Small group vacations to Madagascar

“Our top selling Madagascar tour criss-crosses the island, from surreal Tsingy pinnacles to lush, lemur-filled forests and laid back fishing villages, with comfy hotels each night.”


Antananarivo | Andasibe National Park | Night walks in the forest | Lemur sanctuary | Morondava | Avenue of the Baobabs | Kirindy Reserve | Walking in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park | Petit Tsingy | Antsirabe | Ranomafana National Park | Anja Park | Isalo National Park | Ifaty Beach | Optional: snorkelling, diving, village visits

Description of Small group vacations to Madagascar

Culturally and geographically unique, Madagascar separated from the African mainland millions of years ago, allowing its flora and fauna to evolve into species found nowhere else on earth. Culturally, too, the island has evolved in a particularly unique way – with seafaring Borneans and Bantu Africans having navigated there way here centuries ago fusing their cultures, cuisines and languages into a curious Malagasy identity. This small group vacation to Madagascar explores the center and south of this island in just over two weeks, taking in some of its most extraordinary landscapes including the rock pinnacles of the Tsingy de Bemaraha, and the lunar-like landscape of Isalo National Park. Ranomafana National Park, with its lush rainforests, is a complete contrast; here you will find numerous lemur species including the endangered golden bamboo lemur, discovered as recently as the 1980s.

Look out for indris in Andasibe, and listen out for their eerie, whale-like calls. This small group vacation in Madagascar ends on the coast at Ifaty, allowing for a couple of beach days to relax and reflect over the past two weeks of adventure on an island quite unlike anywhere else on earth.

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14 May 2021
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18 Jun 2021
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14 Dec 2022
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Our top tip:
Electricity can be intermittent - bring wind-up torches and donate them to local communities at the end of your trip.
Trip type:
Small group, max. 12 people.
Activity level:
Comfortable hotels and lodges.
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Accomm., local flights, transfers, transport, English-speaking local guides, listed activities.
Breakfasts included. Allow 15-25 EUR/day for lunch and dinner.
Vacation type
Small group vacations
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travelers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

This tour focuses largely on the wonderful national parks of Madagascar, which are home to many species found nowhere else on earth. By visiting these parks we contribute to crucial conservation and research projects designed to ensure the long term well being of the wildlife that lives here. We work with local guides in the parks who know the areas well – these are from the communities that surround the parks and this therefore ensures that these vital areas are seen not just as the preserve of wealthy western tourists but as a valuable source of employment and income for local people, thus further contributing to conservation and acting as a discouragement to unsustainable use of the parks’ resources. We issue guidelines to our travelers about the importance of leaving these parks as they were, and taking all litter out when we leave.

We work with our local suppliers to highlight best practice in terms of environmental issues, an important effort in a country where the environment is often taken for granted and green thinking is largely absent.

The Impacts of this Trip

On this tour we visit Anja Reserve, a community run reserve with good and easily visible populations of ring tailed lemurs. The proceeds from the reserve are channelled back to the local community, thus providing them with a valuable source of local income as well as an incentive to preserve Madagascar’s precious wildlife.

We visit a number of areas that are considered sacred to local people on this tour. We use local guides from these regions, who are able to explain to us the cultures and customs and ensure that we do not unwittingly offend the local people, many of whom have very complex social beliefs. The Malagasy believe in fady – taboos – which can often seem bewildering to outsiders and may differ from village to village, and we believe that it detrimental to both visitors and hosts to transgress these.

Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We also try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.

We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.

We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops and encourage our clients to interact both financially and socially with the communities that they are passing through. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services.

We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. This may include giving a percentage of the profits from each tour to a foundation to help street children or local conservation projects. Furthermore, in order to allow our clients to make an informed decision on where a greater proportion of their money should be spent, we avoid including pre-paid full board meals where possible. Local restaurants and cafes then benefit.

Our groups average only six clients, and many tours operate on a private basis with just two travelers. This has much less impact when traveling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasise our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travelers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.


19 Reviews of Small group vacations to Madagascar

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 10 Nov 2019 by

Madagascar is a real assault on all the senses from the fabulous landscapes of Tsingy and Ramanofana to the unique fauna and the vibrancy of the people. Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Oct 2019 by

A first-rate trip to a fascinating destination. Read full review

Reviewed on 30 Sep 2019 by

The wildlife was fantastic! Our guide, Danhy, was phenomenal as well. Read full review

Reviewed on 27 Aug 2019 by

I found the Avenue of the Boababs to be the most memorable part of this trip. The sheer size and age of them is very breathtaking and I could have just stood there for hours, I'm glad we got to go once at sunrise and once at sunset. Read full review

Reviewed on 21 May 2019 by

The vacation was outstanding by its organisation and variety. There were many highlights! The scenery was stunning and people were friendly and helpful. Read full review

Reviewed on 31 Oct 2019 by

The wildlife was always going to be a highlight, but for me the most exciting and memorable part was doing the Grand Tsingy circuit. Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Nov 2018 by

This was an excellent vacation that allowed me to see a lot of wildlife. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Oct 2018 by

Most memorable was Tsingy de Behamara and getting stuck in the mud when our 4WD became a 2WD due to a fault. Mantadia, Ranomafana and Kirindy are fabulous national parks/reserves. Isalo landscape is stunning. Read full review

Reviewed on 16 Nov 2018 by

Very interesting and well put-together Read full review

Reviewed on 26 Sep 2018 by

Most memorable was the day out in Tsingi, for the landscape, various habitats, wildlife, extraordinary rock formations, and getting stuck in the mud on our way out! (after an unseasonal heavy shower of rain). Read full review

Reviewed on 31 Oct 2017 by

A wonderful and varied country with so many highlights, but the best must be the grand tsingy and of course all those lemurs! That said all of the parks/scenery/coast and walks were hugely enjoyable. Read full review

Reviewed on 17 Jul 2017 by

The most memorable moments were Tsingy, whale wtching, seeing lemurs and chameleons Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Nov 2016 by

So many highlights. It was wonderful to see such a variety of lemurs, chameleons and other wildlife (including a fossa!)... It may have been the best trip of my life. Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Nov 2016 by

An excellent vacation, one of my best for many years.... I shared the vacation with wonderful group of co-travelers, who all gelled and got along from day one. The nature and wildlife of Madagascar were fantastic, discovering new things and creatures on a daily basis. I would totally recommend this trip to any nature lover. Read full review

Reviewed on 27 Jul 2015 by

Wonderful tho' it was to see wildlife in natural habitate, the standout thing for me was the wonderful people I met and catching a glimpse into their customs and cultures. Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Nov 2015 by

The 4x4 trip down the river was the most memorable part of the vacation. Read full review

Reviewed on 26 Nov 2013 by

The most fantastic vacation we have experienced and totally different from any location we have been to. The tour company was first class in every respect...Be prepared for poverty, humble experiences, lack of electricity but don't let this put anyone off going to this wonderful country. Read full review

Reviewed on 15 Oct 2013 by

As I expected not 'comfortable' but an amazing experience Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Sep 2012 by

Seeing five out of six possible types of lemur in the first National Park we visited...Excellent. Read full review

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