With Zanzibar


Meeting local tribal groups Maasai Mara / Serengeti: endless plains Snows of Kilimanjaro from Kenya's Amboseli Park Ngorongoro Crater: natural wonder Exotic spice island of Zanzibar Leapin lemurs! Madagascar's unique flora and fauna


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Fri 01 Jul 2016Wed 03 Aug 2016 $12660
Thu 15 Sep 2016Tue 18 Oct 2016 $12660

Optional Single Supplement: $1700 (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $980, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.

Tour Overview

Boasting astounding diversity and abundance of exotic nature, humbling landscapes of snow-fringed mountains and dusty plains, and friendly peoples with fascinating traditional cultures and lifestyles, these three countries combine to offer a highly rewarding and comprehensive overview of the incredible bounties of East Africa. Beginning in Kenya, we explore Nairobi, a lively capital city that grew with the development of the railway and a metropolis that fuses colonial British design with modern and traditional African influences to charming effect. Heading through some of the best safari locations on the planet -- like Amboseli National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Maasai Mara National Reserve -- we pass glacier-coated peaks and desert savannah plains to feast our eyes on buffalo, cheetahs, leopards and lions and get up-close and personal with elephants, giraffes and gazelle. We’ll even have the option to take to the skies in a hot-air balloon for a truly unique perspective of this glorious land brimming with natural wonder.

Crossing into Tanzania, we pass through rolling green fields and traditional villages en route to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where we keep our eyes peeled for the elusive leopard and visit the UNESCO Heritage Crater, which is simultaneously a magnificent topographical phenomenon and the home of incredible arrays of wildlife, like the ‘Big Five’, wildebeest, gazelle, zebras and hippos. The ‘kopjes’ of the Serengeti -- a series of low, incongruous hills dotting the open landscape that often provide a vantage point for predators -- are our next stop as we explore the jewel in the crown of Tanzania’s conservation areas, a place that is home to one of the largest and most diverse populations of animals in the world.

Breathtaking wildlife spectacles combine with lessons about the prehistoric habitats of some of the earliest species of hominids for a memorable visit to the area around Lake Manyara National Park, and after stopping in at the island paradise of Zanzibar for exploration of its ancient winding alleys, colourful cultures and sandy beaches (we also embark on a ‘spice tour’), we make headway for Madagascar. A country of brightly coloured houses stacked on hillsides, glorious endemic flora and fauna, rugged mountains and verdant grassland plantations, Madagascar makes the final days of our tour an incredible adventure not soon forgotten.

Regions visited: East Africa
Countries visited: Kenya; Tanzania and Madagascar


We had really good guides on the entire trip. Their enthusiasm was amazing and they were always so appreciative that we came. The information they shared really enhanced the trip.This entire trip was just one of those "trips of a lifetime". We saw so many just beautiful animals and landscape, there were just so many "moments" that will always make this one of my favorite trips. Truly a wonderful experience. And the people.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi
Today we arrive in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Part of Maasai land when the British arrived, this modern capital grew with the development of the railway. Derived from a Maasai word meaning "Cold Water," Nairobi is a pleasant mix of colonial British with modern and traditional African influences.

Overnight in Nairobi.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Nairobi - Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Today we travel from Nairobi, through the "White Highlands," so called because of the large number of Europeans who settled here, northwards to the lower slopes of Mt Kenya, rising to 5199 m (16,728 feet), Africa's second highest peak. Our drive will take us into the Central Highlands, the heartland of the Kikuyu people. This is a very fertile region, well-watered, intensively cultivated, and thickly forested. The land was coveted by the Europeans who began arriving in ever-increasing numbers once the railway through the area was completed. The settlers established coffee and tea plantations on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya and cultivated wheat on the western slopes.

Our destination is Sweetwaters, a luxury tented camp clustered around a water hole and set in the pristine calm of the private Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a non-profit organization supporting endangered species, tourism and community outreach. Ol Pejeta is East Africa's largest Black Rhino sanctuary, the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, and holds some of the highest predator densities in Kenya.

This afternoon we'll enjoy our first game drive within the conservancy.

Overnight at Sweetwaters Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3 Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta is a mosaic of grass plains, wooded grassland, acacia woodland and evergreen thicket extending for over 350 square kilometers. The conservancy boasts an astounding variety of animals, including the "Big Five."

We will have morning and afternoon game drives today, as well as a chance to visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary -- the only place in Kenya where this highly endangered and remarkably intelligent species can be seen. The facility was initially established to receive and provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa. Here the chimpanzees are carefully nursed back to health so they can enjoy the rest of their days in the safety of a vast natural enclosure.

