Tour Highlights

  • Highlands culture: the Merina and Betsileo people
  • Rainforest wildlife in Ranomafana and Andasibe-Mantadia National Parks
  • The ringtailed lemurs of Anja
  • Hiking in spectacular surrounds at Isalo National Park
  • The bizarre spiny bush at Ifaty
  • Zombitse for rare wildlife and Baobabs
I'm enquiring about: Classic Madagascar Overland: the RN7 Route and Andasibe

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I'm enquiring about: Classic Madagascar Overland: the RN7 Route and Andasibe

Classic Madagascar Overland: the RN7 Route and Andasibe

Madagascar

This private, tailor-made tour follows the scenic RN7 road journey, which includes some of Madagascar's most rewarding national parks, wildlife hotspots and culturally interesting sites, starting from the high-lying capital city and ending at the arid south-west coast. It is an unforgettable trip if you like to be on the move and want to see as wide an array possible, of wildlife, traditional cultures and extraordinarily varied landscapes. To enhance the wildlife aspect, we include a stay at Andasibe-Mantadia National Park to the east of Antananarivo: this can be done either before or after completing the RN7 circuit. In this sample itinerary, we include a two night stay at Ifaty on the arid south-west coast. However, for those who want some more beach time, we recommend venturing either to Anakao or to Tsiandamba. (Ask us for details).


Day 1
Day 1
London - Paris - Antananarivo
Fly with Air France early this morning from London (or selected regional airports) via Paris to Antananarivo.
 
On arrival into Antananarivo late this evening (if flying on Air France), you will be met, assisted and transferred to Relais des Plateaux, with breakfast included.
Accommodation: Relais Des Plateaux
       
Day 2
Day 2
Antananarivo - Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Your dedicated, experienced, professional English-speaking Malagasy guide and driver will collect you at the hotel after breakfast. Travel about 3hrs,30min east to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, the island's number 1 must see protected rainforests. Stay here for three nights in Mantadia Lodge (or similar), with dinner and breakfast included.
 
Your guides will take you for an introductory rainforest walk into the beautiful mid altitude rainforest here.
Accommodation: Mantadia Lodge
           
Day 3
Day 3
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
During your time in Andasibe-Mantadia (formerly known as 'Perinet'), you will have three activities per day: an early morning rainforest walk allows you to savour the dawn chorus (amazing!). In the mid afternoon, you can do a second rainforest walk to seek more wildlife and enjoy more rainforest scenery. After dark, visit one of the sites where guides take you to look for nocturnal wildlife - our favourites are either the rainforest parcel of Analamazaotra Forestry Station, administered by Association Mitsinjo, or, a small privately protected rainforest looked after by a group of guides, called VOIMMA.
Accommodation: Mantadia Lodge
           
Day 4
Day 4
Mantadia National Park
After breakfast, you will be taken to explore Mantadia National Park, for its very beautiful primary rainforest. Alternatively if you prefer, visit another trail in Andasibe-Mantadia, or the nearby Maromizaha Experimental Reserve, which is similar to Mantadia. Among the sought-after species on visiting birding enthusiasts' lists are the Velvet asity (male, pictured).
 
Activities possible in the area include horse riding or kayaking (payable locally) and for those who would like to participate in a conservation initiative, there is the opportunity to plant an endangered, endemic tree from the nurseries of Association Mitsinjo. (What better way could there be to literally put something back into Malagasy soil?).
Accommodation: Mantadia Lodge
           
Day 5
Day 5
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park - Antsirabe
Enjoy a very scenic drive (duration about 7hrs,30min) first through Bezanozano territory then Merina country from Andasibe to Antsirabe, a former spa town during colonial times. Visit some of the craft stalls for which this town is known. You might also wish to visit Lac Tritriva nearby, one of two peculiar volcanic lakes in which water levels actually rise during the dry season.
 
Overnight at Couleur Cafe, a converted colonial villa with lovely gardens, breakfast and dinner included
Accommodation: Couleur Café
     
Day 6
Day 6
Antsirabe - Ranomafana National Park
Ranomafana National Park is about six hours drive south. For the next three nights, your hotel is Thermal Hotel OR Setam Lodge, breakfast and dinner included. You'll be taken on an introductory rainforest walk and at night, the guides can take you to seek nocturnal animal life outside the periphery of the park.
 
