12 Days Budget Madagascar Lemur Trekking Safari
12 Days Budget Madagascar Lemur trekking safari
Madagascar is home to over 110 species of lemurs across five families and 14 genera ranging in size from the 25-gram pygmy mouse lemur to the indri. All these species are endemic to Madagascar (two lemur species were introduced to the Comoros) giving the country the highest number of primate species (Brazil, which has 77 species but only two endemic genera and no endemic families, is second). And new species are still being discovered— between 2000 and 2008, 39 new species were described. 75% of the island’s fauna and flora is found nowhere else! Lemurs evolved separately from other primates on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, located off the east coast of Africa. Madagascar is full of unique landscapes, from limestone pinnacles called tsingy to lush, green rainforests to spiny deserts and impressive canyons. Lemurs aren’t the only critters in Madagascar that are unique.
- Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
- Antsirabe city
- Ranomafana National Park
- Isalo National Park
- Ifaty beach
Detailed safari itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Antananarivo and transfer to Your Lodge for relaxation and overnight
On arrival in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel in the city. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure, exploring the 3 levels of the city with the colourful market in the centre and the palace high up, overlooking the hustle.
Day 2: Drive from Antananarivo to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
In the morning you will start our journey with a drive to Andasibe through the green and luxuriant vegetation of eastern Madagascar. Along the way you will see Merina villages spread in the Rocky Mountains. You arrive at Andasibe in the afternoon and check-in to the hotel. In the evening you will set off from the hotel on a night walk to observe night active lemurs and other nocturnal animals. After the hike you will return to the lodge for overnight.
Day 3: Full day exploration of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
You start our morning with a visit to the Special Reserve of Andasibe to see the Indri, the largest lemurs on the island. This 810 ha reserve is unique with its endemic fauna and flora and contains a wide variety of orchids, canopy, and endemic animals like chameleons, tenrecs, and many birds. In the afternoon, you visit the Andasibe village, which is typical of the Betsimisaraka (“The-Many-Inseparables”) community, the second largest tribe on the island who are known to cultivate rice and live mainly off the forest. This short visit gives us an insight into the life of the local people.
Day 4: Drive from Andasibe Mantadia national park to Antsirabe city
You will drive back to Tana and head south to Antsirabe across the highland landscape with beautiful rice fields on display and stop enroute in Ampefy and visit the Lili Waterfalls. You arrive in Antsirabe late afternoon. Named ‘The place of salt’ this elegant city is known for being the center of the beer industry – we can smell the Star Brewery as we enter the town! Founded by Norwegians in 1856, it is the only place which really feels and looks like a European city.
Day 5: Drive from Antsirabe to Ranomafana National Park
After breakfast you will drive to Ambositra, the center of Madagascar’s wood carving industry. The highlands are characterised by its architecture. The houses are made with ornately carved wooden balconies and shutters with bright colours. Further on you pass the ‘le col de tapia”, a type of tree resistant to bush fires. The landscape is still dominated by rice fields, pine forests, eucalyptus trees and Rocky Mountains. You turn off from the main road to reach our destination for the day, the Ranomafana National Park.
Day 6: Full day hiking in Ranomafana National Park
The approximately 40,000 ha of Parc National de Ranomafana, with its rain forest covered hills and abundant wildlife, has long been considered one of Madagascar’s highlights and is one of the country’s most heavily visited national parks. Its entrance lies about 7 km from Ranomafana village. 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. Here you will enjoy long walks in the National Park spotting lemurs, chameleons and other animals.
Day 7: Drive from Ranomafana National Park – Isalo via Fianarantsoa
Leave Ranomafana and visit a local wine farm for wine tasting near Fianarantsoa. The city is the gate to the South, being the capital of the Betsileo tribes and center of the catholics. Fianarantsoa is the center of wine industry, the climate is said not to be ideal for grape vines, but it is a tradition left by the priests and monks who lived in the area. You then head southwards to Ambalavao, where we visit the ‘Anteimoro Paper Factory’ which is a vestige of the Arabian civilisation on the island. You continue to Ihosy, the capital of the Bara tribes, who are shepherds of Zebu and further on pass through the mountain chain of Andringitra with its famous ‘3 hillocks’ and its huge ‘archbishop’s cape’. The ‘Bishop’s hat’ is a noticeable, imposing formation and a sacred location for local people as it was a place their ancestors chose a collective suicide rather than to give in to the Merina tribes. You pass through the ‘Plateaux de Horombe’ with its deep red soil. Arrive in Isalo.
