Western Madagascar Explorer: Baobabs, Tsingy, Beaches & Wildlife
Eastern lesser bamboo lemur, Andasibe  
Indri, the Endangered icon of Andasibe-Mantadia NP  
Diademed sifaka, Andasibe-Mantadia NP  
Malagasy scops owl  
Eastern avahi (woolly lemur), Andasibe  
Look for Pitta-like ground-roller in Mantadia in Spring and Summer  
More than 100 frog species occur in Andasibe-Mantadia & surrounds  
Alley of Giant Baobabs (Grandidier's baobabs) near Morondava  
Fosa, the apex predator in Madagascar's forest, best sought in Kirindy  
Pale fork-marked lemurs can be seen feeding on resin in Kirindy  
Limestone karst 'tsingy' in Tsingy de Bemaraha NP  
Hanging bridge in the Grand Tsingy, Tsingy de Bemaraha  
All-white Decken's sifaka are best sought in Tsingy de Bemaraha  
Tsingy and tropical dry forest,Tsingy de Bemaraha NP  
Gray mouse lemur are common at Kirindy Forest  
Remote Belo Sur Mer  
Schooner being built at Belo Sur Mer  
Schooners near Belo Sur Mer (Derek Schuurman)  
Octopus trees on a beach dune, Kirindy Mitea NP. (Derek Schuurman)  
Nosy Andravoho, Kirindy Mitea NP (By Belo Beach)  
Zebu oxcart on road near Morondava  
Sunset over ricefields near Antsirabe  
Rickshaws in central Antsirabe  
Antananarivo, the Malagasy capital  
18 day tour
Prices from
£5435

Tour Highlights

  • Kirindy Forest's famed Baobabs and rare wildlife
  • Awe inspiring rock formations in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
  • Remote, coastal Belo Sur Mer for beach and Kirindy Mitea National Park
  • Snorkelling at Nosy Andravoho
  • The obligatory 'rainforest fix' i.e. Andasibe-Mantadia NP in the eastern escarpment, for wonderful contrasts to the dry West.
I'm enquiring about: Western Madagascar Explorer: Baobabs, Tsingy, Beaches & Wildlife

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I'm enquiring about: Western Madagascar Explorer: Baobabs, Tsingy, Beaches & Wildlife

Western Madagascar Explorer: Baobabs, Tsingy, Beaches & Wildlife

Madagascar

Exploring Western Madagascar's Menabe region gives adventurous visitors a wonderful taste of the 'real' Madagascar. Beginning with a flight to Morondava on the sunny central-westerrn coast, you travel northwards to the famed Kirindy Forest, one of the country's best -known wildlife hotspots. At Kirindy, you'll have the first of two opportunities for a guided night walk, in search of some of its legendary critters, such as Fosa and Fork-marked lemurs. You'l;l be in the land of the Menabe Sakalava people, who have a really interesting culture, which your guide will explain to you during your adventure...

From Kirindy Forest, embark on the long road journey including a ferry crossing over the wide Tsiribihina River, to Tsingy de Bemaraha, a magnificent limestone plateau which is the site of one of Madagascar's biggest national parks. Here, a three night stay will give you the chance to discover the 'Grand Tsingy'; the 'Petite Tsingy' and to make a short canoe trip on the Manambolo River to check out the gorges.

From Tsingy de Bemaraha, return back down to Kirindy, which makes for a great spot for an overnight stay and to once again break the long journey. Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate this also because of the second opportunity for a night walk in Kirindy, to chalk up some more of its amazing denizens. The next morning, enjoy an morning walk for Kirindy's diurnal wildlife, then drive back via Alley of Baobabs to Morondava, where you stay for the night.

