HAPPY IN Madagascar
10 NIGHTS / 11 DAYS
SHARED ROOM : FROM $2,500
Private Room $3,350/ Person
- Accommodation: top rated hotels and lodges
- All activities and entrance fees listed in itinerary
- Transport with driver
- English speaking guide
- Domestic flight
- Airport transfers
Meals not mentioned in the itinerary are not included. Personal Drinks, any additional activities or transfers, gratuities, medical expenses or additional entrance fees to theatres, parks, museums/visitor centres not outlined in this itinerary, additional travel expenses or waiting time. Travel insurance and personal spending are travelers responsibility.
Day 1 :
Arrival in Antananarivo
Depending on the time of arrival, we can have a city tour in the afternoon. If not, it will be best to stay at a hotel near the airport. (Hotel Fly Inn). We’ll visit the Haute-Ville (old town city center) with Queen’s Palace, the Central Market and will walk together through the city center.
At night you can eat at one of the many excellent restaurants in town: a lot of outstanding French cuisine with great local ingredients and spiked with local flavors.
Highlights: View over the town from the Queen’s Palace, Central Market with many spices, outstanding food.
Hotel: Radisson Blu or similar. (If we have an early flight the next day – sometimes as early as 6 am – we’ll stay at Fly Inn Hotel, a small, but correct and comfortable hotel next to the airport).
Day 2 :
Toliara – Ifaty
Transfer to get our flight to Toliara: this is either early morning or at noon, flight takes about two hours. When we arrive we’ll have a walk at Antsokay Arboretum, beautifully located in the spiny forest, before we go to our hotel. The Antsokay Arboretum is home to 920 plant species, lemurs, radiated tortoises, snakes and chameleons and a great start to explore the region. After our visit we’ll go to our hotel in Ifaty which is known for its splendid beach and exquisite natural sites.
Highlights: your first baobabs and introduction to radiated tortoises.
Hotel: Bamboo Club or similar
Day 3 :
Spiny forest and baobabs
After breakfast we’ll discover Reniala nature reserve near Mangily-Ifaty for about 1,5 – 2 hours to see the spiny forest.
At noon we’ll go to a local restaurant in the region of Ifaty where you can enjoy lunch. Exploration of the beach and town at your own pace and we’ll meet up again after 4 pm to go back to our lodge, where we’ll have dinner later in the evening.
Reniala Nature Reserve:
There is an incredible display of flora amongst the spiny forest that is endemic to Madagascar, adding an extra element of uniqueness to the reserve as about 90% of the plants can only be found in Madagascar. Reniala, which quite fittingly means baobab in Malagasy, is a protected reserve very well known for its spiny forest and the spectacular baobab trees within it, some that are said to be over 1200 years old. In addition to these spectacular trees and the forest, there is a good chance you can spot some lemurs on your tour as the reserve is home to a small lemur refuge, although we cannot guarantee that they will not be taking a nap during the time of your visit!
In addition to the flora mentioned above, today as you are guided through the reserve you’ll notice there is an abundance of birds in the area. Considered to be a birdwatchers paradise, the reserve is also home to chameleons, water lizards, and more! Radiated tortoises can also sometimes be seen in the reserve. As the only known natural habitat for the radiated turtoises, they are often seen foraging for food as it can be a very long process.
Reniala Reserve works closely with local communities to raise awareness of the importance of protecting these areas. They contribute to the local communities by suggesting and aiding in implementing new ways of sustainable living in the area.
Highlights: Spiny Forest, Lemurs, the beaches of Ifaty.
Hotel: Bamboo Club or Similar
Day 4 :
Relax at the beach – Activities
Today is a day to relax and enjoy the beach and freely walk within the surroundings of the lodge. It’s also possible to book an activity (best to choose on day 2) in which we discover Saint-Augustin: including a visit to the caves of Sarodrano and Binabe where you can see lemurs, hike the Barn Hill, river excursion and some hiking (approx. 100 usd pp)
Highlights: Tranquility of Ifaty and pink flamingoes and lemurs for those who go to St-Augustin
Highlights: Bakuba Lodge and surroundings.
Hotel: Bamboo Club or Similar
Day 5 :
Isola National Park
After breakfast near 9 am we’ll drive towards Isola National Park to arrive somewhere around 1 pm. We’ll settle in at the lodge and you can enjoy lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon you can either enjoy the lodge and freely walk around and it’s possible to see ring-tailed lemurs or sifakas doing their thing as well as lizards, chameleons all closeby!
We haven’t included an activity here, as guests usually take their first afternoon to enjoy the lodge and those who want can also book an activity on the spot here. You can either walk, go horseback riding or even go rock climbing!