Visitors keen to see wild Aye ayes and who have are physically fit, can do an excursion (extra charge) to Kianjavato, a lemur research project near Ranomafana of which part involves the study of some radio-collared Aye ayes. Note however that this is a challenging hike and that it is done at night.
Accommodation: Thermal Hotel
     
Day 7
Day 7
Ranomafana National Park
Spend the day exploring the beautiful, wildlife-rich upland rainforest of Ranomafana National Park, originally set aside with lemur protection in mind during the 1980s when Dr Patricia Wright and her team discovered the Golden bamboo lemur (pictured) there. The park is home to 12 species of lemur including the critically endangered Greater bamboo lemur, various other endemic mammals, numerous species of rainforest-dependent endemic birds such as the quietly beautiful Pitta-like and Rufous-headed ground-rollers, and many frogs and reptiles. Note that trails traverse some steep slopes and can by muddy and slippery during and after inclement weather.
Accommodation: Thermal Hotel
     
Day 8
Day 8
Ranomafana National Park
Enjoy a second day with your guides in Ranomafana National Park. Aside from exploring this beautiful rainforest bisected by the whitewater Namorona River, you may wish to stop by at the Centre ValBio or visit the village of Ranomafana. At night, look for the enormous Madagascar comet (lunar) moth which is sometimes attracted by lights at buildings here.
Accommodation: Thermal Hotel
     
Day 9
Day 9
Ranomafana - Ambalavao & Anja Parc
Depart the lovely rainforests of Ranomafana on the drive to Ambalavao (about 3 - 4 hours with stops) where you stay overnight at the owner-run Betsileo Country Lodge with dinner and breakfast included.
 
Ten miles from Ambalavao, Anja Parc is a community-run conservation site with a thriving population of healthy and well habituated ringtails in dramatic scenery.
 
In Ambalavao, if its open, you can visit the Antaimoro paper workshop and perhaps if you are lucky, even see a traditional Zebu- bull-wrestling / rodeo ('savika') event in town.
 
 
Accommodation: Betsileo Country Lodge
     
Day 10
Day 10
Anja Parc - Isalo National Park
In the early morning, enjoy the adorable Ringtail lemurs at Anja Parc amid spectacular surrounds. Then drive through the desolate and semi-arid 'badlands' of the heart of the central-south to Ihosy, a centre of the Bara tribe. Continue to the eerily silent Horombe Plateau, with its tall, fire-resistant palms in grassland. When you reach the Horombe, you'll know the sandstone massif of Isalo is close by. Arrive and check in at the lovely Relais la Reine where you stay two nights, dinner and breakfast included.
 
Explore one of the winding trails which you can discuss with your guide, at Isalo. The park is home to iconic southern lemurs such as Ringtails and Verreaux's sifakas; birds including the localised Benson's rock thrush and various reptiles and frogs. Among its most distinctive plants are the squat 'Elephants foot' pachypodiums which thrive on sheer rock faces and in September, sport yellow flowers.
Accommodation: Relais de la Reine de Isalo
             
Day 11
Day 11
Isalo National Park
A lovely day in which to explore the dry, 'ruiniforme' sandstone massif of Isalo National Park, one of the country's most popular protected areas for its scenery and many trails.
Accommodation: Relais de la Reine de Isalo
             
Day 12
Day 12
Isalo - Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park - Ifaty-Mangily
Travel the last four hours of the RN7 today: the first stop, an hour away from Isalo, is Zombitse Forest National Park which year-round, is wonderful for wildlife viewing. Straddling the road on flat terrain, this is the last remaining example of transition forest where the western and southern floristic domains merge. Nearby there are also some baobabs of the big southern Malagasy species Adansonia za.
 
Keep a lookout along the road near Zombitse and the town Sakaraha; there are some interesting Antandroy and Mahafaly tombs on which pantings depict memorable scenes from the lives of those interred in the tombs. Gem enthusiasts may wish to visit Ilakaka, the sapphire mining town near Sakaraha too. (Contact us for details as this should definitely be pre-arranged with care).
 
Continue for another three hours and visit the Arboretum de Antsokay Botanical Gardens, a 67ha private reserve showcasing the bizarre flora of the sub-arid south. You then enter the coastal town of Tulear and head north to Ifaty Beach.
 