From Morondava, travel southwards (4hrs by road or 2hrs30min by speedboat) to remote Belo Sur Mer, a Veso-Sakalava fishing village where you can see people still building Schooners using designs taught to their forbearers centuries back by European pirates. At Belo, we'll arrange for you to visit the fabulous Kirindy Mitea National Park (not the same as the Kirindy you'd have seen previously) which also has majestic Baobabs; as well as Southern Spiny Bush with an abundance of Octopus trees, a lake where seasonally, Flamingos gather, and offshore, some deserted islets where we'll arrange for you to enjoy some snorkelling. 

From Belo Sur Mer, drive or take a speedboat transfer back to Morondava, and from there, to Antsirabe, where you learn about Highlands culture of the Merina and Betsileo people, and from there you'll travel up to Antananarivo where the circuit ends.

- For the itinerary, we include the obligatory rainforest fix at the beginning of the trip, to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, as no first-time wildlife enthusiast visitors to the island should miss a sojourn there.

COMMENTS:

WHEN TO GO: this itinerary can be done from May to November because from December to April, many of the roads are rendered impassable due to rains.

NOTE: For now, the itinerary is structured around the once weekly Air Madagascar flight between Antananarivo and Morondava, which operates on Thursdays both ways. (April 2022). Should the airline increase frequency of domestic flights once again, the itinerary can be amended to include return domestic flights if you prefer.

Read more about this tour


Day 1
Day 1
Take to the skies!
Fly to Antananarivo, the Malagasy capital. If using Air France, your flight departs early morning from selected UK airports or from Paris, and arrives into the Malagasy capital late tonight.
 
You'll be welcomed and transferred to Relais des Plateaux Hotel & Spa nearby, to overnight with breakfast included.
Accommodation: Relais Des Plateaux Hotel & Spa
       
Day 2
Day 2
Head to the rainforests: Antananarivo - Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (drive)
Begin your itinerary with a visit to Madagascar's number 1 must see rainforest, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Its an easy 4 hours drive in your private 4-wheel drive vehicle to the east of the capital into the eastern escarpment. Stay 3 nights in Vakona Forest Lodge or Mantadia Lodge, half board.
 
Your private, professional guide will take you to check in at the lodge, and your guide then takes you on an introductory rainforest walk during which you can seek some of the resident wildlife here.
Accommodation: Vakona Forest Lodge
           
Day 3
Day 3
Exploring the Andasibe and Mitsinjo rainforests
Your guide will take you into Andasibe rainforest early this morning, when wildlife viewing is at its best, In the afternoon, you can visit the rainforest of Mitsinjo, across the road and usually quieter with less tourists around.
 
Tonight, take a night walk either at Mitsinjo or VOIMA, where a guides association looks after a parcel of rainforest.
Day 4
Day 4
Mantadia National Park
This beautiful rainforest, about 37km from Andasibe village along a rutted road, holds a selection of rare mammals and birds that are easier to spot here than is the case in Andasibe or Mitsinjo. Its also perfect for a really enjoyable hike, and the views from the crest of the rainforest-clad hills is lovely.
 
Enjoy Mantadia, then return to Andasibe where once again you can make a night walk to chalk up more species.
Day 5
Day 5
Back to Antananarivo (drive)
Set off back to Antananarivo after a final rainforest walk if desired, timing the drive so as to arrive late afternoon. Stay overnight in Relais des Plateaux Hotel & Spa.
Accommodation: Relais Des Plateaux Hotel & Spa
       
Day 6
Day 6
Fly to the Morondava and drive to Kirindy Forest
Early this morning you'll be transferred back to the airport to check in for the flight over to Morondava, on the central west coast.
 
On arrival into Morondava Airport, your private guide and driver will welcome you. Set off on the 90 minute drive north to Kirindy Forest, where you stay overnight in an en-suite bungalow at Relais du Kirindy, all meals included.
 
You drive through the Alley of Baobabs along the way, so can stop for a photo opportunity there.
 
