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The magic of contrats: From the South to the North

Highlights

Great cultural diversity: meeting with more than five different ethnic groups during our journey, all different from each other by their crafts, their architectural arts, their funerary arts, their cultivation techniques, their ways of life, their customs… but with the legendary welcome and smile of the Malagasy
An extraordinary mix of landscapes: hills, rice fields, terraced cultures, villages with their red earth houses and thatched roofs, granite mountains, sandstone massif of Isalo, thorny vegetation of the South, majestic baobabs, emerald or turquoise colored seas, white sand beaches, very beautiful bays, luxuriant forests, Tsingy, canyons, caves…

Overview

Land of contrast, the island-continent is a concentrate of nature, biodiversity, exceptional and diversified landscapes. This trip combines the must-sees of the North and South of Madagascar: the famous Isalo National Park with its canyons and natural pools, the rice fields of the Highlands, the beautiful bays of Diégo-Suarez, the Emerald Sea, the famous Tsingy of Ankarana and the island of Nosy Be. Throughout the trip, with these fascinating experiences of discovery, we will meet the artisans and villagers. The Big Island is also a mosaic of beliefs and ancestral customs scattered in the traditional villages.

The magic of contrasts
Antananarivo
Ifaty
DAY 1: ANTANANARIVO - TULEAR - IFATY

Depending on flight schedules, transfer to the airport and flight to Tuléar. Welocome at the airport and transfer to your hotel in Ifaty. Lunch and afternoon free.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel

The magic of contrasts
Ifaty
273 km - 5h to 6h
Ranohira
DAY 2: IFATY - TULEAR - RANOHIRA

Visit of the baobab forest in the morning.
The Baobab forest has more than a thousand plants of these giants. You will see their singular branches reminiscent of roots. We find there, among others, the majestic Grandidieri and the Rubrostipa, a baobab with a red trunk. The forest also supports pachypodiums, thorny plants, euphorbias and aloes typical of the Malagasy southern territory.

1h to 1-and-a-half-hour walk, little ascending elevation, easy walk, hiking trail.

 Necessary equipment : good walking shoes or good sneakers, items to protect from the sun, insect repellent, water bottle

In the afternoon, road to the Isalo National Park. Enjoy the glimpses of baobabs rising majestically in the middle of the savannah and the magnificent Antandroy and Mahafaly tombs. Arrival at Isalo at the end of the day, get settled.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel

 

The magic of contrasts
DAY 3: ISALO NATIONAL PARK

Visit of Isalo National Park. Transfer to the entrance of the park for a hike that will take you through the most beautiful sites of the massif. We will first go to the natural pool … through a path that passes through magnificent rocky walls that shelter some Bara tombs. We will stop at some points that offer breathtaking views on the massif. After swimming, we will continue the hike along a ridge line on the eastern part of the massif to end up at Namaza creek and forest. With a little luck, we will see some groups of lemurs. For the bravest ones, the walk will go on to the black and blue swimming pool, then to the Nymphs’ Waterfalls.

5h walk, 350m to 500m slopes and drops, medium difficulty level, hiking trail. Necessary equipment: walking shoes or good sneakers, items to protect from the sun, mosquito repellent, bottle of water

Picnic lunch prepared by us.

About the Isalo National Park: The oldest geological formation of Madagascar will open its doors to you. This massif of continental and ruiniform sandstone dates back to the Jurassic era. Its very typical geomorphology, sculpted by erosions, offers a stunning show of colors and shapes … Second largest national park in Madagascar, it contains unmatched richnesses in biodiversity (endemic rock plants, such as Aloes, Euphorbes, Pachypodes, Kalanchoe …) and a specific fauna.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel

The magic of contrasts
Isalo
295 km - 6h to 7h
Fianarantsoa
DAY 4: ISALO - FIANARANTSOA

After breakfast, continue the ascent of the RN7 through the grassy savannah plateau of Ihorombe. Stop at Anja’s Reserve, a dry forest located at the foot of an enormous granitic dome, for the discovery of the « Ring Tailed Lemur ».

