Day 1: Arrive in Antananarivo
Welcome to Antananarivo (a.k.a. “Tana” from the French colonial era), the capital and largest city of Madagascar! An MTS representative will greet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the upper town of Tana.
Day 2: Spot lemurs in Andasibe
After breakfast, the group departs Tana and takes a three-hour drive east to Andasibe. This stunning rainforest park consists of two protected areas, the Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia National Park. Perinet is world famous for its population of Indri lemurs, which are the largest living lemur species. The journey to Andasibe—with rice fields, redbrick houses, and roadside stalls selling seasonal fruits and vegetables lining the route—offers first time visitors to Madagascar a gentle introduction to rural life. Check into Vakona Forest Lodge for lunch. This afternoon, enjoy a visit to Lemur Island, Vakona Lodge's private reserve that protects a number of habituated lemurs. There are four species to see: the bamboo lemur, the black-and-white ruffed lemur, brown lemur, and one diademed sifaka.
Day 3: Explore Perinet Reserve and take a lemur safari at night
After breakfast, enjoy a visit to the 810-hectare Perinet reserve with a local guide in search of the Indri lemur. With a barely visible tail, black-and-white markings, and a face that resembles a surprised teddy bear, this is one of the few animals in the world that cannot survive in captivity. As you walk through the lush rainforest, there are another 11 lemur species to spot, including the grey bamboo lemur, the common brown lemur, the diademed sifaka, and the black-and-white ruffed lemur. Birdwatchers should look out for the island's many endemic species, such as the velvet asity, blue coua, and nuthatch vanga. Perinet is also home to many reptiles, invertebrates, and orchids (Madagascar has over a thousand orchid species!).
In the late evening, join a local guide for a night walk in the forest surrounding the reserve. You will see a variety of nocturnal lemurs: the mouse lemur, the white-footed sportive lemur, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur, and the woolly lemur.
Day 4: Journey to Tsingy de Bermaraha
Return to Tana this morning and board a private charter flight to Tsingy de Bermaraha. On arrival at Amborondia airport, we'll transfer to the hotel for lunch. Nestled at the heart of a well-preserved nature park, Le Soleil des Tsingy is the ideal base for an extraordinary stay in the Tsingy of Bemaraha. This afternoon is at your leisure—relax in the infinty pool and enjoy the panoramic views.
Day 5: Adventures in Grand Tsingy
After breakfast, drive for a full day exploration of Grand Tsingy. The walk itself is a true adventure: tiptoe over the sharp roof of the Tsingy, cross a high rope bridge, and meander through pockets of dry deciduous forest. This unique site, a virtual forest of 130- to 160-foot limestone peaks is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage and located about 12 miles from the village of Bekopaka. The Tsingy are razor-sharp pinnacles produced by the erosion of limestone massifs over millions of years. The Tsingy shelters a startling array of wildlife, including 11 species of lemur, 103 species of terrestrial and aquatic birds, 15 species of bats, 22 species of amphibians, and a variety of reptiles.
Day 6: Sunset at the Avenue of Baobabs
After breakfast, board our private charter flight to Morondava. Situated in the heart of Sakalava territory, Morondava is known for its elaborately sculpted wooden royal tombs. Check into our hotel for lunch and enjoy a tour of the city before driving to the Avenue of the Baobabs for a beautiful sunset among the Adansonia grandidieri, the largest of Madagascar's six species of baobab.
Day 7: Camp in the heart of the Spiny Forest
After breakfast, we'll board our private charter to Mandrare River camp. Upon arrival at the camp, settle into your tent and enjoy the majestic views over the Mandrare River. After a barbeque lunch of succulent grilled meats and salads, enjoy some relaxation time. Around 5pm depart for a night walk in the forest of Zenavo. This is a fantastic way to see diurnal lemurs bedding down, and the nocturnal lemurs begin to wake in the eerie and prehistoric Spiny Forest. You will spot sifakas and sleeping white-footed sportive lemurs; then, once the sun has set, you'll see two mouse lemur species, birds, chameleons, owls, and now-active sporting lemurs.
Day 8: Explore the forest from Mandrare River Camp
After a breakfast of freshly baked croissants and pains au chocolat, fresh fruits, cereals, and breads, continue to the stunning and sacred Gallery Forest to the south of the camp. Depending on the river depth, you will walk or take a boat across the Mandrare River to reach this largely deciduous forest. Inquisitive groups of ring-tailed lemurs and the always entertaining Verreaux's sifaka are the highlight of this excursion. Return to the camp for lunch and a relaxing afternoon.
In late afternoon, head for a walk through the sacred Spiny forest filled with the ancestral tombs of the local Antandroy tribe, as well as an extraordinary array of flora and fauna that is unique to this forest. Your guide and a tracker from the local community will give you an introduction to Antandroy culture and customs. Follow up the visit with sundowners on the bank of the Mandrare River.
Day 9: Visit the village from Mandrare River Camp
After a cup of tea or coffee, head to the Spiny Forest for an early morning walk. Witness the sunlight break through the octopus trees while looking out for the many endemic birds such as the crested coua, the running coua, and a variety of vanga. Head back to camp for a sumptuous breakfast followed by a visit to the local market (on Thursdays and Saturdays) or the local village to meet the fascinating Antandroy tribe.
Enjoy lunch at camp, then spend a relaxing afternoon watching life along the river from your tent terrace. At 5pm, depart for a sundowner amidst the baobabs. Watching the sun set and moon rise with a view across the baobabs to the mountains beyond is a magical experience. In the evening the local village may come to perform beautiful traditional dances, accompanied by singing and music. Song and dance, at the heart of Antandroy culture, are used to accompany the major rituals and events of everyday life.
Day 10: Fly back to Antananarivo then depart
After an early breakfast, board your private charter back to Tana. On arrival, you'll be transfered to the Relais des Plateaux for a delicious lunch and then transferred back to the airport for homeward-bound flights.