Day 8: Full day hiking in Isalo National Park
Today, you will visit and hike in the Isalo National Park. The park covers an area of 81,540 ha, comprising of the entire stretch of the Isalo massif. This huge mountain is very spectacular with its eroded sandstone elevations. After a 10 minute drive from Ranohira village, you will walk about 1½ hour to reach the Natural Swimming Pool. We start our climb and reach the massif after walking about 20 minutes, where you will have a spectacular view of the huge sandstone mountains with its beautiful colours and its strange and battered formations creating many different images like ‘the tortoise’, ‘the masks’ and ‘the crocodiles’. Rivers which are marked by lines of brilliant green. Along the way, there may be sifakas, brown lemurs and ring-tailed lemurs, as well as fifty-five species of birds, lizards and snakes. You finally reach the swimming pool, with its crystal clear water – a great reward after a long and very hot walk.
Day 9: Drive from Isalo National Park to Ifaty via Tulear
After breakfast, you continue to Tulear, the terminal of the National Road N° 7. This part of our journey brings us to new scenery among the dry forests of the west and the spiny desert of the south. On the way admire the different ‘Mahafaly tombs’ and the ‘Antandroy tombs’. After a short visit of Tulear we drive to Ifaty, which lies about 27 km from Tulear. Due to the bad condition of the road, it will take you about 2½ hours to reach Ifaty, the driest part of the country. Situated in the Deep South, the landscape is dominated by the cactus-like, spiny forest of different euphorbiaceae and didieraceae. You will cross the dry and sandy soil where the local people battle to find drinking water. Mangrove trees line the coast alternated by Vezo communities which earn their living from fishing. You will see many small pirogues with men who go out fishing twice a day, while children and women wait on the coast to collect the fish before taking them to Tulear for sale.
Day 10: Full day exploration of Ifaty area
Ifaty lies on the beach. It is therefore 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 on this leisure day. Visit the ‘Reserve Domergue’, a communal conservation area where one will see two kinds of baobabs, spiny bush, reptiles like geckos and the ‘chameleon parsoni’, which is one of the largest chameleons in the world. You can also take a boat trip to see whales. From July to mid-September, whales come to the cool seas of Madagascar to give birth to their young. It is a spectacular experience, and it is possible to see the whales very near to the boat. 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. In the afternoon we can walk to the village of mangily to visit a local school and experience the Vezo fishermen’s way of life, especially as they return from fishing.
Day 11: Domestic Flight from Tulear to Antananarivo
After morning breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip for your flight to Antananarivo upon arrival you will be received and transferred to your lodge, in the afternoon free to explore and to do some sightseeing. The capital is also called the ‘City of Thousands’ and it is where the first King started to unify the different kingdoms of the island. Tana was built in three stages: The high city, the first area occupied during the regal period where the old queen’s palace is situated; the mid-city, where all the chic boutiques of the capital are found; and then the low city, which is the commercial area of the town. Walk from the high city to see the Rova, the queen’s palace, and the former house of the first minister, now a museum. All were built by Frenchman Jean Laborde during the royal period. The mid-city, ends at the Rainiharo tombs and the lower town is situated in the main avenue called ‘L’avenue de l’independence’ with the railway station.
Day 12: Departure
Today is the end of our tour and you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.
- All trekking permits
- Vehicle, Guide and Fuel
- Enroute meals
- Domestic flights
- Antananarivo city tour
- Airport transfers
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Madagascar tourist Visa
- Tips for guides and hotels
When to book this safari itinerary
We recommend booking this safari package 9 months to 1 year in advance.
Best time to visit Madagascar for Lemur trekking
Lemurs in general can be seen year round. April avoids peak season and is ideal for lush landscapes, bounding lemurs and quiet parks and beaches. September to December is a great time for combining lemur watching, chameleons and beach holidays with hot, relatively dry weather.