Stay two nights at Le Paradisier, breakfast and dinner included
Accommodation: Le Paradisier
             
Day 13
Day 13
Ifaty Beach (and Spiny bush excursion)
You will be taken for a very early morning excursion into the bizarre Ifaty Spiny Forest, a botanist and bird-watcher's delight. The original habitat here, the spiny bush, was aptly described by travel writing legend Dervla Murphy as 'Nature's Botanical Lunatic Asylum' and its not hard to see why: interspersed with much Euphorbia are 'bottle baobabs' (Adansonia rubrostipa, smallest of the country's six endemic Baobab species), other bloated and drought-resistant plants including tall Pachypodiums, and thorny Octopus trees which belong to the endemic Didieraceae family.
 
Most visitors manage to see rare and localised species such as the Long-tailed ground-roller (photographed here by our clients Jim & Yvell Whyte).If your interest is birding, let us know so we can ensure you are taken to the right tract of privately protected spiny bush.
 
Later in the day, you can relax on the beach or go snorkelling
Accommodation: Le Paradisier
             
Day 14
Day 14
Ifaty - Tulear (drive) - Antananarivo (flight)
Time allowing, you could visit the spiny bush again as it is now only 20 minutes drive from Tulear after the road was tarred in September 2016.
 
You will be transferred to Tulear airport to check in for the flight to Antananarivo, where you will be met and transferred to Relais De Plateaux. Here, you will have a day/ evening room if flying out on Air France. Time allowing, visit the artisans' market and also, stop by at Akany Avoko, which is an incredibly inspiring experience.
 
If you are flying out on Air France, then you will be transferred in the late evening back to Ivato airport to check in for the flight departing very early next morning.
Accommodation: Relais Des Plateaux
       
Day 15
Departure (reluctantly!)
Take the very early morning Air France flight back to Paris, arriving mid morning local time in CDG, from where you connect on the lunch time flight back to London Heathrow or selected other UK airports.

Pricing Information & Dates

15 day tour, from £4575 - £4925 per person
Price Includes:
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Transfers
  • Guide
Price Includes
* International return flights from London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) on Air France (economy class seating)
* Domestic Air Madagascar flights
* Airport taxes
* Services of your dedicated, professional, experienced, English-speaking Malagasy guide and driver.
* All private transfers in comfortable, private, air-conditioned 4-wheel drive vehicle
* Excursions and activities as outlined
* Park permits and local park/ reserve guide fees
* Accommodation with meals as specified, based on double or twin room occupancy.
Price Excludes
* Visa fee (35 Euros, issued on arrival)
* Any meals not listed
* Drinks
* Items of a personal nature (gratuities, phone calls, laundry, souvenirs).

Tour Route Map

  1.   Antananarivo
  2.   Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
  3.   Antsirabe
  4.   Ranomafana National Park
  5.   Ambalavao and Anja Parc
  6.   Isalo National Park
  7.   Zombitse-Vohibasia Forest National Park
  8.   Tulear
  9.   Ifaty
  10.   Antananarivo

Accommodation on this Tour

Betsileo Country Lodge
Betsileo Country Lodge
Ambalavao and Anja Parc, Madagascar
Betsileo Country Lodge Formerly called Varangue de Betsileo, proprietor Frank Janssens runs a friendly property that is more reminiscent of a B&B than a hotel. The property is located in......
     
Couleur Café
Couleur Café
Antsirabe, Madagascar
Three hours to the south of Antananarivo, Couleur Café is the perfect place to break the journey to or from Ranomafana. It has five charming en suite rooms (one of which is a family room) set in lovely gardens.
     
Le Paradisier
Le Paradisier
Ifaty, Madagascar
Le Paradisier We really enjoy this property and recommend it highly for our guests visiting Ifaty-Mangily. It is located only about 10 minutes from Mangily village, about 20 minutes’ drive......
             
Mantadia Lodge
Mantadia Lodge
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Madagascar
Mantadia Lodge Sure to become the most sought- after accommodation servicing Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, this lodge, under the same ownership as Couleur Café in Antsirabe, was opened in......
           
Relais de la Reine de Isalo
Relais de la Reine de Isalo
Isalo National Park, Madagascar
Relais de la Reine de Isalo This firm favorite with visitors is next door to, and under same ownership, as Jardin du Roy.Blocks of six spacious, en suite rooms are grouped around a courtyard. The......
             
