(Antananarivo, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Antsirabe, Ranomafana, Fianarantsoa, Isalo National Park, The Masoala National Park)
Embark on an epic journey through a bizarrely beautiful land of leaping lemurs, baobab trees, carnivorous plants, tropical rainforests and beyond perfect beaches. Discover Madagascar’s incredible biodiversity which has earned it the nickname of “The Eighth Continent” on this in-depth small group tour led by primatologist, Travis Steffens.
Guided by Steffens, head deep into the heart of Madagascar’s rainforests in search of elusive lemurs on walking and boat safaris. Whether it’s by day or night, there is no one better able to share the forest’s secrets as you spot the rare skittish fosa, golden bamboo lemur, and the tiny mouse lemur. Having worked, lived, and studied primates in Madagascar, Travis has an in-depth knowledge of not only the wildlife, but also the country’s culture and traditions. Learn about his charity, Planet Madagascar, which is focused on informing locals of the dangers that lemurs face and how conservation is key to help protect these bizarre creatures while still encouraging tourism. Thomas Carlyle said, “A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge,” which rings true throughout this incredible journey. Contribute to local development – from environmental restoration, malaria education, and the maintenance of a primary school with heart pulling visits to a collection of special projects. Watch the magic of the admirable Malagasy people come to life as you explore ancient anthropological sites, visit villages, dine with locals, and watch a traditional Betsimisaraka show. From safaris through Ranomafana’s rainforest, the biodiversity of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park the hustle and bustle of Antsirabe, and culturally packed Fianarantsoa, to the otherworldly landscapes of Isalo National Park, legacies of French colonialism in Antananarivo, and Madagascar’s final frontier Masoala, adventure and life changing experiences await round every bend.
This tour brings you all that Madagascar has to offer, and to top it all off, concludes with stays at an eco-lodge tucked away deep in the rainforest-covered northeast coast. Accessible only by boat, this jungle hideaway relies on solar and battery power, making for a truly immersive stay. Time here is spent giving back to the local villages and getting to know Madagascar on an even more intimate level as you kayak, snorkel, hike, and swim through this unspoiled peninsula.
Price is $9650 per person based on double occupancy. Tour departs October 30th 2014.
Minimum group size 6, maximum group size 16. Please note departures are not guaranteed until 120 days before travel, and we advise you do not book international air until the tour has been confirmed. Deposit is due upon booking, and refundable up until 120 days before travel. At 120 days before travel, and upon departure guarantee, final payment is due. Minimum traveler age is 18.
Your host, Travis Steffens, is a primatologist with a passion for conservation. He has dedicated his life and research to community development efforts, environmental education, eco-tourism projects, and international awareness in Madagascar. Considered an expert in the field, his current research is on the impact of habitat loss and threat of extinction posed to lemurs, a primate with 100 different species (many of which are endangered) endemic to the isolated African country.
In addition, this 21st century explorer founded Lambas for Lemurs, a conservation education program seeking to inform local Malagasy people of the dangers lemurs face, promote the protection of these primates, encourage sustainable living and help locals understand how conservation efforts can help attract tourism. While not living in Madagascar, Travis brings travelers to remote wilds in Africa, Central America, and the Canadian Rockies. Travis holds a BSc and MA in Primatology and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto.
Meet your in-country representative at the airport before setting out on this unique Malagasy adventure! Transfer between the airport and your hotel.
This evening is at leisure, settle in and prepare to begin your adventure through Madagascar.
A private vehicle with driver will be at your disposal for the day.
Begin this Madagascar adventure by exploring the capital and largest city in Madagascar. Discover the colonial history of this ancient city, and find out the reason why Antananarivo was once named "the city of a Thousand." Marvel at the goings on and the daily life routines of these Malagasy people. Highlights of this tour include a visit to the Old City sections, and the palace of the Queen, which will introduce you to the architecture and urbanism of this dynamic African city. No tour of the town is complete without a moment's pause on one of the hills to take in the view over the city.