In the mid to later afternoon, your guide and driver will take you to the central Research Station at Kirindy, and you'll be able to seek wildlife and birdlife around there. Then at dusk, you'll be taken in your 4w-wheel drive vehicle to another trail, where you seek nocturnal wildlife which is the big attraction here.
Accommodation: Relais du Kirindy
       
Day 7
Day 7
Kirindy Forest - Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park (drive)
After breakfast, set off in your private 4-wheel drive vehicle on the journey north along variable roads to Belo Sur Tsiribihina, where you cross by ferry which takes the vehicle, too.
 
Here you can stop for lunch at Mad Zebu, one of the country's best restaurants.
 
Continue north along some rutted roads to Bekopaka, the access point to Tsingy de Bemaraha, where you stay for 3 nights in an en-suite bungalow at the rustic Olympe du Bemaraha, all meals included.
 
* This hotel is now under completely new management (2022 update) so previous online reviews can be ignored.
Accommodation: Olympe du Bemaraha
           
Day 8
Day 8
Grand Tsingy excursion
You'll need a head for heights, for today's incredible experience: set off with your guide to the Grand Tsingy after breakfast and be amazed by the gigantic limestone karstic 'tsingy' formations, which here are so massive in some cases that it looks like a forest of church steeples in places. The walkways and paths have been thoughtfully, ingeniously and painstakingly created allowing active visitors the chance to get deep into this veritable limestone fortress.
 
After you've taken in this extraordinary attraction, return to the lodge for lunch and relaxing time.
Day 9
Day 9
Petite Tsingy and the Manambolo River
Another day in which to be awestruck by the geological formations of Tsingy de Bemaraha, this time focusing on the smaller Petite Tsingy and also, taking a short boat trip on the Manambolo River, with its impressive gorge.
 
With luck, wildlife seen today will include the all-white Decken's sifaka (which can only really be sought here); Red-fronted brown lemurs and birds such as Tsingy wood-rail and Sicklebilled vangas.
Day 10
Day 10
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park - Kirindy Forest (drive)
Return back to Kirindy Forest today, where after the adventurous journey, you overnight once more at the Relais du Kirindy, with all meals included.
 
Wildlife lovers will be in their element as there's another chance to seek nocturnal wildlife in Kirindy Forest, so be sure to have strong torches and some spare batteries handy.
Accommodation: Relais du Kirindy
       
Day 11
Day 11
Kirindy - Morondava via Allee des Baobabs (drive)
This morning, enjoy a guided wildlife walk in the fabulous Kirindy Forest, where you can look for Verreaux's sifakas, Fosa and Boky boky around the campsite, and seek birds such as Coquerel's, Crested and Giant couas; Sickle-billed, White-headed and Rufous vangas and reptiles including Oustalet's chameleonn and Collared iguanids, and in the process also marvel at no less than THREE of Madagascar's six endemic Baobab species, represented here.
 
Then drive back to Morondava via the 'Baobab Alley' and relax at the comfy Palissandre Cote Ouest, where you stay overnight with dinner and breakfast included.
Day 12
Day 12
Morondava - Belo Sur Mer (speedboat transfer OR drive)
After breakfast, you will be transferred either by road (4 hours in a sturdy 4-Wheel drive vehicle) OR by speedboat (2hrs,30min) to remote Belo Sur Mer, where you stay for 3 nights in a double en-suite bungalow in Belo Beach, with all meals included.
 
Relax by the beach for the balance of the day, and take a visit to the Boatbuilding Yard, where you can see schooners being constructed by Veso-Sakalava people who have passed the skills taught to their forbearers by European pirates centuries ago. These remarkable boats are used nowadays for transporting mostly agricultural cargo up and down the Malagasy coastline.
Accommodation: Belo Beach
             
Day 13
Day 13
Kirindy Mitea National Park - a remote wilderness gem
This wonderful and remote national park is one of very few places in Madagascar which features not just tropical deciduous dry forest with plenty of magnificent Baobabs, but also, the southern Malagasy 'spiny bush' (Euphorbia-Didieracea thorn thicket), as well as a lake which is seasonally visited by Flamingoes, and a marine component which includes some small, uninhabited islets around where snorkelling is very good.
 
