Helinirina Raharomanana – Madagascar Tours Guide
West to East tour
West to East tour - Itinerary
Circuit : Antananarivo – Antsirabe – Miandrivazo – Tsiribihina – Tsingy Bemaraha – Morondava – Ambositra – Andasibe – Tamatave – Sainte Marie – Ile aux Nattes
- Day 1 – Antananarivo
- Day 2 – Antananarivo – Antsirabe
- Day 3 – Antsirabe – Miandrivazo
- Day 4 to Day 6 – Descent on Tsiribihina (137km long)
- Day 7 – Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
- Day 8 – Bekopaka – Morondava
- Day 9 – Morondava – Ambositra
- Day 10 – Ambositra – Antoetra – Ambositra
- Day 11 – Ambositra – Andasibe
- Day 12 – Andasibe
- Day 13 – Andasibe – Tamatave
- Day 14 – Tamatave – Sainte Marie – Ile aux Nattes
- Day 15, Day 16 and Day 17 – Ile aux nattes
- Day 18 – Ile aux Nattes – Sainte Marie – Antananarivo
- Day 19 – Antananarivo – Country of origin
West to East tour - Details of the itinerary
Day 1 – Antananarivo
Upon arrival at Ivato, the largest airport in Madagascar, you will be greeted by our driver guide. Welcome to Madagascar, the famous island of dreams. You will then be driven to your hotel. Let’s take advantage of the free time after your arrival to make a small tour on the famous districts of the capital Antananarivo of which the district of Isoraka, the market of the pavilions and the palace of the Queen.
- The treasures of the Isoraka district: Isoraka is one of the chic districts of the capital where you can find the best restaurants, the big houses which knew how to retain the vestige of the time of the kingdom and colonial by its architectures. It is in this district that you can visit the famous family tomb of Rainiharo, a former prime minister at the time of Queen Ranavalona I. It is one of the largest monuments built in stone by Jean Laborde in the capital.
- The pavilion market: The pavilion market is one of the very characteristic places of the capital. Its name comes from the presence of numerous pavilions of identical shapes with ancient architecture that house vendors of all kinds of goods. You will find grocers, vegetable sellers, butchers… sellers of fashion and various accessories. One usually goes to the “pavilions” to find clothes or fabrics of very high quality that the Tananarivians will wear during a big ceremony.
- The Queen’s Palace: Also called “Lapan’i Manjakamiadana”, the Queen’s Palace is the most famous monument of the capital. It dominates the city center because of its geographical position. Located on the hill of Analamanga, this palace was the residence of the sovereigns of Madagascar since 1867. It is Queen Ranavalona Ist who ordered its construction in stone. The visit of this vestige is inescapable for the lovers of the history.
In addition to the West to East tour that you have chosen, know that we can also propose you customized tours according to your wishes. Propose us your ideas of circuits, we will study their feasibility.
Day 2 – Antananarivo – Antsirabe
For the second day of your West to East tour, our tour guide will take you to Antsirabe, the 3rd largest city of Madagascar located 170 km from the capital on the National 7. During the journey which lasts between 3 and 4 hours, you will cross diversified landscapes characteristic of the Malagasy Highlands including the succession of rocky mountains and rice plains, villages often built on the hillside, farmers who transport their agricultural products with zebu carts… Passing through towns bordering the National Road No. 7, you will notice the presence of markets such as that of Behenjy or Ambatolampy.
After having covered about twenty kilometers between rocky hills and green rice-growing landscapes, you will arrive at Behenjy where you will taste the foie gras, a local specialty, prepared in a traditional way but which knew to keep its delicate and velvety taste.7
After Behenjy, your next stop is in Ambatolampy, a city dominated by the 2500 meters high Ankaratra massif. Despite its agricultural vocation, this city is known for its know-how in the field of foundry. Take advantage of your passage to visit some of the workshops of manufacture of aluminum pots, a trade which makes the fame of this city.
After the stop in Ambatolampy, you will continue your journey to the city of Antsirabe where you will spend the night before the next stage of your tour.
Day 3 – Antsirabe – Miandrivazo
On the 3rd day of your Circuit crossing from West to East, you will meet the city of Antsirabe. As the city is built at more than 1400m of altitude, its climate is particularly cold especially during the winter period. Once in Antsirabe, you will notice the massive presence of rickshaws in the traffic. This small cart pulled by a man is a means of transport inherited from the colonial period, and which is still very appreciated by the majority of the population and in particular by foreign visitors. Each one has a name or a small humorous message written on the back of the vehicle, most of them carry small words of encouragement.
Once in Antsirabe, one of the main points of attraction is the market of Sabotsy. This one represents the common feature of markets almost all over the island. It is a particularly populous and animated place thanks to the voices of the sellers who call and convince the customers to come and buy from them. On the other hand, most of the market is decorated by the bright colors of different agricultural products including vegetables and fruits. In the other stands, you will be surprised by the talent of the craftsmen who make decorative objects or miniature cars from cans or other recycled materials.
On this occasion, you will have the opportunity to visit a workshop of transformation of zebu horns into decorative objects. Observe the ingenuity of these craftsmen to make objects in the image of their daily life, of the natural and tourist wealth of Madagascar: representation of the Big Island, its fauna and its flora. Before joining the lake Tritriva, you will pass by a confectioner who will welcome you and will make you taste the product of his traditional confectionery.
After this purely artistic visit, you will go to the Tritriva Lake, about ten kilometers from Antsirabe, it is an unavoidable detour for a stay in the water city. It is a crater lake source of a famous myth after an event which would have occurred there during the royal time.
According to the legend, two lovers would have decided to throw themselves in it to immortalize their union following a forbidden love. The couple would then have metamorphosed into the branches of intertwined trees that grow at the edge of the lake.
With a depth of about 200 meters, the water of the lake often changes color depending on the light ranging from emerald green to turquoise blue. It inspires fear and respect in the surrounding inhabitants.
Towards the end of the morning, you will travel through the mid-western region of Madagascar to the town of Miandrivazo. Your guide will put you up in a nearby hotel where you will spend the night before starting the descent on the Tsiribihina River the next day.
Day 4 to Day 6 – Descent on Tsiribihina (137km long)
From the 4th to the 6th day of the circuit Crossing from West to East, our guide will make you live an unforgettable experience during the Tsiribihina river tour in traditional dugout. The transfer to the quay of Makiasampy will be done by all-terrain vehicle. A short presentation with the crew precedes the departure for the descent of the river of 137 km. You will dive into a very rich biodiversity including a typical fauna of the region, essentially lemurs, chameleons, bats…, which develop within a luxuriant vegetation. The descent is dominated by an impressive cliff that borders the river. The passage on the villages installed on the banks of the river gives you an idea of the daily life and way of life, practices of the population of the region. As you progress down the river, you will witness a spectacular change in the landscape where the forest becomes more and more numerous.
The circulation of barges transporting food products or cash crops such as dried tobacco informs you of the potential of the region in terms of culture. At the same time, tourism activities are beginning to take precedence over agricultural activities.
Your guide plans a stop at the waterfall of Anosiampela where you can enjoy swimming in the heart of a generous nature. On your arrival, you will be welcomed by the villagers in a festive atmosphere around a campfire. Instead of going to a hotel, you will be able to spend a night in a bivouac on sand banks under the songs and dances of the pirogues.
In the afternoon of the last day of the tour, you will be transferred by 4×4 to Bekopaka, a village located 110 kilometers west, at the foot of the Tsingy of Bemaraha. A lodge accommodates you for the night.
Day 7 – Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Arrived at the 7th day of your West to East Tour, you will discover the Tsingy, an exceptional ecosystem characterized by immense limestone massifs. At the end of 4 hours of walk of the Circuit Andamozavaky, you will have appointment with the Big Tsingy. Enjoy this extraordinary view while being surrounded by Tsingy. This site is accessible, a development was made to facilitate the visit and secure the visitors during the crossing.
The visit of this mysterious landscape of Tsingy will undoubtedly be the most unforgettable part of this circuit. These Jurassic rock cathedrals are home to an impressive biodiversity. The fauna is essentially made up of rare and endemic birds, lemurs; the Tsingy are places where we find a strong concentration of lemurs in the world. The flora is essentially made up of spinescents, trees with thorny leaves or dwarfed characteristic of semi-arid regions. The rate of endemism is one of the strongest in this region going up to more than 70%.
