We will visit the old city and the upper town of Antananarivo. The majestic Rova (the Queen’s palace) overlooks the capital from the highest point of the city. The Rova of Antananarivo is a royal palace complex that served as the home of the sovereigns of the Kingdom of Imerina in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as of the rulers of the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. The historic boroughs around the Rova have nice panoramic views of downtown. You will drive or walk the neighborhood with your guide to enjoy the picturesque ambiance of the noblemen residence area, with both well-kept traditional houses, the colonial houses, palaces, cathedrals, the charm of the narrow, curved, upslope cobblestoned streets and ensemble of cute traditional Malagasy houses built entirely of wood. This whole package captures the unforgettable ambiance of this borough. Enjoy a beautiful sundowner with a spectacular vista over the city of Antanananarivo. You will be served some wine and local delicacies.
Day 12 – Andasibe: We start our journey towards the eastern part of the island. After exiting the busy and colorful city of Antananarivo, we reach the Route Nationale 2, the main commercial road of the country which leads to the east coast of Madagascar and its main harbor. During our 93-mile (3.5-hour) journey, we will see various landscapes of the highlands from small traditional villages perched on hillsides and rice fields. A twisty, steep and lush portion of the road will announce that we are entering another region of Madagascar. You will arrive in Andasibe, known for its national park, home of the primary and secondary forest. We will make a stop at Madagascar Exotic. This private reserve is also known as the Peyrieras Butterfly Farm, or Peyrieras Nature Farm or Mandraka Reptile Farm. It is a small privately run reserve (or zoo) at Marozevo. It was founded and owned by the French entomologist and naturalist André Peyriéras, which is why it is also known as the Reserve Peyrieras. The collection includes many reptiles (chameleons, iguanas, geckos, frogs), batraciens (Bats), crocodiles, papillons (butterflies). The adjacent forest area supports families of relocated and habituated Verreaux’s Sifaka and common brown lemur which provide opportunities to photograph them close up at feeding times.
At nightfall, pick up your headlamps and flashlights for a nocturnal walk in the rainforest. In 2012, villagers from Andasibe founded the reserve as an alternative to the nearby governmental led national park. For reptiles and amphibian lovers, the reserve offers countless frogs among its crystal clear river (some of the frog species include Boophis pyrrhus, Boophis viridis and madagascariensis) and several amazing chameleons (Furcifer wilsii, Calumma parsonii cristifer, Calumma nasuta and brevicornis) in the forest. This is also a place to find the unique satanic leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus). Bizarre insects like the famous giraffe-necked weevil (Trachelophorus giraffae) are part of the forest too. This community-run reserve is open for night-walks to those interested to search for lemurs, listen to the frogs, or stumble across sleeping chameleons after dark.
Day 13 – Andasibe: In order to have the best observation conditions, we leave our hotel around 7:30 am to reach the entrance of the Analamazaotra special reserve. We will look for biggest lemur of Madagascar’s famous “Indri Indri.” This lemur is endemic to the site and made his emblem. Through an easy hike lasting about 2-to-3 hours, we will search for groups of Indri Indri. We also find other species of lemurs, birds, chameleons, etc., as of endemic flora among other orchids, medicinal plants. On the immense Vakona property, an island surrounded by fresh water is home to various species of lemurs: common brown lemurs, bamboo lemurs, ruffed lemurs, and diademed sifakas. This will be a rare opportunity to get up close and interact with these primates. Amazing photo opportunities and souvenirs will be the result of that visit. The numerous crocodiles, which used to belong to a former farm, can also be found in one of the small lakes of the property. If you happen to be around on a Saturday, you may see the reptiles having their weekly feast.
Day 14 – Akanin’ny Nofy Reserve: We now enter the Betsimisaraka region of Madagascar. The landscape vegetation now contrasts from the one we see in the highlands, the territory of the Merina tribe. The Betsimisaraka tribe have a different culture and this translate in different architectures of the houses and type of crops they grow. After the 3-hour drive on a paved road, you will have 30 minutes of dirt road to reach the lake Rasoabe, one of the great lakes of Madagascar. These great lakes were linked by man-made channels to form an inland waterway called the Canal of Pangalanes. We board a speed boat on the Canal des Pangalanes for about an hour to head to the Palmarium. This is a 375-mile long channel; which is been used both as a means of transportation up and down the coast and as a fishing area. The canal still dominates daily life in this region as it provides the main source of trade, transport, and travel. Cruising by boat on the calm waters of Pangalanes is a fascinating journey through time and history. Many traditional Betsimisaraka villages can be seen along the banks, as well as pirogues (traditional dugout canoes), local fishermen, over-crowded ferries and rafts with straw huts carrying timber en-route to Tamatave. By the end of the afternoon, you will embark on the pirogue for a quiet ride on the Pangalane’s Chanel which will pick you to the island of the famous Aye-Aye. Near the hotel, some six Aye-Aye individuals live in freedom. You will spend about an hour to explore the area and ride back to the hotel afterward.
Day 15 – Antananarivo: At the agreed time, we leave Ankanin’ny Nofy by boat to Manambato where the car will pick us up. We continue the trip and begin our ascent towards the highlands and the capital. This journey will give you an impressive perspective on the difference in altitude between the two regions. This elevation is exploited by the hydroelectric power station which you will drive by. You will arrive in Antananarivo after an almost 200-mile journey lasting about 5 hours.
Day 16 – End Of Itinerary: Discover the city’s main commercial and administrative neighborhoods, which spread out from the city’s railroad station at Soarano, the Avenue of Independence and the place where the ‘Zoma’ (Friday market), the largest open-air market in the world, takes place. You will have the opportunity to climb one of the many stairways called ‘totobato” which will lead you to the CBD, the street of jewelers and the Presidential Palace. Depending on what you are looking for to bring home, we will take you to the appropriate market. Among them, The Marche artisanal Digue is considered as the biggest market local handicrafts in Antananarivo. This bustling market sells everything from embroidery items to wood carvings. You can also find creations made of smooth leather and a special paper called ‘Antaimoro paper.’ Apart from the handicrafts, the Digue also offers semi-precious items like colored stones and home decor creations made from rare silks. We transfer you to the international terminal for your outbound flight.
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