Day 1 Antananarivo
Meet & greet at the airport and transfer to the hotel for the first night.
Day 2 Antananarivo – Antsirabe
After breakfast we begin our tour driving south towards Antsirabe, our first stop. En route we will see the typical houses of the highlands, thousands of rice fields and the few trees planted recently to combat the heavy deforestation that took. About two-hours into our journey our we will be in Ambatolampy, where we will stop to visit a small foundry that specializes and making kitchen utensils. We will notice that time hasn’t moved much forward from the 18th century in many places in Madagascar. We will arrive in Antsirabe around noon. On a pousse-pousse (rickshaw) we will visit the local markets of Tsara Sabotsi, Antsena Kely. discover the local traditions of crafts such as silk processing, precious stones cutting and the making objects from zebu horns.
Day 3 Antsirabe – Antoetra
In the morning after breakfast, we will head West towards the volcanic lakes of Antsirabe, Andraikiba and Titriva. The sights are really beautiful, typical Malagasy villages left behind in time, lots of waving children and the always present rice fields. By midday we will continue with our journey south, our destination today is the rustic Sous le Soleil de Mada, a lovely simple yet very homey resort located in the Zafimaniry area, few miles off the route National 7 after Ivato Centre.
Day 4 Antoetra – Faliarivo
By car we will drive to Antoetra from where a local guide will show us some of the most beautiful Zafimaniry villages. The Zafimaniry people have taken refuge in this area to avoid the military service during the reign of Ranavola. Today, the Zafimaniry are famous for their woodcarving abilities and art, listed in 2003 in the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. It has to be said that this area was completely covered by forests of very valuable wood such as rosewood and ebony and today, no much of it has been left. There are some reforestation programs that are taking place today but, the slush and burn culture, widely spread throughout Madagascar, will surely make the tasks a lot more difficult. The best way to learn about local customs is undoubtedly on foot. We start in the morning from Antoetra across the typical Zafimaniry countryside to get to Faliarivo, a village on a rocky promontory still immersed in a medieval atmosphere; the smiles of the rural population, will remain forever in your hearts. Here, we have the opportunity to learn more about the daily life of this ethnic group. Dinner and overnight in a typical house of the village.
Day 5 Faliarivo – Sakaivo – Antoetra
Today’s hike is through rice fields and terraces to reach another Zafimaniry village, the best preserved: Sakaivo. Here we can see artisans working wood, both small everyday items as well as souvenirs to sell to tourists in Ambositra. After the visit and meeting the chief of the village, we have a tough walk to the belvedere about 1000 steps away, it will take us 1.5 hours to do the steps and another 30 minutes to walk to our car. Overnight in Sous le Soleil de Mada.
Day 6 Antoetra – Sahambavy
Back on the road, our destination today is Sahambavy, 3 hours’ drive away. Sahambavy is the only Tea Plantation of Madagascar, we will visit the factory and spend some time with the locals collecting the valuable leafs.
Day 7 Sahambavy – Manakara
Today we will reach the East Coast of Madagascar by train. In theory, the journey by train takes 8 to 12 hours, but in practice, it may take much longer to cover the distance of 100 miles. The train passes 67 bridges and 48 tunnels, we will see a part of Madagascar only reachable by this train, the verdant landscape consists of many endemic plants which make the route very pleasant. The villages along the railway, live only and exclusively thanks to the purchases made by passengers on the train so, don’t be shy to try local delicacies or to step off the train. The train on average stops at every station for at least 30 minutes. In Manakara the driver is waiting for you.
Day 8 Manakara – Ranomafana
After breakfast we will do a short 3/4 hours’ excursion on the Canal Pangalanes using a local canoe. We will see how local villages live in this part of Madagascar. By midday we will leave Manakara to reach Ranomafana. The National Park of Ranomafana is famous for the variety of breeds of lemurs present and the rich endemic flora. The park has become the fourth in Madagascar when it was opened on May the 31st in 1991. Rano in Malagasy means “water” and Mafana “hot.” About 100 years ago hot springs were discovered by the French and the village was created. Spa are still available to see but surely, they have seen better days.
Day 9 Ranomafana – Sahambavy – Ambalavao
Morning visit of the National Park of Ranomafana, undoubtedly one of the most famous and spectacular natural reserves of the country. The Park lies in the middle of the jungle, in a leafy tropical rain-forest of about 40,000 hectares and at an average height of 4000 feet above sea level. The great diversity of animal and plant species of the reserve have called for decades the attention of many biologists and naturalists from all over the world. Ranomafana has more than 12 different lemur species, as well as hundreds of varieties of wild orchids and more than 114 species of birds that are Spread through the interior of this wild jungle. Our hike will be of 3/4 hours. From Ranomafana, we continue South to Fianarantsoa. In Fianarantsoa, we will be visiting the Old Town, aka Haute Ville, probably the best preserved Malagasy town. We continue our trip to Ambalavao where we will be staying for the night.
Day 10 Ambalavao – Ambohimahamasina
Not far from Ambalavao, about 20 miles Southeast, we find Ambohimahamasina, home to the most sacred mountain of Madagascar: Ambondrombe. In Ambohimahamasina with a local guide, we will chose our walk, whether is to learn more about the livelihoods of region, about the value of the sacred mountain or, about the local flora and fauna. We will stain in a local house.
Day 11 Ambohimahamasina – Tsaranoro Valley
From Ambohimahamasina we head South again, our n