Madagascar vacations, The lost continent

“An adventurous two-week tour of Madagascar, taking you through several national parks and other stunning settings in search of cultural insights and of course, lemurs.”

Highlights

Antananarivo | Andasibe Reserve | Lemur Island | Antsirabe | Lake Tritriva | Ambositra | Craft workshops | Enjoy some folk dancing and a traditional meal | Ranomafana National Park | Fianarantsoa | Isalo National Park | Mahafaly Tombs | Toliara | Nosy Ve Island | Lemur Park |

Please feel free to contact the Travel Team if you need any advice on your vacation plans. We're always happy to help!

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15 Mar 2019
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20 Mar 2020
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Our top tip:
A budget of around £7-£12 is recommended per extra meal on this trip.
Trip type:
Small group. Av. 10-16 people.
Activity level:
Moderate.
Accomm:
10 nights standard hotels/lodges, 1 night simple community house, 3 nights simple hotel.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
Accomm, transport (minibus, flight), tour leader, guides, listed activities. Intl. flights if booked. Sleeping bag not included.
Meals:
13 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 7 dinners.
About this vacation company:
The intrepid founders led overland trips across Africa in the 60s and 70s before creating this company in 1981.
Vouchers
Accepted
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.

Simplicity
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.
Mythbuster
“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?”
No.
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.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Madagascar vacations, The lost continent

During our journey through Madagascar we stay in predominantly locally-owned accommodation and employ the services of local guides within the parks we visit. The tour leaders are Malagasy, offering in depth insight into the local culture, great knowledge of wildlife and an understanding of the people which they will be happy to share with you.

In addition, the park fees we pay are used by the Malagasy authorities to fund and benefit the protected areas we visit. On one night of the tour we stay at a development centre close to the town of Ambositra in the highlands. The centre is part of the FJKM (Fiangonariny Jesosy Kristy eto Madagascar) church, established in 1973, and aims to educate the local population in practical topics from sex education to farming skills.

As well as financial support from our stay, there is the opportunity during our time at the centre to interact and learn more about the everyday lives of the local people. We limit the group size on this tour to 16 to assist in reducing both the potential negative cultural and environmental impact of our visit.

In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour Leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators. We acknowledge that air travel has a negative impact on our environment, so we work together with Cool Earth to offset carbon and protect our important rainforests.

7 Reviews of Madagascar vacations, The lost continent

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 03 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I enjoyed the whole tour so it is difficult to identify any one memorable part. Walking the different environments (rainforest, mountains, national parks) and getting close to the animals in their natural environment, for example lemurs, birds, frogs, stick insects and chameleons. Traveling on a zebu cart to embark on a boat to Safari Vezo Lodge at fisherman village Anakao.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Would help to know a bit of French to be better able to communicate with the local people more easierly.
Most of the journeys are over long distances with some rough road so bring a cushion for extra padding to the seats.
There can be some powercuts occasionally so bring a torch which you will probably need walking out in the evenings anyway. I found my walking stick essential to help with some of the terrain.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We had opportunitites to engage with local people, rice farmers, cattle men and children and share items from our back packs/lunches such as sun cream, fresh water, food etc which was gratefully received.
There were limited opportunities to shop in the local busy markets due to the tight timetable, but entrance fees for the national parks etc went directly towards maintaining the parks and monitoring the wildlife. Money/taxes also went to towards the upkeep of the local communities.
There were opportunities to watch traditional crafts being made such as marketry and purchase items if wished.
As not all meals were included in tour so money was spend in various places throughout Madgascar on lunches/dinners and snacks. Presumably this benefited people being employed by those various facilities.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Great experience. Great and thoughtful guide Heri. Experienced driver Henri and Gaetan ensured we arrived at our destinations safely with all our luggage intact.

Reviewed on 19 Nov 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


So many memorable and exciting experiences! Top of the list must be crashing through thick jungle to see the rare golden bamboo lemur and the greater bamboo lemur - at close quarters. And seeing the bizarre giraffe necked weevil! The guide at Ranamofana National Park (Theo) was quite outstanding - he could identify (and imitate) over 100 of the 120 species of bird. His local knowledge of the forest and it’s inhabitants was incredible, and meeting him will stay as one of the highlights of the trip. A close second is perching on the edge of a zebu cart heading into the water so we could board our boat to the beach hotel! The stay there was paradise after 10 days of non stop travel and activities. A wonderful way to unwind and reflect on what we’d seen and experienced. Another exciting day was in Isalo National Park - a wonderful natural swimming pool and a very hot but worthwhile trek to see Madagascar’s version of the Grand Canyon. The saphire town of Sakaraha was unexpected - the local river full of people, young and old, sieving the soil from the near sapphire mines - backbreaking work for a meagre pay. Meanwhile those who had made it rich drove around in large 4x4 vehicles...

