Madagascar, the 4th largest island in the world is an unusual, yet captivating destination for the trip of a lifetime.
Madagascar separated from the African mainland millions of years ago, allowing its flora and fauna to evolve into species found nowhere else on earth. The biodiversity will blow your mind, the food is delicious and the inhabitants are legendary. Playful lemurs swing in the forest canopy, tiny neon-colored chameleons cling to lush ferns, orchids peek out from the jungle floor and beautiful tranquil beaches awaits you. Cairn Travels is thrilled to send you to this magical land for what is sure to be an amazing vacation.
Day 1: Welcome to the capital city, Antananarivo, also known as Tana. Founded in 1625, Antananarivo boasts a rich historical heritage that is complemented by scenic landscapes covered in an area of popular hiking routes. Known for its vibrant nightlife, Antananarivo features local live music at a variety of clubs and bars.
A driver will transfer you from the airport to the hotel for the evening. Located on a hillside, in the historic district of Antananarivo, the hotel offers spectacular views over the city. There are only four bedrooms, each decorated differently and each with its own charm. Enjoy homely meals, tasteful décor and access to all the sights.
This afternoon, look forward to a city drive with your private guide. Explore the remnants of the French colonial era in the old heart of the city, as well as discovering ancient Malagasy palaces.
Day 2: After breakfast, you will be driven to Andasibe. Located in eastern Madagascar in the Moramanga District, this small village is surrounded by a belt of protected rain forest and several parks boasting incredible natural scenery and an array of exotic Madagascar wildlife.
In Andasibe, you will hear the unique song of the biggest living lemur: the Indri Indri. Explore a network of incredible trails that wind passed glistening lakes and magnificent waterfalls and discover the rich biodiversity in the local flora and fauna. The Vakona private reserve offers a spectacular experience this afternoon.
The lodge for the next two evenings is located along a ridge above the the village of Andasibe, surrounded by eucalyptus forest. The lodge is only a ten minute drive from the entrance to Perinet Reserve and an hour a half drive from Mantadia National Park.
Day 3: In the early mornings you wake to the song of the Indri, which echoes throughout the local area. Mantadia National Park is a place of great beauty and biodiversity. It will take one hour to drive the bumpy road to reach the entrance to the park. The park is hilly, which requires a minimum physical condition to fully enjoy the walk. The region is swathed with thick tropical rain forests made of lush ferns, tangled lianas, hundreds of orchid species and myriad other jungle flora and teeming with a diverse array of endemic wildlife.
Day 4: Todays’ 4 hour drive extends down the eastern coast of Madagascar along the Indian Ocean. The Pangalanes Canal is a series of natural rivers, lakes, and man-made waterways. Historically, these lakes were connected together by French colonialists to allow transportation from south to north. Experience many unspoiled beaches and small villages on its banks, and the procession of boats on its waters. There is a unique lifestyle along the canal. Most of the communities are not connected by any road.
The journey to your accommodations this evening involves an exciting hour long boat trip through the freshwater lakes of the Canal des Pangalanes. You will be able to view daily village life on the banks of the river. The bungalows, built from local materials is well hidden in the forest and is surrounded by wild lemurs. The 15 bungalows are spread over a tropical hill with excellent overviews.
Day 5: Today explore the surroundings of Lake Ampitabe. Day and night visits are offered at a private reserve, home to a dozen species of lemurs. While visiting here, there is a broad range of activities that include hiking trips to local villages and visiting the near-by Indian Ocean.
Day 6: After breakfast, begin a 3.5 hour boat trip on the Pangalanes Canal. Briefly visit the bustling city of Tamatave, which lives to the rhythm of cargo boats coming from all around the world. In two hours, arrive at Mahambo, a coastal town facing the Indian Ocean. A small village well shaded by coconut trees, is famous for surfing and resort holidays.
Day 7 & 8: Enjoy breakfast with an incredible view of the Indian Ocean. Take the three hour ferry to Sainte Marie Island. The Island is a real tropical garden with a rain forest in the north. Also known as Nosy Boraha, its lush islets, bays and coves will provide the same privacy and mystique they did for the legendary pirates that held out here after their plunders in days gone by. Historically, Sainte Marie use to be a hideout for famous pirates during the 17th and 18th centuries. You can visit the pirate cemetery and museum.
The waters here are endowed with significant coralline growth and offer top-class diving; or if you prefer, take a traditional pirogue boat ride in the calm bays. From mid-July to mid-September, witness the migration of substantial groups of humpback whales. Sainte Marie is a worldwide hotspot for the humpback whale. During the season, they give birth & mate just in front of the Island! Other activities include biking, hiking, water skiing, wakeboarding and fishing. The Island is very small, with only one main road and low traffic.
Day 9: After breakfast, say good bye to paradise. A driver will take you to the airport for the flight back to Antananarivo. In the afternoon, visit the local market, featuring several stalls that offer various products such as spices, gemstones, small cars made of old cans and hand painted images on canvas. Stay the night at the same hotel from night one.
Day 10: A driver will take you to the airport this morning for your return flight home.