Overnight at Sweetwaters Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 Ol Pejeta - Great Rift Valley - Lake Nakuru National Park
This morning we travel to Lake Nakuru, a shallow soda lake in the Rift Valley. The Rift Valley was created millions of years ago under the strain of enormous volcanic eruptions which resulted in a giant split in the earth's surface from Syria to Mozambique. Lava flowed into the valley, forming escarpments on either side of the gigantic trough which can be up to 80 km (50 miles) wide, big enough to be visible from space. At the lake, depending on the water levels, we may have the opportunity to see up to two million flamingos, in addition to the over 340 species of birds that have been recorded in the Rift Valley!

Lake Nakuru is very shallow and can fluctuate up to five metres (12 feet) each day. When the water is low, you can see a white band of crystallized soda along the shoreline. This is also one of the best places in Kenya to view the rare White Rhino as we explore the park on our afternoon game drive.

Overnight in Lake Nakuru National Park.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 Lake Nakuru - Maasai Mara National Reserve
Early this morning we depart from Lake Nakuru National Park and continue our journey through the Rift Valley, passing by Lake Naivasha and nearby Mount Longonot, a relatively young volcanic reminder of the Rift's violent past. We arrive at our lodge (via bad road) in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in time for lunch.

The Maasai Mara is a natural extension of the Serengeti eco-system and has an amazing concentration of wildlife. The largest population of lions in Kenya is found here, along with large herds of plains game. The Maasai Mara may also be the best place in Kenya to view cheetah. Later this afternoon we enjoy another game drive.

Time-permitting, we will stop and visit a Maasai village to witness the local way of life and meet its residents. If time does not permit, we will visit the village on our way back to Nairobi.

Overnight in the Maasai Mara.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6 Maasai Mara National Reserve
The Maasai Mara National Reserve consists of rolling grassland and is located at the northern end of the Serengeti Plain. Considered the best of Kenya's parks, it is on the pathway of the yearly wildebeest migration, which comes north from Tanzania about the end of June and returns to Tanzania around the end of September. "The Mara" sustains all of the "Big Five" -- lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros and buffalo -- as well as an astonishing wealth of herding animals and other wildlife. You can see the stately Maasai men and youth along the road tending their cattle and goats.

We have a full day in the reserve, with morning and afternoon game drives.

In the Mara you will also have an optional opportunity to ascend over the northern Serengeti at daybreak in a hot air balloon (optional expense). From over 300 m (984 feet) above, you will be able to view the vast land and the myriad animals that inhabit the Maasai Mara.

Overnight in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7 Maasai Mara National Reserve
We enjoy another full day with game viewing in Maasai Mara. Depending on the season and current game locations and viewing conditions, we may divide our day into morning and afternoon drives, or take our lunches with us in order to venture further into the reserve if conditions warrant.

Overnight in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8 Maasai Mara - Nairobi
After breakfast we depart for Nairobi. En route, just outside the capital, we visit the Karen Blixen Museum. Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke emigrated from Denmark to Kenya in 1918 and, in 1937, wrote under the pseudonym, Isaac Dineson, "Out of Africa." The novel tells the tale of the Baroness's experiences on a Kenyan farm. Her home is now a museum, restored to the style in which she maintained it.

Overnight in Nairobi.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Nairobi - Amboseli National Park
Today we travel south from Nairobi to the Amboseli National Park. Just across the border from Tanzania, this park is situated on the African plain at the foot of snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent's tallest mountain at 5894 m (19,300 feet). Here the cone-shaped mountain seems to hover majestically over the shimmering African plains.

The Amboseli National Park is also famous for its large herds of elephants. Here they cover themselves in red dust, giving them an even more imposing appearance. On this afternoon's game drive we hope to view animals grazing on the open plain with Mt Kilimanjaro providing the classic backdrop (weather permitting).

Overnight in the Amboseli National Park.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 10 Amboseli, Kenya - Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania
This morning we cross the border into Tanzania and travel to Lake Manyara National Park via the town of Arusha, the starting point for the northern safari routes of Tanzania.

Manyara is the smallest of the northern parks in Tanzania (330 sq km, of which two thirds is the actual lake) hosting a wide variety of vegetation, ranging from savannah to ground water forest to riparian habitats. The park is host to thousands of pelicans, ibis and flamingo that can be heard from afar. Other common visitors to this beautiful lake are hippos and the majestic African fish eagle, which can be seen swooping down from its perch to snatch a fish from the still waters of the lake.

After lunch at our lodge we will have an afternoon game drive in the park, located at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment and comprising of forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. Wildlife interest at Lake Manyara is not confined to bird life only; animals such as buffalo, elephant, giraffe, impala, hippo and a great variety of smaller animals also inhabit the park.

