In Madagascar, the rain season is a time when magnificent vegetation animates a life resplendent and full of force.
Nature, of extreme beauty, is illuminated by the clear, beautiful and gentle lights.
This route takes place between the Highlands and the Mozambique Channel. The diversity of landscape and vibrant life present everywhere, makes it incomparably attractive for who wants to live Madagascar fully and differently.
In this season, the lights are beautiful, the rice fields are as many mos...
Day 1Flight from Europe to Antananarivo
Paris Roissy CDG - Antananarivo
Flight to Antananarivo, dinner on board. Program elaborated based on Air France international flights (could be updated by the company).
A member of the Détours Madagascar team welcomes you upon arrival at the Ivato Antananarivo airport in the evening. Transfer to your hotel for the night.
Day 2Discovering the Central Highlands, Antsirabe the Thermal City
Antananarivo - Ambatolampy
We take the road towards the city of Ambatolampy, located South of Antananarivo on the Road National 7. Crossing typical landscape of the central Highlands, we drive along a sinuous road lined with a mosaic of crops and terrace rice fields.
Ambatolampy - Antsirabe
We meet with a dynamic rural world, evolving all around us as we drive through. Coming closer to Antsirabe, various fresh products from the fields are displayed along the road. We reach Antsirabe, the thermal city, nestled in the middle of the central Highlands.
Antsirabe is a pretty thermal city surrounded by volcanic mountains. It is the third biggest city in Madagascar. With its fresh air and cool climate all year round, Antsirabe is ideal to spend a weekend or some family vacation, especially for people living in Antananarivo.
The best way to stroll around the city is by taking the « pousse-pousse » (rickshaw, non included), to discover its streets in the most authentic way.
We take a tour around the city to visit the local craftsmen, famous for making miniatures of bicycles and cars with recycled material, and working with zebu horn.
Day 3Hiking around ricefields and villages in the valley of Betafo
Antsirabe - Betafo
In the morning, we leave Antsirabe to head West. We follow during a short time the large valley of the Vakinankaratra, flowing between ancient volcanoes. We reach the small town of Betafo.
Betafo - Betafo
We start our easy hike around Betafo, to discover the mosaic of rice fields, transforming themselves in various shades of green and yellow, looking absolutely beautiful.
Overlooked by sumptuous volcanic slopes, this Valley of the Vakinankaratra offers splendid landscape, emblematic of the malagasy Highlands, made of a succession of hills, perched villages, red brick houses with thatched roof, and colorful ricefields. We walk from village to village, from house to house meeting with our hosts.
The town of Betafo is also very interesting historically speaking, and we encourage you to take a look at our article below to find out more about this cradle of the Andratsay Kingdom.
Betafo - Antsirabe
After this nice discovery, we head back towards Antsirabe.
Day 4Driving in Betsileo country, between wooden crafts and the Betsileo capital, Fianarantsoa
Antsirabe - Ambositra
Then we leave Antsirabe to keep going South. We cross the Highlands and visit the city of Ambositra, famous capital of wooden crafts. The craftsmen of Ambositra, close to the Zafimaniry art, are the repositories of an original woodworking culture (sculpture and marquetry), which used to be very widespread throughout the island.
Ambositra - Fianarantsoa
We hit the road again towards Fianarantsoa, the historical and cultural capital of the Betsileo region. It is the Malagasy city which gathers the highest number of cultural monuments and schools.
Just like Antananarivo, the city is divided in three parts:
- The Upper town, where used to be the Palace of the Merina Governor, and where we can admire today protestant churches, a Lutheran school, the brick Tuscan-style Cathedral, the Jesuit school of Ambozotany, and the Antsenakely Square where is held a small market, as its name indicates.
- The New town : the administration neighborhood, where is also held the zoma (Friday's market).
- The Lower town Ampasambazaha, heart of the city where are located the trading Chinese and Indian neighborhoods.
Fianarantsoa is also well known for its tea plantations and its vineyard.
Day 5Pirogue stroll on the Matsiatra river to the tea plantations of Sahambavy
Departure to the village of Mahasoabe, located about 20 km Est of Fianarantsoa.
Once we get there, we meet with the sailors. Starting our descent on a traditional pirogue, which will last for 2 hours and a half. The river slithers between rice fields and granite mountains. We will stop a few times to meet the locals and discover their rural lifestyles. We might also be able to spot various aquatic bird species.
Reaching the village of Iseta, we will hike across fields and villages, and get back our car to Sahambavy.
