• Gecko, Madagascar December

Itinerary Summary

16 Days
Aug - Nov
Small Group Safari
Duration Price When Destination Type
16 Days £4265 Aug - Nov Madagascar Small Group Safari
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Madagascar Small Group Safari

A fantastic small group safari to Madagascar that gives you the opportunity to explore a number of destinations, in the company of just seven others. You will visit the national parks of Isalo, Andasibe, Mantadia and Ranomafana; the Palmarium Reserve; the Kianjavato Lemur Project; and the coastal city of Tulear.

This exhilarating adventure through some of Madagascar's most biodiverse regions showcases the best of its wildlife and natural splendour. As part of a small group of just eight guests, you will first visit the Palmarium Reserve for a glimpse of the peculiar aye-aye, before traversing the wildlife-rich rainforest reserves of Andasibe and Mantadia to listen out for the early-morning calls of the indri lemurs. From there, pass through the country's scenic highlands and try to spot three separate species of bamboo lemur within the forests of Ranomafana National Park The final section of your journey will see the landscape shifting to vineyards, savannah and the rocky outcrops of Isalo National Park – where encounters with the distinctive ring-tailed lemurs beckon – before your safari ends on the west coast of the "Red Island".


What makes this madagascar small group safari extraordinary

  • Group size is limited to a maximum of eight guests (this truly does make a significant difference to your experience, your comfort while in vehicles and your engagement with our naturalist guide).
  • Slow travel Madagascar. This journey travels East-West at a comfortable pace allowing you to fully experience each unique part of the island. There are still long road journeys involved to traverse this island continent, often on rough roads, but we invite you to relax, enjoy the stops en route and watch the scenery slip by.
  • Only your first and last night are spent in the hubbub of the capital city, Antananarivo (you will thank us for not having to return to the capital multiple times).
  • NWS started as World Primate Safaris more than a decade ago. There is no better team to take you to discover the unique primates of Madagascar.
  • Our dedicated naturalist guide has hosted research groups, film crews and dignitaries; his knowledge is encyclopedic.

Embedded Video Overview

A wonderful 16-day small group safari in Madagascar 
from £4,265 per person sharing, excluding international flights

Madagascar Photography Safari 2017

Day by day

Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Antananarivo (Tana)

On arrival in Antananarivo (often abbreviated to Tana) you will be met by our driver and driven to your hotel located just 15 minutes from the airport. Enjoy dinner at the hotel (of your own account) and make use of the hotel facilities. The remainder of your group may arrive on any of the following flight access routes: South Africa Airways via Johannesburg, Kenya Airways via Nairobi, Ethiopian Airways via Addis Ababa, Turkish Airways via Istanbul, Air Mauritius via Mauritius, Air Seychelles via Seychelles or just before midnight on Air France via Paris. You will meet your fellow travel companions at breakfast the next day.

Overnight: Relais des Plateaux

Day 2

Antananarivo – Palmarium Reserve

Meet your Malagasy naturalist guide and fellow travel companions at breakfast. Depart in an air-conditioned mini-coach on the 6-hour road journey to the village of Manambato and departure point at Lake Rasoabe, one of the great lakes of Madagascar. These great lakes were linked by manmade channels to form an inland waterway called the Canal of Pangalanes. Board a speedboat following part of this 600-kilometre long channel for about an hour to head to the Palmarium Lodge, passing by local fishing villages en route. After an hour or so you will arrive at the private reserve of Palmarium, staying either at the Palmarium Lodge or the lakeside Palmarium Beach. The rest of the afternoon is yours at leisure to relax and explore your surroundings.

Overnight: Palmarium Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 3

Palmarium Reserve

Enjoy a walk through the forest with one of the lodge guides. Here it is possible to see Coquerel’s sifakas, black lemurs, red lemurs, crowned lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, and a family of indri, This reserve provides excellent photographic opportunities as you can get very close to the lemurs. The afternoon is yours at leisure. By the end of the afternoon, you will embark your pirogue canoe for a quiet ride on the Pangalanes Canal to an island occupied by the famous aye-aye. About 15 minutes away from the hotel, some six aye-aye individuals live in freedom. You will have about an hour to explore the area and then ride back to the hotel afterwards.