Just like Bakuba Lodge, Isalo Rock Lodge is a destination itself. It is a modern and stunning 60 Room Retreat, positioned high in the Sandstone Mountains, overlooking the Isalo National Park in south western Madagascar.
The views from the lodge are breathtaking. Whilst luxury abounds in the hotel with all modern amenities, Isalo is home to many species of flora and fauna, including, the giant chameleon and the renowned lemurs.
A discerning destination for the world traveller offering a travel experience in its own right. Isalo Rock Lodge is a destination rather than just a hotel and guests will leave having experienced one of the most memorable adventures one can imagine. Madagascar is one of the most interesting islands on the planet, and experiencing some of nature’s most intriguing secrets and guests at Isalo Rock Lodge will be assured of luxury accommodation, outstanding cuisine at one of the most special and spectacular locations in Madagascar.
With Italian linen, culinary decadence are all in a day’s stay at this most luxurious and exclusive Isalo Rock Lodge with the Isalo National Park on our doorstep. The park urges safety first, so if you’re hiking, make sure you read their safety guidelines.
In the past, the Madagascar island’s physical isolation and uncultivated wilderness were challenges to humans; now they provide the biggest attraction and a refuge for many animal species. Isalo National Park is a fascinating microcosm, illustrating the delicate balance between species.
Perhaps the best way to end a long day in the hot Madagascar sun is to watch the pink- and-orange sunset, unfurl at The Balcony of Isalo, look up as this part of Madagascar offers some of the best stargazing in the world. A stay at Isalo Rock Lodge will leave you speechless.
Highlights: sunset at ‘the balcony of Isalo’, the spectacular beauty of Isalo Rock Lodge, the whole drive between Tulear and Isalo!
Hotel: Overnight at Isalo Rock Lodge.
Day 6 :
Isalo National Park
After an early breakfast we’ll go on a 12 km hike, which will take around 4 hours and in which we’ll get to see the magnificent geo-formations and natural pools of Isalo National Park. There are six lemur species here and during our hike we’ll get to see Verreaux’ sifakas and ring-tailed lemurs, lizards, chameleons, unique looking insects and colorful birds such as sunbirds, paradise flycatchers and much more.
Isalo National Park was established in 1962 and is also called the ‘Colorado of Madagascar’ because of the jagged rock massifs. The name Isalo either comes from the endemic plant species Ischnolepis graminifolia (local name: Salotse) or is a corruption of the name of a Portuguese (Salomon) who stayed here in the 16th century.
The national park covers an area of 815.4 km2, making Isalo the second largest national park in Madagascar after Masoala National Park. The national park is located at an altitude of 820 to 1240 meters above sea level. It is located in an area with a tropical dry climate. The park consists of a mountain massif (Isalo Mountains) that spreads from north to south over almost 100 kilometers and is characterized by bizarre Jurassic sandstone formations covered with rock plants, deep gorges, steep peaks, leached caves, covered with (mainly) bismarck palms and flooded with rivers. grasslands similar to the continental African savannas. The main gorges are the Canyon des Rats (“mouse gorge”) and the Canyon des Singes (“monkey gorge”), also called Canyon des Makis (“lemur gorge”), as many lemurs can be seen here. Another famous place in the park is the valley of the Namaza River, where there are also several pools.
Highlights: lemurs, bizarre rock formation and geo-wonders of Isalo.
Hotel: Overnight at Isalo Rock Lodge.
Day 7 :
Today we’ll have an amazing drive on the famous route 7 towards Fianarantsoa during which you’ll be treated to some of the best views in Madagascar. The drive takes about 5 hours and we’ll arrive around 15.00 in Fianarantsoa, where we’ll have a beautiful walk in the old historical center with awesome views over the city from up the hills.
Fianarantsoa is located at an altitude of about 1100 meters in the Central Highlands (Hauts-Plateaux), surrounded by mountains and valleys. The historic center of the city is called ‘Antanàna Ambony’ and was formerly called Ivœnava (“place where the dead lie hidden”) by the Betsileo. The historic center is on the slopes (therefore also called ‘Haute-Ville’) and from here a good panorama can be obtained over the newer parts of the city, which lie lower in the valleys (‘Basse-Ville’) . This part of the city is the best- preserved ensemble of 19th-century buildings in Madagascar, including six churches. After the historic city center was placed in 2008 as one of the 100 most endangered historic places on earth by the American NGO World Monuments Fund, the local foundation Heritsialonina has started to restore old buildings in the old city center.