Enjoy a visit today to explore the terrestrial part of the national park, as yet visited by few tourists due to its remoteness.
Day 14
Day 14
Snorkelling around Nosy Andravoho
You'll be taken by boat to visit and snorkel around the islets off Belo Sur Mer, notably Nosy Andravoho.
 
In season (July - early September), this is also a good spot for some whale-watching, because migrating Humpbacks pass by on their movements from the Antarctica to the Nosy Be region, just as is the case off the other side of Madagascar.
 
Image of Nosy Andravoho by Belo Beach.
Accommodation: Belo Beach
             
Day 15
Day 15
Belo Sur Mer - Morondava (drive OR speedboat)
Return to Morondava today, where once again you'll stay overnight in Palissandre Cote Ouest, with dinner and breakfast included.
Day 16
Day 16
Morondava - Antsirabe (drive)
Begin the return overland journey to Antananarivo, with a drive to Antsirabe in the Central Highlands (drive time about 8 hrs). Here you stay in the charming Couleur Cafe, with dinner and breakfast included.
Accommodation: Couleur Café
     
Day 17
Day 17
Antsirabe to Antananarivo (drive)
Enjoy some sightseeing in and around Antsirabe today, where you'll gain a sense of Highlands culture. This former spa town has a healthy, almost temperate climate, and nearby are two interesting volcanic lakes, Tritriva and Andraikiba, in which water level rises in dry season.
 
From Antsirabe, the drive to Antananarivo is 3 - 4 hours, traffic depending. You'll be transferred to Relais des Plateaux where you stay overnight with breakfast included - or, if you're on Air France, you'll have the use of a day/evening room.
Accommodation: Relais Des Plateaux Hotel & Spa
       
Day 18
Departure
You will be taken to the airport where you check in for your flight back to the UK (or elsewhere), after a wonderful trip!

Pricing Information & Dates

18 day tour, from £5435 per person
Price Includes
Return international flights (economy class seating) from selected UK airports to Antananarivo
Domestic flight to Morondava
Airport taxes
All private transfers and private 4-wheel drive transportation
Services of experienced, knowledgeable, private, English-speaking Malagasy guide
Excursions and activities as described
National Park/Reserve permits and park guide fees
All accommodation with meals as indicated
Price Excludes
Any meals not listed
Items of a personal nature (drinks, tips, laundry, phone calls and travel insurance).
Price Notes
This sample itinerary is based on 2 people travelling and can be amended according to your schedule and requirements. It is based on Air France schedules from UK via Paris, so do let us know if you prefer to fly from elsewhere.

Currently (April 2022), there is only 1 flight weekly to Morondava so the itinerary is structured around that.

Tour Route Map

  1.   Antananarivo
  2.   Kirindy Forest
  3.   Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

Accommodation on this Tour

Belo Beach
Belo Beach
Belo Sur Mer, Madagascar
Belo Beach The latest property to be opened by Madagascar's Kimony Resorts, this laid back hotel is an excellent choice for adventurous travellers who make it down to Belo Sur Mer. 61km......
             
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.
     
Olympe du Bemaraha
Olympe du Bemaraha
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar
Olympe du Bemaraha This rustic property with its hilltop location from where there are panoramic views over the countryside, offers affordably priced accommodation for travellers visiting Tsingy de......
           
Relais Des Plateaux Hotel & Spa
Relais Des Plateaux Hotel & Spa
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.
       
Relais du Kirindy
Relais du Kirindy
Kirindy Forest, Madagascar
Comfortable, no-frills accommodation with swimming pool, half an hour's drive from Kirindy Forest.
       
Vakona Forest Lodge
Vakona Forest Lodge
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Madagascar
This is a family-run property and the best hotel in the area. It has 28 comfortable rooms and bungalows, a pool and stables in a eucalyptus plantation and private reserve 7km from the entrance to Perinet. The lodge is 140 km from the capital, about 3 hours by tarred road.
           

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