This circuit of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park also includes passages in the caves where some elements testify the presence of marine waters during ancient times. It will take more effort to reach the top of the Tsingy and enjoy a breathtaking view of the limestone cathedrals. On the other hand, the presence of a suspension bridge at 70 meters above the ground allows to appreciate the immense landscape of limestone cathedrals.
After the Grands Tsingy, your guide will lead you in the circuit of Andadoany where circuit of the small Tsingy. This one has an easier access level because the Tsingy can be observed from a well chosen place without having to penetrate in the heart of the Tsingy. After a crossing on natural corridors and caves, you will find yourself in the middle of a humid forest where live fauna species like rare birds, lemurs or chameleons.
Towards the end of the afternoon, your guide will lead you to the lodge where you will rest and think about the best moments of the day.
Day 8 – Bekopaka – Morondava
Very early the next day, you will prepare for a long drive on a 240 km track to Morondava, the capital of the Menabe region. Two transfers by ferry are to be expected at the rivers of Manambolo and Tsiribihina. As usual, the contrast of the landscapes along this track will not fail to surprise you.
The welcome and the smile of the inhabitants during each passage in the villages will create in you this feeling of belonging and familiarity with the local population. The latter is always welcoming to those who wish to see the beauty of their country.
Spotting baobab trees after about 8 hours on the road means you are in Morondava. What a feeling to be in front of giant trees of 40 meters high! Generally bottle-shaped, they seem to be rooted to the sky.
Passing through this breathtaking landscape especially on the famous Baobab Alley, you will have an indescribable feeling as if you were in an imaginary world.
According to the beliefs of the local populations, the Baobabs have sacred characters that the Ancestors use them as places of offerings. Take advantage of your passage to observe this series of intertwined baobabs known as “baobabs in love”. The local legend says that this variety of baobab is a good luck charm for lovers who visit it.
Before reaching your hotel at nightfall, don’t miss this dazzling view of the sunset on the Baobab avenue, it is a moment to be immortalized.
Day 9 – Morondava – Ambositra
Departure at dawn in direction of Ambositra by taking the Morondava-Antsirabe road. The journey lasts 10 hours. No need for a 4×4 vehicle because on the whole, it’s going well except at the entrance of Miandrivazo where ostrich nests litter the road for about 20 kilometers.
Once in Ambositra, direction the hotel where you will spend the night. Considered as the capital of the Malagasy craft industry, Ambositra is famous for its marquetry and for its wood carvings.
Day 10 – Ambositra – Antoetra – Ambositra
Day 10 of this Circuit crossing from West to East: we leave early in the morning on a track of 22 kilometers, a distance that we will cover in 2 hours. Our objective is to reach the village of Antoetra because Antoetra is the starting point for the Zafimaniry country where we can only go by foot.
From this village begins our hike with a 500 meters difference in altitude. Our final destination is the zafimaniry village of Ifasina, the easiest to reach.
If we go to the Zafimaniry country, it is mainly because of the art whose fame has exceeded the confines of its territory. The houses of the Zafimaniry villages are typical and original. No nail, no screw holds the boards together. Doors, windows are carved as well as the furniture.
We will return then to Ambositra by redoing the same route in the opposite direction. The round trip of the day will have lasted nearly 5 hours on a distance of approximately 10km.
Return to the same hotel for the night.
Day 11 – Ambositra – Andasibe
We take again very early the road for Andasibe but with a passage obliged by Antsirabe and Antananarivo, the capital to join then the National road N°2. If the journey lasts 8 hours, you will not see the time pass so much the diversity of the landscapes and the vegetation will captivate you.
At the exit of Antananarivo, you will find yourself very quickly in the middle of nature. Already, the vast expanses of greenery and forests mark a break with the city. The ravinala trees, the traveler’s trees, stand in the heart of the vegetation and gently wave their leaves arranged in a fan, as if to greet you.
Once in Andasibe after this 8 hours journey, you will settle down in the hotel for the night.