1h ride walk depending, little ascending elevation, easy walk, hiking trail. Necessary equipment: good walking shoes or good sneakers, insect repellent, items to protect from the sun and water bottle

In the afternoon, continuation to Fianarantsoa.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel

The magic of contrasts
Fianarantsoa
253 km - 6h to 7h
Antsirabe
DAY 5: FIANARANTSOA - ANTSIRABE

Before leaving, visit Fianarantsoa’s old quarters on foot, through pretty alleys and stairs. Then we will gradually ascend the N7 through the winding road lined with eucalyptus and mimosas. Small stop in Ambositra to discover sculptors and markers in their neighborhoods. These are skilled and friendly craftsmen who will be happy to welcome us in their home. Free lunch on site. Arrival in Antsirabe in the late afternoon.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel

The magic of contrasts
Antsirabe
169 km - 3h to 4h
Antananarivo
DAY 6: ANTSIRABE - ANTANANARIVO

Before returning to the capital, we will enjoy a final walk in the countryside in the morning. Depending on your desire and physical condition, it can be done by bike or on foot. We will discover the fertile volcanic plains of the Vakinankaratra … Discovery of the rural world of the Highlands.

  • Mountain bike option: depending on your physical condition, 15km to 30 km. 4km of maximum climb on the two trails. 11 km descent on a 30km trail. Trail on laterite track. 2h to 4h, medium level, paved road and hiking trail
  • Walking option: 3h to 4h walking. Approximately 400m of uneven terrain, medium level, hiking trail

Necessary equipment: walking shoes or good sneakers, items to protect from the sun, bottle of water

Drive to Antananarivo in the afternoon. Get settled in a hotel next to the airport.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel

Diego suarez
Antananarivo
Diego-Suarez
DAY 7: ANTANANARIVO - DIEGO SUAREZ : STROLL THROUGH THE 03 BAYS

Depending on flight schedules, transfer to the airport and flight to Diego Suarez. Then, we go directly to Sakalava Bay by a waterfront road which will be the starting point of our walk. Walk along a path for an easy coastal hike in a beautiful landscape of rock and lagoon. We will first go to the bay of the Pigeons, then the walk will continue towards the bay of the dunes.

2h30 to 3h walk, low elevation, easy walk, coastal path. Necessary equipment: good sneakers, light clothing, items to protect from the sun and a bottle of water.

Lunch in a restaurant by the sea.

Return to Diego Suarez in the late afternoon

Overnight at your hotel

The magic of contrasts
24 km - 1h
DAY 8: DIEGO SUAREZ: THE EMERALD SEA

About 1h boat trip for the outward journey and 1h for the return, depending on the wind and the weather.

Transfer to the village of Ramena. Take a wooden dhow, typical of that region, to sail over "the Emerald Sea. The Emerald Sea is a huge lagoon with very little depth (about 2m), it is located just after the small pass going up north. The shallow water allows you to dive into a dream natural aquarium where fish of all sizes, shapes and colors seem to have come together. We will dock on the islet of "Nosy-Suarez" to enjoy the beach. Small shelters are built there to protect you from the sun, and let you take a nap. Barbecue Lunch on the beach: yummy fresh fish with coconut rice and salads. In the afternoon, return to the hotel.

Overnight and breakfast at your hotel

The magic of contrasts
Diego-Suarez
165 km - 5h to 6h
Diego-Suarez
DAY 9: DIEGO-SUAREZ – IHARANA

After breakfast, you will leave for the Red Tsingy (only from April to November). After an hour drive, you will leave the national road and take a secondary road for about 45mn towards the Red Tsingy. You will go down to the Grand Canyon to discover these impressive ephemeral formations of clays and limestones. The runoff of the rainy waters and the whims of the wind shaped these colorful and phantasmagoric peaks that are unique in Madagascar: the Red Tsingy. Approximately 1h30 walk, 60 m of ascending elevation, easy walk, hiking trail

Necessary equipment: good walking shoes or good sneakers, items to protect from the sun, bottle of water

We take the same track to the national road, then direction Mahamasina.