Highlights: the historical city center of Fianarantsoa with great views over the area.
Overnight at Zomatel.
Day 8 :
Ranomafana National Park
We’ll leave Fianarantsoa around 9 am and will bring a picknick with us. It’s an hour and a half driving through rice fields and forest and we’ll then go explore the park today with picknick inside the park. We’ll go to our lodge in the late afternoon and will stay there overnight.
Ranomafana national park is distinguished by its unmistakably spectacular rain forest, lying at an altitude of 800 to 1200 meters. It was created in 1990; thanks to the discovery in 1986 of the “golden bamboo lemur” (his scientific name is Hapalemur Aureus). This particular and amazing species of lemur has strange eating habits and can’t be seen anywhere else. Apart from this, you hunt through the woods in search of other species such as the Red fronted brown lemur, Red bellied lemur, and the shy Gray bamboo lemur.
Ranomafana appears on all Madagascar birding itineraries, and with good reason: many of the “rainforest-dwelling endemics” occur in the park. Frequently-seen specials include the nationally rare Brown mesite, the lovely Blue coua, Grey-crowned tetraka, the peculiar Velvet asity, and the diminutive Common Sunbird-asity. Ranomafana is a holy grail of herpetology as well, with a variety of chameleons, geckoes, skinks, snakes, and frogs being spotted frequenting the humid rainforest.
The floral diversity is bewildering, with numerous species of palm, bamboo, and orchid thriving in the sea of green. Note that trails are steep and when it rains, they can also be muddy, so we’ll use a slow pace.
Highlights: many different species of lemurs, beautiful untouched forest, a beautifully located lodge.
Overnight at Thermal Lodge or similar.
Day 9 :
Enjoy a free morning at the lodge. After an early lunch at our lodge we’ll head to the charming town of Antsirabe where we’ll have a stroll in town before dinner and visit the cathedral. This friendly town is characterized by its many bike-taxis and has a relaxed atmosphere. Make sure to try the local cheese.
We’ll stay at two different hotels, both equally charming.
Highlights: Antsirabe center and the charming hotel Couleur Café.
Hotel: Couleur Café and Les Chambres du Voyageur
Day 10 :
Today we have 6 to 7 hours of driving to Antananarivo and will arrive in the afternoon. There are only simple options to eat along the way, so it’s best to get a good breakfast and on the road you can eat something small. We can have a late lunch or early dinner in Antananarivo.
Highlights: enjoy the beautiful rice fields on the way to the capital.
Hotel: Radisson Blu or similar.
Day 11 :
In the morning we can have a short city visit if there’s time to do some souvenir shopping and then we’ll bring you to the airport.
End of tour.
Terms and Conditions
Group Trip Cancellations.
If YCSMH has to cancel a group trip because a country has closed its borders, everyone will have a choice of receiving a refund or being rolled over to another group trip. The decision to cancel a group trip will be determined by myself and our local guides.
DEPOSITS PAID- CANCEL WITH NO REPLACEMENT
If you cancel a booking and cannot find a replacement the FULL deposit amount will be lost from the original person making the reservation.
DEPOSITS PAID- CANCEL WITH A REPLACEMENT – $100 Penalty
If YOU cancel and find your own replacement that “helps” but it doesn’t alleviate the time and effort I must spend to get your replacement up to speed (answer questions and send previous emails). A $100 fee will be charged if you cancel and find your own replacement.
FULL PAYMENTS PAID- CANCEL WITH NO REPLACEMENT- 90 DAYS BEFORE TRIP DEPARTURE
Full payments for all Happy trips are due 90 days before departure. If you cancel the trip you will not be eligible to receive a refund. You will need to file a claim with your insurance provider. As a rule most tour vendors, charter companies and hotels require full payment 90 days before arrival. Once we have made reservations MOST resorts, Charter companies, rental shops, etc hold YCSMH financially responsible (i.e. we have to pay them, hence we expect YOU to pay us).
FULL PAYMENTS PAID- CANCEL WITH A REPLACEMENT- 90 DAYS BEFORE TRIP DEPARTURE
In the event of a cancellation, YCSMH will gladly help find a replacement but the responsibility to find the replacement is that of the person canceling. If you find a replacement to fill your spot you will be eligible for a full refund minus a $100 fee.
If YCSMH finds you a replacement you will receive a refund minus the trip deposit. As I mentioned there is a considerable amount of time and effort spent to send out emails to your replacement to get them up to speed.
I hope this helps clarify our terms as we all navigate through this post pandemic world. For those of us who are passionate travelers the small inconveniences of testing, insurance and entry requirements are well worth it.
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