Dinner tonight is included. Take this opportunity to meet your fellow travellers, and get acquainted with your host Travis Steffens.
Depart from the Madagascar capital, Antananarivo, and travel along the hillside twisty roads towards the Eastern part of the island. The first scheduled stop will be in Marozevo at the Pereyras reserve for the first glimpse of Madagascar’s unique biodiversity and fantastic Chameleon Sanctuary. Continue along to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, and start the discovery tour of the nocturnal animals and primates that inhabit this unique and distinctive National Park.
The Lemur is a strepsirrhine primate endemic to the island of Madagascar. The actually word "lemur" derives from the word lemures (ghosts or spirits) from Roman mythology, and was first used to describe the nocturnal habits and slow pace of certain creatures, which applied perfectly to the habitual primates of Madagascar. Shortly after humans arrived on the island of Madagascar some 2,000 years ago, there were some lemurs as large as a gorilla. Today, there are nearly 100 species of lemurs, and most of those species have been discovered or promoted to full species status since the 90's.
Dinner is included.
Begin the day with a hike through the rainforest to discover the natural Malagasy flora and fauna, as well as the famous Indri lemurs. The Indri lemur is one of the largest in size and has a lovey thick black and white coat. The Indri is well known for its loud, distinctive songs, which will help you to locate them within the thick forest vegetation. Other lemurs which can be seen in this area include the red-bellied lemur, brown lemur, and the lesser bamboo lemur. The park is also a place of habitat for some nocturnal lemur species including the brown mouse lemur, greater dwarf lemur, eastern woolly lemur, sportive lemur and if you lucky, the elusive nocturnal Aye Aye. During your rainforest exploration enjoy a stop for some relaxation at a picturesque waterfall. This day tour is filled with beautiful landscapes and a variety of habitual wildlife.
Almost half of the world’s chameleon’s population (60 different species) are found only in Madagascar. They are known for their ability to change color as these reptiles can alter their appearance in response to changes in temperature, light, and mood. By rotating each eye independently, chameleons are able to see all sides and directions without moving their heads, making meals out of flies instantaneously!
Today, hop into your privately driven vehicle as you depart towards Andasibe, making route to Tana and then southwards to Antsirabe. You will cross the highlands via the famous national RN7, which leads to the South of Madagascar. A lunch-stop is scheduled in Ambatolampy where the opportunity presents itself to meet the passionate villagers who make handmade pots and other frequently used household items. In the afternoon, you will reach the town of Antsirabe, known as the "Vichy Malgache" and famous for its thermal waters and rickshaws.
Lunch is included.
Enjoy your private vehicle transfer from Antsirabe to Ranomafana. The drive is approximately three and a half hours.
Today you will visit the Ranomafana forest; this forest is known for species of bamboo lemurs found in Madagascar. The most common is the lesser bamboo lemur which can also be seen in Andasibe. The greater bamboo lemur is very rare and only known to be found in two locations. You may find them by hearing the crack of big bamboo stems as they feed. The star of Ranomafana is the golden bamboo lemur "Hapalemuraureus" which was only discovered in 1986 whilst researchers were trying to find the greater bamboo lemur. The park was created soon after this discovery. The largest lemur in the park is the elusive Milne-Edwards sifaka, often spotted high up in the forest canopy. You should also look out for red bellied lemurs which live in couples with their offspring and red fronted brown lemurs which live in large groups. Ranomafana is also a birding hotspot but finding birds in the dense forest can be very tricky.
In real life, the island of Madagascar has no lions, giraffes, zebras, or hippos, unlike the animated movie! The fossil record shows that hippos once lived on the island, but scientists think they went extinct about 1,000 years ago. These hippos, known as pygmy hippos, were much smaller than their African relatives. The largest mammal-carnivore on the island of Madagascar is the Fossa, a close relative of the mongoose. Often compared in size to a small cougar, the Fossa feature semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles allowing it to climb and descend trees head-first.