In the afternoon, we will visit the unique tea plantation of Madagascar in Sahambavy, and do a tea tasting. The factory was built in 1978 by the Malagasy State. It was then privatized by an Anonymous Society. About 20 tons of humid leaves are being collected there daily on average, on the 355 ha of plantations, among which 94 ha are held by local farmers.
Back to Fianarantsoa at the end of the day.
Duration : +/- 2h30 of navigation, +/- 1h30 walking, +/- 1h car transfer.
Distance : 40 km
Day 6Meeting with the Lemur Catta and driving on the vast plains of the Horombe Plateau
Fianarantsoa - Ambalavao
Through the patchwork of terraced rice fields and various cultures where all the shades of green are declined, road to Ambalavao known for its vineyards.
We make a stop at Anja's reserve : a forest of ficus, lianas and orchids developed in between a spectacular rock chaos, sometimes forming caves used as shelter by animals.
The rocky slopes have been colonized by succulent plants such as kalanchoes and pachypodiums.
In this lush green paradise live in small colonies the makis catta, this lemur with a striped tail which represents Madagascar. They spend a lot of time on the ground, are not too wild and so easily observable.
The profit of Anja's reserve are managed by the AMI (Anja Miray) organization, and are donated to finance social and economical projects, which purposes are to improve crop yield, crafts development, health and education towards the villagers.
Ambalavao - Ranohira
Continuation to the south to Bara country and crossing of the largest plateau of Madagascar, the Horombe desert, before seeing the village of Ranohira that we reach late in the afternoon.
Day 7Hiking in the Isalo National Park, among canyons and natural pools
A beautiful day of hiking, discovering the Isalo National Park, between deep canyons, plateaux, natural swimming pools… We should be able to spot many endemic species of lemurs, birds, reptiles, plants and butterflies.
Isalo National Park was created in 1962, and is classified in the category of Exceptional Parks. Its area is 100 km large from North to South. It is unique in Madagascar thanks to its geological formation, dating from the Jurassic period. This mountain massif made of continental sandstone and dug with deep canyons, welcomes a rupicolous vegetation (Aloes, Euphorbias, Pachypodium…).
You can also find there an exceptionally rich fauna, where most species are natives, such as rock reptiles, makis and other lemurs.
The main ethnic group in this region is the Bara, living essentially of farming zebus and agriculture. Considered as descendent of the Bantu, the Bara are livestock breeders but also fierce warriors, proud and ready to give up their life to defend their freedom.
Day 8Tulear and Ifaty, the Mozambique Channel
Road towards Tulear. We cross the villages of Ilakaka and Sakaraha, still on top of the Horombe plateau, small towns which used to be quiet, until a huge sapphire reservoir was discovered there, turning these quiet towns into mining cities worthy of the American Far West Gold Rush.
First sight of the baobabs and crossing the Mahafaly limestone plateau, with its famous and impressive burials called « Aloalo », painted with naive everyday-life scenes.
Visit of Tulear and lunch. Road early in the afternoon to Ifaty, about thirty kilometers north of Tulear, to join the Vezo fishermen countries.
This is where we say farewell to our tour guide, which will return to the capital city the next day.
Day 9Free stay in Ifaty, on the Capricorn Coast
Ifaty, Mangily, Madiorano and Ambolimailaka are small villages that face the majestic lagoon of Ranobe with turquoise water, renowned for its coral reef. They are here as seaside resorts.
Free stay, activities to see at the hotel or with your guide: hiking in the backcountry of the dry forest to various varieties of endemic spiny, euphorbia, Didiéracées, pachypodium and of Baobabs.
The visit can be done in zebu charette or on foot; or relax to enjoy the beach, a beautiful invitation to swim in this beautiful lagoon.
Will also be at the rendez-vous: excursion featured, balade in traditional dugout canoe, trolling, water skiing, snorkeling… Or simply walk along the beach, meet the locals and discover in depth the life of these fishing villages.
Activities and transfers at your own charge, to give you more flexibility according to your envies at that time. Possibility to organize excursions on demand, please consult us.
Day 10Back to Tulear, Flight to Antananarivo (not included) and then towards Europe
Free time before the transfer to Tuléar airport.
At the right time, transfer to Tulear airport (by your hotel there), and domestic flight to Antananarivo (at your own charge).
A member of the Détours Madagascar team welcomes you upon arrival at Ivato Antananarivo Airport.
According to the flights schedule, stroll around Antananarivo with your driver guide to buy the last souvenirs.
At the end of the day, a room in Day Use will be available for you to take a rest before your international flight back home.
In the evening, transfer to the airport and assistance to boarding on your international flight home with Air France. Night flight.