Overnight at Lake Manyara.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Lake Manyara - Serengeti National Park
This morning we enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a beautiful rolling landscape with periodic views over the Ngorongoro Crater. Before descending onto the Serengeti Plain, we'll stop at a viewpoint overlooking the crater. The name "Serengeti" derives from a Maasai word meaning "Land-without-end." This is a land of superlatives, both in the vast landscape that surrounds you and the incredible biodiversity it supports. It is here that you have a chance to witness one of the most compelling natural dramas on earth -- the annual migration, a sight
unparalleled anywhere in the natural world. Our afternoon game drive provides an excellent introduction to this fantastic landscape and the biodiversity it supports.

Overnight in the Serengeti National Park.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 12 Serengeti National Park
Today we have a full day of game viewing on the Serengeti. We will visit the "kopjes," a series of low, incongruous hills dotting the open landscape that often provide a vantage point for hungry predators contemplating the endless stream of hoofed animals parading past them. Depending on the season and the timing of the rains, up to 1.5 million wildebeest and a half a million zebra embark on a single-minded and perilous quest for water and grazing land. Following this spectacle, of course, are the meat-eating opportunists, hoping to capitalize on the physical toll this journey exacts on the desperate grazers. Even outside of "migration" time, large herds are still seen as they bear their young and feed, gaining strength for their annual return to the park's northern reaches. Resident species that do not migrate make for rewarding animal viewing in any season.

It may be possible to take an optional hot-air balloon safari over the plains at daybreak. Speak to your booking agent at the time of reservation.

Overnight in the Serengeti National Park.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 13 Serengeti - Olduvai Gorge - Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Travelling back to Ngorongoro today we make a stop at Olduvai Gorge, site of the Leakey excavations in the 1960s and 70s that established this region as the prehistoric habitat of some of the earliest species of hominids with some finds dating back 1.8 million years. Experts in the life sciences have argued that the Olduvai contribution to the story of human origins remains unsurpassed by any other prehistoric site in the world. A small museum on site outlines the
unique geological and human history of the area.

Called the 'eighth wonder of the world' and stretching across some 8300 sq km, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area boasts a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa. The volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests are home to an abundance of animals and to the Maasai. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world's greatest natural spectacles and its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthrall visitors.

Balance of the day at leisure to enjoy our lodge overlooking the crater.

Overnight in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 14 Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Today we enjoy a half-day tour in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.* After an early breakfast we descend into the crater far below for a game drive in this incredible setting, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We explore the Ngorongoro Crater, 20 km (13 miles) wide and 700 m (2,300 feet) high where we may see the "Big Five" as well as many herbivores like wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and hippopotamus, as well as thousands of flamingos on Lake Magadi.

* In order to reduce congestion and stress on wildlife, the Tanzanian government limits
visitors to half-day visits of the crater. Depending on what time "window" we are assigned, our excursion may take place first thing in the morning, or later in the afternoon (both of which are equally advantageous for game viewing, given the relatively mild climate at this altitude).

Overnight in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 15 Ngorongoro - Gibb's Farm - Arusha
This morning we descend the Ngorongoro Highlands, retracing our steps back to Arusha via a lunch stop at Gibb's Farm. Founded during German colonial times and still privately owned, Gibb's Farm is now a small hotel perched on the outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands, surrounded by coffee plantations with long views over lush and beautiful agricultural country.

We pass again through the town of Mto Wa Mbu ('Mosquito Creek'), famous for its lively cosmopolitan atmosphere and red bananas, which taste the same as regular bananas but their skins are a startling bright red.

We arrive back in Arusha later this afternoon.

Overnight in Arusha.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 16 Arusha - Zanzibar: Town Tour
This morning we fly to Zanzibar and transfer to our hotel in Stone Town.

Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. Zanzibar Island is 96 km (60 miles) long and 32 km (20 miles) wide, occupying a total area of approximately 1040 km sq (650 sq miles). It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town -- said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.

Zanzibar's local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colourful history. Islam is the dominant religion, and practiced by most Zanzibaris, although there are also followers of Christianity and Hinduism. Population is estimated at 800,000, with the largest concentration being Zanzibar City, which has approximately 100,000 inhabitants. Zanzibaris speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar as it is the birthplace of the language.

This afternoon we have a walking tour of Stone Town, the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors -- there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. Our tour takes us to the House of Wonders, the Palace Museum (People's Palace), the old slave market, the Arab Fort, and the Hamamni Persian Baths. Stone Town has some excellent gifts shops with plenty of souvenirs and handicrafts to choose from.