Start the day off bright and early as you head out on a hike through the forest for a day of exploration. Set out on foot, accompanied by a local tracker and an expert park ranger, to the deep regions of the National Park of Ranomafana. The park’s star attraction is the golden bamboo lemur, often found grazing amongst the bamboo thickets. Marvel at the colorful bird-life and uniquely beautiful flora and fauna of this rich natural habitat. Return back to the hotel for lunch before heading out to explore the old town of Fianarantsoa, perched high on the scenic hillside. This unique location reflects the different stages of colonization which have taken place during the history of Madagascar.
This adventure continues as you depart the highlands area and travel further South towards the semi-dry landscapes of this truly diverse island country. The first scheduled stop of the day is in the small town of Ambalavao, one of the cultural hubs of the country, boasting a variety of architectural treasures and quaint houses. Enjoy a visit to the entirely natural Paper Factory in Antemoro. Here, inlaid paper is created from plants and flowers which will be exported all over the globe to create some of the world's most famous and beautiful greeting cards. The day’s journey is completed upon your arrival into Ranohira, the main town outside Isalo National Park. Isalo National Park is home to some of Madagascar’s most stunning scenery, with barren landscapes, twisted rock formations and extraordinary plant life.
A trip to the Anja community reserve furthers your cultural learning as you visit ancient anthropological sites and tombs important to Malagasy culture. Countless lemurs call Anja home and can be spotted playing around as you help contribute to local development – from environmental restoration, malaria education, and the maintenance of a primary school – visits to this reserve assist countless local efforts while bringing you up close to spectacular wildlife.
Spend the day exploring the almost lunar landscapes of the Isalo National Park. With an expert guide at your side, travel through the deep canyons of this stellar location. Visit the wonderful waterfalls and natural pools as they pass, providing an ideal opportunity for a refreshing swim or to take some memorable photos. As your day comes to an end enjoy watching the natural beauty of the sun-setting below the horizon of this stunning national park.
The Tenrec is considered one of the first mammals to arrive on Madagascar. Although it looks very similar to hedgehogs, or otters, they are not closely related to any of them, their closest relatives are some other African, insectivorous mammals such as golden moles and elephant shrews. When scared, these little dynamos curl up in a ball and extend their spiky hairs to protect themselves from predators.
Depart this morning bright and early on a coastal drive to the city of Toliara. En-route you will hear an explanation about the numerous villages that have been formed during the period of the sapphire rush. Also make a pit stop at Antsokay Arboretum. The Arboretum has a collection of over 900 plant species from the southwest of Madagascar, 90% are endemic to the region and 80% have medicinal properties. Many of these species are recognized as endangered.
Today, the Antsokay arboretum offers an overview of the regional vegetation with 900 species, 90% of which are endemic, including the famed Baobab. The centre offers guided tours which are highly informative for tourists and wildlife enthusiasts alike. A real highlight either on the way in or out of Tulear. The Petignat family has dedicated itself to the conservation of the island's endangered plants since 1980.
Enjoy your flight from Toliara to Antananarivo - the flight will take roughly 1 hour. Transfer on arrival to your hotel.
This morning you will transfer back to the airport, and relax during your flight from Antananarivo to Maroantsetra. The approximate flight time is 3.5 hours.
Nature lovers will be in paradise at Masoala Forest Lodge. The primary rainforest is home to the gorgeous Red-ruffed Lemur – one of the planet’s most dazzling mammals! White-fronted Brown Lemurs are common in the coastal forest and Dwarf, Mouse, and Woolly Lemurs are regularly seen on night walks. Madagascar is known for its Chameleons and some of the most impressive examples are found at Masoala. Brightly coloured Panther Chameleons are regularly seen whilst it will probably be one of the sharp eyed guides who points out the tiny Stump-tailed Chameleons. Barely a few centimetres in size these diminutive dwellers of the leaf litter compare dramatically to the enormous Parson’s Chameleon – the planet’s largest chameleon. The spectacular rainforest at Masoala is one of Madagascar’s best birding spots. Sightings of the incredible Scaly and Short-legged Ground-Rollers are regular. Mixed species flocks can contain an incredible diversity of Vangas – the islands most celebrated bird family. The unbelievable Helmet Vanga being the star of this show whilst the much scarcer Bernier’s Vanga is a tantalizing possibility. The Masoala rainforest is also home to many valuable timber trees, such as Ebony and Rosewood, and rare palm species, including the biggest palm in Madagascar, the “Red-ruffed lemur palm”.
A transfer is provided between Maroantsetra and the Masoala Forest Lodge.
Guests at the Masoala Forest Lodge are treated to an eco-inspired array of activities.
For those looking for further adventure, various exploratory excursions by boat, foot, or kayak are made available to some truly amazing locations including the Antalavia River or the islands of Cap Masoala.
Guest can head out into the sea on various aquatic adventures. From the sheer spectacle of whales purging the seascape to the thrill of reeling in a truly "Big-One", Masoala Forest Lodge offers the very best in water based entertainment.
A huge diversity of life dwells below the warm waters of Antongil Bay. Snorkelling the reefs in front of the lodge will produce a colourful selection of hard and soft corals, reef fishes and other marine life. Green Turtles, Bottlenose Dolphins and Hump-backed Whales have all been sighted when in season.
The warm, coral rich water of the Tampolo Marine Reserve offers exciting snorkeling right off the beach.
The in-house sea kayaks are ideal for exploring the islands, reefs, rivers and deserted beaches of the dynamic, sheltered coastline. They can also be used to simply enjoy a picturesque sunset over the forested mountain ranges along the water.
As the camp terrain is level, dry and well kept many easy and safe walking trails surround the facility. Enjoy an afternoon of relaxing, or get out and enjoy the surrounding habitat.
Tonight will be your last chance to enjoy the company of both your fellow travellers, as well as Travis. Enjoy one last meal together, in this natural paradise.
A transfer will be provided between the Masoala Forest Lodge and Maroantsetra.
Relax during your flight from Maroantsetra to Antananarivo today. The approximate flight time is 3.5 hours.
Transfer to the Antananarivo International Airport for your onward flight home.
Lokanga Boutique Hotel is an original Malagasy townhouse which has been furnished throughout with antiques and family souvenirs, inviting guests to journey back to the early twentieth century. Lokanga Boutique Hotel offers only 6 comfortable and exclusive rooms, each with breathtaking views over the capital, a desk, a private bathroom, individually styled and decorated with family antiques and full comforts: WIFI, mini-bar, heating during winter. After a day in the bustle of Antananarivo, guests can relax on the tea terrace and enjoy the breathtaking view out over the old city centre.
The Vakona Forest Lodge has been designed in an authentic, traditional Malagasy manner, boasting the architectural characteristics on the local buildings. Each of the 28 bungalows which have been built in a Madagascan style and has its own terrace. The dining room also offers a spectacular view of the forest as wells a cozy, warming fireplace. There is a pool and sun deck and a number of paths and sign-posted trails lead you to the middle of the primary forest.
Couleur Café is located in Antsirable the beautiful city of the highlands of Madagascar. It is made of bricks, tiles and wood in a green setting. The ten brick bungalows are located in a pleasant garden area and the main building has a communal lounge and restaurant. There is also a small shop, where you can buy souvenirs. The rooms have high ceilings and are light and airy. Each has an en-suite bathroom with a shower and there is also a fire place, which is very welcome in the colder winter months.
The Setam Lodge is set above river valley, in a heavily forested area just inside the boundaries of the Ranomafana National Park. Each of the 10 bungalows provides scenic views from there perched hilltop location of the dense rainforest and river below. Each of the 20 chalet rooms is located within the 10 bungalows.
The Villa Sylvestre is located in the heart of Fianarantsoa, enjoy the large beauty of the capital Betsileo. This hotel features preserved heritage of three generations, this charming residence built in 1920 holds the traditional style and architecture of the Malagasy. The rooms are all decorated for your comfort combining both modern and traditional style. The staff at the Villa Sylvestre, are sure to make your stay memorable and as enjoyable as possible.