Relais Des Plateaux
Relais Des Plateaux
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Relais Des Plateaux is positioned on the outskirts of Antananarivo and is just a ten minute drive away from the airport. Rooms are large and comfortable with air-conditioning and mini-bar. The hotel has a large outdoor heated pool and a spacious new restaurant.
       
Thermal Hotel
Thermal Hotel
Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
Completely rebuilt and refurbished, this is now one of the best hotels at Ranomafana National Park.
     

Image Gallery

Reviews

Hello Derek,

I must apologise for the lateness of this heart felt thank you to everyone at Rainbow Tours for organise the amazing group tour of Madagascar, back in September.

I know that everyone of my fellow travellers has praised your company for its excellent customer service. We all felt confident in the travel arrangements and that our individual queries and requirements were well-catered for.

The holiday itself more than met our expectations and this was very much due to the superb tour guide, Toky Andriamora. He had  all the qualities needed to organise the local guides, hotel staff, and possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the flora and fauna of the island.

More than that, he was affable, entertaining and resourceful. Looking after eight silver-haired travellers would tax anyone’s patience but Toky  never lacked humour and efficiency.

The itinerary was well-prepared and provided a good insight into the lives of the local people as well as wonderful encounters with the wildlife and varied landscape of the island. Looking back over the photographs will give us much pleasure.

We were surprised by the good quality of the hotels. The settings of Andasibe Hotel, Le Paradisier, Relais de La Reine, Bougainvilier Hotel and Thermal Lodge were beautiful. We would have liked to stay a further night at both Le Paradisier and Bougainvilier. For the most part the food was fine although the cuisine at Thermal Hotel did not match the quality of its rooms or setting. The only disappointing accommodation was Couleur Café; poor room, noisy, power cuts, disorganised reception. The plus point was a good meal!

Although the travel between hotels was often long, the vehicles were comfortable and roomy. The drivers always inspired us with confidence and always ready to stop for points of interest.

Please pass on our thanks to all the team. They helped to make a dream come true!

Regards,

Peter and Jennifer Esposito

 

Esposito Private Group
November 23, 2018

'Good advice about what would work for us in our first visit to Madagascar, and in the time that we had availabile from Helen Kennedy. 

Full and prompt answers to our questions prior to leaving (from Helen). 

Excellent, smooth organisation of a full-on itinerary (RN7 and Andasibe)

Exceptional guide in Miakatra - who with the driver (Mparany) were excellent. Local guides in the national parks and reserves varied from good to excellent. 

Ms Stroud and Mr Tomlinson
August 21, 2018

'Our guide Toky was excellent, and a match for the local guides at spotting wildlife. The driver, Ony, was very careful. We always felt safe. 

Passport control at Ivato airport is a daunting experience! 

Overall we had an excellent time and the trip more than met our expectations. We would not hesitate to recommend Rainbow Tours'.

 

Mr and Mrs Cullen
June 27, 2018

'Dear Derek,

For the last few weeks I have been meaning to email you to thank you for organising our holiday to Madagascar.  Finally I'm getting round to it!  We had a wonderful time, absolutely loved it.  It is without doubt the most incredible place I've ever been to - definitely worth the thirty-year wait.  There were too many highlights to mention them all, but we loved the rich variety of wildlife in Andasibe (watching the indri was magical), seeing the vivacious ring-tails in Isalo and Anja, and having Parson's and stump-tailed chameleons crawling up our arms.  My husband even managed to find a baby tenrec in Mantadia, which both the guide and I had walked straight past.  Aside from the fascinating wildlife, I never realised just how spectacular the scenery is.  I knew Isalo would be something special, but I had no idea that the surroundings at Anja and Ambalavao would be so breathtaking.  It was worth staying at La Varangue Betsileo for the beautiful views alone.  I'm itching to go back - although my husband has forbidden it for the time being, due to the cost! - and explore the north and west.  Hopefully it won't take another thirty years.

Thank you for all your help and for putting up with my many questions.  I was worrying about so many things beforehand but now I realise I really didn't need to!  The holiday was superbly organised and I would definitely recommend you to anyone wanting to visit Madagascar.  We've filled in the feedback form over the weekend, so you should receive that any day now.

