Madagascar Private Expedition

  • Trip Type: Private Expedition
  • 12 days | Round-trip Antananarivo

Expedition Details


Isolated from mainland Africa and India during the Mesozoic Era, Madagascar has been called the “land that time forgot” for its incredible biodiversity. Journey to this wonderland of weird and wild creatures—80 percent of which are found nowhere else on Earth—and delve into its curious geology and intriguing multiethnic culture. Seek out leaping lemurs and a kaleidoscope of chameleons and orchids in the lush forests of Ankarana Special Reserve and Amber Mountain National Park, watch for humpbacks and whale sharks in the stunning Nosy Be archipelago, and step back in time amid towns graced with elegant French colonial architecture.

Trip Highlights

  • Discover an otherworldly landscape of tsingy rock needles on a private excursion through Ankarana Special Reserve, and seek out the 11 lemur species that live here.
  • From Tsara Komba—a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World in the Nosy Be archipelago—snorkel waters teeming with dolphins, sea turtles, and tropical fish.
  • Delve into Madagascar’s rich cultural amalgam on private tours of traditional farms, French colonial cities, and the Royal Hill of Ambohinga pilgrimage site.
  • Spy camouflaged chameleons, fluttering hummingbirds, and a rainbow of orchids alongside private guides in Amber Mountain National Park and the jungles of Nosy Komba Island.

Itinerary - 12 Days

Day 1 — Arrive Antananarivo, Madagascar

Arrive in Madagascar’s lively capital and transfer to your hotel, perched on a lush hillside overlooking the heart of the city. Settle in, and enjoy an evening at leisure to discover Antananarivo’s rich blend of Indonesian, Malaysian, African, and Arab cultural influences.
Palissandre Hôtel & Spa

Day 2 — Antsiranana/Joffreville

Fly to Antsiranana, also known as Diégo Suarez, a laid-back coastal town near the northern tip of the country. Set out on a private tour of Antsiranana’s colonial center, including a walk through the old French military district, a local open-air market, and the scenic waterfront. Continue inland to Joffreville, a former French military resort town, and your base for exploring Amber Mountain National Park. Settle into your heritage guesthouse, originally built for Joseph Joffre, the one-time town marshal.
The Litchi Tree (B, L, D)

Day 3 — Amber Mountain National Park

Delve into Madagascar’s mind-blowing biodiversity on an excursion into the lush forests of Amber Mountain National Park—the country’s first national park, known for its lemur populations, kaleidoscopic chameleons, and Madagascar paradise flycatcher birds. Choose among three hiking trails of varying difficulty and landscapes, and set out with a private guide in search of hidden waterfalls, crater lakes, and fascinating creatures of the forest. Picnic in a serene spot before returning to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure.
The Litchi Tree (B, L, D)

Day 4 — Ankarana Special Reserve/Antsaravibe

Travel overland to Ankarana Special Reserve, where karst formations have eroded into endless forests of limestone needles and blades called tsingy. This stone landscape alternates with dense jungles and a vast network of caves and canyons, creating a unique ecosystem that harbors more than 300 species of plants and one of the highest densities of primates in the world. Explore the park’s natural wonders and seek out lemurs, including the crowned, Sanford’s brown, northern sportive, and dwarf varieties. Enjoy a picnic in the park before driving to your lodge, located just beyond Ankarana’s borders.
Iharana Bush Camp (B, L, D)

Day 5 — Antsaravibe

Join a private guide for a walk around the lake bordering your lodge, and meet Malagasy farmers to learn about their traditional cultivation techniques. After lunch, choose between two guided hikes. Descend into recesses of Mandresy Cave, a sacred ancestral site. Or opt for a challenging trek among the tsingy that will have you scaling ladders and slipping through narrow rock passages in search of stunning panoramas, colorful birds, and butterflies.
Iharana Bush Camp (B, L, D)

