Madagascar: Artisans, Baobabs, & Lemurs

Trip Overview

Journey with us to the magical island of Madagascar in August 2018 for an off the “beaten path” adventure in Africa to explore a bizarre world completely unlike any you’ve experienced before!

Welcome to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar! Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world. You will be amazed by this African island's biodiversity, home to some 2,300 species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. But this island’s greatest secret is its warm and friendly people. The Malagasy are proud of their heritage and are keen to share their art, handicrafts, food, and music with travelers to Madagascar.

We begin our journey in Madagascar in Ambositra, a small town recognized for its Zafimaniry woodcarvings and handicrafts. The Zafimaniry people are known for the typical wooden architecture of their houses, and their woodcarving knowledge and art was added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage sites.

We then drive to the Manandriana area to learn about silk weaving from a group of local women weavers. From the silk worm to a woven scarf, discover the art of transforming a cocoon of wire and different stages of silk weaving. You will learn about the different stages of silk weaving, cooking the cocoons, spinning, dyeing, and weaving. And you'll even try your hand on the loom!

For the next two and a half days, you will boat down the Tsiribihina River, showcasing everyday life, riverside, in Madagascar. You'll likely encounter Madagascar boatmen, barges, and motor freight carrying local villagers and goods, as well as herds of zebu cattle that cross the river. In the evenings, we'll leave the river to set up camp on the bank of the river. This is truly off-the-beaten-path - you will be putting the “Adventure” in AdventureWomen, as you sleep under the stars in your tent in your comfortable sleeping bag. Our campsite is on a huge sandy bank bordering a neighboring forest.

You'll enjoy seeing your first baobab trees along the river. There are nine species of the iconic baobab tree found in the world, and six of them are found in Madagascar. Baobabs are often referred to as “upside-down trees”, due to the root-like appearance of their tangled branches.

Madagascar is also world-famous for its lemurs. Lemurs are primates that look something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog. These animals are unique to the island and display a range of interesting behaviors. Today, lemurs are found in virtually all of Madagascar’s ecosystems and share some of the social and behavioral characteristics of monkeys, including forming social groups, eating fruit and vegetation, and being active during the day.

After your Tsiribihina River experience, four-wheel-drive vehicles are waiting to take you to Tsingy of Bemaraha National Park. This is a true African bush adventure where you will be traveling on bumpy roads as you drive through remarkable, relatively remote countryside before arriving at your hotel.

The Tsingy are a very peculiar rock formation, which only exist in Madagascar. These limestone pinnacles are formed by the slow sedimentation of coral and shell along with the effects of wind and water.  These “stone forests”, which can tower several hundred meters high, contain a labyrinth of caves, underground rivers, and canyons, where rich populations of bats, lemurs, birds, and a specific flora thrive.

We then head to Morondava, a city on the west coast of Madagascar. The protected area of Menabe Antimena is characterized by a dense and dry forest, alternating with landscapes of mangroves and some wetlands. This area hosts eight lemur species, five species of rodents, three species of carnivores, seven species of insectivores and eleven species of bats.

We end our Madagasgar adventure, leaving the countryside and heading back to Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. You'll enjoy learning folk songs and dances from a group of local women as you celebrate the warmth and hospitality of the friendly Malagsy!

Join us in August 2018 for culture, wildlife, art, river cruising and camping on a true African adventure on the magical island of Madagascar!

 

Main Attractions

  • A forest of stone
  • 3-day river cruise on the Tsiribihina River meeting local people and learning about their lives
  • Search for lemurs, birds, chameleons and rare flora on the riverbanks, found nowhere else on Earth
  • Explore Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park for 3 days with stunning rock formations only found in Madagascar
  • Marvel at the fauna and baobab trees found in Menabe Antimena
  • Learn silk weaving and embroidery from local women

What You'll See and Do

  • Anthropology
  • Camping
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Handicrafts
  • Local Delicacies
  • National Parks
  • Natural History
  • River Cruising
  • Spa Element
  • Walking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Women-To-Women

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Madagascar: Artisans, Baobabs, & Lemurs

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Sunday, August 5 - Arrive in Antananarivo
Welcome to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar! Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the World. You will be amazed by its biodiversity, home to some 2,300 species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth! The island’s greatest secret is also the most obvious - the warm and friendly people. The Malagasy are proud of their heritage and are keen to share their art, handicrafts, food, and music with travelers.

You will be picked up at the Ivato International Airport by your guide and transferred to your hotel.

