Local Tour Operator


The Zafimaniry, the Canal Pangalanes & Sainte Marie

Price €1230 15 Days
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The Zafimaniry, the Canal Pangalanes & Sainte Marie

€1230 per person

A 15 days private tour to discover Ambositra followed by a 3 days trekking to see the best preserved Zafimaniry villages. Then we will visit the National Park of Ranomafana and drive all to way to Mananjary on the East Coast. From Mananjary we have a 2 days private cruise on the famous Canal de Pangalanes before reaching Mahambo. We will spend 3 far niente on the tropical Island of Sainte Marie. The tour ends visiting the National Park of Andasibe.

Ambositra, Soatanana, Ranomafana National Park, Mananjary, Canal de Pangalanes, Sainte Marie, Andasibe National Park
When to Go
August - November
Private Car Throughout The Tour with English speaking driver | Entry Fee of Mentioned Excursions/National Parks | Hotels with breakfasts and dinners | All lunches (1 course) excluding day 15 | Private boat for the Pangalanes Cruise | Ferry Mahambo - Sainte Marie - Mahambo
Not Included
Lunch on day 15 | Drinks | Personal Expenses | Anything not Mentioned in Included
What to Bring
Comfortable athletic clothing, hiking shoes, hat and warm light jacket and light trench coat.

Prices per person

  • 2 Travelers €1975, 1 tw/dbl  
  • 3 Travelers €1760, 1 tpl  
  • 4 Travelers €1550, 2 tw/dbl  
  • 5 Travelers €1380, 1 tw/dbl + 1 tpl  
  • 6 Travelers €1220, 3 tw/dbl  

For more options, please contact us

Day 1 Antananarivo - Antsirabe - Ambositra 260 km, 6 hours' drive
In the morning Meet & Greet at your chosen hotel with our driver. After a short briefing we begin the trip.  We travel on the RN7, the main road of the country, through the typical landscape of the Malagasy highlands made of red brick houses, rice fields and granitic mountains. In less than 4 hours we arrive in  Antsirabe, a prosperous agricultural region with many food crops and rice fields. After a typical Malagasy lunch, we visit  the "Malagasy Vichy" on a pousse pousse (rickshaw). With its avenues and colonial buildings from another age Antsirabe is also a must seeing place for its main market, Tsara Sabotsy, the largest outside the capital. Our next stop is a little less than 2 hours drive away. Ambositra, is the capital of the wood carving industry, a great place to buy quality souvenirs. Hotel Artisan or similar.
Day 2 Ambositra - Antapia - Ambalandingana 70 km, 3 hours drive
In the morning we head to the village of Antapia, the starting point for a unique walking excursion dedicated to the discovery of the silk industry in the Manandriana region. Silk has always played an important role in Malagasy culture. Before colonization, it could only be worn by kings, queens and the dead. Even today, lambamenas (silk shrouds) are used during burials and changed during "turnovers of the dead". We'll hike in a tapia forest to observe the wild silkworms endemic to Madagascar. Through the villages, visit the breeding of domestic silkworms and meet the weavers. After a typical Malagasy lunch, we discover the different stages of silk weaving, from cooking cocoons to weaving, including dyeing and spinning. We return to the RN7 in Ivato Centre to take the dirt road direction Antoetra, the main village of the Zafimaniry people. We will spend the night in the rustic settlement of Ambalandingana, at the ecolodge Sous le Soleil de Mada. 
Day 3 Ambalandingana - Antoetra - Sakaivo 12 km, 1 hour drive and 15 km hike in about 4 hours
Back on the dirt road direct to the village of Antoetra, where we meet our guide local guide and team of porters if needed. We have designed an interesting  loop circuit, in this beautiful region of the Zafimaniry, an ethnic group known for its ability of wood carving. Lost in their mountains inaccessible by road, it is probably the ethnic group of Madagascar that lives in one of the most remote regions. During this trek, we will discover amazing traditional villages where the houses are entirely made of wood. From Antoetra, we start the first day through a hilly grassy  landscape. All forests here have disappeared due to the ancestral practice of tavy, the culture of slush and burn. We will gradually ascent to a rocky promontory, at an altitude of 1,600 m, where a large cross was erected by the Catholic missionaries. The view from here is fantastic,  alternating deep valleys and mountains. Sakaivo, our destination for the day, is just below us, a 600 mt easy but steep descent using the large steps carved into the rock. We will arrive in the afternoon in the village of Sakaivo. Overnight stay in a simple but cosy guest house with latrine toilets on the outside.
Day 4 sakaivo - Faliarivo - Ankidodo 10 km, 6 hours' hike
Continuation of the trek in this beautiful hilly region. On leaving the village, descent through the rice fields then ascend to the holy hill of Vohimasina. Passage near a tatao, a stele in honor of the ancestors. Crossing new villages with traditional houses where some villagers are busy carving wooden objects. On our way the picturesque village of Faliarivo, situated on a hilltop, overlooking magnificent valleys 360 °. Continuation on path, walking is sometimes made difficult by this rugged terrain and soft ground. We will arrive by mid afternoon on Ankidodo.
Day 5 Ankidodo - Antoetra - Ranomafana, 170 km, 4 hours driving and 15 km in about 6 hours hike
For our last day of trekking in this region, continuation on a trail, walking is sometimes made difficult by this rugged, slippery and soft terrain. We pass through the village of Ankidodo, rarely visited due to its remoteness and the best preserved village. We meet again our vehicle in Antoetra. Lunch in Sous le Soleil de Mada before we head south to our next destination, Ranomafana. After two nights in a tent, we find the comfort of a small comfortable hotel. Hotel Karibotel or similar.
Day 6 Ranomafana - Manajary 140 km, 4 hours' drive
In the morning we visit the National Park of Ranomafana, a tropical humid forest that covers more than 250 km². The park contains twelve species of lemurs such as the locally endemic golden bamboo lemur, the eastern woolly lemur, the Milne-Edward and the balck and white ruffed lemur. The park is also a dream for tropical plant lovers. Our hike will be of about 3 hours. After the park we lunch in Ranomafana before we head head east to Mananjary is our next stop, on the eastern coast of Madagascar. Hotel Vanihy Lodge or similar.
Day 7 Mananjary - Nosy Varika
We start our navigation along the Pangalanes Canal, from Mananjary to Mahanoro. In 3 days we will cover under 200 km. The Canal de Pangalanes, was built at the beginning of the last century, and consists of a series of waterways that cover a distance of more than 600 kms from Foulpointe to Farafangana. During the trip we will enjoy different landscapes such as bamboo forests, palm trees, ferns, pandanus, raffia, elephant ears, allamanda, aquatic plants without forgetting the rare Madagascar's orchids that grow along the Canal. We will stop in Ambohitsara, a traditional fishing village between the canal and the ocean where we will be able to see up-close local people building cabins and canoes, watching the fishermen fighting the waves as they return to the beach to sell their catch. Lunch on board or picnic in front of the sea with the possibility of bathing. We will arrive in Nosy Varika in the late afternoon. Hotel Volazzara or similar.
Day 8 Nosy Varika - Mahanoro
Today we navigate between 6 and 8 hours along the waterways. We can see women washing clothes, washing dishes and even bathing. Children swimming, with geese and ducks play. Again, men go fishing in the dangerous Indian Ocean. With no roads in this area, canals are the only way to get anywhere. In the afternoon we arrive in Mahanoro our destination for the day. The bungalows are on the beach with amazing views. Hotel Coco or similar.
Day 9 Mahanoro - Tamatave 270 km, 7 hours' drive
By car we leave Mahanoro, we will travel along the East coast to Tamatave, it will be a long drive but with very beautiful scenery. Lunch will be on the road, we expect to arrive in Tamatave by 5PM after a 7/8 hours' drive. Hotel Joffre or similar.
Day 10/12 Tamatave - Mahambo - Sainte Marie 110 km, 3 hours' drive and 3 hours ferry to S.Marie
We leave Tamatave very early, by 5.30 AM, we have to be in Mahambo by 9.30 AM to catch the ferry direct to Sainte Marie. By 1 PM we will arrive in Sainte Marie where we will spend the next 3 nights at leisure. Hotel Boraha Village or similar.
Day 13 Mahambo - Tamatave - Andasibe 300 km, 8 hours' drive
At 5 AM we must be at Sainte Marie port to board the ferry direct to Mahambo. In Mahambo our car is waiting to continue the journey on the road to the capital. We will arrive in Mahambo by 9 AM. We have about 3 hours' drive to arrive in Tamatave where we will have lunch. Then, we continue to Andasibe where we will arrive by early evening. Hotel Feony Ala or similar.
Day 14 Andasibe
In the morning we visit Analamazaotra Reserve, also known as Andasibe National Park. We will hake in the park for about 4 hours looking to see as many lemurs as possible: the indri, the black and white ruffed lemurs, the diademed sifaka and an incredible variety of flora. After lunch, we will visit Vakona Reserve, a great place to see different lemurs from very close range. Hotel Feony Ala or similar.
Day 15 Andasibe - Antananarivo 140 km, 4 hours' drive
We leave Andasibe in the morning, ahead of us 4 hours to reach the capital. In Antananarivo, transfer to your chosen hotel (or airport) and end of our services.

