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Arrival in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Welcome and assistance at the airport. After a short briefing, drive to Andasibe through the green and luxuriant vegetation of the east. This first step brings us to the humid part of the country with many primary forests and lakes. Along the way we will see Merina villages in the rocky mountains. Arrive at Andasibe around 18h00. Check-in hotel. Later this evening at approximately 19h00 we have a night walk in the area of Andasibe to observe night active lemurs and other nocturnal animals.
A morning visit to the Special Reserve of Andasibe, to see the Indri Indri, the largest lemurs on the island. This 810 ha reserve is unique with its endemic fauna and flora. It contains a wide variety of orchids, canopy, and endemic animals like chameleons, tenrecs, and many birds. In the afternoon, we visit Andasibe village, a typical Betsimisaraka (The-Many-inseparable) village, and the second largest tribe on the island. They cultivate rice and live mainly off the forest. This small visit helps us to have contact with the local people, to see how they live and what they eat.
Today we head south to Antsirabe, across the highland landscape with its beautiful rice fields. A stop in Ambatolampy for a visit of this huge agricultural city, which is also known as a source of aluminium. Arrival in Antsirabe around 17h00, or ‘the place of salt’, an elegant city well known as the centre of the beer industry and we can smell the Star Brewery as we enter the town. Founded by the Norwegians in 1856, it is the only place which really feels and looks like a European city. It has a temperate climate and all fruits and vegetable, which grow in cold climates.
After breakfast we drive to Ambositra, the centre of Madagascar's wood carving industry. We are still in the highland, which is characterized by its architecture: The houses are made with ornately carved wooden balconies and shutters with bright colours. Further on we pass the ‘le col de tapia’, a type of tree which resists to the bush fires of the area.
Parc National de Ranomafana with its rain forested hills and abundant wildlife, has long been considered one of Madagascar’s highlights, and is one of the most heavily visited of the country’s national parks. Ranomafana’s terrain is characterised by numerous small streams, which plummet down to the beautiful Namorona River. Although much of the region has been logged, the easternmost part of the park retains relatively large areas of primary forest. We will walk in the National Park spotting some of the lemurs, chameleons and other animals.
We leave Ranomafana and pass Fianarantsoa ‘the city where one learns good things’. It is the gate to the South and the capital of the Betsileo tribes. Our first stop is in Ambalavao to visit a winery for wine tasting. The climate is not said to be ideal for grape vines but it is a tradition left by priests and monks who lived in the area. We then visit the Anteimoro Paper Factory, a vestige of the Arabian civilisation in the island. We continue to Ihosy the capital of the Bara tribes, who are the shepherds of Zebu.
Today we Visit ISALO National Park where we walk through the eroded mountains, which are also where Bara placed their dead before they can bring them into their real tombs. We start our climb and reach the massif where we will have spectacular views of the huge sandstone mountains with beautiful colours, and strange and eroded forms. Along the way, for lemur lovers, there may be sifakas, brown lemurs and ringtaild lemurs, as well as many species of birds, lizards and snakes. We reach the natural swimming pool with its crystal clear water, which is a great reward after a long and hot walk.
After breakfast, we continue to Tuléar. This drive brings us new scenery, among the dry forests of the west and the spiny desert of the south. After a short visit of Tuléar we drive to Ifaty, the driest part of the country. Situated in the deep south, the landscape is dominated by the spiny forest like the cactus, different euphorbiacea and didieracea. We will cross the dry and sandy soil where the local people battle to find drinking water. Mangrove trees line the coast alternated by Vezo villages, which earn their living from fishing.
Day at leisure. Ifaty lies in the beach and is also protected by a large coral reef which makes it an ideal place for diving and snorkelling. Optional activities: Visit the Reserve Domergue, a communal reserve where one will see two kinds of baobabs, spiny bush, reptiles like boa madagascariensis, geckos and chameleon parsoni. Take a boat trip to see the whales. From July to mid September whales come to the cool seas off Madagascar to give birth to their young. We can walk to the village of Mangily where we can visit a local school and experience the Vezo Fishermen's way of life.
Early this morning we flight back to Tana where rest of the day is free to explore. Tana also called the ‘City of Thousands’ is the capital of Madagascar. Built in stages: The high city, the first area occupied during the royal period, the mid-city, where all the chic boutiques of the capital are found and the low city, which is the commercial area. Your walk can start from the high city to see the Rova, the queen's palace, which is now a museum. The mid-city, or the administration area ends at the Rainiharo tombs and the lower town is situated in the main avenue called ‘L'avenue de l'independence’.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight home.