NOTE: The exact order of our Zanzibar sightseeing may vary depending on variables such as weather and other logistical considerations.

Overnight on Zanzibar (Stone Town).

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Jozani Forest & Stone Town
This morning we visit the Jozani Natural Forest Reserve located in the central east region of Zanzibar Island, home to the rare red colobus monkey, endemic to Zanzibar. These monkeys are full of character and roam freely. They can also be seen at very close quarters just outside the reserve's perimeter and are incredibly photogenic. Jozani is home to other species including Syke's monkeys, small buck and bushpigs.

This afternoon is free to enjoy Stone Town. Most of the houses that can be seen today were built in the 19th Century when Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centres in the Indian Ocean region. The coraline rock of Zanzibar was a good building material, but it is also easily eroded. This is evident by the large number of houses that are in a bad state of repair. Several buildings have already been renovated and the Stone Town Conservation Authority has been established to coordinate the restoration of the town to its original magnificence.

Overnight on Zanzibar (Stone Town).

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Spice Tour - East Coast
The history of Zanzibar would be incomplete without a 'spice tour.' Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and many other spices were as important to the Sultans of Oman as the infamous slave trade. They can be seen in the plantations just outside Zanzibar town, and our morning tour includes opportunities to dazzle the senses with fresh spices. A detailed description is given about a variety of spices and their uses in cooking and cosmetics. It is fascinating the sheer number
of spices produced and their incredible value for many ailments and culinary applications.

We then travel to our resort-style hotel located on a beach outside of Stone Town.

Overnight on Zanzibar.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Zanzibar: East Coast Resort
A day at leisure to enjoy the beach and to rest up after our journey…

Overnight on Zanzibar.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 20 Zanzibar, Tanzania - Nairobi, Kenya
Today we fly from Zanzibar to Nairobi.* Time permitting in Nairobi you may chose to take an optional excursion to Giraffe Manor or alternative sightseeing. Your Tour Leader will help you plan your day.

* NOTE: Due to ever-changing flight schedules to Madagascar, we may have to leave Zanzibar a day earlier or later in order to make the connection; the routing may also go through Johannesburg instead of Nairobi. Final arrangements will be advised closer to departure. Due to a lack of air connections in the region, we regret in advance if this journey is somewhat convoluted.

Overnight in Nairobi.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 21 Nairobi, Kenya - Antananarivo, Madagascar
Today we fly from Kenya to Antananarivo (Tana), the Malagasy capital city.

Antananarivo means ‘City of the Thousand', supposedly because a thousand warriors protected it. Until the French conquest in 1895 Madagascar's history centred around the royal palace or rova, and the rock cliffs near the palace became known as Ampamarinana, ‘the place of the hurling', as Christian martyrs met their fate at the command of the Queen. There was no reason for the French to move the capital elsewhere: its pleasant climate made it an agreeable place to live, and plenty of French money and planning went into the city we see today.

Overnight in Antananarivo.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 22 Antananarivo - Berenty
Today we fly to Fort Dauphin (Taolagnaro). On arrival we drive to Berenty through beautiful landscape (mountains, endemic plants, baobab, cactus, sisal). The reserve lies some 80 km to the west of Tolagnaro, amid a vast sisal plantation, and the drive there is part of the experience. For the first half of the journey the skyline is composed of rugged green mountains, and "Travellers' trees" (ravenala) dot the landscape. Near Ranopiso is a grove of the very rare three-cornered palm, Neodypsis decary.

We will first stop to visit some pitcher plants whose nearest relatives are in Asia. The yellow 'flowers' (actually modified leaves) lure insects into their sticky depths where they are digested, probably for their nitrogen content.

Before reaching the spiny forest we will stop at an Antanosy 'tomb' (actually the dead are buried elsewhere) known as the tomb of Ranonda. It was carved by the renowned sculptor Fiasia. The artistry of this unpainted wooden memorial is of a very high standard although the carvings are deteriorating in the frequently wet weather.

The following species of lemur are often seen: brown lemur, ring-tailed lemur and sifaka. The lemurs here are well-used to people. There are approximately 350 ring-tailed lemurs in Berenty, and the population has stayed remarkably stable considering that only about a quarter of the babies survive to adulthood. The young are born in September and at first cling to their mother's belly, later climbing on to her back and riding jockey-style.

NOTE: There are some moderate to strenuous walks on this tour that, though optional, are an integral part of experiencing the highlights of the country. Reasonable level of physical fitness and steadiness on one's feet is important for the participant to fully and comfortably enjoy such tour activities.

Overnight at Berenty Private Reserve.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 23 Berenty Private Reserve
We have a full day to experience Berenty.