Best wishes,

Victoria'

 

Mr and Mrs Hunt
November 28, 2017

'Dear Derek

We chose Madagascar as a joint destination with ourselves and the Keens and it was Chrissy who did the research on which might be the best travel company to use. She found Rainbow Tours, and in fact they used the company some years ago for a trip in Africa.  To our minds her choice has been excellent and we finish the trip with a high regard for the company.  

All the arrangements have worked wonderfully well.  We have been very pleased indeed with our guides and drivers and the hotel accommodation has been right on the button with one exception.   More specific comments are below.  We have rated each hotel out of 10 and allocated the rating recognising the type of hotel we were in (e.g. Setam Lodge and Relais de la Reine are in different categories and marked accordingly)

Arrival and first night: The flight from Paris was fine and we were safely greeted by Vola and Mamy on arrival and installed with no trouble at the Relais des Plateaux - the ideal close to airport location. It provided exactly the service that was needed.  8/10

Day one and Couleur Cafe.  This is an excellent choice of hotel. Charming style and ambience, beautiful well maintained gardens and a high standard of service from the staff.  The decor was wonderfully amusing and the whole style of the place suited all four of us admirably.  We got our first taste of Ti Punch here and continued with them for a good part of the trip.  10/10

Days 2 - 4 Setam Lodge. The drive from Antananarivo through Antsirabe to Setam provided us with the most wonderful scenery despite the distressing poverty which is such a feature of Malagasy life. We were struck by people's industriousness as they went about the business of keeping body and soul together and by the smiles and friendliness we encountered.
Setam Lodge was good forest accommodation although the food was pretty unexciting. We suspect that it was probably the best available anywhere in the area, so no complaints from us. And they managed to put a comet moth just outside the dining room for us to admire and wonder at!  8/10


We enjoyed our first proper rainforest walks and were rewarded with some good lemur sightings.  The second of the two days was particularly enjoyable as there were very few other people in our area of the forest and so we were not fighting for viewing vantage points.  Chantal, the local guide, and her spotter did a great job of finding us some wonderful sights including a beautiful painted frog and the giraffe "bug". It was fascinating to observe how they listened and watched in order to show us the range of forest wildlife.

Day 5    Anja Park and Varangue de Betsileo.  Needless to say the ring tail lemurs of Anja Parc  stole our hearts, with lots of "Ooohs' and "Aaaahs" as they leapt around us.  With respect to the accommodation here we suspect you are in a bit of a bind with little else available within easy driving distance.  

To be honest while the location was very attractive and the rooms spacious and clean, our hosts were clearly doing everything on the cheap.    The only bedroom chairs masquerading as bedside tables, no water glasses (or water for that matter) and a measly bit of soap in the bathroom, two wire hangers, no curtains on the glass paned doors so that to have any privacy it was necessary to close the door and window shutters, leaving the room in the dark. In response to  the question "do you have a hairdryer?",  our hostess said that as she had short hair she did not see the need for one!  Dinner was a poor affair and the only wine available virtually undrinkable.  The final straw was that they charged for water at breakfast and left the offer of eggs until the last minute when we were rising from the table. We turned them down politely.

Recognising that there is probably not a lot of choice as to hotels, we wonder if Rainbow Tours were to have a discussion with them they might up their game.   Even if they were to charge 10 euros more a night that would be a reasonable trade off to get some of the amenities which ought to be standard. Rating 3/10


Days 6 - 10  Relais de la Reine.  Well,  what a wonderful contrast! A beautiful hotel, the most glorious gardens, charming staff, great food, Ti Punches some of the best.  The only thing to spoil it all was the news that Trump had won!!  Rating 10/10
Here too our walks were splendid and the Black Pool that we found at the top of the ravine was paradise. A great stay.   And then on to the Zombitse Transition Forest which too was wonderful.  The sifakas performed magnificently for us.  The Arboretum visit which followed was also very interesting and much enjoyed especially by the Keens who are much more plantsmen than we are.  

The overnight stop in Tulear was fine (Rating 8/10) and we were very sorry to say farewell to Vola and Mamy (sp?). They were a splendid team and really took trouble to make sure that we were well looked after.  Mamy drove superbly and at no time did we have the slightest sense that he was not in full control of our safety. It was also touching to see that he quite clearly looked out for Vola as well!  She demonstrated liveliness, humour, a strong sense of responsibility for our well-being and good knowledge in responding to our questions. In particular she was very good in controlling things on the occasions that we stopped and left the car, making sure the begging children did not crowd us and that each got his fair share of sweets or bread.  

