Smooth National Road No. 7

9 Days | All Year Round

Antananarivo – Antisrabe – Ranomafana – Amblavao – Ranohira – Toliara – Anakao

This nine-day tour enables visitors to experience the amazing and varied landscapes and unique biodiversity of Madagascar. Travelling in small groups passing through 4 different microclimates we will see the many different plants and animals, including the lemurs, found in these specialized habitats. In brief, a tour that combines discovery, authenticity, fun, humanity, and a Malagasy gastronomic experience. Connecting with local communities and different ethnic groups along the route.

Day 1: Antananarivo

Today is an arrival day. You are free to arrive at any time and you will be welcomed at the airport by your tour manager and then transferred to your hotel. Antananarivo, often abbreviated to Tana, has a distinctively French flavour and atmosphere: French is widely spoken and road, as well as shop signs (such as boulangerie or épicerie), are mostly in French.

Included Meals: None

Day 2: Antananarivo – Antsirabe

Today we drive from Antananarivo to Antsirabe through beautiful scenery. On the road we will see handicraft markets and get a flavour of the daily life of the Merina ethnic people. We will stop in Ambatolampy to visit a small traditional factory making pots in aluminium.

Antsirabe is an elegant city and is the centre of Madagascar’s beer industry – smell the brewing at Star Brewery as we enter the town! Antsirabe, literally “the place of salt’ was founded by the Norwegians in 1856 although the architecture of many of the buildings and wide avenues bears testimony to Madagascar’s French colonial past. This area has a temperate climate and all fruits and vegetables that grow in a cool climate are to be found here.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Antsirabe – Ranomafana

Departure for Ranomafana via Ambositra to visit the Malagasy artisanal workshop renowned for its wood sculptures and carving.

Before driving to Ranomafana we will pass the town of Fianarantsoa, literally ‘the city where we learn good things’ is the first Malagasy city where European education and schooling were introduced – and even today, the best universities in Madagascar are to be found here. Fianarantsoa is the second biggest city in Madagascar and also the capital of the Betsileo ethnic group. The Betsileo people are recognized for their expertise in developing and cultivating rice plantations – especially for their ability to grow rice on hillsides.

The landscape is dominated by rice fields, commercial pine and eucalyptus forests and rocky mountains.

Ranomafana is a thermal spa, literally rano is Malagasy for water; mafana is Malagasy for hot. During the colonial era this pretty village was a thermal bath centre but today people come to Ranomafana to visit the national park and its protected montane forest where the rare Golden Bamboo Lemur lives. This species of lemur was only discovered here in the late 1980s.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Ranomafana NP

Ranomafana National Park shelters at least a dozen types of lemurs such as the rarest Golden Bamboo Lemur, the Greater Bamboo Lemur and the Black Milne-Edward’s Sifaka as well as many kinds of chameleons, hosts of birds, amphibians, other mammals and orchids…

The scenic attractions of this protected area include the steep and green cliffs, panoramic views and waterfalls.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 5: Ranomafana – Ambalavao

Today we leave Ranomafana and continue our journey to Ambalavao.

Ambalavao is the capital of Antaimoro paper-making. We will visit a workshop where women demonstrate the ancient tradition of making the famous Antaimoro paper from the bark of the Avoha tree, a method dating back to Arabian times, decorating the end product with colourful flowers.

The typical, carved wooden balconies of the buildings are peculiar to this beautiful town.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 6: Ambalavao – Ranohira

Early morning we drive to Anja Park Reserve, a park which is managed by, and provides an income for, the local village community. Here we have a one hour guided walk. This rocky park with its superb scenery, plants, Betsileo history, caves and tombs is also the best place to see the ring tail lemurs.

After visiting the reserve we continue our journey south to Ranohira, driving through the huge “plateau de Horombe” with its space-like red soil, and through Ihosy, which is the capital of the Bara ethnic group. The blue line of spectacular granite peaks we see on the horizon serves as a transition between the dry south and the green highlands.

Reaching Ranohira we endeavor to see the sunset at Fenêtre de l’Isalo, a natural rock formation in the shape of a window.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 7: Isalo NP

Today is devoted to exploring the National Park. We will hike through this amazing rock formation of the Jurassic period, the trek taking us through the beautiful landscape of sandstone cliffs and deep canyons of Isalo. The natural swimming pools and waterfalls make your visit an unforgettable experience.

Besides the lemurs and the Elephant’s Foot xerophyte Pachypodium, we will also see the massive labyrinths which the Bara ethnic group used as refuge for their cattle and the high cliffs used as burial sites.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 8: Ranohira – Toliara

Today we drive to Toliara, “the City of the Sun” located on the Tropic of Capricorn, travelling across a landscape typical of southern Madagascar with dry vegetation, baobabs and thorny forests. We also pass through Ilakaka “the mushrooms city”, named after the small straw hats worn by the Sapphire searchers panning for jewels in the river.

On the way, you can see the traditional tombs of the Mahafaly and Antandroy ethnic groups. Each grave is decorated to tell the story of the person’s life with drawings and often zebu skulls, which denote the deceased’s wealth.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Day 9: Toliara – Anakao

After breakfast we transfer by boat to Anakao. Anakao is a small beautiful fishing village stretching over a long beach located about 40 kilometres south of Tulear.

Due to the isolation of Anakao the village retains a traditional Vezo lifestyle amongst its estimated 3,000 inhabitants; here is one of the highest concentrations of Vezo people found anywhere around the coastline of Madagascar.

The unspoilt beach of Anakao provides a life on the beach experience for visiting tourists. In the early morning hours countless pirogues can be seen sailing into the open ocean on fishing trips, returning with their catch during the afternoon in clusters of small sailing regattas. End of services.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Tour / Service Details

Included:

  • Tour manager during the whole tour;
  • Cars (minibus / 4WD);
  • Transfer by motorboat to Anakao
  • Overnights in the hotels in double, twin rooms;
  • Meals as mentioned including 1, 5 L of mineral water per day per person;
  • All transfers;
  • All entrance fees;
  • Local guides in all visited parks.

Not included:

International and domestic flights, private expenses, additional activities, your stay in Anakao, drink except where mentioned.

Please note:

  • For this tour there is one internal flight that is not included in the tour price.
  • The tour can be modified to meet the group’s requirements.

Guiding

Each group will have an English speaking Tour Manager. During the visits in the parks and reserves, an affiliated guide of National Parks of Madagascar will accompany the groups.

Group size

For convenience and comfort and in order to minimise disruption in the different natural environments we visit, groups are limited from 2 to a maximum of 12 (twelve) participants

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