If you’re drawn to utterly unique wildlife and mind boggling trees, Madagascar should sit high atop your to-go list. Teeming with lemurs and chameleons and evocative savanna landscapes, Madagascar is an adventurer’s dream.

But, while you’d think an island should be a doddle to explore with your trusty backpack and Maps.me, think again. Madagascar is big – like, the fourth largest island in the entire world big. And while tourism is the primary industry on the island, there isn’t much of a backpacker crowd there yet. That means getting around while you’re on vacation in Madagascar can be tricky – especially if you’re not fluent in Malagasy. Ou français. 

Now, we know you want to get out and feast on the most exciting sights, activities, and food the island has to offer. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best trips to Madagascar. These take the hassle (and danger, to be honest) out of navigating this wondrous country so you can focus on the real fun – your holiday.

Best Madagascar Trips

Best Madagascar Trips

As we’ve said, Madagascar is a hefty chunk of land to get your head around. There’s so much natural beauty to explore, and the culture of the island is very diverse based on where you go. Earning its nickname, the ‘island of lemurs,’ Madagascar boasts over 100 different varieties of its endemic primate.

All the trips to Madagascar we’ve shared give you a chance to go all David Attenborough and spot them (and other residents) for yourself. Ultimately, it will come down to your Madagascar tour budget and how much time you have.

One thing to note about Madagascar is that it’s not a cheap country to visit, whether you travel independently or join a group. As an island nation, it relies on many imports. However, your tour manager will make sure you pay the right prices.

And now, get ready to take a walk on the wild side – here are the four best Madagascar tours!

Best Overall Trip to Madagascar – Highlights of Madagascar – Plus

Trip Details

  • Number of days: 8 days
  • Price: Pending new season prices
  • Group Size: 16 max
  • Fitness Required: Medium
  • Accommodation type: Simple hotels (5 nights) and basic bungalows (2 nights)
  • How many meals included: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
  • Service Level: Standard

If you want to get a well-rounded experience of Madagascar, this itinerary from GAdventures does precisely that. You’ll encounter lemurs, wild landscapes (including the giant baobab trees), village culture, beautiful beaches – the whole works. The trip offers a fairly equal share of hiking and downtime. You can choose to add activities such as thermal springs and massages, and the final two days include time to lounge on the beach.

This is one of the best tours in Madagascar for the culturally curious. You’ll have ample opportunities to engage with Madagascan customs: that ranges from dining with a local family in Fiadanana to hearing a ghost talker explain traditional healing techniques. The trip starts and concludes from the capital, Antananarivo. This is handy for connections to and from mainland Africa. Otherwise, a limited number of direct flights also operate from some European destinations: France and Italy namely.

Highlights of Madagascar - Plus

Who is this tour best for?

Solo travellers. Culture-minded travellers. Budget travellers. Wildlife lovers. Outdoor explorers. 

Cons:

  • Very few meals are included and you’ll need to cough up for all your breakfasts.
  • There are a number of lengthy overland drives in the 5, 6 and 8 hours, which chew into your time.

Note that Intrepid run a very similar tour to Madagascar; the 14-day Madagascar Adventure

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Most Unique Trip – Northern Madagascar Explorer

Trip Details

  • Number of days: 8 days
  • Price: Pending new season prices
  • Group Size: 16 max
  • Fitness Required: Medium
  • Accommodation type: Simple hotels (5 nights) and basic bungalows (2 nights)
  • How many meals included: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
  • Service Level: Standard

The shortest trip we’ve found also takes you far off the beaten path when comparing other trips to Madagascar. Beginning in the far northern port city of Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) you’ll make your way south via the balmy Amber Mountains National Park. As you carve your way through the humid jungle, you’ll spot lemurs, native birdlife and reptiles, and cascading waterfalls. Plus, you’ll get that adrenaline kick you were looking for when you explore the limestone forest of ‘tsingy’ rocks. 

The trip concludes in Nosy Be – a small island and nugget of tropical paradise. Translating to ‘big island,’ this is a place to kick back on the baking hot sand and breathe in the scents of ylang-ylang. A snorkelling trip to the underwater paradise of Nosy Tanikely is included, but you’ll need to pay extra to dive. You can opt to extend your vacation in Madagascar by staying here for additional nights once the tour concludes. 

Northern Madagascar Explorer
source: Hajakely (Shutterstock)

Who is this tour best for? 

Getting off the beaten track. Travellers who are short on time. Wildlife enthusiasts. Snorkellers, divers and beach bums. Couples and solo travellers alike.

Cons:

  • You will miss a large chunk of the rest of the country if you only take this tour.
  • The tour does not include a transfer from Nosy Be back to the mainland. 

Best Trip for Gap Year Wanderers – Madagascar in Depth

Trip Details

  • Number of days: 24 days
  • Price: $4,735 USD
  • Group Size: 12 max
  • Fitness Required: Medium to moderate. Note, there is a similar amount of walking to other tours, but bear in mind this one is longer and will be overall more tiring.
  • Accommodation type: Hotels, lodges, camping, eco-lodges, simple guesthouses
  • How many meals included: 21 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
  • Service Level: Standard (some nights are more basic)

If you’re planning a gap year, adventurous honeymoon, or taking some much needed time out between jobs, this is the Madagascar vacation for you. At just over three weeks, it’s a bold journey that takes you across much of central and southern Madagascar.

