Landscapes of Southern Madagascar

The landscapes of Madagascar are breathtaking in their variety and beauty. Although it’s impossible to cover everything within two weeks, this sample itinerary cherry-picks the best bits. From the emerald paddies of the central highlands to the drama and rocky splendour of Isalo National Park, and with an abundance of wildlife along the way, this is a great introduction to Madagascar.


  Stay in a local highland village
  Hike to remote waterfalls
  Spot lemurs in Ranomafana
  Mountain bike to Betsilao villages
  Relax on an Ifaty beach

15 days from £1,875 pp

Plus international flights from £1,000

A two-week holiday in Madagascar for a family of four usually costs from £7,500 to £13,000 plus flights, depending on style of accommodation.

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Landscapes of Southern Madagascar day-by-day itinerary

Day 1, Tana
Arrive in Tana and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax.

Day 2, Tana – Antsirabe – Ibity
This morning, leave the city of Tana behind you and head south on the main Route 7. After 4-5 hours, stop in the small town of Antsirabe, famous for its handicrafts. Here you can visit a small zebu horn workshop where they will show you how they extract the bone from the horn and then carve the horn into a remarkable array of products. Children will also enjoy visiting the small neighbouring workshop where they produce miniature bicycles and rickshaws out of discarded drink cans.

Spend the night in a simple gite in the middle of beautiful countryside around 90 minutes south of Antsirabe. Accommodation is simple but clean and the views are stunning.

Day 3, Ibity hiking
A magnificent day of hiking today, with various different trails depending on how far you want to walk. The views are superb, with endless emerald green rice terraces spilling down the mountainside and mudbrick thatched houses dotting the landscape. The longest trail takes you up to the highest point in the area, for incredible 360-degree views. End your walk at an impressive waterfall with a large pool at the base where you can swim.

Day 4, Ibity – Ranomafana
Leave the village behind and continue south to the small town of Ranomafana, passing through a breathtakingly beautiful landscape of rolling hills peppered with large boulders, endless rice terraces and traditional villages where there are sheaves of corn drying in the eaves of the thatched roofs. Stop for lunch in Ambositra (the name means ‘the place where they castrate the zebu (cows)’. There is a small wood workshop here where intricately carved wooden sculptures are made.

Ranomafana itself is situated in a beautiful location, nestled within a fold in the hills on the bank of the Namorona River. On the approach to the village, stop at a viewpoint where the hills narrow and the river thunders down over the rocks in a dramatic display.

Day 5, Ranomafana National Park
Take a morning hike in Ranomafana National Park. This is beautiful secondary rainforest that is home to a number of different lemur species, including the recently reintroduced greater bamboo lemur. The forest is beautiful, with many huge trees dripping moss, and lianas curling around the trunks. Giant ferns sprout from the hillside and orchids hang from the branches. There’s a viewpoint near the top with lovely views over the surrounding landscape.

The afternoon is free; perhaps take a village walk into the surrounding rice paddies.

In the early evening, take a night walk to search for mouse lemur and many different chameleon species. There is almost no light pollution here so on a clear night, the night sky is incredibly beautiful with a carpet of stars.

Day 6, Ranomafana – Ambalavao
The drive today is extraordinarily beautiful as you pass out of the highlands and into the drier region of the south. Slowly you start to leave the lush terraced paddy fields behind, moving into a more sparsely populated region. The hills around still have a patchwork of reddish fields but these are littered with huge granite boulders.

In Ambalavao you can stop in a small workshop where they make paper out of wood fibre. Watch the process in action, as the fibres are cleaned and then dried with coloured flower petals to make beautiful handicrafts.

Spend the night in a simple but charming country lodge with a great pool and staggering views over Captain’s Peak, a large round-topped mountain that provides a dramatic backdrop to Ambalavao.

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Day 7, Ambalavao
Take a morning bike ride from your lodge. The route is very picturesque, passing along ochre-coloured trails through paddy fields and small Betsilao tribal villages. The views throughout are very beautiful, the trail lined with plump agave bushes and tall eucalypts and with Captain’s Peak behind.

If you are in Ambalavao on a Wednesday or Thursday, there is a zebu market in town and you can combine your bike ride with a market visit.

Day 8, Ambalavao
A rewarding day today as you climb to the summit of Captain’s Peak, which stands in a commanding position above the fields. Start with a gentle path through the rice paddies before starting to climb the mountain itself. From the top, there are sensational views across the ochre-red fields and villages.

The afternoon is free to enjoy the pool.

Day 9, Ambalavao – Isalo
Start early this morning with a visit to Park d’Anja, a small community-owned park given over to the conservation and preservation of ring-tailed lemurs. This is the species that shot to fame in the Madagascar film, being the species that King Julian belonged to. There are a number of different family groups in the forest, and they are relatively habituated to visitors so you can often get quite close.

From here, continue on through dramatic landscapes to Isalo. The vegetation gets ever more sparse as you pass across the high and barren Horombe Plateau before you start seeing the golden red sandstone humps and spires of rock that are characteristic of Isalo. The sheer range of scenery is astonishing.

Day 10, Isalo
A wonderful day today as you explore Isalo National Park. This is one of the most beautiful in Madagascar, with a remarkable variety of landscapes including a dramatic rocky escarpment, endless tiers of red rocky spires, a barren plateau, a lush river valley spilling over with ferns and a small oasis with an enticing pool where you can swim.

In the morning you will hike a circuit through the park, enjoying all of the most impressive viewpoints and stopping for a refreshing dip in the oasis pool, with palm trees providing shade and a small waterfall where you can enjoy a natural shower. From here you cross ‘Death Valley’, so named because of its absolute lack of shade, before descending into a lush valley where you will stop for a bbq lunch. Both ring-tailed lemurs and fluffy white sifaka lemurs can be spotted here so when you have regained your energy you can head out in search of them.

In the afternoon there is the option to hike along the river bed further into the canyon to a deep pool and impressive waterfall where you can again swim. Return out the same way before meeting your vehicle to return to the lodge.

Day 11, Isalo – Ifaty
After breakfast, drive towards the coast to Ifaty. The journey today is less beautiful than on previous days and the road is particularly poor, so in truth it is a bit of a slog. But you have the beach to look forward to at the end! If you haven’t seen your fill of lemurs, you can stop en route at Zombitse Reserve where they have a good population of white sifaka.

Day 12, Ifaty
A free day to relax on the beach. Alternatively, there is the option to take a trip to the Spiny Forest, a small private arboretum where there are many different tree species including the iconic baobab. Some are so large that they have a circumference of up to 12m!

Day 13, Ifaty
This morning take a snorkelling trip off the coast, heading to the long reef that stretches parallel to the southwest coast of the country. Enjoy the abundance of brightly coloured fish and coral.

If you are travelling between June and September, there may be a possibility of taking a whale-watching trip. The whales are usually present in June and July; later in the summer, you will need to check with your hotel if they have been seen recently.

Day 14, Ifaty – Tana
Transfer to Tulear for a flight back to Tana. Depending on the flight timing, there may be time to visit the handicraft market in Tana before transferring to your hotel.

Day 15, Tana
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.


Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

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