Tour Location

The Main Sights of the Tour
Antsirabe is located not far from the Malagasy capital, at an altitude of more than 1,400 meters: we have to say that during the austral winter, it is cold for Madagascar. This ancient spa town has kept its quaint colonial style. Antsirabe is peaceful and calm, perhaps a little sleepy. You can go on lovely mountain bike or horse rides in the Vakinankatatra. In addition, the city has thousands of beautifully decorated rickshaws. Great for hikers, Lac Tritriva and Mt Ibity are great destinations.
90 km from Antsirabe and 1,350 meters above sea level is Ambositra, a pretty town with beautiful adobe and brick houses. Numerous plows drawn by zebus that roam the city. Ambositra is a big peasant town full of charm and relaxing. The surrounding mountains and the visit of artisan villages can be the occasion for pleasant strolls.
The Zafimaniry Village
These famous "Zafimaniry", 25,000 in number, are said to be "Betsileos" who had taken refuge in the highlands of the East due to the military conscription of Queen Ranavola 1st. There, they would have learned to master the art of woodworking. The magnificent Zafimaniry villages will most certainly be classified by Unesco.
Ranomafana is a small village lost in the mountains, hidden at the bottom of a large deep valley and immersed in the dense forest of the East. It would never have left anonymity if its natural hot spring had not revealed it towards the end of the 19th century. Today is arguably the most the entry town of the most known National Park of Madagascar.
Mananjary is a small, charming and peaceful coastal town with a colonial atmosphere. Many discoveries await you: visit its spice plantations, lose yourself in its colorful market where you will find a multitude of local products, explore the region and the richness of its fauna and flora, take a bath in sun on one of its superb beaches. Above all it is the starting point of all voyages going north via the Canal de Pangalanes.
Mahanoro is a small rural town located on the Pangalanes Canal, in the east of Madagascar. The town takes its name from a nearby spring with healing properties, which never runs dry. Even if you are not sick, it is very pleasant to go for a walk there! It is possible to visit the Tsidiana, Ambetoafo and Maibola Falls not far from Mahanoro. Then end your day with a stroll through the streets of the city, where you can observe the peaceful daily life of the inhabitants.
Sainte Marie
Also called Nosy Boraha, Sainte-Marie Island is a little piece of tropical paradise. Bathed in its idyllic and original decor, it is a vacation spot par excellence. Moreover, it hides many treasures such as its deserted beaches bordered by its countless fishing villages. Especially since many outdoor activities, and relating to the sea such as walks, possible swimming with humpback whales, scuba diving ... are possible. Under a wonderful sunset, relaxation awaits you.
With a climate that remains humid throughout the year, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Madagascar. The place has one of the richest flora and fauna in the region. A visit to Andasibe National Park will allow you to admire unique species of birds such as hawks and parrots as well as nearly eleven species of lemurs. In one morning you could encounter up to five different species of lemurs without having to walk long distances.