Enjoy a welcome dinner and group orientation this evening.
Welcome Dinner

Overnight: Hotel Colbert
https://www.hotel-restaurant-colbert.com/

The Colbert Hotel shines at the heart of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Situated in the city center, its privileged location will impress you with its panoramic view of the city.

 

Day 2

Monday, August 6 - Antananarivo to Ambositra
Ambositra is a small town recognized for its Zafimaniry woodcarvings and handicrafts. The Zafimaniry people are known for the typical wooden architecture of their houses, and their woodcarving knowledge and art was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Leave Antananarivo this morning and head for Ambositra. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant along the way.

The Zafimaniry are celebrated for their woodworking skills. Their homes are built entirely of wood without using any nails. Houses and other wooden household items are decorated with symbolic geometric patterns that blend Arab and Austronesian influences. The woodworkers use over 20 types of trees, each with their own specific properties and uses. Their woodworking style was formerly widespread across Madagascar but is now largely preserved only among this ethnic group.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Artisan Hotel

This small, basic hotel is a perfect place to stay in Ambositra. You’ll enjoy the woodcarvings around the property as well as the simple but excellent local cuisine.

Day 3

Tuesday, August 7 - Ambositra to Antsirabe
Antsirabe is the third-largest city in Madagascar and is known for its relatively cool climate and the high concentration of pulled rickshaws or “pousse-pousse” in French.

Drive to the Manandriana area to learn about silk with local women. From the silk worm to a woven scarf, discover the art of transforming a cocoon of wire and different stages of silk weaving. You will see the different stages of silk weaving, cooking the cocoons, spinning, dyeing, and weaving. Try your hand on the loom!

Join a local family for lunch.

Drive to Antsirabe and relax at your hotel this evening.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Couleur Cafe
http://www.couleurcafeantsirabe.com/

Your lovely hotel close to the city center has a home-like feel. Charming and comfortable, this hotel welcomes you for a serene stay in a green and calm environment.

 

Day 4

Wednesday, August 8 - Antsirabe to Miandrivazo
Miandrivazo is a small town on the Tsiribihina River. This sleepy town is home to farmers who grow rice, beans, and maize.

This morning, you will visit an embroidery workshop led by local women. Spend some time with them to learn how to embroider tablecloths and bedding.

Enjoy some of the local cuisine in Antsirabe.

Leave Antsirabe for Miandrivazo. This will be your launch point for your descent of the Tsiribihina River.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Princesse Tsiribihina
http://www.princesse-tsiribihina.com/

Enjoy your comfortable room with a private terrace, the large garden, and the stunning swimming pool with a perfect view to watch the sunset.

Day 5

Thursday, August 9 - Miandrivazo to Tsiribihina River
The Tsiribihina River flows through everyday life in Madagascar. You will come across boatmen, barges, and motor freight carrying local villagers and goods, as well as herds of zebu cattle that cross the river.

Transfer to the jetty of Masekampy, where you will board the barge and begin your descent of the Tsiribihina River, through landscapes of mango trees, tobacco plantations, and Sakalava villages. After lunch you will enter the gorge, and search for your first lemurs.

Around 4:00pm, you will leave the river to set up camp on the bank. This is truly off-the-beaten-path - you will put the “Adventure” in AdventureWomen, as you stay in tents with sleeping bags. The campsite is on a huge sand bank bordering the forest.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Tents and Sleeping Bags

This is true adventure camping. Stay in comfortable tents and sleeping bags along the banks of the river. You will feel truly immersed in the wilderness.

Day 6

Friday, August 10 - Tsiribihina River
Madagascar is world-famous for its lemurs. Lemurs are primates that look something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog. These animals are unique to the island and display a range of interesting behaviors. Madagascar’s lemurs — isolated from evolutionary changes of the world — radiated into the large island’s many niches without much competition or predation. Today, lemurs are found in virtually all of Madagascar’s ecosystems and share some of the social and behavioral characteristics of monkeys, including forming social groups, eating fruit and vegetation, and being active during the day.

Continue your trip down the Tsiribihina River.

Stop at a waterfall, and walk for half an hour to a beautiful natural pool. After a refreshing break, head back to the boat. Boat between high cliffs and float by villages.

Arrive at your campsite this evening. You will be joined by people from the local community for a small party featuring local music!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Tents and Sleeping Bags

 

Day 7

Saturday, August 11 - Tsiribihina River to Tsingy de Bemahara
There are nine species of the baobab tree found in the world, and six of them are found in Madagascar. Baobabs are often referred to as “upside-down trees”, due to the root-like appearance of their tangled branches.

