Madagascar walking vacations

2 minute summary

Madagascar walking vacations delve into the island’s south-central and eastern regions, remote landscapes dominated by the Andringitra Massif – all black granite cliffs, rock spires, gaping chasms, natural swimming pools and hidden waterfalls. Multi day treks here see vegetation shifting with elevation: rainforests, cloud forest, the scrub of the high plateaus, explored by just a handful of tourists each year. Elsewhere, national parks protect remaining tracts of virgin forest, sheltering lemurs, chameleons, and hundreds of species of birds. On the parks’ fringes, you can encounter the Malagasy culture, too – walking through rice fields, markets, entire villages hand carved from endemic wood.
Our Madagascar walking vacations travel guide showcases the best of these trips – which also include days spent canoeing through sapphire canyons, over rapids and calm stretches, as well as swimming and snorkelling on the stunning coast – what better excuse to soak your aching legs in these turquoise waters?

Is a Madagascar walking vacation for you?

Responsible Travel recommends

Go on a walking vacation in Madagascar if…

… you like adventure. Proper adventure. Open minds are as essential as good walking boots and sunscreen on a Madagascar walking vacation. Unpredictable weather, crazy terrain, appalling roads and dodgy tums mean that no matter how well planned your trip may be, flexibility has to be built in. These are remote landscapes, and the privilege of exploring deep canyons and unmapped rivers will always come with a certain level of unpredictability. We prefer to call it adventure.

… you want to contribute to conservation. Deforestation is an almost incomprehensibly huge problem in Madagascar. Pop into a national park for a few hours, and you’ll experience the forest. Spend two days trekking up to a viewpoint, and surveying the landscape you’ll realise that forest ends quickly, as deforestation has taken its toll. Luckily, the walking vacation companies partner with local conservation initiatives, and visitors between October-March may have chance to plant a sapling.

… you want to paddle as well as trek. Many of our walking vacations include around three days canoeing along little-explored river systems, through dense jungle, deep sapphire canyons where local people can be seen sifting the sand, and past isolated villages. There are calm stretches as well as rapids, and at times we’ll need to carry our canoes, especially during the driest months. Like we said – it’s an adventure…

Don’t go on a walking vacation in Madagascar if…

… you’re a fair-weather walker. Rainforests and cloud forests are some of the most beautiful and biodiverse landscapes in the world – but with that comes steep, slippery terrain, unpredictable weather and the likelihood of a soaking. Bring waterproofs.

… you’re not a happy camper. Multi-day treks in particular will involve camping in remote locations each night, while even fixed bungalows and cabins may have only basic facilities. For many people this adds to the expedition-like nature of these trips – plus, you’ll be tired enough after a day of trekking over tough terrain that you’ll sleep like a log anyway. But if you’re not up for camping, perhaps a walking vacation in Madagascar is not for you.

… you’re here for the wildlife. Laurenne Mansbridge, from our Madagascar walking vacations supplier Pioneer Expeditions, explains: “During many of the hiking trips, you won’t be seeing lots of animals. Most lemurs can only be found within national parks, which have to be visited specifically. The multi day hikes are rarely in areas frequented by fauna.”

Best time to go on a walking vacation in Madagascar

Click on a location: Isalo | Ranomafana
The best time to go on a walking vacation in Madagascar is April or May, when the rains have just about eased off and temperatures are a little cooler – but the landscapes remain lush. Baby lemurs are usually born in June and July – though if heading to Isalo National Park, the ring tailed lemurs there don’t give birth until October. Birders should consider a walking vacation in August or September, when migratory species are at their most abundant, along with the endemics. November and December can be uncomfortably hot, particularly in the southwest.
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Written by Vicki Brown
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