Day 6 — Ambanja/Ankify

Journey to the west coast along Madagascar’s cocoa and spice route, stopping along the way at Millot plantation, which cultivates and produces a variety of agricultural products—from spices and organic cocoa to plant-based essential oils. Stroll the spice plots, and learn how cocoa is grown, picked, and processed. Then venture into the Ylang fields to see how delicate flowers are collected, visit the distillery and discover how essential oils are extracted from raw plants. Continue to the fishing village of Ankify on Madagascar’s northwest coast and settle into your waterfront bungalow.
Ankify Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 7 — Ankify/Nosy Komba

Enjoy a morning at leisure in Ankify, and then transfer by boat to the Nosy Be archipelago. Arrive at Tsara Komba, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World tucked into the lush volcanic slopes of secluded Nosy Komba, or Lemur Island. Settle into your thatched oceanfront bungalow, and join a private guide for an introduction to the isle’s endemic flora and fauna during a short hike through the surrounding rain forest reserve. Seek out leaping lemurs, colorful chameleons and hummingbirds, and black parrots, and then enjoy the rest of your day at leisure in this tropical paradise.
Tsara Komba Beach & Forest Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 8 — Nosy Be Archipelago

Cruise the Mozambique Channel to the Tanikely marine reserve for a snorkeling excursion. Plunge into turquoise waters and swim past brightly colored corals, reef fish, and with luck, sea turtles. This afternoon, enjoy an experience exclusively reserved for National Geographic travelers. Join the lodge’s management staff for a visit to a nearby village, where you’ll meet the chief and learn about ongoing projects and everyday life in the community. Return to the lodge for a local rum tasting before a delicious Malagasy-French fusion dinner on the lodge terrace.
Tsara Komba Beach & Forest Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 9 — Nosy Be Archipelago

Set out with a private guide for a full-day tour of the Nosy Be archipelago. Visit a fishing village on lush Nosy Mamoko, and canoe up a river lined with mangrove trees. Stroll along Nosy Kisimasy's white-sand beaches and pick a peaceful spot for a picnic lunch. Afterwards go snorkeling in a secluded cove and seek out sea turtles and dolphins. Then return to the lodge for a free evening to relax on the beach or your private terrace.
Tsara Komba Beach & Forest Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 10 — Nosy Be Archipelago

Enjoy the day to explore the lodge and its stunning surroundings at your leisure. Stroll the Eden Garden, an indigenous nature reserve that backs up to the property and blooms with more than 200 endemic plant species; and discover the on-site Baobab Nursery, where unusual baobab species and spiny succulents are incubated. Or borrow equipment from the lodge for a self-guided snorkeling or fishing excursion in the shallows.
Tsara Komba Beach & Forest Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 11 — Nosy Komba/Antananarivo

Spend a final morning at leisure on Nosy Komba before transferring back to the mainland. Fly to Antananarivo, where you’ll take a private tour of the city (time permitting). Explore the city’s leafy boulevards, admire stunning examples of French colonial architecture, and see the stately Rova of Antananarivo—a royal complex dating back to the 16th century.
Palissandre Hôtel & Spa (B, L, D)

Day 12 — Ambohimanga/Antananarivo/Depart

After breakfast, join a private guide for an excursion to the 15th-century Royal Hill of Ambohimanga—an important pilgrimage spot for the Malagasy people, and an UNESCO World Heritage site. Learn about the African and Polynesian roots of Malagasy culture while exploring this ancient royal city, and take in panoramic views over Antananarivo. Later, stroll the stalls at La Digue, a traditional craft market. Then transfer to your day room to relax before your international flight home.
Relais Des Plateaux (B, L)

About Private Expeditions

National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you'd like to travel with and when you want to travel. We'll take care of the rest.

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This expedition is available year-round, except from January – March.


Private Expeditions are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we'll make all the arrangements. Click the reservation request button below to get started.

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Expedition Cost

4+ people $4,995
2 people $5,495

Prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request. 

Internal flights within Madagascar are an additional $665 per person (subject to change). 

International airfare to and from Antananarivo is not included in the expedition cost. A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals.

Activity Level


Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

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