If your interest is particularly in Madagascar’s famous wildlife, this itinerary will take you to the hotspots in the east of the country. Starting in Tana you’ll first spend a few days in Andasibe National Park, where there are particularly good opportunities to spot lemurs, including the Indiri (Madagascar’s largest lemur). From here continue to Palmarium, where you can find the Aye-Aye, a rather extraordinary long-toothed lemur made famous by Gerald Durell. End your trip on a spectacular beach with ocean activities.
Watch tree-top Indiri lemurs leaping
Night walk to search for chameleon
Hike through the rainforest
Spot Aye-Aye on a night island visit
Picture-perfect white sandy beaches
Natural Madagascar day-by-day itinerary
Arrive and transfer to your hotel.
Day 2, Tana – Andasibe
Today is a picturesque drive through rolling hills of terraced rice paddies, with zebu (local horned cattle) ambling past. Pass through occasional villages, a riot of colour in the otherwise green landscape.
This is the main road in Madagascar, heading from the capital Tana to the main port at Toamasina, so the driving times can vary quite substantially depending on the traffic. You will stop en route at the Peyrieras Reserve, where they have a netted area with many different species of chameleon, as well as snakes and flat-tailed geckos.
Day 3, Andasibe
Rise early this morning to head to Andasibe National Park, a treasure trove of secondary forest offering superb lemur sightings. Here you can spot the Indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur, and the Diadem sifaka, a wonderfully cute bronze fluffball. Start early when the lemurs are at their most active, and with luck you may see families with young lemurs playing, leaping from branch to branch, chomping on fresh leaves and jostling with each other.
The forest is beautiful, with soaring bamboo groves, giant tree ferns, and moss-covered eucalypts.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before exploring Andisabe village. This is a great opportunity for the children to see local life ‘up close’. Rickety wooden shacks line the main street, selling mounds of exotic fruit and vegetables and long strings of sausages, as scrawny chickens run around, pecking in the dust and groups of children muster the courage to start up a conversation.
In the early evening head out for a nocturnal walk to search for frogs, spiders and nocturnal lemurs. You should be able to spot a Mouse lemur, the smallest lemur in Madagascar with huge eyes and a fluffy body, but only the size of a mouse (it can fit into an egg cup!).
Day 4, Andasibe
This morning you will head to Villager’s Park, set up by the local community as part of a cooperative where the money goes straight back to the village. Walk along the forested track, keeping your eyes peeled for Indri, Eastern bamboo lemur and Red-bellied lemur.
After lunch, take a canoe ride along the Mantadia River, past lush fertile fields dotted with thatch houses. Later visit Lemur Island, a small island where there are a number of lemur that have been rescued from nearby villages where they may have been kept as pets.
Day 5, Andasibe – Palmarium
Today head further east, towards the coast by vehicle and boat. Your destination is a simple lodge in the Palmarium Reserve, the only place left in Madagascar where you can see the Aye-Aye lemur. In the afternoon you can relax on the river beach.
In the early evening, take a (20min) boat ride to a small island where there are eight remaining Aye-Aye. This lemur, made famous by the eponymous Gerald Durrell book, has long been feared and hunted in Madagascar as it is thought to bring bad luck. They are unusual to look at, with a long extending middle finger that they use to extract bugs from inside tree holes (something that would not have developed elsewhere, as woodpeckers would have filled this evolutionary niche). Just a few remain on the island and you will spend an hour spotting them.
Read More Day 6, Palmarium The afternoon is free to relax. Day 7, Palmarium – Tomasium – Ile St Marie Known as Pirate Island (as during the 17th and 18th centuries, pretty much the entire population of the island were pirates), it’s now a wonderful place to round off a family holiday in Madagascar. On arrival, transfer to your beautiful hotel right on a gorgeous crescent of beach. Day 8, Ile St Marie Day 9, Ile St Marie Day 10, Ile St Marie Day 11, Ile Aux Nattes Days 12-13, Ile St Marie Day 14, Ile St Marie – Tana Day 15, Tana
Spend the morning on a hike in the Palmarium Reserve, following a trail through the forest, with huge drooping ferns, and the sunlight filtering through the branches of vast palisade trees. Many different lemur species live here and the sightings are usually excellent.
After breakfast, take a 2-hour boat ride to Tomasium and then an onward flight to Ile St Marie. This tropical island is a little slice of paradise with beautiful turquoise water, brilliantly white sand, and an abundance of swaying palm trees.
A free day to relax and enjoy the beach.
Today you will head out on a whale-watching tour (June – September only). Every year at this time a large number of humpback whales come to the waters off Ile St Marie to mate and give birth. Although sightings are of course never guaranteed, the chances are extremely high and it’s breathtaking to see these giant mammals as they breach the surface of the water.
A free day to relax.
Ile St Marie is already a tropical paradise, but just to its south is another tiny island, Ile Aux Nattes. This is even smaller and quieter than St Marie and you will spend the day on the island. Explore the exquisite sandy beaches and go snorkelling off the coast.
Two final days to relax.
Take the flight back to the capital, Tana. Depending on flight times, you might like to go to the handicraft market this afternoon for some last-minute souvenirs.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Day 6, Palmarium
The afternoon is free to relax.
Day 7, Palmarium – Tomasium – Ile St Marie
Known as Pirate Island (as during the 17th and 18th centuries, pretty much the entire population of the island were pirates), it’s now a wonderful place to round off a family holiday in Madagascar. On arrival, transfer to your beautiful hotel right on a gorgeous crescent of beach.
Day 8, Ile St Marie
Day 9, Ile St Marie
Day 10, Ile St Marie
Day 11, Ile Aux Nattes
Days 12-13, Ile St Marie
Day 14, Ile St Marie – Tana
Day 15, Tana
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Madagascar in pictures
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