Lunch reserved in a local restaurant.

In the afternoon, we go for a first approach of the Tsingy. The Tsingy Rary trail takes us through canyons and viewpoints. With a bit of luck, we could see some crowned lemurs!

Approximately 2 hours of walking, little difference in level, easy walk, hiking trail

After the visit, we continue to Iharana Bush Camp (about 1h of track).

Dinner and overnight at Iharana Bush Camp

The magic of contrasts
DAY 10: IHARANA “MASSIF of ANKARANA”

In the morning, you will explore the Ankarana Tsingy through a magnificent "aerial" walk on the Tsingy roof. The panorama is just stunning. On the way, a few belvederes have been set up to allow you to appreciate the best viewpoints. If you are lucky, you will come across some groups of crowned lemurs, an endemic species from northern Madagascar.

3-hour to 3-and-a-half-hour walk depending on the number/duration of stops, 150m of ascending elevation, average difficulty, hiking trail, arranged and secured trails. Renovated and secured routes. People suffering from dizziness should not do this.

 Necessary equipment : good walking shoes or good sneakers, items to protect from the sun, insect repellent, headlamps and water bottle

Lunch at the Bush Camp.

In the afternoon, we will leave for the Mandresy cave: We will reach the entrance of the Mandresy cave after a short stroll through some typical Sakalava houses (15 to 20 min walk from the Bush Camp). With our headlamps, we will walk slowly in the galleries of the Tsingy. The Mandresy cave has magnificent cavities with large rooms and impressive concretions. It is also home to abundant and very special fauna: bat species and some reptiles (harmless). Underground rivers hide crayfish and some endemic freshwater fish in the area. Containing places of worship and burials, the caves have a sacred character for the Antankarana. By the middle of the 17th century, they served as a refuge for the local population during the invasion wars. Many of them lost their lives.

Dinner and overnight at Iharana Bush Camp

The magic of contrasts
Iharana
153 km - 4h to 5h
Nosy Be
DAY 11: IHARANA – ANKIFY – NOSY BE

We are leaving Iharana to go to Ankify. We will cross large cocoa, pepper, Ylang-Ylang and vanilla plantations until Ankify. Then, boat transfer to join Nosy Be Nosy Komba. Transfer to your hotel in the afternoon. 45 minutes of speedboat transfer. Transfer to your on arrival.

Overnight and breakfast at your hotel

The magic of contrasts
DAY 12 - DAY 13: NOSY BE

Free stay at your hotel by the sea.

Several activities can be organized from the hotel:

Land activities: tour of the island, discovery of the fauna and flora...

Water sports: discovery of the string of islands and paradise islets, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, water sports, ...

Overnight and breakfast at your hotel

Nosy Be
Antananarivo
DAY 14: NOSY BE - ANTANANARIVO - PARIS

Depending on flight schedules, transfer to the airport of Nosy Be and flight to Antananarivo. Assistance at the airport and check-in on the flight to Paris.

Note :

Approximately 6 hours of driving per day (Days 3-5-6).
During the austral summer (November – End of March), it is preferable to start hiking days early enough to avoid walking under the sun. Start the hike before 7am.
During the southern winter (June – End of August), the temperature is around 7°C early in the morning and in the evening in the Highlands (Antananarivo – Fianarantsoa), especially in the region of Antsirabe.
Departure for the Emerald Sea excursion depend on the tide, sometimes a little windy (especially from June to September).
The route is sometimes technical in the Tsingy, not recommended for people prone to vertigo or claustrophobia.
Good walking shoes, a large supply of mineral water (especially from October). Bring mosquito repellent…
To admire the humpback whales in Nosy Be, it is the months of August-September and the months of October to mid-December for the whale sharks.

The magic of contrats: From the South to the North

Land of contrast, the island-continent is a concentrate of nature, biodiversity and exceptional and diversified landscapes …
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