Say goodbye to the local village and continue your descent of the river. You’ll see your first baobabs along the river. Leave the barge at Belo Tsiribihina.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch, your four-wheel-drive vehicles are waiting to take you to Tsingy of Bemaraha National Park. This is a true adventure - you will be on rough roads for about five hours. At the end of your drive through remarkable, relatively untraveled countryside, you’ll cross the River Manambolo and arrive at your hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Soleil des Tsingy
http://www.soleildestsingy.com/

Nestled at the heart of a well-preserved natural area, the Soleil des Tsingy Hotel is the ideal base for an extraordinary stay in the Tsingy of Bemaraha. Enjoy the infinity pool, a wide choice of menus at the restaurant, a dramatic view of the Manalambo river, and the stunning sunset, while you appreciate one of the most impressive and unique natural views in the world.

Day 8

Sunday, August 12 - Tsingy de Bemahara
The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a national park located in the Melaky Region, northwest Madagascar, centered on two geological formations: the Great Tsingy and the Little Tsingy.

The Tsingy are a very peculiar rock formation, which only exist in Madagascar. They are limestone pinnacles, formed by the slow sedimentation of coral and shell along with the effects of wind and water. The Tsingy have been forming since Madagascar separated from the mainland of Africa 165 million years ago. These strange “cathedral like” peaks can tower several hundred meters high.

These “stone forests” contain caves, underground rivers, and canyons, where bats, lemurs, birds, and a specific flora have adapted.

Explore this remarkable national park, and enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.

After a full day exploring this unique area, spend some time relaxing at your hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Soleil des Tsingy

Day 9

Monday, August 13 - Tsingy de Bemahara to Morondava
Morondava is a city on the west coast of Madagascar. It is home to the Avenue of the Baoababs, where there are 20-25 baobab trees within 300 yards. The trees did not originally tower in isolation over the dry landscape of scrub but stood in dense forest. Over the years, as the country’s population grew, the forests were cleared for agriculture, leaving only the baobab trees, which the locals preserved as much in respect as for their value as a food source and building material.

Drive back to Morondava, crossing Manambolo and Tsiribihina Rivers on a ferry. Enjoy lunch along the way.

Before you arrive at your hotel, stop at the Avenue of the Baobabs to enjoy the sunset. These giant trees are a remarkable sight in the orange glow of the evening light.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Palissandre Cote Ouest
http://www.hotel-restaurant-palissandrecoteouest.com/en/

The Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest Madagascar is located on the beach of Morondava. Each room has a private terrace with sea view. There is a lovely pool located next to the bar and restaurant, and you can enjoy massages at the spa, which will be welcome after all of the bumpy roads!

Day 10

Tuesday, August 14 - Morondava
The protected area of Menabe Antimena is characterized by a dense and dry forest, alternating with landscapes of mangroves and some wetlands. Covering an area of more than 480,000 acres, the site contains a particularly rich fauna. There are eight lemur species, five species of rodents, three species of carnivores, seven species of insectivores and eleven species of bats.

Take a full day to explore this ecologically diverse area. Search for lemurs and other mammals, and enjoy learning about the diverse plant life.

Enjoy lunch at Camp Amoureux, set in the middle of the forest.

On your way back to Morondava, keep your eyes open for more exiting wildlife sightings!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Palissandre Cote Ouest

Day 11

Wednesday, August 15 - Morondava to Antananarivo
Leave the countryside this morning and head back to Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital.

Fly from Morondava to Antananarivo this morning. When you land, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

This afternoon, learn folk songs and dances from a group of local women. You will love learning the tunes and steps from these engaging, fun women!

Have a farewell dinner with your new AdventureWomen friends. Reminisce over all of the memories you have made and celebrate the end of an incredible trip!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Colbert Hotel

Day 12

Thursday, August 16 - Antananarivo and Depart
Enjoy one last morning in Antananarivo before departing for the US.

Say goodbye to your new AdventureWomen friends as you transfer to the airport for your flights home.
Breakfast

 

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Madagascar: Artisans, Baobabs, & Lemurs

Traveling to Madagascar



Traveling to Madagascar

Arrive: Arrive at Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar (TNR) on August 5, 2018.

Depart: Depart Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar (TNR) on August 16, 2018.

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. Please contact us at:

(800) 804-8686 or (617) 544-9393
email: info@adventurewomen.com

If you’d like to do anything prior to or following the AdventureWomen trip, we’d be delighted to help you arrange any trip extensions you’re interested in.

