Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Trek through the rainforests of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, seeking out camouflaged chameleons, kaleidoscopic orchids, and the many species of lemur that make their home here.
  • Snorkel waters teeming with dolphins, sea turtles, and tropical fish in the Nosy Be archipelago
  • Delve into Madagascar’s rich cultural heritage on a private tour of the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga pilgrimage site and in Antananarivo’s historic photography archive.
  • Hike the rugged sandstone canyons of Isalo National Park in search of unusual plant and birdlife, and cool off in a picturesque freshwater pool sheltered by tropical foliage.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Separated from mainland Africa and India during the Mesozoic Era, Madagascar has been called the “land that time forgot” for its incredible biodiversity. Journey to this wonderland of weird and wild creatures—a majority of which are found nowhere else on Earth—and delve into its curious geology and intriguing multiethnic culture. Spy leaping lemurs and a rainbow of chameleons, birds, and orchids in the lush forests of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park; watch for humpbacks and whale sharks in the stunning Nosy Be archipelago; and learn about the African and Polynesian roots of Malagasy culture while exploring the island’s capital Antananarivo and its environs.

Day 1: Arrive Antananarivo, Madagascar
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Arrive at Ivato International Airport (TNR) in Madagascar’s lively capital and settle into your hotel. Enjoy an evening at leisure to discover the city’s rich blend of Indonesian, Malaysian, African, and Arab cultural influences.

Meals Included:Dinner
Accommodations:Maison Gallieni
Day 2: Antananarivo/Andasibe
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This morning, visit the Musée de la Photographie de Madagascar, or Madagascar Photography Museum, dedicated to restoring and digitizing a century’s worth of historical photographs. Get a glimpse of the island’s fascinating history—from the colonial era to independence—during a presentation in one of the projection rooms. Drive to Andasibe in the afternoon and check in to your lodge, nestled amid palm trees and bougainvillea at the edge of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. After dinner, enjoy a guided walk in the surrounding rainforest, spotting color-changing chameleons, neon frogs, and tiny lizards.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Vakôna Forest Lodge
Day 3: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
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Spend the day exploring Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, home to an extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life, including more than a hundred species of birds. As you hike through the dense, fern-filled forest, keep an eye out for the resident lemurs—such as the bamboo and ring-tailed lemur—as well the blue coua and the Malagasy green sunbird. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, then join your guide for another nighttime jaunt in the jungle.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Vakôna Forest Lodge
Day 4: Analamazaotra Special Reserve
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Rise early for an excursion into the Analamazaotra Special Reserve—part of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park—and set out to track indri, the largest of lemur species. Listen for their haunting calls, and watch for indri families perched in the treetops. Then head into our lodge’s private reserve to look for vibrant orchids, rare birds, and ruffed and brown lemurs hiding amid luxuriant lianas and ferns.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Vakôna Forest Lodge
Day 5: Antananarivo
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After breakfast, return to Antananarivo. On the way, visit the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, one of Madagascar’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites. This ancient royal city was inhabited by the kings of Madagascar’s Central Highlands between the 15th and 18th centuries, and remains a place of spiritual importance for the Malagasy people. Enjoy a tour of Ambohimanga with a private guide, and relax at your hotel this evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Relais des Plateaux
Day 6: Toliara/Isalo National Park
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Fly to the coastal town of Toliara and travel overland to our hotel in Isalo, overlooking the dramatic sandstone cliffs of Isalo National Park. Spend the afternoon hiking the trails around the hotel and seek out the unique Pachypodiums—spine-covered succulents endemic to Madagascar. At the end of your hike, cool off with a dip in an emerald-hued natural pool. Opt to continue exploring the park on horseback, or unwind at the hotel’s spa.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Isalo Rock Lodge
Day 7: Isalo National Park
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In the windswept, rocky landscapes of Isalo National Park, rugged canyons alternate with grassy plains harboring a wealth of curious creatures, and tinkling streams meander the arid expanses. Discover the park on foot, looking out for ring-tailed lemurs and Verreaux’s sifakas, as well as endemic birds such as the Benson’s rock-thrush. Stop for a picnic lunch before continuing your exploration of Isalo, and catch the sunset this evening at the stunning sandstone Isalo Window.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Isalo Rock Lodge
Day 8: Ifaty
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After breakfast, transfer to Ifaty, a tranquil seaside town overlooking the Mozambique Channel. Have lunch at the hotel while enjoying views of the beach and watch local fisherman in traditional pirogues sail out to sea for the day. Spend a leisurely afternoon stretched out on the sand, or opt to visit the nearby spiny forest—a bizarre amalgam of thorny baobab trees and other fascinating plants that have adapted to the region’s dry climate. With luck, spot two of the island’s vulnerable birds: the long-tailed ground roller and the subdesert mesite.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Les Dunes d’Ifaty
Day 9: Toliara/Antananarivo
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Transfer to the Toliara airport and fly back to Antananarivo. Settle into your hotel, enjoying lunch on the patio, and spend the afternoon poolside or at the hotel’s spa.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Relais des Plateaux
Day 10: Nosy Be Archipelago/Nosy Komba
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Catch a flight to the Nosy Be archipelago this morning. Upon arrival, transfer by boat to your hotel tucked into the lush volcanic slopes of secluded Nosy Komba, or Lemur Island. Settle into your thatched oceanfront bungalow, and join a private guide for an introduction to the isle’s endemic flora and fauna during a short hike through the surrounding rainforest reserve. Seek out leaping lemurs, black parrots, and colorful chameleons, and then enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Tsara Komba Luxury Beach & Forest Lodge
Day 11: Nosy Be Archipelago
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Set out for a full-day tour of the Nosy Be archipelago. Visit a fishing village on lush Nosy Mamoko, and canoe up a river lined with mangrove trees. Stroll along Nosy Kisimany's white-sand beaches and pick a peaceful spot for a picnic lunch. Afterward, go snorkeling in a secluded cove with a chance to swim alongside sea turtles and dolphins. Then return to the lodge for a free evening to relax on the beach or your private terrace.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Tsara Komba Luxury Beach & Forest Lodge
Day 12: Nosy Komba
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Enjoy the day to explore the lodge and its stunning surroundings at your leisure. Stroll the Eden Garden, an indigenous nature reserve that backs up to the property and blooms with more than 200 endemic plant species; and discover the on-site baobab nursery, where unusual baobab species and spiny succulents are incubated. Or borrow equipment from the lodge for a self-guided snorkeling or fishing excursion in the shallows.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Tsara Komba Luxury Beach & Forest Lodge
Day 13: Nosy Komba/Antananarivo
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Spend a final morning at leisure on Nosy Komba before transferring back to the mainland. Fly to Antananarivo and opt to visit the Lisy Art Gallery. This inviting shop offers a wide selection of artisanal products and Malagasy handicrafts, from woodcarvings and raffia bags to massage oils and chocolate.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Relais des Plateaux
Day 14: Antananarivo
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After breakfast, transfer to the Ivato International Airport (TNR) and catch your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast