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Thank you for your interest in our holidays. To help us provide the best service for you, please tell us a bit more about what you are looking for, including details of activities or particular holidays you are interested in. Our expert will then begin planning your perfect visit to Madagascar.

We really excel at tailor-making your trip to your needs. You may want to see certain species or visit particular parks, reserves or lodges. You may want a private plane or helicopter and high class car, or need to travel at a certain time of year. Tailor-making works whether you are an experienced traveler or trying out a wildlife holiday for the first time, wanting to enjoy a wildlife experiences as part of an occasion like a birthday, honeymoon or anniversary, or a busy executive in search of a short wildlife fix.

Have you always wanted to design your own tour but let someone else handle all the nitty gritty of organizing it? Do you run specialized tours where you'd like us to put them together for you? Keen birders, scuba divers, conservationists, volunteers, photographers, surfers, medical adventurers, hikers, bikers, historians and geologists – no matter what your specialty is, we can tailormake accordingly! We also offer unique tours which you're more than welcome to join us on!

Do you have a large family or group of friends that you would like to travel? Does your company want to run its own set of branded series tours? The NDAO-i-Travel tailormade services and charter team can do organize all of this for you, and more! Whether it be in an air-conditioned bus, a minivan or a 4 x 4 vehicle, we will tailor a tour for you to ensure that your dream holiday takes in everything you're expecting from it.

Our team of well-travelled and dedicated individuals will provide you with a detailed itinerary, suggested accommodation, professional, friendly service and all the support you need to make travelling in Madagascar an absolute pleasure.

Whether your party is made up of two or two hundred travelers, we'll pull something special out of the bag, just for you!

You can enjoy complete flexibility in planning and booking on all our tours for a truly customized Madagascar holiday that is in your budget and personal style. Traveling around a theme or exploring something in particular? Our tailor-made holiday experts are eager to assist in planning an experience that fits your requirements putting you in complete control of your next Madagascar holiday.

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The West holidays

The ‘wild west’ of Madagascar remains relatively untouched and the beauty of the West Coast are not fully explore das it is notoriously difficult to reach by road, with no roads linking the north and the south. The West will mainly bring you adventure. It is however, becoming increasingly popular with couples who fly into the region seeking a romantic getaway a hidden paradise with many deserted white sand beaches.

The coast is sublime: white and beige-sailed dugouts sparkle on a limpid ocean surface, tiny hamlets with welcoming villagers emerge occasionally on the kilometrical beaches lined with oval sand dunes. The rivers form fertile valleys, sometimes almost flat, sometimes sharp and abrupt, but always beautiful. The northern part is mainly a fertile savanna while travelling southwards we find a drier rather bushy territory with astonishing landscapes. Spectacular limestone promontories called tsingy pile up towards the North, whilst bizarre looking baobabs with immense trunks that would need several people arms to stretch them build fairy tale forests towards the South. Huge baobabs, slender pallisander trees and ebony trees all vie for space and sunlight. These deciduous forests are easy to explore with leafy paths winding through the trees.

There is a fantastic array of wildlife and some of Madagascar’s most endangered species. Lemurs are plentiful, as are bush pigs, birds, butterflies, snakes and chameleons. The wonderful collection of plants and animals attracts a number of tourists to the area.

Morondava is a laid-back seaside town located on the delta of the Morandava River. Surely the famous Allée des baobabs cannot be excluded. Most visitors come here to walk the famous Allée des baobabs, where giant trees, some over a thousand years old, stand in an almost straight line.

Defy the Manambolo River or the Tsiribihina River with a traditional canoe in 3 days gives the opportunity to experience the pureness of Madagascar with visits to isolated villages, campfires under a blanket of bright stars, and if lucky you will spot crocodiles, lemurs and other wildlife. The Garganta de Manambolo can also be visited via a canoe ride through the Manambolo River.

A visit to the Tsingy de Bemaraha is just as adventurous with walkways through the chaotic razor-sharp pinnacles. Those are set out with cable robes, rocky steps, steel ladders and a suspension bridge over the impressive canyons. Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 due to it’s unique geography, where forests of tsingy (karst) rise up in spikes to create a bizarre looking landscape.

Also 60 km north of Morondava, is the Kirindy Private Reserve known for rewarding night-walks, a dry deciduous forest which houses a variety of diurnal lemur such as the Verreaux's sifaka and the red fronted brown lemur as well as and nocturnal pygmy mouse lemur species. The Kirindy forest is one of the best parks in the country for spotting the Fosa, the largest Malagasy carnivore and the giant jumping rat, many endemic birds live in the area and there are a huge variety of plant species including baobabs.

90 km south from Morondava and next to Belo-sur-Mer lies Kirindy Mitea National Park is a great, varied, extensive Park (722 km²).  It includes a wide diversity of ecosystems and claims the greatest density of primates in the world. Due to its location, just at the point where the western and southern biotopes converge, visitors can explore tropical, dry deciduous (the largest of the island) and littoral spiny forest, coastal mangroves, grassy dunes, lakes, amazing beaches and coral reefs, all during the same day!!

It is the Sakalava territory: The Sakalava, along with the Bara people of the southwest, are considered the most "African" of the Malagasy peoples. Specifically, several elements in Sakalava culture bear a strong resemblance to those of Africa, including the keeping of relics (such as pieces of bone) considered to have magical powers and the practice of spirit possession, in which a medium transmits the wishes of dead kings to the living.

Best time to visit

jan feb mar apr may june july aug sept oct nov dec

Key attractions

Tsingy de Bemaraha National park – The Labyrinth of the Stone Forest

Consists of the throat of the river of Manambolo, the intact forests, the lakes and the mangrove swamps, the dense and dry forests, and the tsingy which make the fame and the magnificence of the site. "Tsingy" is points of sharp, high and ripped limestones.

The history tells that 5 million years ago, the vast limestone plate knew a river erosion which thus worked this spectacular landscape of peaks, faults and cracks that the “tsingy form”. Two rivers dominate the tsingy: Saohany and Manambolo. Manambolo River is the starting point of the descent in the dugout. This massif is delimited to the east by the abrupt Bemaraha Cliffs, which rises some 300 to 400m above the Manambolo River valley and extends several tens of kilometers from north to south. The western slopes of the massif rise more gently, and the whole western region of the reserve forms a plateau with rounded hillocks which slope away to the west. To the north undulating hills alternate with limestone extrusions, while in the south extensive pinnacle formations make access extremely restricted. In the south of Petit Tsingy is the spectacular Manambolo Gorge where you can see waterfalls, lemurs and magnificent untouched forests. Despite the inaccessibility of the area, this park is more and more part of tourist programs.

Attractions of the park remain centered on the discovery of its “tsingy”. Walks are the best to explore the interior of the park and to appreciate the nature and breathtaking landscape while visiting the park, so unique, that UNESCO classified it as part of World Heritage in 1990. The site is very well arranged that active people will be pleased to involve themselves during tsingy climbing… We can say that everyone can find its happiness there. Botanists, ornithologists, speleologists, photographers, lemur lovers, active people will not be ready to forget this adventure of the century. For every one’s interest, various trails were established.

The unusual geomorphology of the Tsingy de Bemaraha World Heritage Site, which encompasses both the National Park and the adjacent Strict Nature Reserve, means that the Site is home to an exceptionally large number of endemic species of plants and animals that are found only within extremely small niches within the tsingy. For example, the summit, slope, and base of a tsingy’s limestone needle form different ecosystems with different species clinging to their exceptionally steep slopes.

Despite barren appearance, the maze-like stone forest is home to an unbelievable variety of animal species, which you wouldn’t assume in such a region on first sight. Next to the biggest mammal predator of Madagascar, the fossa, live 13 types of lemur, including for Decken's sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur, grey mouse lemur or the Cleese's woolly lemur and the Sambirano lesser bamboo lemur, and over 100 bird species,  including the critically endangered Madagascar fish eagle and crested ibis, Madagascar wood-rail, giant coua or Coquerel´s coua. Inside the caves live about 15 bat species. From time to time, you can watch them even in the daytime. Reptile friends won’t be missed out either in the Tsingy de Bemaraha: These scaled animals are well represented with about 60 species next to several amphibians. Some rare Malagasy tortoises only live inside this region and nowhere else. You’ll only find them with a big portion of fortune, as well as the either rare pygmy chameleon Brookesia perarmata.

As in nearly all of Madagascar’s national parks, over 85% of Tsingy de Bemaraha’s fauna and flora is endemic. About 650 different plant species got their home here.  You can admire succulents like the famous bottle trees or beautiful orchid all around the park. Rare plants lovers will appreciate and will be under the charms of the various adaptation forms like: plants which do not have leaves but only thorns in their place to limit the water loss, the trunks of the shrubs are large to be able to store water, several dwarf vegetations, of the large trees such “Dalberdia sp, Commiphora sp, hildegardia erythosiphon”, of the fatty plants, euphorbiums and kalanchoe, of pachypodium and the fig trees. The baobab trees shouldn’t be omitted as it is very current in this Western part of the country.

The road hither lasts a little long but the landscape which it offers is worth the pain. The way goes through Belo sur Tsiribihina, a very convivial typical village where the population is cordial and the site quite charming. By the waterway via Ankavandra. It is a tour in the dugout along the Manambolo river Rowing and camping are within the program lasting at least three days. Washing in the natural swimming pools, tents are pitched on sand banks which give all the benefit to star gazing during the night and real nature which will not cease filling you. Lastly, by private chartered planes, small planes can land at the nearby small runway.

Experiencing the Tsingy during the usual heat surely is a challenging mission, but it’s worth it for the versatile, fantastic experiences in any case! Generally most visitors coming to the park usually stay over three nights to explore this unique and amazing place.

Watch more photos about Tsingy de Bemaraha National park here.

Morondava. Gateway to the West

Morondava is a picture-postcard town in the Menabe region in west Madagascar and a sleepy seaside town. The region draws visitors with its forest reserves and flourishing wildlife, but there's plenty more on offer for those willing to get off the beaten track. Also, it is an ideal place for a relaxing stay, since it is less crowded and (so far) devoid of beggars. The beaches are good and extend far to the north side of town.

In former times Morondava was a centre of the Sakalava Kingdom and a popular stop-over for sailors. Today the area is rich in sugar and rice farming, while remaining a popular stop-over, in particular for travelling to and from Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, fishing village of Belo-sur-Mer, the wildlife park Kirindy, the Complex Mangoky-Ihotry, Le massif du Makay, Mikea National Park and Kirindy Mitea National Park. Nearby attractions include Kimony Beach, Baobab Avenue, Andranomena Special Reserve and the royal tombs. Morondava can also be used as a base for trips to the by pirogue (small boat).

The dry season is the best time to visit as daytime temperatures are about 27°C and nighttime around 14-15°C while the water is still as warm as the Mediterranean in summer (about 24°C).

Morondava is the capital of one of the greatest ethnic group of Madagascar: The Sakalava of Menabe. Many royal tombs or not, are the subject of curiosity of thousands of tourists. It is the Sakalava funerary art which makes these tombs very attractive. The royal tombs always comprise crowned relics. The characteristic of these tombs is that they are decorated with frescos and funerary sculptures telling the life of the deceased ones, rather naive but often impressed of a belief of erotism, erotic statues which mean much for the Sakalava because they symbolize procreation and life. They are anyway the witnesses, depicting a population without state of heart, but full with sap and strength.

One of tourist attractions of Morondava consisted in visiting these tombs (and to photograph them). The various tombs which are the subject of this tourists rush are the royal tombs of Mahabo, about 40 km of Morondava. Then, there are the tombs of Mangily, the tombs of Ambato sur Mer and Kivalo while passing by the tombs of Lovobe and the tombs of Maneva. Some of these tombs are accessible only during the dry season and some of them are accessible only in dugout canoes.

The Mozambique Channel still remains the principal possible way for the Sakalava of Menabe to leave their den with their sailing dugout canoes or wooden boats called goélettes. The rhythm of life in Morondava is animated by fishing (fish, cucumber of sea…), the culture and gathering of wild products intended for sale such as the raffia, wood, wild honey, the block of wax locally called “lasira”… These products constitute the currency of exchange for daily life products people need.

Here people more inclined to have fun in festivity and to enjoy the present life at great reinforcements of drinks much stronger than simple lemonade. Morondava shelters people with very particular customs and habits which only belong to them. That makes this area so special and unique in its kind. Morondava is also the centre of the Sakalava fight, which is also practiced in Diego.

The laidback atmosphere of this coastal town is felt all over the city. The local market is well worth a visit (interesting lambaony fabrics). In Namahora Nord the second most imporant market of the city is held. The city centre, called Bazary Be, is a lively compound of narrow streets full of strident merchants and street vendors.  Nosy Kely, on the seashore, is the actual tourist borough. If you are on a dolcefarniente mood, head to the beaches of Betania, Bosy and Ankevo. Those with more time and an adventurous spirit should hop aboard a pirogue and head up the Tsiribihina river to see waterfalls and remote Malagasy villages.

Can be booked scenic charter flights over the most spectacular areas of Tsingy de Bemaraha. Available aircrafts are Cessna 172 (max. 3 passengers), Cessna 210 (max. 5 passengers) or Cessna 421 (max. 7 passengers).

The Makay massif – an iconic Terra Incognita

Exploring the last Eden of the Makay - It is our passion, and this is the best thing in Madagascar. Who wishes to be first – for those MAKAY! Stay away from the crowd, stay away from civilization, get to know unexplored - committing adventurous hike with NDAO-i-Travel in MAKAY. A mountain range in the central western part of the island, the Makay is one of the last unexplored areas of the island. It consisting of hundreds of intricate canyons, it is a natural labyrinth and true "safe" of biodiversity.

Towards the hinterland, the Makay Massif is still not well known but advertised by tourism operators. It is accessible only from May to November, except by helicopter, it starts at 130 km south of Malaimbandy. Or is a rough eight- to 10-hour 4WD journey north of Ranohira, with a ferry crossing across the Mangoky River at Beroroha. As opposed to Isalo National Park, which has a central plateau, Makay is a succession of deep valleys and mountains that are difficult to access.  On the lower levels, pure and transparent water breaks through between high cliffs.  On the high level, on the other hand, a scorching heat.  Inside some caves, ancient drawings add to the mystery of the place.

The Makay massif is certainly one of the most monumental works of Nature. The Makay range spreads over an area of 150×50km. It features high plateaus still partly covered with forest or bushy growth common to the dry climate of the Malagasy West. Spectacular erosion has carved the plateaus into a maze of deep canyons where a flora typical of humid ecosystems has developed, not unlike the evergreen forests of Eastern Madagascar. Imagine deep canyons, deep valleys, cliffs with red walls, turquoise basins, white sand, ferns, mosses and verdant palms. The setting of the massif is breathtaking. With infinite patience, which is hundreds of millions of years old, nature has sculpted this monumental massif of yellow sandstone, digging a maze of deep canyons at the bottom of which impenetrable galleries and luxuriant forests valleys form a biotope apart where life has taken to these hundred-meter deep valleys and has developed there in complete autonomy for millions of years, filling every possible ecological niche. Protected by its isolation, its improbable geomorphology and perhaps also by the spirits of the sacred mountain of Andakatomenavava which dominates it, the Makay is one of the ultimate secrets of the planet.

Isolated and preserved from human intervention, these biotopes have allowed animal species and relict plants to subdivide down to the point new species appear. Thus the Makay really became a refuge for nature, a haven for species among the most curious of the planet. Its remoteness and the characteristics of its topography was until recently hindering scientific exploration.

This unique paradise will not survive long.

The first international scientific expedition accompanied by climbers and cavers have gained access to the most remote and highly inaccessible areas in 2010, to collect samples. This wealth of expertise resulted in an extremely rich first exploration and the scientific results have exceeded expectations: more than 300 different plant species collected, including several new indigenous species. Biologists have compiled a first inventory of biodiversity. Many zoological observations were made and ichthyologists have even caught a little fish named Pachypanchax, absolutely unexpected in this region. As for archaeology, dozens of burial sites and two caves with rock paintings were discovered, nearly 250 rock paintings were recorded, testifying to the passage of man in this unfathomable maze. The second expedition confirmed that the Makay mountain range is a source of considerable scientific interest.

An unprecedented and exclusive Madagascar, with a discovery of the Makay, an unparalleled place: a trekking engaged in the South, then an immersion in the North, very little explored. In this paradise lost, far from civilization, every step is a reward: roaring waterways, inextricable canyons, glowing earth, dense forest, ruiniform reliefs... A must for the trekker in search of wild nature, to approach with a pioneering spirit! Among the patchwork of diverse ecosystems in Madagascar it remains a few little-known, relatively unexplored and undeveloped, sparsely populated areas, presenting a high potential for new discoveries. The Makay stands among them as an iconic Terra Incognita: even on the island of Madagascar itself, few people have heard of this ruiniform mountain range.

Remember the movie on "Channel+" in 2011 "Makay, the trekkers of the lost world"? Who has not dreamed of adventure by reading the stories of a Marco Polo discovering Samarkand or an Amundsen reaching the South Pole. What an exhilarating sensation to count among the first to discover these marvels! And the man of the 21st century to lament that he was born in a world already mapped...

NDAO-i-Travel offers an unprecedented expedition with a full crossing on foot between the northern and southern parts to discover even more wild areas and unexplored! This beautiful original crossing, exclusive and the real one adventure, allows an in-depth approach of the massif of the Makay. An expedition will allow a handful of privileged people to carry out an entire crossing between the northern and southern parts of the massif.

The special geomorphology of the Makay is a formidable playground for lovers of nature and physical effort. Every day, a route is challenging. Climbing or descending the gradients of the sandy gray, pearl or pink lava-like amphitheaters. Climb rocky chaos. Or sink deep into narrow canyons, countercurrent, water up to the waist while. It is the price to be paid to discover, at the exit of a narrow gorge, unexpected and sublime gardens of Eden that are offered for the first time to the eyes of men. Disheveled pandanus, emerald and glazed ferns, royal osmondes of almost fluorescent green harmoniously arranged. Graceful palm trees and arborescent ferns lean. Squadrons of turquoise parrots will be enlivened their rapid flight with these lush landscape compositions worthy of a naturalistic engraving of the eighteenth century. In the bed of the rivers, other marvels will make you forget aches and fatigue, such like remarkable trunks of petrified trees 150 to 200 million years old. Sometimes, simpler pleasures come to crown the effort, like to smell the resinous tannins to the fragrances of camphor of the Canarium madagascariense, the tree of myrrh...

Difficult of access and "protected" by prohibitions of tribal orders (Malagasy are the champions of the taboo in world, which they call "fady" and whose transgressions generate according to their beliefs dramatic consequences), the Makay is a site where one must forget any notion of comfort. A team of porters and cooks however ensures the stewardship and prepares each evening the bivouac. As for the configuration of the ground, it implies to be at the top of its physical condition. In fact, it is necessary to expect each day between 5 to 9 hours on a soil mostly sandy. Some delicate passages are carried out by swimming or crawling in narrow aisles of rocks (claustrophobic abstain). And some abseiling cannot be excluded. A unique experience for those who have kept the spirit (and form) of a pioneer.

Watch more photos about The Makay Massif here.

Kirindy Private Reserve

Formerly a Swiss forestry training station and now an active German primate research base, Kirindy Private Reserve is a gem. This 120 km2 tract of deciduous dry forest is one of Madagascar’s truly outstanding natural areas – a fauna and flora hotspot that rivals the best in the country. It’s particularly strong on nocturnal lemurs, for in these tangled woodlands live six nocturnal species, alongside two diurnal lemur species and the rare and strange giant jumping rat. There are also some outstanding birds, including the sickle-billed vanga and white-breasted mesite, and a higher concentration of fossa (Madagascar’s apex predator) than anywhere else on the island – possibly because of the high concentration of nocturnal lemurs.

Perhaps the best month to visit Kirindy is November. As in Ankarafantsika, everything is green after the first rains, the small lemurs, lizards and frogs emerge from hibernation, and there’s a profusion of reproductive activity. But it’s very humid, and increasingly so as the heaviest rains set in from December and peak in January or February. The benefits of being here in the dry season are cooler temperatures at night and dry daytime heat, and improved birdwatching visibility through the dense understory. You’ll find few reptiles and amphibians about, however.

Among the star attractions are three species of endemic baobab tree: the giant, umbrella-branched Adansonia grandidieri; the very common, bottle-shaped A. rubrostipa; and the fat-trunked A. za. Those descriptions are typical, but baobabs are notoriously individualistic and sometimes comical in appearance: the specimen endowed with an improbably phallic, stumpy branch at the perfect height for a selfie seems to be on every guide’s route. Another tree that’s relatively common here is the endangered ebony, Diospyros aculeata, with its characteristic star-shaped base, whose occasional broken trunk reveals the black heartwood inside the pale outer sapwood.

Kirindy’s mammalian denizens are why it’s so special – particularly one, the fabulous fossa, whose combination of feline slinkiness and an almost prehistoric set to the muscular legs make a sighting one of the most compelling wildlife experiences you can have in Madagascar. Like a cross between a cat and a mongoose, and the size of a small puma, Cryptoprocta ferox is a savage, arboreal hunter. The first part of its scientific name means “hidden backside”, referring (disappointingly) to its unique, flap-covered anus. The fossa’s genitalia are, however, memorably spectacular – the male possessing a large, spiny penis supported by a bone, and the female a similarly disproportionate and spiky clitoris. The annual fossa mating season at Kirindy happens almost like clockwork, between November 5 and 20, with each female in heat occupying her favorite branch high in the forest, where she remains for hours, locked together with one noisy suitor after another.

Out of the breeding season, you still have a good chance of seeing a fossa as one or two individuals regularly come to Kirindy Camp to forage for food. Staff feed them meat scraps dangled from a pole, luring the creature up a tree in order to demonstrate the fearsome strength of its formidable splayed feet and semi-retractile claws, as it climbs up and down with svelte agility, balanced by its long tail. Small children need to be kept well away: fossas are brazen and utterly instinctive predators.

Even if you’re unlucky in terms of seeing a fossa, you’re not likely to leave Kirindy Private Reserve disappointed. By day the trees shake with small troops of beautiful white and grey Verreaux’s sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi), here at the northernmost extent of their range, and the lower levels and forest floor are visited by inquisitive and charming red-fronted brown lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons), some of them so tame they’ll practically lick your camera lens as they investigate what morsels you may have brought (best not to do so). Also on the ground, you’re very likely to see a narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata) mincing along a forest path. Late in the afternoon, and often at a good height for photos, you’ll frequently see the orange eyes of red-tailed sportive lemurs (Lepilemur ruficaudatus, or boenga in Malagasy) staring at you from their tree holes, with their characteristic, long upper canines poking, vampire-like, over their chins. Even once awake after dark, the “sportive” moniker seems inappropriate, as they lethargically work their way from branch to branch picking and munching on leaves.

At night, the trees are alive with lemurs – shrill and hyperactive pale fork-marked lemurs (Phaner pallescens, or tanta in Malagasy) streaming through the higher branches, and tiny mouse lemurs – grey (Microcebus murinus), and Madame Berthe’s (Microcebus berthae), the latter discovered here in 1992 and only found at Kirindy – hopping and bouncing through the twigs and leaves, often lower down where they can be easier to photograph than the tanta. Telling these mouse lemurs apart can be tricky: Madame Berthe’s is more reddish than grey, and with a weight of only 30g it’s the smallest primate in the world. In contrast, Coquerel’s giant mouse lemur (Mirza coquereli) is on a different scale and, appropriately therefore, in a different genus: this omnivorous, squirrel-sized primate, with a short snout and bat-like ears, is ever on the move, scampering through the branches and as happy to pause for fruits and tree gum as to grab insects and small vertebrates on the run. In the rainy season, you might also see the slower fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius; kelilbohoho in Malagasy), whose tail serves as a fat store for dry-season hibernation.

Night walks often take place a couple of kilometers east of the forest station. Back at camp after a night walk, it’s well worth staying up for a visit by one of the local pairs of extraordinary giant jumping rats (Hypogeomys antimena), rodents the size of a large rabbit that come into camp to sniff out scraps of fruit and vegetables. Kirindy Private Reserve is the heart of the tiny range of this highly endangered mammal, which lives in strict monogamy: pressured by habitat destruction into this small area, its slow rate of reproduction and predation by fossas and domestic dogs makes its future very insecure.

Among Kirindy’s birds, the sickle-billed vanga (Falculea pallata) is a standout species: flocks of these dramatic-looking locksmiths of hidden insect life flap noisily through the understory, prising the bark from tree trunks and probing for grubs and bugs with their long, tweezer-like beaks. On the forest floor, look out for the very localized, terrestrial white-breasted mesite (Mesitornis variegatus) and the splendid, sapphire-blue eye mask of the giant coua (Coua gigas), a long-tailed skulker the size of a chicken.

If you’re a reptile enthusiast, you’ll find the reserve’s herpetofauna rich and exciting. By day, chunky spiny-tailed iguanas (Oplurus cuvieri) catch the rays on tree stumps (though their presence in the winter is only notable by their tails poking defensively from their hibernation tree holes), while shy Brookesia chameleons (Brookesia brygooi) creep nervously through the leaf litter and huge Oustalet’s chameleons (Furcifer oustaleti) walk hand over hand up the lianas. At night, the forest floor crackles with the passage of fat ground boas (Acrantophis madagascariensis) and lissom colubrid snakes (Madagascarophis colubrinis) on the trail of delicate, pastel-coloured big-headed geckos (Paroedura picta), gulping as they step carefully through the dead leaves. In the lower branches, look out for tree boas (Sanzinia madagascariensis) and tree geckos (Blaesodactylus sakalava).

Watch more photos about Kirindy Private Reserve here.

Belo-sur-Mer, a pleasant Vezo fishermen village

One of the few ancestral cradles of Sakalava Menabe, Belo-sur-Mer is a popular place for tourists and holidaymakers visiting in Morondava. How many people have fallen in love while contemplating the natural beauty of this land of ethnic Vezo, you will be immersed in the culture Vezo. Far from the classic tourist routes, you will discover the authenticity of an ancestral way of life. Belo-sur-Mer is a pleasant Vezo fishermen village. Visitors that come here are greeted by a wonderful many kilometers long beach of bright white sands and an amazing transparent sea of emerald waters. You will enjoy the laidback atmosphere, the great red sunsets and the adorable locals that have known to keep the authenticity of an ancestral way of life.

Life is organized around the shipyard and traditional fishing. Sakalava are avid fishers, who use outrigger canoes of the same design as those used by proto-Malagasy when they made their voyages across the Indian Ocean.

This coastline is dominated by coconut palms, strange changing tidal lagoons and the largest mangrove forests of the western Indian Ocean. The village of Belo-sur-Mer, its palm groves littered with half-constructed boats of all shapes and sizes, impresses in terms of the way it is maintained: clean and organized - evidence of a proud people! The children beg not for money but for pens and sweets. The adults all appear seriously busy with routine tasks.  Women sit behind tall rough picket fences, made of widely spaced sticks which surround their wood and palm-thatch homes.

It's hard to get there, but once there, your efforts will be rewarded: an adorable bay with its sandbanks facing the sunset, and, from mid-June to September, whales, less than expected than in Sainte-Marie, but equally majestic frequent more regularly attend of the beaches, good chance to see them. Surrounded by great activity in sea, Belo-sur-Mer facing each other with several coral islands located about 18 kilometers. Around and between these islands, offers a diving exploration to enjoy beautiful coral flower and a fixed intense life. Great diving excursions will show you the abundant undersea life of this coast. Reef sharks, turtles, stingrays, barracudas, shellfishes, and even unexpected encounters with humpback whales on their way to their birthing grounds are some of the fascinating experiences of this paradisiacal spot of earth.

ENJOY THESE… experiences:

While staying at Belo-sur-Mer, there are a lot of possibilities of activities, for a week-end, a week or more, close to Belo or further away. Forest trekking, sea cruises through islets, diving can all be performed in Belo-sur-Mer, and also:

*The beach of course and the sea (22 to 33°C depending on the season). Cristal clear waters from the Mozambique canal are reachable very close to hotels, it is a natural kind of swimming pool with sand floor, protected from waves by a bar of polished rocks where birds like to stay.

*Visit of Kirindy Mitea National Park (1h30 by a speed boat or 2h30 by a vehicle 4x4). Visit this beautiful national park on any leg of your safari to discover a particularly eco-sensitive transition zone for three ecosystems – spiny desert, dry forest and mangroves. Heaven on earth for anyone with even one photographic gene. Good for those who want exercise and to get close to nature.

*Snorkeling. A simple mask and snorkel will allow you to discover the beautiful seabed. You will be able to contemplate the marine fauna and flora, with a little luck and dexterity you will be able to perhaps catch a lobster.

*Cruise to the strip of coral islands. These beautiful coral islands are about 1h30 by sea from Belo, it can be reached by motor boat or in a traditional way: by sailing pirogue! Turquoise sea, white shining sand, dark blue sky. This is the perfect shot of postcard, with coconut trees bathed in incredibly clear turquoise water. You may meet, in this recently created marine national park, the last nomad people who are fishing and drying their catches. Coral banks host a very varied fauna for snorkeling and scuba diving (possibility from time to time to benefit from a qualified instructor, organizing outings).

*Fishing. Underwater fishing or trolling. For fishermen, the waters are very good.

*Visit Menaky Bay. A nice excursion on foot (1h30 through the beach or in the inland route – some springs of fresh water in a tropical landscape), by speedboat, or on a sailing pirogue. At the bay entrance, quiet and deep water allows beautiful observations of seabed (snorkeling kits available). The inlet deepens in a mangrove for those who like to kayak during high tides (in polyethylene canoes, 2.78 m long). There arrive dhows sailing down to the «port au sel» to load salt sacks from the saltworks. You may cross one, two or even ten boats, with crews bivouacking while they wait for favorable tides. From the «port», it is possible to walk (3 hours round walk) or with a 4x4 vehicle to visit the works.

*Visit mangrove. We also offer trips kayak (provided) or canoe or sailing pirogues in the Mangrove, to better glide over the water between mangroves trees, the arm of the sea allows you to explore the interior of the land. Try not to make too much noise to watching the fishing birds in the middle of the mangroves.

*Visit Antsira salt works. The two large Antsira salt works, crossed by the track arriving from Morondava or from Ifaty-Mangily, are also interesting to visit (3 hours by foot for experienced walkers, with ideally a return by a 4x4 vehicle or by foot but via Menaky bay: 4 hours). The salt works are still run as in the old times, by progressive overflowing basins, until the last where the salt is harvested with a crowbar or pickax. Quite a lunar view, refreshed by a nice walk in the dwarf baobabs park with many species endemic to the Menabe.

*Guided tour of the shipyard. An easy walk on the lagoon side offers the possibility to see those shipyards. More than twenty schooners, with their two equal masts, are under construction, or, during raining season, under repair or being caulked. Belo-sur-Mer a unique village in which boat builders still construct boats the way the European pirates did hundred years ago. It is the only remaining monument to the Veso boat building craft long forgotten elsewhere in the world. The Veso boats reflect their origins and their pirate heritage. In the tradition of Michelangelo, the Veso boat artists seem to entice the exact shapes of timbers needed for the hull of the boat out of mangled tree trunks that perfectly fit their purpose every time. Choosing the timbers is a time-honoured and unrecorded art that appears to be handed down the generation and survives nowhere else in Madagascar except in this one remote village. The boat launchings are celebrated by local feasts where the entire village joins the clan which is the owner of the boat to tow the boat down to the sea, with songs and conch music.

*Sea excursions offer as well, depending on chance and appropriate season, the opportunity to observe dolphins and whales. With a little luck we may be able to see dolphins or humpback whales from June to October.

*Finally, why not organize a beach volley game or pétanque, fly  kites on the desert beach or just borrow a book from the library,  take a cool drink while playing cards, chess or darts or enjoy a massage.

Watch more photos about Belo-sur-Mer here.

Kirindy Mitea National Park. Here the West meets the South

The park is perhaps best known for the lemurs and birdlife associated with the sacred lakes in the southern part of the park.

Kirindy Mitea (sometimes spelled Kirindy Mité, not to be confused with the Kirindy Private Reserve fairly close by) is a great, varied, extensive and little visited National Park (722 km²) that lies 90 km south from Morondava and next to Belo-sur-Mer, right in the heart of the ancient kingdom of Menabe. It is one the “youngest” protected areas of the island (it was established in 1997 and opened to visitors in 2006) and it's well worth the effort to get here. It includes a wide diversity of ecosystems and claims the greatest density of primates in the world. Due to its location, just at the point where the western and southern biotopes converge, visitors can explore tropical, dry deciduous (the largest of the island) and littoral spiny forest, coastal mangroves, grassy dunes, lakes, amazing beaches and coral reefs, all during the same day!!! It is an amazing place for research and for tourists. It encompasses the transition between three ecosystems: southern spiny desert, western dry forest, and coastal mangrove. Thus, the biodiversity in the park is very interesting. Since it is a very young protected area, you will find a more original tourist system, but the park isn’t easy to get to and you’re likely to be the only visitor.

Kirindy Mitea National Park is a lemur-lovers delight. Those wishing to see lemurs such as the Verraux sifaka (dancing sifaka), red-tailed sportive, ring-tailed and the red-fronted brown lemur will be happy to know they all reside here. Kirindy is even home to the world’s smallest primate - Berthe’s mouse lemur - but this cinnamon-colored little guy is endangered and will most likely be hard to spot. Of the lemur species, only three are easily seen by day: Verreaux's sifaka, the red-fronted brown lemur and the ring-tailed lemur. The nocturnal species include fork-marked lemur, grey mouse lemur, Coquerel's dwarf lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur and red-tailed sportive lemur.

The main draw at Kirindy Mitea National Park is the birdlife – 58 species in total, 18 of which are endemic to the region. Some of them are very vulnerable such as pink flamingos, Lesser flamingo, Bernier´s teal and Malagasy kingfisher.

The more than 90 species of butterflies, which can be observed here at certain times of the year, are a particularly beautiful spectacle. Three species of imposing baobabs grow in the dry areas of Kirindy. During the dry season, these majestic plants are leafless and use their thick-bellied stem as a water reservoir. In the coastal, wet regions, however, 7 species of mangroves have their habitat. Apart from that, more than 20 species of reptiles and 10 species of amphibians complete the richness of the land fauna.

The only predator of the lemur (aside from humans) also resides in Kirindy Mitea. The fossa is a cat-like in appearance but is a relative of the mongoose. It has a long tail nearly the length of its body and is primarily a nocturnal hunter. Unfortunately, the fossa is also an endangered species and is rarely seen in the wild.

The national park also includes a marine component. Whales, hammerhead sharks, nudibranchs, and coral reefs are among the many sights within the marine park. The marine area includes 7 small islands, where tourist facilities are currently being improved in order to admire the underwater world and create a both terrific land and sea combination.

Kirindy Mitea National Park is a place of extreme seasonal changes. Same as in Kirindy Private Reserve, there is a hot rainy season (December to February), when temperatures can reach 40°C. During this short wet season the forest turns green and all the reptiles and amphibians become active. After this life-explosion there are nine months with warm temperature and little rain.

Within the park there are some very nice hiking trails. The stroll can be short or long as desired, and an early start is recommended. Circuit Ambondro-Sirave goes through the majestic sand dunes to the Sirave and Ambondro Lakes. Here you can admire the different types of forests and the huge baobabs, spot waterbirds and reptiles and of course take a relaxing bath on one of the wonderful beaches. Circuit Maetsakaloe leads through the dry thick forest. There you will meet lemurs, numerous birds, reptiles and baobabs. Circuit Agnolignoly easy walk through mangroves and coastal estuaries with an emphasis on waterbirds. By canoe you can take a trip through mysterious mangrove forests spotting waterbirds and some bats.

Kirindy Mitea National Park it is unique area, with a very varied landscape of vegetation offers a wide variety of ecosystems with mangroves, grassy dunes, lakes, beautiful beaches and coral reefs which can be admired. Visit this beautiful national park on any leg of your safari to discover a particularly eco-sensitive transition zone for three ecosystems – spiny desert, dry forest and mangroves.  Heaven on earth for anyone with even one photographic gene. Good for those who want exercise and to get close to nature.

There is no lodging within the park and most people get an early start to their day and come from neighboring towns, but it is possible to camp inside the Park. The road from Morondava to the Park is a secondary one not really bad, depending on the season and the last rains. It is only practicable during the dry season. Some people prefer to make this transfer from Morondava by speed boat. The trip lasts from 1,5 to 2,5 hours and it is possible all year round. But most visitors stay at pretty fishing village of Belo-sur-Mer, where provide scenic relaxing holiday options.

Watch more photos about Kirindy Mitea National Park here.

The Manambolo river, the best way to reach the Tsingy de Bemaraha

For those who might think that the descent of the Tsiribihina river has become a little too popular for solitary and real wild nature experience, the Manambolo river might offer a good (but more expensive) alternative. The descent of the Manambolo River is a quieter, although things are changing. It is the best way to reach the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park- to float the calm and scenic section of the river from Ankavandra to Bekopaka, far from any roads and vehicles. This trip is about remoteness, flora and fauna, and beautiful scenery, with the special romance of being on a river… barefoot sandy beaches, moonlight reflecting off the water. "River-time" is the mode on the Manambolo - no rapids, hippos, poisonous snakes, or large carnivores.

Journeys begin at Ankavandra, a remote village west of Antananarivo and Tsiroanomandidy, after a brief ritual honoring the ancestors. This adventurous trip offers you to discover a still unknown region, located in the west of Madagascar: “The Ménabé”, with untouched flora and fauna, and unique sceneries. There are no rapids, just a mere water float, so no previous experience is required. During the trip, several isolated hamlets and small villages are passed, where the local Malagasy cultivate rice, cassava, and bananas and keep cattle.

You will discover the green and volcanic landscapes of the Itasy Lake, then you will walk in the bush through the Bongolava mountain range. At the end you will visit the Bemaraha trails which is famous for its World Heritage “Tsingy”.

A trip down the Manambolo River is indeed a mesmerizing experience. With mild waters present all through the river course, there is no such option for an experienced rafter to face risky challenges in the waters. But then, the river is ideal for organizing school and family trips. As the river moves through fabulous landscapes and scenic countryside, you get to gaze at the picturesque natural beauty as well. The Manambolo River has a lot to give you. From little-known villages to rare wildlife – the river has it all.

While on a ride on the magnificent river, you will get a glimpse of rare species of birds like Cattle egrets, dimorphic egrets, Great egrets, Madagascar kestrel, Black kite, helmeted guinea fowl, Gray-headed lovebirds, Malagasy kingfisher, crested drongo and the list goes on. Furthermore, the river course has several splendid waterfalls, which offer a great view to all the rafters. The final stretch of the descent passes through the Manambolo Gorge, a gorgeous, broad canyon walled by red limestone cliffs. The river flows in-between staggering peaks, sometimes displaying cave openings on their side.  Facing such majesty, one is bound to feel hollow. As you pass through the canyon while rafting down the Manambolo River, you might get to see lemurs hanging from the trees and wild small ducks moving around on sandy banks.

Close to the houses, fishermen offer fish while a group of children attempts to escort the visitors by running along the river bank.  They are often the ones singing during bivouac evenings.

Camping. Campsites on the Manambolo are usually large sandbars offering smooth clean tent sites. Bathing is a pleasure in the warm river water, and laundry dries quickly in the sunny dry air. All river and camping equipment is provided.

About the trek: Two and a half days to three days are necessary to reach the departure of the cruise in canoe, with 3 hours walk per mornings and 3 hours too per afternoons at a low pace. You must be in a good physical condition without being an athlete!

The trip ends at Bekopaka, leaving us perfectly positioned to explore the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Thus, once you plan to take a quick break from your daily work schedule and wish to spend some quite moments in a beautiful place, the Manambolo River is indeed a superb option!

Trips on the Manambolo are possible from May to November. At will, the traditional pirogues are substituted by modern Western canoes.

Watch more photos about the Manambolo River here.

Andavadoaka, full of natural beauty and heavenly beaches

Andavadoaka is a “large” Vezo village full of natural beauty and the heavenly beaches, counting about 1500 inhabitants and a big market that attracts Mikea farmers coming to sell some of their crops. Its setting on a really nice bay makes a large part of its attractive. The village lies on the edge of a shallow lagoon protected from the open ocean by a series of fringing and submerged barrier reefs that support substantial coral growth. Owing to the remoteness and isolation, these coral reefs are thought to possess a significantly higher abundance and diversity of species than other reefs in southwest Madagascar. A well-worth place to hang around a couple of days, explore some fabulous diving-sites and walk through a fantastic baobab forest, where these amazing trees grow in the most incredible shapes.

Andavadoaka is also the base place for the research activities conducted dedicated to the development of sustainable conservation programs for the unique reef ecosystem of the lagoon. The village won the Equator Prize, awarded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in 2007, for its innovative approach to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Biodiversity studies have identified many hundreds of marine species in the waters in the area. The reefs around Andavadoaka represent some of the most well-developed coral reef systems in the Indian Ocean.

This makes Andavadoaka an important dive center. Among other things, not far from there is the wreck of a Portuguese galleon to explore. The lovers of relaxing holidays will find small protected coves and other dream lagoons. In a 40-minute boat ride, you can take a deserted island and taste a fish you just caught! Andavadoaka indicates the "hollow rock" that can be seen offshore. Just off the beach, within swimming distance, are rocky islets, one with an arch.

ENJOY THESE... activities:

*Visit Baobab Forest - Just five minutes away, rises an enchanting forest corroborated by numerous Adansonia Madagascariensis, is the famous Baobabs of Madagascar. An adventurous journey through cactus, shrubs and tamarind will lead to the discovery of these gigantic trees. Your will be accompanied and guided to discover the qualities of medicinal plants and the rituals of Malagasy people. At the border of the forest, you will find a holy lake, a place of worship and meditation;

*Starfish Beach - With the low tide, you will be guided to spot a miracle beach of the area. You will find dozens of starfish coming up from the sea and enjoying some sun. This 40 minutes walk will give you the possibility to admire giant crabs, sea urchins, fishermen hunting octopus and you will be able to reach a natural swimming pool in Caribbean style where you will enjoy the lagoon from its center;

*Baobab at dawn - True nature lovers have the opportunity to visit the forest at dawn, to see the sun rise through these giants of the Earth. The excursion lasts 2 hours and includes the visit to the salt flats;

*Half or full day by Pirogue - Take a bottle of water, wine, fruit, sunblock, a towel and you're good to go. Our trusted sailors will cross the ocean for 30/60 minutes and you will reach Nosy - Hao, a desert island with nothing inside. You will be alone enjoying the silence, the white beach and the noise of the nature. If you like bird-watching, you can spot endemic birds staying in the island too;

*Snorkeling over the Reef - The reef can be easily reached swimming and snorkeling. The experience of being accompanied by local fishermen at the discovery of fish and corals is unique and unrepeatable. Although the Indian Ocean is characterized by tides with periodicity of about six hours, the area of Andavadoaka remains a paradise for divers, professional or amateurs. We proudly remind you that our reef can compete with the Australian great barrier reef;

*Speedboat with sailor - You can choose your destination and reach it with our speedboat. It doesn't matter if you want just go, if you're looking for a place to fish or if you want to reach desert beaches in a fast way, the boat is available just for you.We suggest you to reach the Bay of Assassins to enjoy the colours of the sea and the amazing panorama;

*Whalewatching - Book in advance your journey to watch the biggest animals of the world passing by the coast. You can choose between our speedboat or our pirogues and you can follow those mammals while they migrate;

*The Giant Baobab - Everything is big in Madagascar. Enjoy this full day excursions to see one of the biggest trees of the world. This baobab has a 31 meters of diameter!The excursion lasts 8 hours and includes a stop for the launch. The whole trip will be in a 4wd car with air-conditioning and all comforts.

Watch more photos about Andavadoaka here.

 

Mikea National Park. Madagascar’s Forgotten Forest

The Mikea forest region is home to nine species of lemurs – the highest diversity of lemurs of any forest in the Southwest region of Madagascar. It has incredible ecological traits and is home to some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna. The original habitat includes extensive areas of dense spiny bush (Euphorbia-didieraceae bush) interspersed with three species of baobabs, notably a stunted version of the largest, Grandidier's baobab.

Mikea National Park - is dense dry forest, sand and limestone, lakes, marshes and aquatic fauna, nocturnal and diurnal lemurs, local endemic fauna, and includes, among others Mangoky River, Manombo and Befandriana seasonal rivers, Ihotry and Namonty lakes. A terrain is flat so graded as easy. Walking around the otherworldly landscape created by the thorny Didiera trees (Octopus trees) is unforgettable. As you will venture out early, you are sure to see some of the endemic birds in the area such as Running coua, chabert and Sicklebill vanga. And deeper into the national park, you will can marvel at enormous specimens of the 'stunted' form of the gigantic Grandidier's baobabs: this is the same species that creates the famous 'Alley of baobabs' much further north near the town of Morondava.

The richness of the park is made up of 310 species of plants with 28% endemicity rate, 2 endemic families including 20 species classified IUCN and 6 endangered, 3 species of endemic baobab. 63 species of birds live in the Mikea forest, 58 of which are endemic to Madagascar, 9 species of lemurs, 8 species of micro mammals, 6 bat species, 65 herpetofauna species, 24 species of fish including 3 endemic.

The Park is about 120km north of Toliara (on the coast between Ifaty-Mangily and Morombe), in the semi-arid south-western region. As such, rainfall here is very low, with precipitation occurring generally only on a few days each February. For the rest of the year, climate is mostly warm to hot, sunny and dry. The park covers 184,630 hectares and is named after the mysterious, little known Mikea, among the few remaining people still practicing a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

You can will visit a Vezo-Sakalava village and gain an insight into the culture of these semi-nomadic people, who trade with the mysterious and little known, hunter-gatherer Mikea people living in this area. If the head of one of the Mikea families who lives nearby is around, then you will be able to visit the family briefly. (This is never guaranteed however).

Aside from the otherworldly setting created by the spiny bush and baobab woods, there are kilometres of quiet, white sand beaches and rewarding sites for snorkeling.

Watch more photos about Mikea National Park here.

Silence and Nature on the Tsiribihina River

Three or four days the sailing on 150 km down the Tsiribihina River, travelling through an ever-changing landscape of sandbanks, cliffs and mangroves, in accompanied by the whisper of the breeze drawing wavelets on the river surface, the ruffle of branches after the jump of a lemur. Nothing but silence and nature around you.

Descending the Tsiribihina River has become one of the most popular adventures in Madagascar, but it is no recent invention. Tours on the river have taken place since colonial times; well-heeled French colonists were taken to visit the tobacco plantations near the riverbanks with pirogues, as there was no way to travel other than by river. Fast-forward about 100 years, and the situation hasn’t changed much, The river is still the lifeline of the territory. In the absence of roads, daily life happens on the river. The Tsiribihina is – at the same time – highway, marketplace and playground. However, between one hamlet and another, the river is tranquil and impossibly beautiful.

One of the main rivers of central Madagascar, the Tsiribihina is born near the village of Miandrivazo, at the confluence of two other rivers. It flows through a surprisingly diverse landscape, until it reaches the Mozambique Channel. Just like its alter ego Manambolo, majestic Tsiribihina takes you along to the heart of the vastnesses of the Malagasy West. Sometimes it takes its time and traces its meanders in a lunar landscape, sometimes in a grassy savanna where giant acacias, kapok and jujube trees are detached, sometimes in the luxuriance of a vegetation sheltering fauna swarming with life. A true 'bath of nature' awaits those who choose the experiment of this trip leaving the beaten tracks.

The departure points to descend the Tsiribihina River is a dusty place called Miandrivazo. It is here where travelers embark through the wild landscapes, leaving behind small Sakalava villages of untouched authenticity, white-sanded river banks lined by trees where lemurs jump playfully from one branch to another and chameleons wait patiently for an insect lay down nearby.

There are two means to join this adventure. Either on pirogues or aboard a "chaland". More demanding travelers choose a "chaland" a motored landing craft which were originally used to transport tobacco and have been now completed readapted to tourism. They are equipped with a kitchenette and several important amenities like an awning, which is really useful as a protection from the intense austral sun and a solarium on the roof. These vessels recall somehow the Mississippi boats of the 19th century or the Nile boats of the early 20th century, and are, therefore a both pleasant and charming way to cruise on the Tsiribihina. It is an excellent means to observe the deciduous vegetation, the important variety of birds lying on the sand banks, or the colonies of fruit bats hanging on to the rocks.

The cruise passes by some dense vegetation along the riverbanks, towering cliffs and baobab forests. Hills of red earth and rice paddies. The malagasy West scenery, in its austere beauty. Small trees and reeds on the riverbanks. Pirogues loaded up with people and a products. Endemic species of birds such as pigeons, herons and egrets, as elegant as damsels going to a ball, and chameleons.

The “highlight” of the trip is the Gorge of Bemaraha with its steep rocks and at Anosin' Ampela, a wonderful waterfall, where intrepid travelers can refresh themselves. The passage of the Gorges through the solid mass of Bemaraha is one of the strong points of the descent. Fantastic landscapes, a deciduous dry forest, a diversified fauna where one will recognize in particular the lemurs which should not be missed such as propithèques verraux or fulvus lemurs, very rare Pygargue Madagasikara or 'Ankoay', or large parrots, chatterers with wish. You will see lemurs watering themselves there, if you're lucky.

Everyday our cook will concoct for you something with meat certainly - based - on zebu, fish, chicken, and vegetables. Only fresh foodstuffs! Each evening, sunsets constitute magical moments of this cruise. Every evening before sunset, the bivouac is set up on a sand bank under the curious sights of laughing children. Usually, the gang leaders will come up to you after a little while, asking for bonbons and pictures, and giggled like crazy when they will see themselves on the camera screen.

What’s the sound of silence? Nothingness doesn’t exist. You may escape cities and towns and run to the darkest corner of the Amazon, or the deepest reach of the Sahara, but you’ll never find total silence. Insects will keep chirping, branches falling, the wind blowing, shifting sand dunes. Perhaps silence is the sound of nature. When you leave ‘civilization’, leaving the sound of engines and electronics behind, nature is all that is left. And it is never ‘silent’. Sounds travel with you. Keep you company. Soothe you. Exit the stress. Meditation guaranteed by listening to the whistle of the night insects and by contemplating a beautiful starry sky... when the stars shone like beacons from above, and the Milky Way crossed the sky like a path of light. You've never seen anything similar. Perhaps you've seen amazing stars in Wadi Rum, in Western Mongolia and in the Thar Desert, but nothing compared to the Milky Way of the Tsiribihina River.

This cruise ends at Belo-sur-Tsiribihina.  From there, one has the choice between going to Morondava (106 km of trail in the South), or go up to Bekopaka, the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park threshold (90 km up North).

When choose this trip, be careful with the guide you choose. Cheap means mostly a cheap and poor, miserable service too! NDAO-i-Travel ensures a high quality and full service for the corresponding reasonable cost.

For those who might think that the descent of the Tsiribihina river has become a little too popular for solitary and real wild nature experience, the Manambolo river might offer a good (but more expensive) alternative. The descent of the Manambolo River is a quieter, although things are changing. It is the best way to reach the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park - to float the calm and scenic section of the river from Ankavandra to Bekopaka, far from any roads and vehicles.

Watch more photos about the Tsiribihina River here.

