Cut off from other landmasses 80 million years ago, Madagascar is nature’s great experiment. In this wonderland of unique species, playful lemurs swing in the forest canopy, tiny neon-colored chameleons cling to lush ferns, and orchids peek out from the jungle floor. Experience Madagascar’s wild and diverse landscapes on an adventure crafted with the insights of National Geographic Emerging Explorer Luke Dollar, an expert on the island’s wildlife. Track indri lemurs in the forests of Andasibe, hike among the limestone spikes of Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, snorkel the pristine waters of Île Saint Marie, and get a close-up view of wildlife that exists nowhere else in the world.
Arrive in Madagascar’s lively capital city, known locally as “Tana.”
Transfer to our hotel, and gather for a welcome dinner tonight.
Palissandre Hotel & Spa (D)
Drive east to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, and along
the way, stop for an introduction to some of the island’s rare
species at the Pereyras Private Reserve in Marozevo. Arrive at
our lodge, and later, go on a guided night stroll to see nocturnal
lemurs, and brightly colored chameleons, frogs, and lizards—
many no bigger than your finger. (2 miles hiking, 3–4 hours)
Set out into the park early this morning to track indri lemurs, the
largest lemur species, which travel in clans among the treetops.
On a variety of walks and hikes, encounter grey bamboo lemurs
and red-fronted brown lemurs, look for birds such as the stunning
blue coua and reptiles like the Malagasy tree boa and
Parson’s chameleon. Take the afternoon to explore the wildlife
on the hotel grounds, including an island teeming with lemurs
and a crocodile park. (5–6 miles hiking, 5–6 hours)
Drive back to Antananarivo and board a private charter flight to
Morondava, set on the Mozambique Channel on Madagascar’s
west coast. Check into our beachfront hotel and gather for dinner.
Head north in 4x4s on a full-day drive to the spectacular Tsingy
de Bemaraha National Park. Along the way, cross the Tsiribihina
by ferry, and observe everyday life in the countryside. Our hotel
tonight is in Bekopaka, poised on the edge of the park.
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage
site, is exceptional in every way: from the jaw-dropping beauty of
its wild geology to its vibrant ecosystems, safeguarded in part by
the remoteness of the park. Here, karst formations have eroded
into endless forests of limestone needles and blades—some
soaring as high as 300 feet—inhabited by endemic flora and
fauna. Spend two exhilarating days discovering the “Little Tsingy”
and the “Great Tsingy” formations on hikes. Then glide in canoes
through the gorges of the Manambolo River to a vast grotto
whose jagged stalagmites and stalactites mirror the landscape
outside. Learn about the Vazimba tombs nearby, and spot a
range of endangered wildlife, including 11 lemur species. (Day 6:
4–5 miles hiking, 6–7 hours; Day 7: 2–4 miles hiking, 3–6 hours)
Drive back to Morondava—perhaps best known for the nearby
Avenue des Baobabs, flanked by majestic, 1,000-year-old
baobab trees. Arrive in the afternoon and take a stroll between
these ancient behemoths at sunset.
Palissandre Cote Ouest (B,L,D)
Fly to Antananarivo on a commercial flight and continue via
private charter to Île Saint Marie, an idyllic tropical island off Madagascar’s northeastern coast. Settle into thatched bungalows
right on the beach and enjoy time to take a swim or walk
along the surf before dinner.
Blanketed in thick rain forests and fringed with white-sand
beaches, Île Sainte Marie strikes the perfect balance for
adventurers: hiking and snorkeling options abound, and the
warm, palm-shaded sands beckon after a day of activity. Board
boats for a full-day excursion to gorgeous Coco Bay, where
we’ll hike black granite hills to look out over a massive grove
of coconut palms and don snorkels to explore the reefs. This
tranquil island was also once a haven for pirates; we’ll hear
the tales of these buccaneers on a walk through the intriguing
Fly to Antananarivo and check into day rooms near the airport.
Schedules permitting, take a tour of this fascinating city. Transfer
to the airport in the evening for your flight home.
Relais Des Plateaux Day Room (B,L,D)
National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $800 in 2015 and $850 in 2016. International airfare to/from Antananarivo is not included in the adventure cost. Group flights within Madagascar are $1,650 in 2015 and $1900 in 2016 (subject
GROUP SIZE: 8–16
See special terms and conditions for this adventure.
We will hike 2 to 6 hours per day (1 to 4 miles) over uneven dirt trails on moderate grades. This itinerary is an adventure in the truest sense; travelers should be flexible, keep an open mind, be in good health and physically fit. Roads will often be unpaved with drives up to 7 hours in a 4x4 vehicle. We will stay 7 nights in ideally located hotels and lodges and 2 nights in minimalistic and comfortable bungalows inside the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
Call to speak with an Adventure specialist about this trip.