The Isalo Rock Lodge is a modern and stunning 60 Room Retreat, positioned high in the Sandstone Mountains, overlooking the Isalo National Park in south western Madagascar, providing guest with some breathtaking views. Whilst luxury abounds in the hotel with all modern amenities, Isalo is home to many species of flora and fauna, including, the Giant Chameleon and the renowned Lemurs.
The Tamboho Hotel boasts an exceptional setting created by a combination of traditional African authenticity and modern upscale amenities. The hotel is located near a lot of Antananarivo Tana city area highlights including the Zoma, the Independence Avenue, the Queen's Palace Ranavalona, Tsimbazaza Zoo, the riches of nature and the Malagasy lemurs, Ambohimanga and his palace, and a variety of marketplaces boasting crafts, basketry, wood carvings, semi precious and precious stones. This 30 roomed hotel offers a restaurant boasting European cuisine and flavors of the islands, heated swimming pool and a la carte spa treatments. Enjoy the reception area design, its cozy atmosphere and quality services in an atmosphere Malagasy. With free WIFI connection, available throughout the building, Tamboho is one of the best hotels in Antananarivo Madagascar.
The spectacular rainforest covered peninsula on Madagascar's northeast coast forms the backdrop for the Masoala Forest Lodge. Accessible only by foot or by sea, with a maximum capacity of just 12 guests, the lodge is a haven of tranquility. A luxurious outpost lost in time and nature, a place to relax, explore and connect with the natural world in its entire primordial splendor.
Shayna Maislin ,
April 21, 2014
"I would highly recommend the tour guide that we had in the Serengetti . He was extremely knowledgeable, very helpful and courteous. We all agree that Kensington has first class staff working for them in Africa. All the camps that we stayed at were absolutely beautiful except perhaps for the one in Lake Manyara. All in all it was a spectacular trip!"
Janine Chey ,
April 21, 2014
"Our trip to Masai Mara via Kensington ran very smoothly. We stayed at the Mara West Lodge. Beautiful location atop a ridge overlooking the Masai Mara plains. Our luxury tents were quite comfortable and the staff/service at the lodge were great. Meals were very nice especially the daily soups. Our guide, Steve, was also great...so knowledgeable and eager to show us many interesting things. He planned our daily game drives and took us on a nature hike one afternoon. He clearly knows and understands this ecosystem. He has an amazing eye, finding animals in fields of tall grasses. Our entire family had an amazing time, trip of a lifetime...would love to go back!"
Justin Yax ,
April 21, 2014
"Once again, a perfect trip. From Elizabeth's planning to Godfrey's guiding, we could not have asked for a more thorough and well planned safari. I can't wait to come back and do it again, this time with a Kilimanjaro climb added onto the trip!"
Nancy Frierson ,
April 21, 2014
"The entire trip was superb - all the transfers, the lodging and the food, the safari experience and the knowledgeable guides. The guide's ability to spot an animal and identify it at a great distance allowed us to see and photograph all the animals on our list and then some. The lodgings were even better than we had hoped and the staff could not possibly have been better. Our trip of a lifetime turned out to be just that."
Avi J.Moskovitz ,
February 03, 2014
"We finally returned from the most magical vacation in Morocco and we cannot thank Lily and Kensington Tours enough!! This trip was beyond amazing and we are so appreciative for everything done to make this trip happen last minute for us!
We had a spectacular tour guide that spoke 8 languages, Ismail, and the friendliest and warmest driver, Said, whom made the experience absolutely phenomenal! Not only did we learn and see, but we laughed, danced, ate like pigs, kissed camels and snakes, ran in the Sahara desert under the stars, and enjoyed life - the best gift of all!
Ebony Hoskins ,
October 18, 2013
"I am so happy that I used Kensington Tours to help with my dream trip to Cape Town South Africa. I was looking for a well respected tour company that planned private guided tours that was not going to cause me my leg, lol. I begin searching companies by reputation and value. I narrowed it down to Kensington Tours because of the quality and value. I felt taken care of prior to my departure due to the detailed itinerary.
