18th April 2017
Our Tour in Focus blogs take an in-depth look at our best and most popular trips, highlighting what makes them unique and answering anything you may like to know.
Madagascar truly is a bucket-list island, incredibly rich in unique wildlife, but also offering a wealth of other out of this world travel experiences. Our 22 day Madagascar Encompassed group tour takes visitors to the heart of this beautiful country, exploring national parks and enjoying a riverboat journey, whilst also taking time for walks through the beautiful countryside and offering ample opportunities to meet the Malagasy people, from Mikea hunter-gatherers to the villages of the Zafimaniry tribe.
“This really is THE trip to Madagascar, seeing it at some of its best, and some of its worst, but certainly seeing much that other tourists never go near. This is an environment under considerable threat, and much of what we saw may no longer exist within the next couple of decades, so if you have any interest in a disappearing world, now is the time to go. Maybe tourism is the best hope Madagascar has" said Sarah Morrow about the tour.
If there’s anything you’d still like to find out, please don’t hesitate to call the office for a chat or leave a question in the comments below.
What route does it take?
Antananarivo – Antsirabe – Miandrivazo - Tsiribihina River – Bekopaka – Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park – Bekopaka – Morondava – Belo Sur Mer – Manja – Morombe – Mikea – Isalo National Park – Andringitra NP – Ranomafana NP – Ambalandingana – Antananarivo.
What's the number one highlight?
The riverboat trip down the Tsiribihina River offers a rare opportunity to escape Madagascar’s poor roads and see village life and wildlife on one of Madagascar’s major rivers.
What does this tour do differently to everyone else?
The 4WD drive experience on this trip guarantees that you get to see far more of Madagascar than sticking to conventional roads. We take an adventurous route showcasing the best of offbeat Africa, crossing rivers on small ferries and generally enjoying a unique adventure that is increasingly difficult to find in Africa. Travelling in 4WDs has the added benefit of overcoming Madagascar’s atrocious road quality and avoiding the effects of cyclones, which constantly change the patterns of the rivers.
In addition we visit often overlooked Andringitra National Park (above), with its huge granite peaks and ring-tailed lemurs, and enjoy a walk to a typical Zafimaniry village, famed for their wood carving and art which has been recognised by UNESCO.
Who leads it?
All of our tour leaders in Madagascar are experienced African leaders, who know the region inside out. Smaller groups can also rest assured that they will be led by excellent local leaders.
Who is the tour suitable for?
This tour is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a varied experience of Madagascar, encompassing the country’s villages, wildlife and landscapes from highlands and desert to stunning beaches and rainforests. There is also the added benefit of being able to enjoy an authentic 4WD African adventure, thereby avoiding the uncertainty of the domestic airlines.
What's the accommodation like?
Accommodation on this trip is generally very good, with an interesting mixture of hotels, lodges and camping. Particular highlights are the beautiful lodges in Isalo National Park (above) and Mikea, whilst we opt for more rustic, characterful accommodation in Andringitra National Park. During the two day riverboat trip along the Tsiribihina River we set up camp on the shores of the river each night. Although there is no access to washing facilities or conventional toilets whilst camping, we stop off at waterfalls and swimming holes to freshen up and even set up our own toilet tent at night!
How fit do I need to be? Is there much walking involved?
To get the most from this trip a reasonable level of fitness is required. There are plenty of opportunities for activity throughout (more so than on our two week Off-Road Adventure tour) and, although there is the option to sit out at any point if needed, your overall experience will certainly be maximised by participating in all excursions.
When visiting Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park it certainly helps to be as agile as possible, particularly if you’re keen to explore the Grand Tsingy (above), which is home to the highest pinnacles. If you prefer the idea of the Petit Tsingy you will still need to be of reasonable fitness.
What's the food like?
Madagascan food is simply amazing! Throughout the trip there is plenty of fresh fish and zebu on offer, along with a range of tropical fruit and fresh vegetables growing in the highlands. Specialty dishes include lobster with vanilla sauce and an absolute foodie highlight is on day six of the trip when we visit the largish settlement of Belo Tsiribihina which is home to Mad Zebu, one of the country’s best restaurants, where we have lunch.
Do I need a visa?
Access to Madagascar is straightforward – a visa is granted and paid for on arrival in the country.
Are there many long journeys involved?
There are a number of long journeys throughout the three week itinerary, but this is simply one of the highlights of the trip. The only way to avoid long drives would be to fly between destinations, which is often very unreliable and involves large amounts of waiting around. We have taken the view that the journey is ultimately a key part of the experience and offers the best way to see this fascinating country first hand.
Is there much interaction with the locals?
This trip has plenty of interaction with the locals, including tribes such as the Mikea, a hunter-gatherer tribe (above) who even today rarely engage in any contact with the outside world. We also visit a number of small villages and enjoy ferry crossings with the Malagasy people. It’s worth noting that English is not widely spoken across the country, so speaking French where possible is preferable.
Any hygiene issues?
There are generally no hygiene concerns with the food on this trip, although we do tend to avoid very local food shacks. Wherever we go we encourage rigorous washing of hands and provide bottled water throughout.
What our clients think:
Previous WF travellers had this to say about the tour:
“We feel privileged to have been able to visit Madagascar, a unique island with extraordinary vegetation, rock formations, landscapes and fauna. The travelling is quite tough at times but the lemurs and the children welcoming us everywhere with their big smiles and cheers 'Salut Vasa' will stay with us forever.” Brigitte Whiteing
“Madagascar is a country that has to be visited with its unique animals and vegetation, as well as offering beautiful sandy beaches and extensive rock formations.” David Whiteing