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Madagascar Help and Advise

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Hi All

I am planning a trip to Madagascar end Sept / Oct this year and am calling upon all experts who are willing to share their experiences and advise....

based upon:

I have the luxury of "only" one month to travel in Madagascar and therefore need to choose what is best based on my travel preferences and things I'd like to see and do...

At the moment the ideas I have

** couple of days in Tana

** are to include a short canoe trip and some trekking.

** visit National park of Isalo and trek through Canyons - travel onto Tulear.

** any out door hot springs / thermal baths to visit

** visit Reserve of Perinet and Mantadia from Tana.

** We would like to end off with 5 nights/6 days on a nice beach in a bungalow with own bathroom set a beach somewhere fairly quiet (do not want large hotel or anything too touristy) possibly somewhere on Nosy Be or Sainte Marie. Definitely want to do some scuba diving (am Certified)

** definitely want to see Lemurs - but I guess that is possible just about anywhere in the National Parks mentioned

Do not want to travel too long distances by road (prefer to fly is possible) - no more that 4 hours per day.

Would rather spend a couple of days (plus) in some places and not rush from place to place - I know this may mean cutting out a couple of places - but can always come back at a later date

I do not speak much French at all - is English easily understood and fairly widely spoken?.

The itinerary below has been suggested to me but I am worried that it is too rigid and rushed....

so any advise or suggestions would be very welcome and appreciated.

[i]ITINERARY: Tana - Antsirabe - Miandrivazo - Canoe-trip on Tsiribihina - Tsingy of Bemaraha - Morondava - Tuléar - Isalo NP - Fianarantsoa - Ranomafana NP - Tana - Périnet (Indri RS, Mantadia NP) - Tana - Nosy Be - Tana

Day 1 Arrival in Tana
Arrival at the airport welcome and transfer to the hotel. City-tour in Tana. Grégoire Hotel *** BB

Day 2 Tana - Antsirabe 170 km
Departure for Antsirabe by car in the Highlands through the green rice fields. Lunch at the Restaurant "au rendez vous des Pêcheurs" in Ambatolampy. Continuation to Antsirabe, the town was built by the Norwegian missionaries and is famous for its rickshaws, thermal springs, semi-precious and precious stones. The visit of the stone cutter factory is a must. Thermes Hotel****BB

Day 3 Transfer to Miandrivazo via Antsirabe by car in the Highlands through the green rice fields. Hotel Relais Rasalimo HB
Day 4-5 Canoe-trip along the river Belo sur tsiribihinaThe descent will last 3 days and 2 nights. You will see wild lemurs, ducks, birds, insects, snakes (there are no poisonous snakes in Madagascar) and butterflies. Field glasses are necessary. You will go through green narrow passes, make stops at interesting places such as amazing waterfalls and natural swimming-pool. At this occasion, you will learn about the simple life of the hospitable peasants. In the evening you will camp on the bank of the river, where the local guide will prepare delicious Malagasy dishes for you. Accommodation in tent. FB

Day 6 Arrival in Tsiraraka, transfer to Belo sur TSiribihina. Hotel Menabe BB

Day 7 Transfer to Bekopaka 120 km
Departure to bekopaka Accomodation in tent FB

Day 8 Bekopaka-Grand tsingy 30 km
The Strict Nature Reserve of Bemaraha is classified
« world cultural riches » since 1990 and regarded as « Reserve of Biosphere ».
With its 150 000 ha area, the Tsingy of Bemaraha is the biggest protected area in Madagascar. During many years the wind and rain have been transforming the calcarious clives in long and sharp stones . Trekking tour in the «Grand Tsingy» will allow you to discover amazing landscapes composed of many endemic plants such as the Pachypodium, the euphorbiacea .
You can also observe rare animals like the chameleon « Brookesia Perarmata » and the Ankoay or Malagasy Fish eagle .Accomodation in tent FB

Day 9 Bekopaka - Morondava 285 Km
Transfer to Morondava., This town is known for its thousands of baobabs which can live up to 5000 years. Today you will see the famous "Allée de baobabs" with its wonderful sunset. Renala Hotel BB

Day 10 Flight from Morondava to Tuléar
Flight back to Tuléar. Hotel Escapade BB

Day 11 Drive to Ranohira (Isalo) 240 Km
Traveling through Tuléar to Isalo. After a short city-tour in Tuléar, 27 km in the north of Ifaty you will see the famous big Mahafaly tombs on your way. These are particularly interesting because of the sceneries representing the daily life of the deceased. Continuation to the ruin-like massif of Isalo, home for lemurs and sapphire. Relais de la Reine*** BB