From the time of got off the plane to the time I headed back to the states, I was in excellent hands. The service was EXCELLENT! I will definitely use Kensington again. Certainly, a trip of a lifetime!"
Hanne Jones ,
October 24, 2013
"I have travelled all my life. I've combed much of Europe, from The arctic north in Norway to the streets of Seville in Spain, the beaches of Cannes and Nice in France and the medieval heart of Bologna in Italy. I've been on two African safaris (one tented, one not), both "luxurious." I've been on more than a dozen jaunts to India, some guided, others not. Over the years I have discovered that I had rather be lost and disoriented in a foreign country than submit once again to the unbending schedule of a guided tour. Hence I had given up tours of any kind, until Molly Kelly, an American Express travel agent, suggested I might want simply to list the places my friends and I wished to see in Morocco then let Kensington Tours make accessing them in an orderly way not only possible but thoroughly enjoyable as well. And this Kensington Tours did. They pulled our disparate destinations together and designed a far, far better route than we could ever have done on our own. They satisfied all our requests and threw in delicious additions, areas of interest we had never considered or even heard of. Our accommodations were well within our means and wonderful. Our guide and driver, not to mention our Mercedes SUV, could not have pleased us more. In other words, thanks to Molly and her recommending Kensington Tours, we had a sensational holiday. "
Anthoula Korina ,
September 05, 2013
"Africa had always been a myth in mind since I was child that was up until a week ago. I just returned from an epic safari adventure! Kenya, Tanzania and the Maasai are sorely missed.
Words cannot fully express the magic of this ever-flowing journey. It was awe-inspiring, breathtaking, free and powerful. My mind keeps playing tricks on me; thinking rather hoping that I'm going to see a giraffe cross a busy NYC street :)
The memories will resonate for a lifetime. To boot, I went on this trip solo; female traveler. Not sure any of it would have been possible w/out Kensington Tours!!! Thank you..."
July 12, 2013
"I had a wonderful trip visiting the mountain gorillas in Uganda. We were able to get really close to the gorillas and watched their interactions with each other. The local people are so gracious and made every minute a delight. The accomodations were great. I loved waking up in the morning to the sounds of the forest. The added luxury of a massage was a great way to end the trip!"
July 26, 2013
"Our family of 6 traveled to Morocco for a 9 day Imperial cities discovery, I was absolutely amazing. Our guide Lahcen Zaaim was the best guide we have EVER had and we have traveled to many countries. There was not one subject that he was not knowledgeable about. He made the trip sooooo memorable. He was so flexible and when he picked us up in the mornings to head out, he was talking nonstop to tell us soo much about everything we were seeing. There was soooo much to see in Morocco and he made sure we saw it all.. He truly has a gift in the touring business, you feel as if your leaving your best friend when the trip is over. When we got to the airport in casablanca, he spotted us before we saw him and of course, we asked him, how did you recognize us? He even went as far as to get the King of Moroccos artist to meet us at our riad the night before we left to return home late to do our names in moroccan arabic to frame, They were beautiful, He showed us a picture of the Kings Face he had done for the Palace! Lily Baffour from Kensington planned our trip and she was amazing, planning everything as she thought we would like based on what I told her. She did an Outstanding job and literally sent our Iteniaries by next day air in a beautifully done spiral bound personally book for each family that was going on the trip, SOOOOOO IMPRESSED and she even got the guide we requested!!!! I cant say enough about this trip and Kensington, we will definitely use again!!! We experienced a VERY different culture in going to Morocco and thats what we wanted, a Very different exotic trip and thats what we got!!!! Again our accomodations we Top Notch, staying in the TRuly authenic Riads, they were SOOOOO Luxurious, Plan on taking another suitcase or buying one there because you will buy more things to bring home than any other trip because of all the Handicrafts there, especially in Fes!!!
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