Days 11 - 14 Vakhona Lodge After the somewhat hair-raising drive from Tana to Vakhona (one of us felt really quite uncomfortable with this) we actually had the most magnificent stay here. Our new guide Stephan and driver Nyna were again charming and the local guide we had here (Sacha?) was very knowledgeable indeed. We really enjoyed him and his little twists of gentle humour. They went to a great deal of trouble to make sure we were not in crowded spots and yet still managed to get some wonderful lemur, indri and bird sightings for us.  

The lodge itself was very well appointed, beautifully set in the forest, and the food was good - and of course the Ti Punches!  We left with great reluctance, but at least we had the up close and personal experience of the lemurs just before we left!  Rating 9/10

So finally on to the last week at the Ravintsara.  Once more a really wonderful hotel, charming staff whose only wish is to make sure we had a fully relaxed and comfortable stay.  The massage and spa treatments were of excellent quality, food was good and varied and the view from our bungalow over the channel was peaceful.  The gardens were absolutely beautiful. A perfect end to our stay  so we go back to London and France with great reluctance but feeling well set up for the winter.  Rating 10/10

Thank you for your help in arranging this trip for us.  We will remember it with pleasure for many years to come.

If you would like to contact us regarding any of these comments please don't hesitate to do so.  In the meantime our very good wishes to you

Hilary and Kazia' (part of Keen party)

 

Ms Smith and Ms Kantor (Keen party)
December 6, 2016

'We undoubtedly feel we made the right choice of tour operator, paricularly in respect of accommodation, guides and logistics. Local knowledge shone through. Quality of all these factors added greatly to the enjoyment of the holiday. Very good to have included Tsimanampetsotsa National Park (also Herilala's favourite). We felt things got steadily better the further south-west we got. Where else do you offer good holidays? 

No question - we will definitely strongly recommend Rainbow Tours if anyone asks us about Madagascar. Thank you for being the very helpful and informative details and for the copy of the Bradt Guide'

Mr and Mrs Bush
December 5, 2016

'Hi Derek,

Ref; Madagascar Adventure 2016.

We returned home safely on Wednesday 16th November from our Madagascar adventure; our can we thank you for organising such a wonderful trip for us. From the start to finish we did not experience an issue with the itinerary you had organised for our needs. 

Our guide and driver were superb, throughout the trip, our guide La-la and driver Dude. Dudes driving was superb considering the condition of the roads at times, I will never complain again about the pot holes of the UK roads. Our driver was very careful never took his eyes off the road, and we never experienced a back jarring moment no matter what the condition on the road was in. Our guide was superb, and his knowledge of wild life was most helpful. On many occasions, I would borrow the wildlife books he had in his position to study the creatures we saw daily.  It was also a pleasure that La-la had an avid interest in insects as well has the larger creatures we would encounter. This pleased him, he told us most of his clients are only interested in seeing Lemurs, reptiles or birds. At times we would both be on our knees photographing the smallest creatures we could find. We would then cross references them in the text books for accurate ID. We could not fault the accommodation you had booked us apart from minor teething troubles, we were warned of before leaving,  missing  sink plugs dodgy electrics. It was quite a blessing to  be shut off from the outside world with hardly any Mobile or Internet connections at times.

Relais des Plateaux 1night and day room was most convenient for the airport. Staff helpful our rooms and the food in the restaurant were good.

Vakona Forest Lodge was a nice setting food plentiful and enjoyable a nice start for our incredible journey through Madagascar. Our lodge was elevated. Iit was nice to sit outside and admire the scenery and many birds and other creatures in the vicinity after our day's trip out in the National park. We also enjoyed the night walks at this location and the many strange nocturnal creatures we would encounter. Friday 4th November, it poured of rain all day and the only day we experienced rain on our trip. However, the rain did not stop us from getting out and seeing some amazing wildlife.

Couleur Café 1 night, what a stunning setting looking over the plains and mountains, in the distance, and too be able to relax in the swimming pool after our journey. The French couple who owns the hotel  are most helpful and try their best to make you welcome. The food is ok but limited, but this did not spoil our stay here. It was nice wondering around the grounds taking photos of the many different types of birds and butterflies around the grounds. The electricity here is limited for use only at evenings. The hot water is from Solar thermal and appears to fluctuate in temperature at times. However, we were not disappointed and enjoyed our one-night  stay.