Berenty is famous for its population of ring-tailed lemurs and sifakas. Henri de Heaulme, and now his son Jean, have made this one of the best-studied 260 hectares of forest in Madagascar. Although in the arid south, its location along the river Mandrare ensures a well-watered habitat for the large variety of animals that live there. In previous years the forest itself was threatened by the rampant spread of the cactus-like 'rubber vine', Cissus quadrangularis, but this is being
vigorously tackled.

Overnight at Berenty Private Reserve.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 24 Berenty - Andasibe-Mantadia
Today we fly back to Antananarivo and the continue by road to the popular rainforest reserve of Andasibe-Mantadia. The drive over the highlands and escarpment is pleasant and the scenery is stunning. Since this is in the eastern escarpment, the climate is cooler and the rain falls mostly at night. The mist-enshrouded rainforest creates an awesome spectacle in the early morning.

This evening we will go for a walk through the Analamzaotra Special Reserve. There are at least nine species of lemur here, (including the recent discovery of the aye-aye). Our most likely encounter will be with a troop of grey bamboo lemurs which are diurnal and sometimes feed on the bamboo near the warden's house. On a nocturnal lemur hunt one should also look for mouse lemurs and the greater dwarf lemur, which hibernates during the cold season.

Overnight in Andasibe-Mantadia.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 25 Andasibe-Mantadia / Analamazaotra
Today we visit Analamazaotra Special Reserve (walks/hikes in the reserve). This reserve protects the largest of the lemur family, the indri. It stands about three feet high, with a barely visible tail, and black and white markings. You will be an observer: most people see indris in Analamazaotra Special Reserve, and if they don't see them they hear them. It is their voice that makes this lemur extra special: while other lemurs grunt, the indri "sings." It is an eerie, wailing sound somewhere between the song of a whale and a police-siren, and it carries for up to two miles as they call to each other across the forest.

In Malagasy the indri is called Babakoto. There are various legends connected with the indri, which reveals the esteem in which the local people hold them. A popular legend tells of a man who climbed a forest tree to gather wild honey and was severely stung by the bees. Losing his hold, he fell, but was caught by a huge indri which carried him on its back to safety.

This is also a good place for bird watching. There are flowering trees of a species much favoured by the Madagascar green sunbird, which has an iridescent green head and throat. There are also plenty of the cuckoo-like blue couas, blue pigeons, paradise flycatchers, two species of falcon (Newton falcon and Madagascar falcon), two species of black vasa parrot, and many others.

Overnight in Andasibe-Mantadia

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 26 Andasibe - Antsirabe
We depart for Antsirabe, founded in 1872 by Norwegian missionaries attracted by the cool climate (1500m / 4,700 ft) and the healing properties of the thermal springs. Along the crest of the island lie the central highlands, a plateau region of red soil giving the country the nickname, "the Red Island."

Antsirabe means "place of much salt," and is the agricultural and industrial centre of Madagascar. This is the centre of a rich agricultural area lying on the slopes of the island's second highest peak.

During our time in Antsirabe, we should be able to take a ponsee ponsee (rickshaw) ride and visit a gem shop to learn of all the types of gems that are found in Madagascar.

Overnight in Antsirabe.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 27 Antsirabe - Fianarantsoa
This morning we journey onward to Fianarantsoa. On our way we pass forest, open country, rice paddies modest country homes as we begin the approach to Fianarantsoa.

Fianarantsoa means 'Place of good learning'. It was founded in 1830 as the administrative capital of Betsileo and is one of the more attractive Malagasy towns. The Upper Town, with its narrow winding streets and plethora of churches, is one of our stops today. Fianarantsoa also has a wonderful market, which features a great variety of herbal medicines and dried fish brought up by train from Manakara.

On arrival we'll have an informal panoramic tour of the town including a walk up to a viewpoint overlooking the city. We'll have a walk though the old town and hope that the colourful market is on.

Overnight in Fianarantsoa.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 28 Fianarantsoa - Ranomafana
This morning we depart for Ranomafana.

The village of Ranomafana is situated by a river in the lush greenness of the eastern rainforest. The name Ranomafana means "hot water" and it was the waters, not the lemurs, which drew visitors in the colonial days to this place. Today the draw is the Ranomafana National Park, a fragment of high altitude rainforest that first came to world attention with the discovery of the golden bamboo lemur in 1986.