Note: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last-minute registrants, we must release hotel rooms two to three months prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates with at least two blank facing pages. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

You will need a tourist visa to enter Madagascar. You can either obtain your visa upon arrival at the airport, or you can apply for it prior to your trip. For more details, please visit http://www.madagascar-embassy.org/en/tourist/

Health Considerations

We rate this trip as moderate. You should be able to walk comfortably for two to three hours at a time. We have a partnership with FitForTrips, a company that will design an individualized fitness plan for you to ensure that you are prepared for the trip.
Visit https://fitfortrips.com/ partners/adventure-women/ for more information.

You should come with a flexible, adventurous, and enthusiastic spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor that adventure travel requires.

Make an appointment with a travel clinic. There are no immunization requirements for travel to Madagascar, however your local travel clinic may have recommendations for you based on your age, health, and past vaccination history.

For more health information, go to www.cdc.gov/travel and navigate to the page about Madagascar.

Money

US Dollars are accepted in Madagascar. Credit cards are not generally accepted beyond in a few large hotels, where there is generally a surcharge for credit card use of 3-4%. ATMs are in larger towns only.

Suggested Gratuities:

  • Main guide: $10 per day
  • Drivers: $5 per day
  • National Park Guides: $5 per day
  • Hotel Staff: $5 per day

How to Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone. As a courtesy, we can hold your space for five days while you are making personal and travel arrangements.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking "Sign Up for this Trip" on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Forms and Final Payment

Once you book, you will need to fill out and return to AdventureWomen:

  • Information Form
  • Booking Conditions Form
  • Copy of Flight Information
  • Copy of Issuing Page of Passport (photo page)

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen in a cash form (check, money order, or wire transfer) on or before May 7, 2018.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Madagascar: Artisans, Baobabs, & Lemurs

Included

  • All hotel accommodations throughout the trip
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Fully-guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • English-speaking guides throughout the trip
  • Bottled water during all drives and excursions
  • Snacks in the vehicles
  • One AdventureWomen Associate

Not Included

  • International airfare to and from Madagascar
  • Domestic airfare
  • Optional activities as listed in the itinerary
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for passports, visas, or immunizations
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Madagascar: Artisans, Baobabs, & Lemurs

What to Bring

April until mid-November is the dry season in Madagascar. From mid-June to mid-September, it is Madagascar’s winter in the highlands; during the day, the temperature can rise to 65°F, but overnight it can get down to 41°F. On the coast it will be quite a bit warmer.

Casual, comfortable clothing is recommended for this AdventureWomen trip.

There is a weight limit of 44lbs for your checked baggage and 11lbs for your carry-on baggage on your internal flight. Your carry-on can be no larger than 11”x15”x8”.

Clothing and Gear:

  • Duffel bag or small suitcase Daypack
  • Medium-weight, waterproof hiking boots (make sure they
    are broken in!)
  • 2-3 pairs wool hiking socks
  • 3-4 short sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 1-2 long sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 1 medium weight fleece sweater/jacket for cool evenings
  • 1-2 pairs of pants 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • 1-2 sets of nicer clothes for dinner
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Hat for sun protection 5-7 pairs underwear
  • 5-7 pairs of socks
  • Comfortable walking shoes Sandals
  • Sleepwear

AdventureWomen Essentials:

  • Travel documents (passport, airline tickets, money)
  • 2-3 spare passport photos (in case of lost passport)
  • Write down/print out travel insurance number
  • Locks for your suitcase/duffel bag
  • Travel alarm clock with spare batteries
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries
  • Binoculars (8x40/42 models are excellent choices; center focus models are easiest)
  • Digital camera, memory cards, battery charger
  • Power adapters
  • Sunglasses, case, and strap
  • Spare glasses, contact lenses, cleaner, saline, etc.
  • Money belt or neck pouch
  • Your AdventureWomen insulated bottle (good for hot or cold drinks!)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Small packet of tissues
  • Tampons and panty liners (avoid plastic applicators)
  • Earplugs: We recommend Mack’s Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs. Available at most drugstores or at www.earplugstore.com
  • Assortment of stuff sacks and Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 bandanas/Buff
  • Reading material/journal and pens

Personal First Aid Kit:

  • Prescription medicine you usually take (in original containers)
  • Personal epi pen (if you need one, don’t forget to pack it!)
  • Bandages, Gauze, Ace bandage, blister prevention
  • Antiseptic wipes/spray
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cotton-tipped applicators
  • Oral rehydration tablets/packets
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Mild laxative
  • Antacid
  • Cold remedies
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers, scissors (travel size), safety pins

If you prefer to buy a complete kit, we recommend the Smart Travel first aid kit.


If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.