Starting and concluding in Antananarivo, you’ll weave your way through remote rainforests, pristine beaches, winding rivers, and unique towns with a culture all their own. Note that this trip involves some camping and river cruises that are pretty rudimentary; it’s not a luxurious tour, but it is authentic. 

Are you the kind of traveller who can’t leave a place until you’ve explored every single corner? This is the trip for you. 

Madagascar in Depth

Who is this tour best for?

Individuals or couples taking a sabbatical or gap year. Solo wanderers. Travellers who aren’t constrained by budget or time. 

Cons:

  • A bit of a given considering the length of the trip, but this one has a substantial price tag.
  • At some points, you may be accompanied by military personnel. It’s a safety initiative but we know some travellers aren’t keen on having guards loitering over your shoulder.

Best Trip for Photographers – Madagascar Baobabs & Beyond

Trip Details

  • Number of days: 11 days
  • Price: $2,149 USD
  • Group Size: Max 12
  • Fitness Required: Medium
  • Accommodation type: Hotels (8 nights), camping (2 nights)
  • How many meals included: 10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Service Level: Standard (prepare for a more rustic experience whilst camping)

All tours in Madagascar offer incredible opportunities if you like being behind the lens. But, as you spend two days cruising along the Tsiribihina River, this is a dream opportunity for the snap-happy. Furthermore, this itinerary features sunset at the Avenue of the Baobabs and a visit to the emerald-green crater lakes of the Antsirabe district. That’s a lot of fodder for your eco-travel blog or Instagram page.

Another highlight of this tour is the chance to float down the Manambolo River in a dugout canoe. Plus, you’ll feel the suspense as you peer down into the vast canyon of the Great Tsingy after a decent trek – but do hang onto your camera. 

Madagascar Baobabs & Beyond

Who is this tour best for?

Photographers. Anyone who enjoys spending time on a boat. Camping, wildlife, and hiking enthusiasts. Solo travellers and couples alike.

Cons:

  • We think it adds to the appeal of the trip; however, note that at some points, the sleeping quarters are basic and you may feel less comfortable. 
  • Long travel distances with not as long as you might want to see the Baobabs.

Quick Guide to Visiting Madagascar

Best Time to Visit Madagascar

Best Time to Visit Madagascar

If you’re going to splash out on the trip of a lifetime, the last thing you want to do is get caught in the rain. And when it rains in Madagascar, it really rains. 

The principal wet season in Madagascar runs from late December through to late March. Cyclones are common, which can throw a spanner in the works. We advise you to plan your visit between April and early December. This is when the climate is cooler and more pleasant. The high season is July and August, so if you want to beat the crowds, opt for shoulder season. September to December is ideal for combining lemur watching, chameleons, and beach holidays with hot, relatively dry hiking-friendly weather.

For your chance to spot humpback whales, visit Madagascar between July and September. While lemurs are viewable year-round, October and November are the best time for spotting baby lemurs – if you’re lucky. 

Travel Insurance for your Madagascar Trip

Whichever of these trips to Madagascar you go for, don’t forget to consider travel insurance policy before you go.  While it’s safer than some destinations, Madagascar does have a slightly chequered image when it comes to crime. Opportunistic petty theft is not uncommon, so if you’re taking any gear, consider taking out cover that includes valuables. 

Besides that, you’ve got a number of tropical and dangerous diseases to contend with. Dengue, malaria, cholera, TB, and even the pneumonic plague are risks in Malaria. While we’re on this subject – make sure you add injections to your preparations. Plus, travel insurance has your back in the event of a natural disaster, bust airline, or twisted ankle.

Both Intrepid and GAdventures make travel insurance a mandatory requirement of their tours in Madagascar. If you don’t show your insurance certificate on orientation evening, you may be evicted from the trip. We use World Nomads and you can find out more about their policies here. 

world nomads insurance banner

What to Pack for Madagascar

What to Pack for Madagascar

Now you’ve chosen your trip and bought your insurance, the fun can begin. When it comes to packing for trips to Madagascar, remember that you’re travelling to a balmy, sub-tropical climate. We recommend taking fewer clothes and doing more laundry. The last thing you want is a heavy pack on your shoulders when it’s a zillion degrees and humid.

Final Thoughts on the Best Madagascar Trips

Lemurs, chameleons, more lemurs, and even more chameleons – something that all the best trips to Madagascar share is plenty of ‘em.

While all four trips feature wildlife, outdoor escapades, and culture, each has their own quirks that make them unique. However, if we had to pick only one, the Highlights of Madagascar – Plus trip gets our shout for the best overall trip to Madagascar. It lets you experience a bit of everything in a modest fortnight period. The current price is a steal and it even has a decent deal for any solo travellers who want their own room.

We know that organised tours aren’t for everyone, but when it comes to Madagascar, you will gain a much richer travel experience. Without the worry of navigating this mind-boggling but magnificent country, you’re free to focus on taking it all in. You’ll make some awesome new travel friends along the way (always handy if you need to couch surf in the future). 

Whichever trip you choose – it will be an adventure you’ll relive for weeks, months, and decades to come. Bon voyage!

Final Thoughts on the Best Madagascar Trips

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