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Madagascar Northern Adventure

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This is an action packed expedition through the wild north west of Madagascar. We start from the red highlands, then move through the wide open spaces and the green valley of Sambirano to the white sands of Diego Suarez. This is a multi- activity which includes rafting, canoeing, biking, hiking the Tsingy, sleeping in tree huts and exploring the Ankarana caves. You'll get plenty of excitement in this 2 week adventure.

There is simply no other place like Madagascar on the planet. Its landscapes, animals and plants are simply fantastic! Near the equator with an astonishing array of habitats, ranging from rainforests to deserts and from mountain tops to mangrove swamps, it is one of the most important countries for biodiversity on the planet. The tropical climate is a perfect host to the process of nature and, like nowhere else, the variety and richness of life has flourished.

As part of our commitment to responsible travel and in conjunction with Woodstock.org we finance the planting of 1 tree / person / day for anyone traveling to Madagascar with us.


Day 1
After arriving in Antananarivo (or Tana, as it is known by the locals) late pm, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel

Overnight Hotel

Day 2 (B,L,D)
After breakfast you will meet your guide and we will set out by car and head towards Gondwana island on the Ikopa river (approx. 5hrs).  Upon reaching the river we will transfer to our rafts and spend the next hour paddling to the island  - the river is quite wide, and the rapids are easy.  Gondwana is a new camp on this 50 ha island and is a great place for bird and crocodile watching.

We will stay overnight in camp

Day 3 (B,L,D)
After exploring the island further we will get back in our rafts for our return journey back to shore. Our car will be waiting for us and we will set out on our relatively long journey to to Ambanja  (approx. 6-7 hr transfer by road). 

Ambanja is a pleasant little town set amongst a green backdrop.   Tonight we will sleep in lovely bungalows on the beach at the Baobab hotel.

Overnight - bungalows.  

Day 4 (B,L,D)
This morning we will pick up our mountain bikes and then spend the next 6 hrs cycling along the Sambirano river.    Our tracks are fairly flat and wide and mostly on the river line.  We will cycle through the vestiges of ancient plantations, alongside towering trees and heavy undergrowth.  This will be a thorough enjoyable and slow paced trip to allow us to experience the scenery and wildlife en-route.  We will be biking for around 5-6 hrs with a lunch stop before we will meet our canoe team and our overnight camp. 

Overnight - camp

Day 5 (B,L,D)

We will pack up our bikes and set off by canoe along the Sambirano river. The river is mainly flat with a small rapid midway and we will spend the next two days making our way back to Ambanja.  There is great bird watching along this river and we will also be able to see a lot of agricultural activity along the banks as well as some traditional fisherman. 

Overnight - camp.  

Day 6 (B,L,D)

We continue our descent down the Sambirano river until we arrive back at Ambanja.  

Overnight bungalow

Day 7 (B,L,D)

We have a short hop this morning (2-3hrs) to Ankarana - Upon arrival we will set up our camp at Tonton Robert.

Ankarana Special Reserve covers 18,220ha and is known for its limestone karst pinnacles called tsingy along with its extensive cave system and network of underground rivers - some of which contain crocodiles.  Ankarana possibly has the highest density of primates of any forest in the world and here we may the crowned lemur, Sanford's brown lemur, Perrieri's (black sifaka) lemur, the northern sportive lemur and dwarf lemurs as well as a variety of chameleons and leaf-tailed Uroplatus gecko and great flora.  The next three days will be spent trekking through the caves  and dense forest in Ankarana.  

Overnight camp

Day 8 (B,L,D)

Today will be spent exploring this amazing park along with the Tsingy and the canyons.  The trails are not easy but are feasible for anyone with a moderate level of fitness and we recommend visiting this park in the dry season (May-Nov)

Overnight camp

Day 9 (B,L,D)

With over 136km of mapped caves, we will enjoy some spectacular cave treks.  It is sometime possible to see the elusive fossa whilst camping at night. 

Overnight camp

Day 10 (B,L,D)

After another morning in Ankara we will head back to the car and drive to Jofreville (approx. 3 hrs on a slightly bumpy road) and the Montagne d'Ambre, the Amber Mountain.  This is a stunning National Park and comprises of a huge tropical forest with waterfalls and volcanic lakes.  There are numerous animals that inhabit this national park including the ring-tailed mongoose, the fossa and 8 lemurs.  It is also home to 75 bird species, 35 of them are endemic, 60 reptiles, 35 frogs and 40 butterflies.

Due to its relative proximity to Diego, this park can get quite busy (by Madagascan standards) in the high season, however it is really worth visiting.  After spending the last few nights camping, our accommodation whilst here will be a charming boutique hotel The Litchi Tree http://www.thelitchitree.com/

Overnight hotel

Day 11 (B,L,D)

We can spend the day trekking in this national park.  Depending on where we trek we may either spend the night back at the hotel, or will camp.

Overnight hotel or camp

Day 12 (B,L,D)

Today we head to Montagne de Francais, just a short 1 hour by road, but a very different environment - a tropical dry forest with baobabs caves and fish eagles, lemurs and caves.  This reserve protects deciduous dry forest characteristic of the north of Madagascar. Much of the forest is on a calcareous massif that has been eroded into tsingy.  The forested area ranges from 100-450 metres above sea level.  This is one of the best places to see one of the most beautiful baobabs, Adansonia suarezensis. 

We will have a unique experience here as we will overnight in the tree bungalows � literally huts built in trees!

Overnight - Tree bungalow

Day 13 (B,L,D)

Today we will hike the 3 hours to Sakalava.  With beautiful white sand and a shallow lagoon with pristine waters  is a very safe wind and kite surf destination.  It is a " bush " hotel, for guests Who Want To stay off the beaten path , in a quiet and magical environment.  The hotels incorporates 7 acres which are inhabited by wild lemurs and thousands of birds.  Sakalava bay,  with a 3 mile stretch of beach ENCLOSED BY barrier reef and is a perfect place for wind or kite surfing (it is a safe place to learn as the wind blows you back into shore). 

Overnight Sakalava Bungalow

Day 14 (B)

We will leave Sakalava and head to Diego, where we will take an Air Madagascar flight back to Tana.  Depending on your time of arrival in Tana you can visit the handicraft market and you will also have a day use room at Au bois vert.  Most flights leave around midnight so you will have a day use room at the beautiful Au bois vert.  Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home

NB: This itinerary is subject to change, arrangements, routes and facilities are subject to variation depending on local conditions

Trip start / End - Antananarivo (airport code TNR)

From Australia, your most direct flights with 1 stop would be via Bangkok or Johannesburg. Many flights go via Nairobi as well. Please give us a call for a quote on these flights.

Madagascar Weather
Madagascar is subtropical and has several climate zones depending on altitude and location.

It is normally pleasantly warm and dry between May and October (winter). The main rainy season is Jan to March, and unless you are specifically looking for orchids or similar this is rarely a good time to travel.

April to June, the heavy rains have ended leaving a lush green backdrop. This is a good season for most of our trips.

July and August are the peak of the high season (as these coincide with European and USA holidays) - it is also mid winter in Madagascar so many reptiles and small mammals hibernate at this time, so not necessarily the best time for nature trips if you are wanting to see lots of these. September to December tends to be a bit hotter, but is still relatively dry. For this reason it is probably the best time to enjoy wildlife and beach holidays. As with weather generally though, you can never depend on it , so always be prepared for rain or sun.

In general the East is wetter than the West (so rain gear is recommended).

In the highlands temperatures are cooler (and at night you will definitely need a warm jumper & long trousers). The south west has a much more arid climate.