Overnight in Ranomafana.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 29 Ranomafana National Park
Today we enjoy morning and evening walks/hikes in the park. Hidden in these trees are at least 12 species of lemur: diademed (Milne-Edwards) sifaka, red-bellied lemur, red-fronted lemur, ruffed lemur and three species of bamboo lemur. At night you can add mouse lemur, avahi, lepilemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur, and even aye-aye. Then there are more than 110 species of birds with 36 endemic; reptiles, butterflies and other insects. There is also much variety in the
vegetation and scenery, all of which can be observed from well-constructed trails.

During our walks through the park we are most likely to see red-fronted brown lemurs and perhaps the rarer red-bellied lemur. The golden bamboo lemur is less easily seen. The most memorable of the easily found lemurs is a subspecies of the diademed sifaka, Milne-Edward's sifaka. Unlike the more familiar Verreaux's sifaka which is largely white, this is dark brown with cream-coloured sides.

Overnight in Ranomafana.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 30 Ranomafana - Ambalavao - Ranohira
Today's journey takes us through Ambalavao, where we can visit the Antaimoro paper factory. Ambalavao is a little town famous for its "PapierAntemoro", a papyrus-type paper impregnated with dried flowers and sold throughout the island. We will visit a little paper factory where the locals will share about their traditional methods of producing this unique, hand-made paper.

Travel through south-central Madagascar to Ranohira on the edge of Isalo National Park. Continue our journey through the warm weather of the south amidst a different scenery. Travel through the savanna of the vast plateau of Ihorombe, before the Massif of Isalo becomes clearly visible as we approach Ranohira.

The Isalo National Park was created in 1962 to preserve the ancestral beauty of the site. Archaeological relics and funeral sanctuaries create a magical atmosphere made of strong contrasts. Lemur calls and bird chirps are heard in this green oasis along rivers filled with lush plants. While the sandy cliffs with rare ripicolous vegetation complete the picture.

Overnight at Ranohira.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 31 Isalo National Park
Today we spend exploring the Isalo National Park on foot.*

Established in 1962, the Isalo National Park protects 815 sq km of sandstone massif wildly eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges (known as "runiformes") featuring wild forms, impressive gorges and canyons, and tiny stalagmite pinnacles. The climate is dry tropical with warm temperatures all year around.

One of our options today is a walk to the Piscine Naturelle where a natural stone cave overlooks a crystal-clear waterfall flowing into a deep green pool surrounded by leafy pandanus trees. This tranquil pool is a virtual oasis in the heat, and offers a welcome relief after the long hike to get there.

* NOTE: Due to the nature of the terrain and the heat in this area, the walks here are more difficult on average than others on our program. By now your Tour Leader should have a good sense of overall group abilities and individual limitations and can provide advice on your suitability for today's excursions.

Overnight in Ranohira.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 32 Ranohira - Antananarivo
Today we travel to the airport at Toliara from where we fly back to the capital. Time-permitting, we may accomplish some of our Tana sightseeing today upon arrival.

Overnight in Antananarivo.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 33 Antananarivo: City Tour
Today we have a panoramic sightseeing tour of Antananarivo.

Tana will surprise you with its rice paddies, pollution, Asian looks, numerous stairs up steep hills, palaces, cobbled streets and churches. This is not Africa or Asia, Madagascar is totally unique. This is a bustling place with lots of churches, a mosque, a zoo and plenty of markets. The capital is basically built on 12 hills and steep steps lead to the main Independence Square in the town center. The architecture is a mixture of old wooden houses, modern offices and French colonial style buildings.

Tana does not have much in the way of "tourist attractions" per se, but we will take in the highlights, including the Rova, the shell of the Royal Palace built in 1864 for Queen Ranavalona II by the Scotsman, James Cameron. Everything that was wooden burned in 1996, but the imposing stone fortress of a shell still stands.

We will also head out of town to Ambohimanga, a traditional fortified royal settlement (rova), located approximately 24 kilometers north of the city. The hill and the rova that stands on top are considered the most significant symbol of the cultural identity of the Merina people and the most important and best-preserved monument of the precolonial Kingdom of Madagascar and its precursor, the Kingdom of Imerina. The walled historic village includes residences and burial sites of several key monarchs.

Balance of the day at leisure for independent exploration or relaxation.

Overnight in Antananarivo.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 34 Departure
Departure from Antananarivo.

NOTE: Ever-changing air schedules from Antananarivo may necessitate an extra overnight at the end of the tour which has NOT been included in tour pricing. Land only passengers please confirm dates with Adventures Abroad BEFORE booking your flights.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Sarova Lion Hill Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Nairobi
Country: Kenya

Set on a plateau above Lake Nakuru, the lodge has 67 chalets all overlooking the lake. It is the perfect
... to experience one of the world's largest ornithological spectacles, the pink flamingo, or a rich concentration of wildlife including black and white colobus monkey and black and white rhino. Private shower, verandah, tea / coffee making facilities.