Day 12 – Andasibe
On the program of this 12th day of travel in the Big Island, the visit of the village park VOI, a few steps from the National Park of Andasibe-Mantadia. In this forest, perched in a tree, lives the Indri-indri, the largest of the lemurs. Monogamous, the Indri-indri has a very strong sense of family. We can also meet the brookesia, the smallest chameleon of Madagascar. This chameleon is not arboreal but terrestrial and presents a strong mimicry with its environment. Another particularity of this forest: it shelters the giraffe beetle, a species that is found only in Madagascar. Your tour guide will surely explain that its name, not surprisingly, comes from its long neck.
The small tour to the village of Andasibe that you will make afterwards will allow you to have an idea of the way of life of the local population.
During more than an hour, you will discover the Vakôna reserve, the islet with lemurs where you will meet other species: the fulvus, the bamboo lemur, the vari. They will treat you with a lot of friendship and even familiarity by jumping on your shoulders for example. This reserve also contains a crocodile park, except the “fosa” which is a predator of lemurs, the boa of Madagascar and wild ducks.
You will spend the night at the hotel of Vakôna, rocked by the murmur of the leaves, which agitates the light breath of the wind in an environment of greenery.
Day 13 – Andasibe – Tamatave
Arriving at the 13th day of your West to East Tour, we will make you discover Tamatave, the second biggest city of Madagascar after the capital but also the one which shelters the biggest port of Madagascar.
During approximately 4 hours of travel on the RN 2, you will cross the green hills characteristic of the landscape of the Malagasy East where the Ravenala or the traveler’s tree reigns almost everywhere. Contrary to the western part of Madagascar, the humid tropical climate of the East favors the development of a dense and evergreen vegetation.
After your installation at the hotel in Tamatave, your guide will lead you to visit the famous Bazary Be, a large market installed under a compartmentalized hangar. This place gathers all types of products from fruits and vegetables to handicrafts and fast-food. The atmosphere in the market is not very different from the markets of other big cities of Madagascar.
Day 14 – Tamatave – Sainte Marie – Ile aux Nattes
For the 14th day of your West to East Tour, your guide will take you to Sainte Marie, a corner of paradise in the Indian Ocean. The transfer to the pier of Mahambo will be taken care of by the shuttle of the El Condor Company. The trip from Tamatave to Mahambo takes about 2 to 3 hours.
Upon arrival in Mahambo, the passengers and their luggage will be taken on board the boat. The crossing to the island of Sainte Marie takes between 3 to 4 hours. To move from one place to another, to the Ile aux Nattes located at the southern end of the island for example, your guide will take care of the reservation of a cab or a tuc-tuc (a tricycle of Asian manufacture for the transport of 2 or 3 people). You can also use the local means of transportation to get to your hotel where you will spend the night. This time, the journey will usually take about 20 minutes.
Day 15, Day 16 and Day 17 – Ile aux nattes
During the 3 days at the island of mats, you will be free to practice activities of your choice in the island of mats or Nosy Nato or Agniribe. Among many others, you will be able to practice fishing, to go around the island of mats on foot or by pirogue, to go out to sea, to try diving, to go around Ste Marie by motorcycle or to choose the whale safari. This last activity is only possible between July and September, which is the period during which you can watch the whales as they pass near Ste Marie.
The island of mats is the place to be for lovers of the sea and beautiful beaches. Your dreams of escape in a true haven of peace will be realized in this paradisiacal corner of the island of Sainte Marie. The island of mats is endowed with a transparent sea, bordered by a beach of fine sands and coconut trees. You will meet there some species of lemurs perched in the trees within a vast area of vegetation.
Day 18 – Ile aux Nattes – Sainte Marie – Antananarivo
After enriching days on the island of mats, you will return to Sainte Marie. Your tour guide will take care of your transfer to the airport for a flight to the capital in Antananarivo. Once you land at Ivato airport, you will be welcomed by our guide who will settle you in your hotel.
Day 19 – Antananarivo – Country of origin
For this last day of your West to East tour, your transfer to the airport will still be provided by our driver guide. If you have enough time before your flight, he will accompany you to the craft market on the side of the road to the airport for your purchases of souvenir items of your trip to Madagascar.
The team of Madagascar tours guide wishes you a safe return to your country of origin.