Setam Lodge, 3 nights

The lodge is set in an elevated position looking out over the forest area with good views. All the staff here are more than helpful, and the food was good. Our guide seemed to know nearly everybody at each destination. He often became our translator with the non-English speaking staff. With his advice, we would most times try the local delicacies on the menu. At each national park or reserve we visited, our guide had handpicked and booked in advance his favourite park guide and scout. Not once were we disappointed with his choice their local knowledge and knowing exactly where to find each creature are amazing.

Varangue du Betsileo 1 night,

After many hours on the road, we arrived at our destination around 5pm. Our bungalow for the stay was huge and comfortable. Like most of the places we have stayed at the bathroom sink did not hold water, this fell into minor comparison with the way some of the Madagascar people have to live. Some of the conditions their people live are truly third world. We have been to many countries around the world in our time. However, some of the living conditions we encountered along the way were an eye-opening experience in its self. No one should have to live under these conditions in the 21st century. Madagascar as something so unique from the rest of the world it should be a top destination to visit. The country appears to have the wealth beneath its feet and not capitalising on it. We found most of the Madagascar people warm, friendly and helpful.

Relais de la Reine 2 nights,

What a delight it was to stay at this marvellous French owned hotel it was a dream, the accommodation is splendid, the food great. A nice place to relax for a couple of days after a long day’s journey. The view of the surrounding area from the lounge is magnificent. The hotel seems to be cut into the actual rock face. There were many steep steps, so a torch with you after dark was essential. The pre-dinner-free  bar snacks with your drinks was a nice touch. My only fault would be the steps down to the lower dining area are open with no hand rail. The lodge we stayed in was stunning and the ground surrounding the hotel with its own abundant wildlife was a delight. I and our guide ventured out for a night walk around the grounds with the intentions of spotting the Eastern Scopes Owl. We were not disappointed with the guide’s scopes owl call recording, within a short time, the Scopes owl swooped in within a few feet from us. An amazing experience the owl is so tiny even in comparison to the UK’s Little Owl.

Le Paradisier 2 nights,

We have arrived in heaven for 2 nights; Individual bungalows were lovely. You had your own veranda and own outdoor chairs and hammock overlooking the sea only a few meters away. We missed the sunset at Relais de la Reine due to cloudy weather conditions. Sitting on the veranda the first night watching the sun go down was truly stunning. Our bungalow was large and comfortable, although we did feel a little vulnerable to nature. No worries the bungalow was sprayed at evenings with insect iced and mosquito net also standard for the bed. Main area, including restaurant/reception/pool area all of high standard. Helpful staff, although English speaking limited. The restaurant and a terrace overlooking the sea were a delight it made you wish you'd like to stay on forever. Our guide recommended we depart for Zombitse National Park at 5am 12th November to avoid the heat during the day and other tourists. And the best opportunity to see as many birds has been possible before it got too hot. This turned out to be good advice we had a fantastic morning bird watching and seeing other creatures. By the time we returned to the hotel at around 10. 30am the temperature was getting unbearable. It was nice to relax for the rest of the day before we joined up with our driver and guide in the evening for a farewell dinner together.

Everything about this trip has been memorable from our visit to the destination show at Earls Court and visiting Rainbow Tours stand and speaking to your friendly helpful staff.

Having Derek Schuurman with is extensive knowledge of Madagascar organising our trip for us. The trip has been tiring at times trekking through the undergrowth and up the steep slopes. However, the rewards out way the disadvantages thousand times. I will be the rest of 2016 categorising the many different species of wildlife and fauna we encountered on our journey into Madagascar.

We cannot praise Rainbow Tours and all their staff at home and abroad that have truly made this a holiday of a lifetime, an experience we will never forget.

If you wish to use any part of this article, you have our permission to do so.

We look forward to travelling with Rainbow Tours again.

Kindest regards Steve & Pat Garten' 

Mr and Mrs Garten
November 21, 2016

'Excellent holiday.  We had out own 4x4, guide and driver and all were excellent. There is mention in this form of car and guide but no mention of driver: our lives were in his hands for 10 days and he was excellent, both in driving, handling our luggage, always opening the doors for us. Drivers are an integral and important part of all holidays; please give them recognition. The holiday was excellent in all respects. The changes we made to the advertised tour because of our ages (79 and 70) worked out very well. Would recommend your company to anyone - and we saw loads of lemurs!!!'

