This tour avoids domestic flights, expensive and unreliable. It goes from Tana till Isalo and drives then back to Tana. The itinerary was written in a way for clients to enjoy the wide diversity of the country, the varied landscape, alternating with visits to National Parks, private parks.
Day 1:Friday : Arrival ANTANANARIVO (TANA)
Arrival in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Transfer and overnight at GASSY COUNTRY HOUSE ***on BB, located near the airport. Afternoon meeting and briefing with your Tour Representative.
Day 2: Saturday: TANA – AMBOSITRA: 260 km: approx 7 hours with stops
After breakfast, drive southward across the landscape of the Highlands, mainly composed of rice fields and lavaka or “big holes caused by erosion”. Stop in Ambatolampy, “the city built on the flat rock”, traditionally agricultural, the town is also famous for age-old foundries: a technique transmitted from father to son. Head on to Antsirabe where we can stop for lunch. Then we drive till Ambositra, our final destination throughterraced rice fields. Overnight in Hotel VIOLETTE on BB or similar
Day 3: Sunday: AMBOSITRA – AMBALAVAO: 208 km: approx 6 hours with stops
Morning quick visit of Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry. The architecture is so nice as the houses are made with ornately carved wooden balconies and colourfull shutters. Head on to Fianarantsoa, the landscape is still dominated by rice fields, forests of pine and eucalyptus. Upon arrival, a city tours of Fianarantsoa. Then head on to Ambalavao, visit the Paper Anteimoro workshop, which is a remainder of the Arabian civilisation in Madagascar. Then walk the colourful market of Ambalavao. Overnight in VARANGUE des BETSIELO on BB.
DAY 4: Monday: AMBALAVAO – ISALO : 208 km: 6 hours (with stops & visit)
Morning, visit of Anja park, run by the village. Part of income serves to pay the local school teachers’ salary. During the 2 hours hike, we can see many ring-tailed lemurs. Then we carry on southwards and pass by the famous “3 hillocks” and the huge dome called “archbishop’s cape” a sacred place for the local people, as it is a place where their ancestors preferred to make a collective suicide rather than to surrender to Merina’s domination. Stop in Ihosy, the capital of Bara tribes, nomadic cattle raisers. Then drive on through the huge ” plateaux de Horombe that looks like a no man’s land. Night in MOTEL ISALO on BB
Day 5: Tuesday: ISALO NATIONAL PARK
Embark on a full day expedition in the ISALO National Park with a local guide. This huge massif is very spectacular with its eroded sandstone. It reminds us of the landscape of “the grand canyon” in the USA, with its yellow colours and eroded forms. These mountains are also the place where the Bara tribe bury their dead, first in a temporary tomb, later in their definitive tombs. Hike to the “Natural swimming pool”. We see vegetation like Uapaca bojeri, Pachypodium rosulatum or elephant’s foot, a native species of aloe. For lemur’s lovers there may be sifaka, brown lemurs and ringtails, also birds lizards, snakes. Overnight in MOTEL ISALO on BB.
DAY 6: Wednesday : ZOMBITSE NATIONAL PARK:130km
Early in the morning, 2 hours drive to Zombitse National Park, located about 130 km from Isalo for 2 to 3 hours hike with a special guide. Created in 1997, Zombitse became a National Park in September 2002. The park is known for its semi-dry forest and shelters 47% of the endemic birds of Madagascar. It also counts 8 species of lemurs. The local endemic gecko “Phelsuma standigui.” is found at the entry of the park. Regarding flora, we can see the « Ficus sp », a strangling creeper, Protorhus abrahamia, a wood used for the confection of coffins and many epiphytes, the orchids. After the visit we drive to Andranomaintso, well- known for its baobabs plateaux. Back to Isalo in the afternoon, stop in Ilakaka, the saphir town where we can meet saphire mines. Overnight in MOTEL ISALO on BB.
Day 7: Thursday: ISALO – RANOMAFANA: 266 km – approx 7 hours with stops
Drive northward to Ambalavao. We pass through the huge ” plateaux de Horombe” a place where the local tribes graze their zebu. Then we cross the massif of Andringitra which serves as a transition between the dry south and the lush green highland. Now we are in the land of Betsileo. South of Ambalavao we pass through two spectacular huge granite domes called : ” the Gate of the South. Continue to Ranomafana. Overnight in Hotel IHARY on BB
Day 8: Friday: RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK:
3 to 4 hours hike in the tropical rain forest of Ranomafana National Park which was created in 1991… This expedition in the forest with a local guide enables us to see 12 species of lemurs, the most important one the “golden lemurs” which has been discribed only very recently, more than 100 birds, reptiles, butterflies and other insects. The area is covered with forest, in the higher areas the trees are festooned with mosses, lichens, and orchids. Afternoon free, we can have a visit to Ranomafana village or go to the thermal pool.
DAY 9: Saturday: RANOMAFANA – ANTSIRABE: 247 km: approx 7 hours with stops
Drive to Antsirabe . Today we come across the highland which is characterised by terraced rice fields, its cool climate and its population with Asian features. Antsirabe or “the place of salt» lays 169 km south of Antananarivo, an elegant city , known for its brewery. Founded by Norvegians in 1856, it is the only place in Madagascar which really feels and looks like a European city. With a temperate climate and thermal spring, it is one of the most attractive places in Madagascar. Antsirabe is also known for gems and semi-precious stones . Night in Hotel CHAMBRE DU VOYAGEUR on BB
Day 10: Sunday: ANTSIRABE – TANA: 169 km: approx 4 hours drive with stops
Morning city tours of Antsirabe, a workshop making pousse pousse and cars in miniature. Then we drive to the “Andraikiba lake” . Departure to Tana, we are in the Highlands, with its cool climate and green landscape. Stop in Ambatolampy, an agricultural city. Visit a familial cooking pot maker. Upon arrival in Tana, a city tours before we head to GASSY COUNTRY HOUSE for overnight on BB.
Day 11: Monday: departure from TANA
Transfer to the airport for your outbound flight or extension