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Come prepared to see some amazing wild and bird life - and insects! The deforestation is heartbreaking as is the poverty, but the people are friendly and inquisitive. A strong bartering tactic is needed when visiting Lake Tritriva - the local vendors are persistent! Be prepared for some very early starts and long days on the road. The roads are better than expected though, and the traffic light - apart from Tana! The accommodation was also much better than expected. It ranged from basic dormitory to some very comfortable hotels. My favourite place was Safari Vezo hotel on the beach at Anako, an hour by boat from the nearest town. No running water and electricity only available from 6 - 10pm, but who needs modern comforts when you are in such a location!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It benefited the locals in as far as they were being employed as guides, hotel staff and drivers. We did get some very interesting comments from a local guide about the real impact the National Parks have had on the local population, not as rosy as is made out, many promises broken or not fulfilled.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent. Our guide Hery was perfect, just the right mix of information on a daily basis, a sense of humour and the ability to be guide/accountant/doctor/personal shopper and general multi-tasker! Our group of 16 gelled well and we had many laughs together. I would though repeat past reviewers in commenting that it was quite cramped on the minibus (only one narrow overhead shelf for day bags, water etc) and a group of 10 would possibly have fared more comfortably on the long road journeys (sometimes 10-12 hours). Also the group of 16 had to be split into 2 groups for the National Park walks.

Reviewed on 24 Nov 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Visiting the rain forests! Breath taking in the early morning mist, the haunting lament of the Indri echoing across the hill side. The ever smiling children and vibrant colours at the local market places.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


It is not an 'easy' tour, lots of very early starts, long hauls over less than smooth roads and you will get a funny tummy!
But it's worth every dawn wake up and trip to the WC!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, I believe it did!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A once in a lifetime experience to a country of extremes that will change rapidly and much of the wildlife and unique plants is about to disappear for good! Go while it's still there!

Reviewed on 23 Nov 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing lemurs, chameleons, birds, other creatures, the landscape - rainforest /though I didn't do walkings because of my broken foot/, desert, rice terraces, daily life of the malagasses,

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


I highly recommend Madagascar as a vacation destination, perhaps include some national parks in the north and west of the country

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, I think it did.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Because of my broken foot I couldn't see the highlights of the trip so is difficult for me to give any rate.

Reviewed on 25 Sep 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing a lemur defecate on my husband whilst he was standing under it to take a photo - he had been warned. Otherwise, just the whole experience. The leader was fantastic, an enthusiastic, knowledgeable man with great people skills. He had a love of his country that shone through. I have been on many vacations both with this operator and other companies. I am convinced - as is my husband, that Rivo is quite the best we have met by far. He is simply outstanding.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


The first 3 days are chilly and wet in the rainforest so bring waterproofs and something warm. The rest of the vacation was hot. Bring walking stick or poles as very useful where some paths are a bit difficult. Be tolerant of those begging, but don't give to them. Contributing to the local economy by buying local goods, even if you later give them away - they are very, very cheap by our standards - helps far more.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. The leader was very much in favour of education for local people and showed how tourisim, when not intrusive, was a very good way of getting across that there were other ways to make money than by cutting down the forest.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was educational and I enjoyed it very much. Whilst Rivo was the best leader we have ever had we did find local guides also excellent. The driver and his assistant were also friendly and very helpful. We had a different leader for 2 days towards the end of the vacation. He was also very good, though as we had bonded with Rivo we were very glad when he was able to rejoin us for the last day or so.

Reviewed on 02 Dec 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing the lemurs and all the other wildlife and swimming in the natural rock pool. The speedboat ride to Anakao. Having a rescued lemur jump on my shoulder and lick my nose-such beautiful gentle creatures and so many more. The Malagasy guide Claude and Fi Fi and Damar the drivers couldn't have been more friendly, knowledgeable and hard working.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take plenty of suncream and deet. Some of the terrain was bit tricky in the heat and some of the older members of the group struggled at times-perhaps the activity level should be moved up one star.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I hope so. Our tips kitty was a good idea as the tips were allocate by Claude, so the porters, local guides and hotel staff all received a reasonable amount. I believe the tour operator supports the local community where we had our homestay.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I had a great time. The guide and drivers were fantastic and the group great. The accommodation was superb, much better than I expected.

Reviewed on 14 Nov 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Crossing the High Atlas, walking in the valley of the Todra Gorge, the souqs of Fes Medina, the Djemma-El-Fna in Marrakesh's Medina, dawn camel ride in Erg Chebbi and watching the sun set on the ramparts of Essaouria.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Arrive a day early in Casablanca to visit the Hassan II Mosque.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Both our tour leader Ali and driver Ahmed were locals (they were both excellent) and we visited various local cooperatives/workshops and ate in local restaurants, so yes, I would say that the vacation benefited the Maghrebians. Our impact on the environment was possibly the least possible, considering that it wasn't possible to use public transport due to the distances we covered and the amount of time we did it in.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The vacation was excellent. Maghreb is a beautiful country and there were some magnificent views on our travels. I had glimpses of the local culture as we walked in the various medinas and towns; and our tour leader was a fount of information on everything Maghrebi.

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