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Maasai Mara Sopa Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Maasai Mara
Country: Kenya

Located on the slopes of Oloongams Hills, it is one of the first lodges to be built in the Maasai
... Game Reserve. Guests are drawn to this lodge built in an ethnic design, surrounded by a rich landscape, covered in fauna, from huge desert cacti to sweet smelling jasmine flowers, all within the fabled Maasai Mara game reserve. 50 traditional round buildings with thatched roofs, each with 2 rooms with private bath.

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Lake Manyara Serena Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Lake Manyara
Country: Tanzania

Standing high on the bluff above Lake Manyara's gleaming alkaline waters, the Lodge commands panoramic views across the volcano-studded floor
... the Great Rift Valley. The circular, closely-thatched rooms echo the traditional Maasai 'Boma' style of construction. Each room has a private veranda and breathtaking views of the shimmering lake.

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Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Serengeti National Park
Country: Tanzania

Scenically located in a glade, known as ‘the place of the klipspringer' (mbuzi mawe), and guarded by three million year-old
... towers, this luxury tented-camp in the Serengeti is unique. Cleverly located on one of the main annual migration corridors for over one million wildebeest, half a million zebras and gazelles, and their accompanying cast of predators it is also located at the very epicentre of one of the world's most famous national parks.

Our tented camp is located in the Western Serengeti, 335 kms from Arusha. By road: transfers by road from Arusha take approximately 8-10 hours.By air: the camp is adjacent to both the Seronera and Lobo airstrips and a ‘meet and greet' and transfer service is offered.

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Serengeti Sopa Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Serengeti National Park
Country: Tanzania

Nestled in the acacia woodland on the edge of the escarpment overlooking the plains of the south-western Serengeti. 69 standard
... all with 2 queen size beds, carpeted, and tastefully furnished with local fabrics and pictures. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms and hairdryers.

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Gibbs Farm

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Country: Tanzania

Immerse yourself in the peace and serenity of Gibb’s Farm. Overlooking the centuries-old Great Rift Valley and Ngorongoro Forest, Gibb’s
... was one of the first guesthouses in Northern Tanzania. Established as a coffee farm in the late 1920s and refurbished as a warm, rustic luxury inn, Gibb’s Farm is a welcome retreat for a few days’ respite while on safari or for an extended vacation or honeymoon getaway.

The main farmhouse and 17 cottages offer the warmth and charm of another era, with all of the modern amenities you could ask for. Inside, beautiful architectural details, such as the farmhouse’s original wooden beams, and colourful artwork reflecting the inspirations of local African artists greet you. Outside, the farm’s organic vegetable and terraced flower gardens provide a wonderful sanctuary for afternoon tea or a quiet walk to impart a sense of contentment and well-being.

Beyond the farm’s coffee fields, Ngorongoro Forest and the local village beckon. Experience a sense of place as you bicycle the back roads of Karatu, learn about Iraqw culture while visiting a local family or explore centuries-old waterfalls and elephant caves. To calm and restore, Gibb’s Farm offers indigenous Maasai healing treatments in the privacy of your room. After a full day of adventure, Chef Lisa Campbell’s delicious organic cuisine—fresh from our gardens, bakery and dairy—will replenish you.

Surround yourself with the rich traditions of East African life, exclusive to Gibb’s Farm, and share an eternal sense of history and community. Generations of local families have helped to create a truly special and authentic experience, based upon East African traditions and hospitality. Gibb’s Farm’s deep and long-standing connection to the community continues to inspire excellence and the farm’s sustainable, renewable practices serve as a model for living in harmony with nature.

During your stay you will often hear the Swahili word “karibu,” expressing the genuine, innate pleasure we take in welcoming our guests—an attribute at the heart of our hospitality.

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Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Country: Tanzania

Perched on the jagged rim of the crater, wreathed in morning mist, camouflaged in river-stone and cloaked in indigenous creepers,
... Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge is a triumph of ecological and architectural fusion. Lit by flaming wall-lanterns, clad in gigantic volcanic boulders and decorated by the iron spears, bright-beaded robes and intricately carved artifacts of the Maasai, the Lodge is a unique blend of world-class luxury, timeless volcanic splendour and ethnic style.

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Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Country: Tanzania

Facing the always magnificent sunsets to the west, and located at the highest point on Ngorongoro crater’s entire rim, Ngorongoro
... Lodge stands well over half a kilometre above the crater floor and offers unparalleled views across this enormous caldera.

