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Day 1: Arrive in Antananarivo
Arrive at the Ivato International Airport, where you are met and transferred to our comfortable hotel in the capital city, Antananarivo. The remainder of the day is free to relax. Overnight in Antananarivo.
Day 2: Antananarivo
After breakfast, we are taken on an excursion to Ambohimanga (UNESCO Cultural site), where the former Merina monarchs had their summer palaces until the last century. It's a beautiful and peaceful place with lovely views over the highlands; and a perfect way of gaining some insight into the fascinating and turbulent history of the Malagasy people.
Day 3: Madagascar Highlands
We leave in the morning for our trip to Antsirabe, through the highlands of Madagascar. On the way, we see the typical highland landscapes of rice fields and Malagasy (pronounced Malagash) architecture.
Day 4: To Ranomafana Rainforest via Ambositra
Our journey to Ranomafana Rainforest begins with a drive south to Ambositra (which means "Place of Eunuchs"), where we see fine local woodcarvers. Lunch is at Imahasoavahiny, overlooking a picturesque Ambohimahasoa village.
Day 5: Ranomafana Rainforest
This beautiful national park lies at an altitude of 2,600-3,900 ft (793-1,189 m) and is comprised mainly of rainforested hills, carved by numerous small streams feeding the whitewater of the Namorona River. The park itself is home to 29 species of mammals, including 12 species of lemurs. On an average day in the park, we see red-bellied lemurs, red-fronted lemurs and Milne-Edwards sifakas (commonly called chocolate sifakas). We may even glimpse a golden bamboo lemur, which is unique to this park and only recently discovered.
Day 6: To Fianarantsoa
A short drive to the south takes us to Fianarantsoa (locally abbreviated to Fianar).Fianar has long been known as the academic and intellectual center of Madagascar and has recently become the wine-making center of the island. It is a charming town, dominated by the backdrop of 4,500-foot (1,372 m) Mount Kianjasoa.
Day 7: Anja Park hike, to Isalo
Today we set out for the journey to Isalo National Park. Along the way we enjoy a visit and hike in Anja Park. Anja Park not only offers incredible scenery, but is also known for being a great location to view ring-tailed lemurs. As we leave the lush highlands and drive down to a desert-like environment in the south-west. In the heart of this semi-desert lies the magnificent Isalo Massif with its stark beauty. This stunning park is home for the next 3 nights. Overnight in Isalo National Park.
Days 8 - 9: Isalo National Park
For the next two full days we enjoy our time hiking and exploring Isalo National Park. The park encompasses the wildly eroded Jurassic sandstone massif and is characterized by alternating flat grassy plains and sandstone ridges dotted with palm trees and pachypodiums, commonly known as "elephant's foot". The landscape has been sculpted by wind and water into fanciful hoodoos that appear to have eyes, ears, noses and beaks.
Day 10: To Tana via Tulear
Today, we start with a drive to Tulear on the west coast. We stop enroute at Zombitse National Park which offers amazing views of baobab trees, orchids and home to the Verreaux Sifaka and Zombitse sportive lemurs, endemic birds such as Appert's tetraka and standing geckos.
Day 11: Fly to Fort Dauphin, to Berenty Reserve
This morning we return to the airport and fly to the beautiful town of Fort Dauphin set amidst windswept green hills, blue seas and fine beaches. We then make the long bumpy drive to Berenty Reserve.
Day 12: Berenty Reserve - Madagascar's premier reserve!
The Berenty Reserve is the country's best known reserve -its director was awarded the World Wildlife Fund's Getty Prize for nature conservation. The reserve contains nearly a third of the remaining tamarind gallery forest in Madagascar and is the best place to see ringtail lemurs and Verreaux's sifakas (large white lemurs which are among nature's most accomplished acrobats, hurling themselves across vast distances between tamarind trees).
Day 13: Berenty, To Fort Dauphin, Nahampoana Reserve
Today we enjoy a morning of leisure at our lodge located inside the park. As Berenty has the greatest concentration of lemurs and other wildlife in the country, often times you do not have to leave the lodge or walk far to see them. If you choose to relax at the lodge, you may be lucky enough to have the lemurs come to you!
Day 14: Fly to Antananarivo
Transfer to the Fort Dauphin airport for our flight to Antananarivo. Upon our arrival, we visit the Akany Avoko orphanage where we enjoy lunch. The Akany Avoko is an eco-friendly refuge offering shelter, care and the opportunity to develop skills to enable their children to grow into self sufficient adults. Arrive at our hotel in time to freshen up for dinner. Overnight in Antananarivo.
Day 15: To Analamazaotra Special Reserve (Perinet)
We drive to Analamazaotra Special Reserve through the typical highland landscape of terraced rice paddies. The reserve was named after the river which traverses it. This afternoon we will have the first of several nature walks. The park is well known for its nine species of lemur. Overnight in Andasibe.
Day 16: Analamazaotra Special Reserve
We spend the day going deeper into the reserve, looking for the famous three foot tall indri, the largest of the lemur species and which can live for up to 30 years. They can jump upwards of 30 feet! Early in the morning, it is possible to hear their haunting song which can be heard for several miles. We will be on the watch for grey bamboo lemurs, common brown lemurs and chameleon's, of which eight species are found here. There are 24 species of amphibians including some endemic to this reserve. Bird life is also abundant. We will spend much of the day hiking in the reserve. Overnight in Andasibe.
Day 17: Andasibe to Antananarivo
Depart reserve mid morning for a leisurely drive back to Antananarivo. Free time in the afternoon for last minute shopping before our farewell dinner. Overnight in Antananarivo.
Day 18: Depart Antananarivo
Today you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
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