Overnight: Palmarium Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 4

Palmarium Reserve – Andasibe National Park

Today you head south to the renowned reserve of Andasibe, first by boat through the Pangalanes Canal and then around 3.5 hours by road. This is a stunning rainforest with some truly wonderful wildlife. In the afternoon you'll enjoy your first exploration of the park. At nightfall, set off with flashlights to seek out nocturnal species alongside your naturalist guide.
Overnight: Mantadia Lodge

Day 5

Andasibe National Park

A full day exploring Andasibe National Park with your expert wildlife guides. Andasibe is a montane forest park offering the chance to spot a variety of lemurs, reptiles and birds. One of its most famous inhabitants is the indri, the largest of all lemurs, which resembles a black-and-white teddy bear. You hear the indri before you see them and will wake up to their songs of communication in the early hours of the morning, with the mist still hugging the rainforest canopy. Other lemurs which can be seen here are the brown lemur, red-bellied lemur and lesser bamboo lemur, as well as nocturnal species like the brown mouse lemur, greater dwarf lemur (Sep/Oct – May), eastern woolly lemur and sportive lemurs. In addition to lemurs, the rainforests are home to a wide range of reptiles including the boa manditra snake, 84 species of amphibian and some rare and magnificent orchids. This is also a place to find the unique satanic leaf-tailed gecko, as well as bizarre insects like the famous giraffe-necked weevil. Hiking in the forests requires a good level of fitness as there are some steep slopes and dense vegetation. As late afternoon rolls around, spend time on the property of Vakona Forest Lodge. There is a small island surrounded by fresh water here, which is home to various species of lemur (common brown lemurs, bamboo lemurs, ruffed lemurs and diademed sifakas), providing an opportunity to get some close-up photographs.
Overnight: Mantadia Lodge

Day 6

Mantadia National Park

Today you will spend the day exploring Mantadia National Park. This is 20km (1 hour) north of Andasibe and offers a much more rugged experience with steeper, slippery trails, but can offer up rewarding sightings. In contrast to Andasibe it is comprised of virtually untouched primary forest with just a few constructed trails. Here you’ll have good chances of spotting the golden-coloured diademed sifaka and the local indri (who, for some reason, are darker than their Andasibe relatives) as well as black-and-white ruffed lemurs. Some endemic species like the common brown lemur, eastern lesser bamboo lemur, sportive lemurs and mouse lemurs (the smallest of all lemurs) can also be found. The park has some excellent birdwatching including chances of seeing the scaly ground-roller, pitta-like ground roller and red-breasted coua. Mantadia is also a kingdom of the orchids. Cymbidiellas falcigera and Bulbophyllum ameleni are the most enigmatic species, because in addition to being rare and magnificent plants, they also maintain the balance of the forest’s ecosystem. You'll be spending the majority of the day in the park with a packed picnic lunch.
Overnight: Mantadia Lodge

Day 7

Andasibe National Park – Antsirabe

Today you depart Andasibe and drive back towards Tana, then southwards to Antsirabe (approx. 6-hour drive including stops). Throughout the day you'll pass through a variety of highland scenery, with an optional stop at Ambatolampy to see aluminium pot casting. Antsirabe is the third-largest city in Madagascar. Best known for its thermal springs, the city emerged as a spa town in the late 1800s when Norwegian missionaries built a health retreat here. The compact city centre with its interesting mix of architecture invites visitors for a walk along the tree-lined avenues. In the afternoon there may be time to visit two or three of the many brilliant artisan workshops found here, including silk, gems, scrap metal, weaving, models, zebu horn crafts, raffia, sweets, beer and cheese.

Overnight: Plumeria Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 8

Antsirabe - Ranomafana National Park

You will then continue your drive south through the highlands and make your way eastwards to the rainforest reserve of Ranomafana National Park. The scenic drive takes about 7 hours, however you will enjoy a stop off at Ambositra for lunch. This town is known for its woodcarving industry; look out for the houses' uniquely carved balconies and shutters. Should you wish, you can stop off at one of the local woodcarving shops to see the handicrafts – including Christian wood carvings – that the town produces. You will arrive in Ranomafana in the late afternoon and check in to your hotel.

Overnight: Thermal Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 9

Kianjavato Lemur Project

Today you will have the privilege of visiting our exclusive conservation project about 1.5 hours from Ranomafana. This busy project researches bamboo lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs and aye-ayes, as well as conducting reforestation and working with local communities and schools. Your day will include tracking these highly endangered lemurs, as well as having the chance to visit a nearby school (depending on school holidays), and spending time with the researchers to understand more about conservation issues in Madagascar.

Overnight: Thermal Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 10

Ranomafana National Park

Today is spent exploring Ranomafana National Park. Ranomafana (which is Malagasy for ‘hot water’) is a diverse habitat which spans 415 square kilometres and is comprised of waterfalls, dense rainforest and mountainous areas. There are many different species of animals to spot here. There are 12 species of lemur, including the golden bamboo lemur, which was discovered here in 1986. It is thought that the reason behind their golden fur lies in their diet of bamboo tips, which contain cyanide. The park is excellent for spotting birds; there are over 118 species here! You may even be lucky enough to spot the rare greater bamboo lemur. Sadly, there are fewer than 150 individuals left in the wild. You can look out for the endearing red-bellied lemurs who live in couples with their offspring, red-fronted brown lemurs that reside in groups, and Milne-Edwards' sifakas. A variety of trails and footpaths lead you through this dense jungle, but it's the sheer majesty of the forest itself that makes the park so beautiful. Sturdy footwear is essential to tackle the rugged and sometimes slippery trails.

Overnight: Thermal Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 11

Ranomafana National Park – Isalo National Park

Today you make an early start for the drive south (approximately 8 hours including stops). After a brief stop at Fianarantsoa, the last major town of the highlands, you will descend into the west coast region where the scenery drastically changes to open savannah grasslands with zebu herds tended by Malagasy herdsmen. There is time before lunch to visit the vineyards found at the town of Ambalavao and to see handmade paper being produced. Just after Ambalavao is the community-managed reserve of Anja. Here you should be able to spot troupes of ring-tailed lemurs in the forest between huge granite outcrops, a wonderful photo opportunity. In the late afternoon you will be driving through the fantastic scenery of Isalo National Park before arriving at the oasis setting of your lodge for the night.

Overnight: Jardin du Roy (B, L, D)

Day 12

Isalo National Park

Today you have the exciting opportunity to trek through Isalo’s striking canyons and along its dramatic headland, which has been manipulated by the wind and rainfall over the years into a variety of bizarre shapes. A classic walk is along the massif affording dramatic views from the cliff-hugging paths. Arrive late in the afternoon at "La Piscine Naturelle", a natural swimming pool formed in the rocks fringed by palm trees and forever topped up by a flowing waterfall. After a long day in the sun, a dip here is hard to resist! Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Jardin du Roy (B, L, D)

Day 13

Isalo National Park – Ifaty

Today your journey continues onwards and south towards the coastal area of Ifaty (via Tulear). This drive presents you with new scenery once again, with the dry and spiny forests of the south. You will stop off at Zombitse -Vahibasia National Park which is a hugely important park in terms of biodiversity as it is the only remaining transition forest between the west and southern regions. As well as being a birder's paradise, home to the Appert's greenbul, it also is home to a variety of lemurs (including the verreaux's sifaka) and also baobabs, so a great chance to get up close to these magnificent trees. You will then continue your drive south to Tulear and on to the fishing village of Ifaty about 2 hours north of Tulear. With a mix of sandy stretches and some rocky sections, Ifaty beach is nice enough for a brief respite from travelling across this vast island. The key reason to come here is to access the spiny forest with its mix of succulent plants, baobabs and birdlife. This evening you will go on a night walk in search of nocturnal species

Overnight: Le Paradisier (B, L, D)

Day 14


With a mix of sandy stretches and some rocky sections, Ifaty beach is nice enough for a brief respite from travelling across this vast island. The key reason to come here is to access the spiny forest with its mix of succulent plants, baobabs and birdlife. This is not a destination for those wanting to relax on the beach. This morning set off on a guided visit to the Reniala spiny forest, home to the famous Baobab trees as well as many interesting birds and flora that manage to flourish in these difficult conditions. The spiny forest conjures images of wild and spiky flora, lemurs clinging to the sharp prickles of the trees, seemingly unfazed by their needle-like protrusions. There are no activities planned for the afternoon which gives you the opportunity to relax at your hotel. The quality of the snorkelling is reasonable or you may like to arrange a sailing trip on a local dhow. Humpback whales may be sighted from here between July and September.

Overnight: Le Paradisier (B)

Day 15

Iftay - Antananarivo

Today you will be driven to Tulear Airport (around one and a half hour drive) stopping off en route to visit the Honko mangroves if time permits. On landing in Antananarivo you will be met and driven to your hotel. Later in the day you will be taken on a tour of the Upper Town and museum before enjoying dinner at Cafe du Musée.

Overnight: Relais des Plateaux

Day 16

Depart Antananarivo



This is a small group safari departing on set dates, limited to just 8 passengers. Early booking is recommended. Accommodation and areas have been chosen for their proximity to the wildlife and to give you the best experience we can in Madagascar. It is possible to extend this safari with activities or beach time at the beginning or end; just speak to us for more details.

Please note that pricing is subject to exchange rate fluctuations. 

Trip date Prices from
Aug 06 - Aug 21 2023 £4265
Aug 27 - Sep 11 2023 £4265
Sep 17 - Oct 02 2023 £4265
Oct 08 - Oct 23 2023 £4265

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