Themed around traditionally circular African houses with conical roofs, and decorated with examples of Africa’s rich tapestry of artistic traditions by way of rich woodcarvings and sculptures, the lodge harmonizes perfectly with its dramatic surroundings. But the drama does not just stop with the great outdoors: it also flows through the split level interiors of the main building which all offer an unsurpassed generosity of space while somehow managing to combine an almost magically welcoming ambience of both warmth and cosiness.

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Arusha Coffee Lodge

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Arusha
Country: Tanzania

Arusha Coffee Lodge is located within one of Tanzania's largest coffee plantations. It is designed around the original plantation house
... one the feel of the long bygone days. The rooms have mosquito netting hanging from a spacious wooden frame. The decor is inspired by the concept used in plantation houses: fire places, wooden floors, low lighting, and woven floor rugs. The bathroom is spacious, with basin, bath tub, shower, hairdryer and bath robe.

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Zanzibar Serena Inn

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Zanzibar
Country: Tanzania

Idyllically situated on the sea front of ancient Stone Town, the Zanzibar Serena Inn is a haven of tranquillity and
... amongst the bustle of Zanzibar. Each room is cool, white and constructed to the traditional design of a Swahili house, reflecting a blend of essential Zanzibar and world-class elegance. Air-conditioning, private bath.

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Hotel du Louvre

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Antananarivo
Country: Madagascar

The historic Louvre building was built in 1930, and the building has been nicely preserved in the style of the
... The corridors and rooms are decorated with old photographs and posters of Air France & Air Madagascar. The hotel has 60 air-conditioned rooms with all the luxuries of a 3-star hotel, A Wifi connection allows you to surf freely from your room.

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Vakona Forest Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Andasibe-Mantadia
Country: Madagascar

The design of the bungalows has been conceived in the respect of the local Malagasy architecture. Each of the double
... has its own terrace with an outside little living room, bathroom with warm water, individual toilets, a personal safety deposit box and mini-bar.

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Berenty Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Berenty
Country: Madagascar

Since 1937, this has been a private reserve in the ancient tamarind forest of the Mandradre River, now of world
... and also featuring an Atandroy museum. Since that day, lemurs living here have mostly lost their fear of man, and are easier to observe. Rooms and bungalows are equipped with a fan and mosquito nets.
Room amenities: Fan, private bathroom with shower, hot and cold water, mosquito nets.

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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Most meals are included (local restaurants and hotels). All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for driver-guides, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.


Tour Leader gratuities, some lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable) and domestic air taxes, visa fees, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, visas, and locally-paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

KENYA / TANZANIA: June-August coincides with the coolest and driest period, though also the busiest and most expensive due to European holiday period. Sept / Oct is often hot and dusty though game viewing is excellent due to short grass and animals congregating around water sources. Zanzibar is warm and humid year-round.

MADAGASCAR: Dry season: Apr-Oct. The south and west regions are hot and dry. Monsoons bring storms and cyclones to the east and north from Dec-Mar. The mountains, including Antananarvio, are warm and stormy from Nov-Apr and dry, cool and windy the rest of the year.

Transport and Travel Conditions

KENYA / TANZANIA: Some road journeys are very long and very rough, possibly dusty. In Kenya we travel via well-maintained, rugged minivan with six passengers each. At the Tanzania border we switch to 4x4 Land Rover / Land Cruisers. The same vehicles, with roofs that pop up, will be used for our game drives in parks and reserves. Please note that air-conditioned safari vehicles are non-existent in East Africa. Scheduled flight Kilimanjarao-Zanzibar. Air-conditioned bus on Zanzibar.

MADAGASCAR: 24-30 seat bus, perhaps smaller if groups size warrants. Roads are generally not good, some are just plain bad. Though all efforts are made to ensure that vehicles are in excellent condition, punctures and weather may cause delays and require patience.

The #3 difficulty rating on this tour refers specifically to the Madagascar section, on which, in order to fully enjoy and experience what Madagascar has to offer, one must be prepared to hike over uneven terrain, perhaps with mud and rocks and roots and heat. The lodge properties we use are also very spread out and the distance from main building to guest rooms may be considerable. There are also plenty of stairs throughout. Of course we do not "force" anyone to participate in activities listed in our itinerary; however, if one chooses to skip walks, one will miss most of what the country has to offer the visitor.


Hotels and lodges have hot water, electricity, mosquito netting, dining areas, bar, sometimes swimming pools. Remote lodges are not air-conditioned though many are at higher elevations where heat is not a factor. Zanzibar hotel is air-conditioned. Hotel porter service is available throughout (see 'Inclusions'). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins. Many lodges are quite spread out and you will need to be able to walk up to 10 minutes from public areas to your room.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, drivers, local guides at various locations.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)




TOUR ENDAntananarivo