Evolution has occurred more or less in isolation on this remote island – located 400 kilometres off Africa’s east coast – with the result that much of its indigenous wildlife is found nowhere else on earth. Madagascar’s menagerie of weird and wonderful creatures includes the world’s biggest and smallest chameleons and over 70 species of lemur – long-tailed primates endemic to the island. The Madagascan landscape is no less compelling than the resident wildlife, with terrain ranging from lush jungles and palm-fringed beaches to the knife-edged karst tsingys of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park’s ‘stone forests’. Madagascar is an otherworldly paradise where visitors are offered a unique glimpse into a fantastical one-of-a-kind world.
Days 1 - 2
Antananarivo, also known as Tana, is Madagascar’s capital city. It is perched at 1400 metres above sea level crowning a spectacular mountain range. Founded in 1625, Antananarivo boasts a rich historical heritage that is complemented by scenic landscapes covered in a large network of popular hiking routes. The city serves as a great base from which to explore the magnificent surrounding area, which hosts several nature reserves, including the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, with its fantastic limestone karsts. Known for its vibrant nightlife, Antananarivo features local live music at a variety of clubs and bars. Visitors can look forward to exploring the remnants of the French colonial era in the old heart of the city, as well as discovering ancient Malagasy palaces interspersed between the faded grandeur of these colonial relics.
Days 2 - 3
Close to the northern tip of Madagascar, the French colonial city of Antsiranana, also known as Diego Suarez, is home to the second largest natural bay in the world. Antsiranana offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean and has its very own offshore Sugar Loaf Island, or Nosy Lonja. Visitors can wander through the wide sleepy streets and explore what remains of the city’s colonial buildings, discover the old market, and absorb a culture that draws its influences from indigenous tribes, Creole, Indians and Comorians amongst others. Antsiranana is surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes and is also close to two UNESCO recognised national parks, making it a great destination for nature lovers.
Days 3 - 4
Neighbouring the Amber Mountain National Park, the Joffreville village lies four kilometres from its entrance. This former French colonial town offers comfortable accommodation options in character-filled heritage buildings. The surrounding landscape features forested mountains, valleys and lush woodlands. The sleepy town of Joffreville serves as an excellent base for those wishing to explore the beautiful surrounds including the Amber Mountain National Park, which is home to several endemic species. Visitors can look forward to browsing a smattering of small shops, viewing the old church and strolling through the streets of the town dotted with fruit stalls selling locally grown seasonal fruit such as avocados, mangos, litchis, guavas and bananas.
Days 4 - 6
Situated in northern Madagascar, the Ankarana Reserve is set on a magnificent plateau made up of 150-million-year-old Jurassic limestone. This unspoilt landscape is known for its otherworldly fields of ‘tsingy’- spiky karst pinnacle rock formations - cloaking hidden forested canyons boasting a network of subterranean rivers. These isolated canyon pockets are home to some of the world’s most protected and untouched endemic fauna and flora. The reserve is renowned for this unique terrain and is said to have the highest density of primates of any forest in the world. Commonly spotted wildlife include: a variety of chameleons, the rare leaf-tailed Uroplatus, the crowned lemur, Sanford's brown lemur, Perrier's black lemur, the northern sportive lemur and dwarf lemurs.
Days 6 - 8
Nosy Be’s is Madagascar’s most popular tourist destination, located off Madagascar’s northwestern coast, this small island is blessed with exquisite sand beaches, glittering volcanic lakes and diverse flora and fauna. Nosy Be has remained refreshingly unspoilt and free of rampant development, with low-key beach bungalows outnumbering the glitzy commercial resorts. Most visitors relax on idyllic beaches, go swimming or snorkelling in the calm azure waters and enjoy seafood feasts at oceanfront restaurants, but if you enjoy sightseeing, it’s worth paying a visit to the bazaar in Hell-ville to pick up samples of fragrant spices as Nosy Be is nicknamed ‘The Perfume Island’. Don’t miss the lush rainforests of the Lobeke nature reserve as well as the coral reefs skirting the coast offer phenomenal scuba diving opportunities, while a peppering of surrounding islets make for enchanting day trips.