Madagascar Small Group Safari Experience

Michelle Ackerman

26 Sep 2016

Our small group experience

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful two week holiday in Madagascar. We had been wanting to go for years and were NOT disappointed.

Right from the start, Carina at NWS was helpful. We explained what we were interested in seeing and she sent us links to several trips. We chose a small group safari and it was incredible.

Our local guide, Mia (I am sure that I am spelling this wrong) was outstanding. His knowledge of the culture, the wildlife, his easy-going ways and his excellent grasp of the English language made the trip even better. For each hike, we had a local guide to lead us - they were also top notch. You could tell that they all loved their jobs and truly cared about the country and its wildlife.

The highlight of the trip was the wildlife. I fell in love with lemurs and we certainly did get to see all of the ones we searched for. In addition, guides pointed out colourful birds, chameleons and frogs. It was incredible. These guides were even excellent at finding nocturnal creatures in the darkness!

The accommodations were very good for where we were too. And the food was gourmet! Madagascar roads are pretty bad, but our driver was great.

As for the lodges, our first was the Palmarium Lodge. I was a bit concerned beforehand because the electricity is run by generators and power is only available at certain times. However, I was worried for nothing. The electricity was on when we needed it and the lodges were wonderful. They consisted of spacious and comfortable bungalows within the beautiful forest. The best part, though, was that many species of lemurs here are used to people and came right up to us!! What a treat!

In addition to wildlife, we were able to see locals actually making aluminium pots, making fancy paper (for invitations) by hand, and others who crafted utensils and jewellery out of zebu horns. (Zebu are the type of cow in Madagascar). Once we left the mountains and the rainforest regions, we headed south towards Ifaty Beach. Here we were able to see the famous baobab trees. There is nothing else that we have ever seen that looks like these trees. 

In fact, the vast majority of flora and fauna in Madagascar is NOT found anywhere else on earth!!

Because most of the plants and animals in Madagascar are only found there, it is essential that nothing becomes extinct. We were lucky to be able to visit the Kianjavato Lemur Project. The project tracks three species of critically endangered lemurs and works on helping them. Part of this is the reforestation of many areas that were burned by locals for farming. (We even got to plant small trees while we were there!!). Additionally, the project volunteers educate locals and employ them in order to "to preserve forests while simultaneously raising the standard of living for people reliant on natural resources."

I have only praise for NWS. We will definitely use this company again for our next adventure. There were no surprises from a scheduling perspective. In fact, our domestic flight from the capital city of Antananarivo to Tamatave was cancelled but, NWS actually chartered us a small plane so that we would not be inconvenienced in any way. 

What a class operation!


A note about Madagascar itself. It is a wonderful place, but don't expect a five star experience. Madagascar is still far behind us in so many ways. Most of the people in villages live very primitive lives. Many do not even have refrigerators. Bathrooms along the roads are non existent, but bushes are available! My point is, if you know what to expect, you will have a trip of a lifetime. Travelers will stay in fine lodges and eat very good food. But don't be surprised at how poor much of the population is. Besides, the locals actually seem very happy! They will always smile and wave at tourists.

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