Day 12 Ranohira (Isalo) Trekking from The canyons to the "natural swimming-pool"; 16 km

The trekking departs from the Canyons to "natural swimming-pool", a delightful oasis in the middle of the ruin-like massif. The tombs of the Bara people are placed between the rocks in the Park. Birds, snakes, lemurs. live there. Before getting dark you will enjoy the sunset at "la fenêtre de l'Isalo". Nice palm-trees remind you of the Arabian landscapes. Picnic in the Parc. Accomodation in tent in the National Park of Isalo. Relais de la Reine Hotel*** BB

Day 13 Ranohira - Fianarantsoa 300 Km
You leave the Bush in the South and coninue to the next town Ihosy, the capital of the Bara tribe (mostly shepherds), you will meet Bara people with spears and large zebu herds, a sign of wealth in the southern region. Transfer to Ambalavao, the wine-growing region and the biggest zebu-market of the island. Stop at the Antaimoro paper-manufacturing centre; nice papers are made all by hand from plants similar to papyrus, the so-called "Avoha" and decorated with many flowers.
Continuation to Fianarantsoa, the administration centre of the Betsileo tribe. Soafia Hotel/ Zomatel*** BB

Day 14 Fianarantsoa - Ranomafana 60 Km
Drive to the National Park of Ranomafana, where the golden bamboo lemur was rediscovered in 1989. Several endemic animal species can be observed very closely: birds, chameleons, frogs, insects and lemurs. Visit of a Smiths' village on your way to Ranomafana. Nocturnal Walking in the Park. Hotel Domaine Nature (Bungalow)/ Setam Lodge/ Centrest Séjour BB

Day 15 Ranomafana
Walking in the National Park of Ranomafana. In the afternoon, possibility to swim in the natural thermal swimming-pool
Hotel Domaine Nature (Bungalow)/ Setam Lodge/ Centrest Séjour BB

Day 16 Drive back to Fianarantsoa, flight back to Tana (there is only a flight to Tana from Fianarantsoa on Thursdays)
Hôtel Grégoire*** BB

Day 17 Tana - Périnet 142 km
Transfer to Marozevo, 72 km from Tana. Visit of the famous exotic farming centre of Mr.Pereyras where you will see almost all the chameleon species of Madagascar, butterflies, lizards, snakes, bats and other interesting animals. Picnic in the Parc, continuation to Périnet. Nocturnal walking in the Reserve of Périnet.
Feon'ny Ala Hotel/ Buffet de La Gare Hotel BB

Day 18 Périnet
Trekking In the Reserve of Périnet where you can see the Indri, the biggest lemur species in the world. The Indri differ from the other sorts through their loud communicationcalls that can be heard even from 4 km distance. Drive to the National Park of Mantadia, one of the rare primary forests in the World. Trekking in the Primary Forest of Mantadia which remind You of Amazonia to see Lemurs such as Sifaka and the brown ones. Feon'ny Ala Hotel/ Buffet de La Gare Hotel BB

Day 19 Drive back to Tana. Transfer to the airport for the flight to Nosy Be. Hotel Chanty Beach BB

Day 20 - Day 23 Nosy Be
You have free schedules during your stay in Nosy Be. Excursions to the surrounding isles can be organized on the spot. You can find macaco lemurs
on the isle Komba ("Nosy Komba").

"Nosy Tany kely" is the best place for nautical activities and the reserve of Lokobe is an ideal place to observe lots of lemurs, snakes, birds and other interesting animals easily. A day's excursion through the big Isle is also recommended: you drive to the sacred place, where people come and bring offerings to the ancestors on the foot of huge Banyan-trees.

You go to the old town afterwards and in the afternoon
you can visit the Rum and Sugar factory. In the evening, you go up to the "Mont Passot" where you can have a fantastic view of the surrounding crater
lakes. At the end you'll enjoy the fabulous sunset.. Free schedule, Hotel Chanty Beach BB

Day 24 Transfer to the airport. Flight back to Tana. Grégoire Hotel*** Bb

Day 25 Shopping at an artisans' market. Flight to Europe[/i]

[b]Many thanks for any commments[/b]

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