The New protected area Mangoky-Ihotry complex

The wetlands Mangoky-Ihotry complex is located in the province of Toliara and Morondava between Toliara and Morondava. It is located some 350 km north of Toliara and its relatively inaccessibility makes it to be a rarely visited place by foreigners. It is connected to the capital (via Toliara or Morondava) twice a week (check with Air Madagascar), though most travellers opt for the 4x4 option from Morondava or for a long pirogue ride from Belo-sur-Mer. Covering an area of 315,000 hectares, it is part of the District of Morombe, on the southwest coast of Madagascar. It consists of the Lake Ihotry and its surrounding lakes (south), Delta Mangoky river and maritime space (north) and marshes around the Ankiliabo road and Nosy Ambositra (far at east). Mangoky-Ihotry is a new protected area classified in Category V of IUCN. The management of the protected area mainly aims to ensure the conservation of terrestrial and marine landscapes and maintain the cultural and aesthetic values, may have recreation.

The complex provides connectivity of protected areas in the southwest of Madagascar (Kirindy-Mitea, Menabe, Mikea, Tsimanampetsotsa), enabling genetic exchange and increase the chances of survival of species to climate change.

It offers different types of habitats (rivers, mangroves, lakes and forests) including waterbirds (Threskiornis bernieri, Ardea humbloti, Ardeola idae Anas bernieri). 114 bird species have been recorded there, of which 23 are endemic to Madagascar. Other endemic species were also identified such as ring-tailed lemur and Verreaux's sifaka, carnivorous Cryptoprocta ferox (Fossa), fish Paratilapia polleni and the highly endangered turtle Erymnochelys madagascariensis. It is has always served as a refuge for large bird colonies, and the surrounding forests are dominated by many Andanas Grandadieri baobab trees, especially east of the lake. True sanctuary of the aquatic avifauna of the whole South West region of Madagascar causing gatherings of 10 000 to 15 000 birds. It also serves as a refuge for several migratory species and a large colony of flamingos. During the dry season, muddy areas attract large numbers of waders, and the site is also a dry-season refuge for waterbirds that use the seasonal wetlands between Morombe and Toliara.

As for plant diversity, over 150 species in 50 families were identified in all of the new terrestrial protected area Mangoky-Ihotry. 7% of the plant species present status threatened by IUCN and 99% have a use value for the population (edible plant, medicinal plant, plant to use traditional...).

Lake Ihotry is the second largest lake in Madagascar. It is a large basin that holds fluvial runoff before it subsides through the sand into the sea. Depending on the year the salty waters of the lake full of algae attract a few to thousands of flamingos. The residents of these villages are mostly Mikea, with historical roots in the Namonte Basin. They were forcibly relocated to these villages in the early 20th century as a result of French colonial policies.

On site, you will be alone, tete-a-tete with several species of lemurs and the rarest, carnivorous mammal Fossa, which live in the surrounding forests. The water of the brackish lake shelters only Tilapia and there is no infrastructure around the lake.

Andranomena Special Reserve. A “wonderland of baobabs”

This is a small and flat Special Reserve (64,2 km²) that lies 30 km of Morondava and about 10 km from the Baobabs´ Alley. Andranomena Special Reserve is mainly composed of dense deciduous dry forest, and comprises some seasonal small lakes where local endemic aquatic plants grow. More than 75% of the flora and 60% of the fauna living in the Reserve is endemic and several species are rare and are included on the Red List of Threatened Species.

The Reserve is pretty rich in animal wildlife (similar species as in Kirindy Private Reserve): there are 12 different species of lemurs (Verraux’s sifaka, red-tailed sportive lemur, brown lemur, Western fork-crowned lemur), fossa, the endangered and local endemic narrow-striped mongoose and giant jumping rat, 50 species of birds and 11 species of reptiles, such as the extremely rare and in danger of disappearance flat-tailed tortoise. Species in Andranomena include the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) and possibly Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae), Coquerel’s giant mouse lemur (Mirza coquereli), the fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius), the pale fork-marked lemur (Phaner pallescens).

Regarding the flora, the reserve has been described as a ‘wonderland of baobabs’: 3 species of baobabs are found here (Adansonia fony, Andasonia grandidieri and Andasonia za).

There are two different trails within the Reserve: The Antsarongaza circuit (2 hours) leads through the thick deciduous forest where you will be astonished by the gigantic baobabs and spot lemurs and reptiles.

The circuit of the four lakes (the lakes dry up during the dry season) passes through the forest and some baobabs until the lakes where you may observe several rare waterbirds and plants.

The Reserve is just one hour from Morondava by car, so it is an ideal place for a day trip. Andranomena Special Reserve can be visited all the year although during the rainy season (December to March) the transfer from Morondava can take much longer due to the poor road condition and some trails might not be accessible.

Allée de Baobab

The Avenue of the Baobabs is said to the most beautiful road in Madagascar and easily accessible. The legendary Allée de Baobab is located on the road (or let’s better say the dusty slope) between Morondava and Belo-Sur-Tsiribihina. Everywhere along the road between those two cities, the impressive Baobabs, only a small part of 250 meters length is known as “Allée de Baobab” due to its photogenic silhouette. Those up to 30 meters high trees belong to the species of Adansonia grandidieri and are considered to be Madagascar’s landmark. Some of these giant trees are allegedly on the island for more than 1000 years.

The Alley of the baobabs is a magical attraction for photographers from all over the world. Baobabs are usually solitary trees, standing tall and proud in the midst of empty spaces. Yet in Allée de Baobab, they cluster together forming an avenue of columns that border the dirty road.

With their massive trunks, crooked branches and furry fruit, baobabs have learned how to adapt to a dry and hostile environment. The secret of the baobab's success in surviving in harsh environments and the reason for its massive trunk is that it has little wood fibre but a large water storage capacity. Each tree can hold up to 300 liters of water, enabling it to live through long periods without rain. The life-cycle of these unique natural oddities is as impressive as their bulk - most live over 500 years! For the people of the Menabe region (Menabe means literally “very red” –as soon as you walk on the vermilion tinted soil of this part of Madagascar you will know why), the baobabs are their symbol and their pride. But baobabs are also endangered.

A ride through the Avenue is a memorable experience. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit these gentle giants when colors of the trunks acquire new shades and the shadows of the trees are the most pronounced, creating a more exotic atmosphere, and when their stark silhouettes form a spectacular contrast to the soft, calming colors of sunrise and sunset. The flowering period is between February and March.

A few kilometers from the Baobab Avenue are the Baobab amoreux, two baobab trees twisted around one another in an eternal embrace. There is a legend that the trees are the incarnation of two lovers who could not marry and have a child together. The trees are a popular destination for local sweethearts and young women come here to pray for a child.

Watch more photos about Allée de Baobab here.

Look at these tours through West

16 days from 1800 € per pax (112€/day) View tour
from 1800 € per pax (112€/day)

West is probably the place with the most popular landscape motives of Madagascar. Experience “wild west” with its rough rocks and the precious tropical deciduous forests. But this travel does not only contain landscape highlights: Meet the largest predator of Madagascar, the Fossa, and get enchanted by chameleons and caramel-coloured Mirza coquereli lemurs. Morondava is the starting-point to many unavoidable tourist sites of Madagascar, especially the Tsingy de Bemaraha NP, or the Baobabs Avenue. This journey gives you the opportunity to visit these places and feel their magic.

View tour
25 days from 2900 € per pax (116€/day) View tour
from 2900 € per pax (116€/day)

On our Baobab Quest we go beyond the Baobabs Avenue - it is a very impressive place and celebrated in photos and film (including an IMAX documentary on Madagascar). Visit these places and feel their magic. You will get to experience the hidden highlights as well as the classic points of interest from Morondava to the lemur-packed perimeters of Andasibe and more, allowing for an all-encompassing and varied tour with one final foray into the world of Madagascar’s indigenous lemurs providing yet another reason to be cheerful before finally heading for home with a head full of ever-lasting memories.

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