 

 

Mr and Mrs Linwood
November 1, 2016

Hi Derek

Some feedback for you....

First of all, another fabulous trip for so many different reasons....

The flight out - what a lovely surprise to travel Premium Economy, what a difference that made, not just in the comfort and service aspects but ultimately getting through Tana airport in 30 minutes rather than over 2 hours - thank you so much.

The Relais des Plateau is such a refreshing first and last stop with no worries about getting to and from the airport and so comfortable.

All accommodation was great - hard to choose a favourite, very good choices.

To our delight plenty of lemurs and birds and absolutely fascinating travelling through such varied landscapes, villages and townships. Thought provoking to compare their world to ours, humbling to see how they manage their lives, always with a smile on their face. It has left us with much to think about.

The itinerary was great and the whole trip went very smoothly. we are always singing your praises to our friends and family and I am sure we will have other trips with Rainbow Tours.

So once again, thank you very much for a great experience.

Chris & June

 

 

 

Ms Elgar and Ms Lawrence
October 24, 2016

'We loved the country and the people. This has been a fantastic trip. Our itinerary couldn't have been better. I really liked the pacing. Mora mora......  I wish that we could help this country protect their precious natural resources and improve the quality of life for the people. There is so much potential here.

Thank you again for making this a trip of a lifetime.

All my best,

LP'

Ms Parnell and Mr Blaise
October 18, 2016

'We had a great holiday - your itinerary was super - thanks!.Highlights: Relais de la Reine Hotel + Isalo National Park. Sheer variety of terrain and habitats. Quality of the guides, in particular Djato and the driver Barry. Exceptional passion and dedication. Local guides at Andasibe-Mantadia, Isalo and the Ifaty Spiny Forest'

Mr and Mrs Lacey
October 6, 2016

'We had such an amazing time in Madagascar. We were in awe of the beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. We found the people to be friendly and welcoming.

Maison Gallieni: we had a wonderful first night here. Lovely dinner.

Couleur Cafe: excellent comfort, service, location and facilites. The evening meal was goog, breakfast buffet was not as good.

Setam Lodge: Service, location, meals and faciliities excellent. Comfortable rooms, could do with an update/ renovation but pleased that they were dry and not damp. It was also cold in Ranomafana and they had a heater which was useful.

Relais la Reine d'Isalo: It was a special hotel set in a beautiful landscape. The lady owner of the hotel was very friendly and appreciative.

Anakao Ocean Lodge: surpassed our expectations. Beautiful lodge on a very secluded beach. Wonderful meals created from whatever fish/seafood was caught fresh each day - we really liked this ethos especially as it helps the local fishermen in the nearby village. The speedboat transfers there/back added to the experience.

Vakona Forest Lodge: main building was lovely. A great setting for breakfast and dinner. It was a disappointment that the rooms were not of the same stanard and that the staff could not understand why why we were not happy with a damp room.

We really appeciated Derek getting in touch with us and our guide Njiva when we were having difficulties with or internal flights and for checking that we were OK and that we were still happy with the service from our guide. We were also grateful to Njiva fror staying in Tulear another night and making sure we were on the flight back to Antananarivo the next day. He was wonderful at the airport and and organised everything for us there so that we did not have to worry. We could not have asked for better service from our guide at the airport. We feel that we may not have made it onto the flight from Tulear if it were not for him! '

 

 

 
Mr and Mrs Cunningham
October 3, 2016

'Njiva was a fantastic guide - thoroughly recommend him. Driver, Dodo, was also very good. Overall holiday satisfaction (Classic Madagascar overland: the RN7 route): excellent. 

Vakona Forest Lodge is a lovely place but they wanted us to leave the bar/seating area by around 9pm. 

Setam Lodge: good in all respects. Location excellent.

La Varangue de Betsileo: Service and comfort: excellent. Location, meals and facilities all good. 

Relais la Reine d'Isalo: excellent.

Moringa Hotel: good in all respects; excellent meals.

Princesse Bora Lodge: Comfort, meals and facilities good; service and location excellent.'

 

Ms Godfrey and Mr Naylor
January 25, 2016
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