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Arrival in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Welcome and assistance at the airport. We will transfer you to the hotel.
We 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. We visit the Special Reserve of Andasibe, to see the Indri Indri, the largest lemurs on the island. . After the visit we walk through the orchid park to admire all the nice flowers. In the afternoon, we visit Andasibe village, a typical Betsimisaraka (The-Many-inseparable) village, and the second largest tribe on the island.
We drive back to Tana, and head south to Antsirabe, across the highland landscape with its beautiful rice fields on stage. The spectacular eroded hills called ‘lavaka’ remind us of the Far East with its rice fields and green landscape with vegetables and fruit trees. A stop in Ambatolampy for a short 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.
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. The landscape is still dominated by rice fields on stage, pine forests and eucalyptus trees and rocky mountains.
Parc National de Ranomafana (approximately 40,000ha), 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. Its entrance lies about 7km from Ranomafana village. Altitudes in the park range from 800m to 1200m. In addition to its densely forested hills, 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. You will go for walks in the National Park for several hours spotting some of the lemurs, chameleons and other animals.
We leave Ranomafana using the road that entered on, and pass Fianarantsoa ‘the city where one learns good things’. Then we head southwards, our first stop is in Ambalavao to visit a wine industry for wine tasting, as Ambalavao is the centre of wine industry. Still in Ambalavao, we visit the ‘Anteimoro Paper Factory’ a vestige of the Arabian civilisation in the island. We continue to Ihosy the capital of the Bara tribes and pass through the mountain chain of Andringitra, which serves as a transition between the dry south and green highlands. We then pass through the huge ‘Plateaux de Horombe’ where with its very deep red soil.
The park covers an area comprising of the entire stretch of the Isalo massif. Today we will walk to the ‘Natural swimming pool’. After a 10-minute drive, we walk 1½ hours to reach the Natural Swimming Pool. Along the way we will see vegetation like Uapaca bojeri, Pachypodium rosulatum or ‘elephant's foot’, Aloe isaloensis, a native species of aloe and endemic to Isalo. We start our climb and reach the massif, where we will have a spectacular view of the huge sandstone mountains. Along the way there may be sifakas, brown lemurs and ringtaild lemurs. We finally reach the swimming pool, with its crystal clear water, which is a great reward after a long and very hot walk.
After breakfast, we continue to Tuléar. On the way, we admire the different ‘Mahafaly tombs’ and the ‘Antandroy tombs’. After a short visit of Tuléar we drive to Ifaty, which lies about 27 km from Tuléar. Due to the bad condition of the road, it will take us about 2½ hours to reach Ifaty, and this brings us to the driest part of the country. Situated in the deep south, the landscape is dominated by the spiny forest like the cactus. 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; it is an ideal place for diving and snorkelling and a popular place for birdwatchers. Here you can also experience the Vezo Fishermen's life. Many excursions are possible. Visit the ‘Reserve Domergue’, a communal reserve where one will see two kinds of baobabs, spiny bush and reptiles. 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. Situated in the largest lagoon of the country, Ifaty is also protected by a large coral reef, which makes it an ideal place for diving and snorkelling.
Early in the morning around 6h00 we transfer to the airport for the flight back to Tana. Transfer to the hotel. Afternoon free.
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.