Boutique Travel Experts

Highlights of the North

The Highlights of the North Tour is a 14-day private guided tour in the North of Madagascar, from Diego Suarez to Nosy be (or on reverse). Diversity, adventure and relaxation – this is a balanced itinerary suitable for all, from families traveling with children to couples and senior travellers. Explore the bays of Diego Suarez, take in the views of the iconic Sugar Loaf, discover orchids, lemurs and chameleons while hiking in the lush forests of Amber Mountain National Park, visit the fragile Red Tsingy and the spectacular pinnacles of Ankarana national park. To finish off, relax on the tropical beaches of Nosy Be island, snorkel, dive and get a tan. It is a balanced program, designed to break the journey by car nicely and give enough time for rest. The route is an excellent choice for a family travelling with children, a group of friends or couples who like sightseeing. The program includes accommodation at small boutique hotels with comfort and charm. This road trip can also start the other way around, starting in Nosy Be and finishing off on the beaches of Diego Suarez, and we will adjust the trip depending where you arrive. We can tailor this itinerary to suit your plans by changing the length of the trip or the order of activities.

14 Days – From £2,100 per person 

*equivalent in USD, EUR accepted

Itinerary: Diego Suarez, Amber Mountain National Park, Tsingy Rouge, Tsingy de Ankarana, Nosy Be

  • Price is per person, based on two people sharing in a double room
  • Accommodation with breakfast and picnic lunch (+ 2 dinners on day 4 and 5)
  • All the excursions mentioned in the itinerary on a private basis
  • All transfers on a private basis
  • Entrance & guiding fees to all the mentioned National Parks
  • English speaking driver / guide 
  • Naturalist guide in the parks
  • All local taxes
  • Visa, where applicable
  • International Flights (See Flights to Madagascar)
  • Domestic Flights 
  • Personal Expenses
  • Insurance
  • Tips & Gratuities
  • Meals not mentioned in the description

International flights are not included in the package price. We give you the freedom to book the flights yourself, use miles and choose your preferred airline, and if you are stuck we can help you find the right connections. Return flights to Madagascar start from £700 per person, depending on the connections and time of the year.

There are direct services to Nosy Be from JNB, ADD, from several airports in Italy and also seasonal flights from Eastern Europe. If you have to fly via Antananarivo, the capital city, we can tailor this trip according to your arrival and departure times.

For families and groups (starting with 5 pax), we can book domestic flights in Madagascar, during the high season, and if the trip is part of a more complex itinerary. This is to ensure a seamless travel and no complications.

Send us a message on WhatsApp or Email us to check availability, discuss your preferences and get a quote.

This is a sample itinerary and prices are correct at the time of writing. We can tailor it to suit your plans by changing the length of the trip or the order of activities. More days can be added. Other hotels can be chosen, according to your liking. For more travel inspiration check these itineraries.

To avoid unpleasant weather surprises, we recommend to check our Madagascar Weather Guide to plan your trip in the right season. Click on the month you want to travel in and see the tours which are best for each month of the year. 

  • A professional guide on the top of the driver is mandatory for this particular itinerary. No English-speaking driver guides are available in the north of Madagascar.
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  • The Emerald Sea excursions are seasonal. Between April and October this excursion might be challenging due to the weather conditions and the heavy Varatraza winds. If the local authorities decide that it is not safe to go into the lagoon, we always respect that advice and cancel this activity. It can be a the last minute decision. If the local authorities are just warning us for strong wind, the guides will discuss with you if you want to go into the lagoon or if an alternative excursion can be proposed.

Day 1 - Diego Suarez

Today you will arrive in Diego Suarez. This calm colonial city is the place where the first Europeans landed on Madagascar. Surrounded by the Mozambique Channel and the Indian Ocean, it has spectacular bays and beautiful beaches. You will visit the harbour and the market, continuing to the 3 picturesque bays: Bay of the Dunes, the Bay of the Pigeons and the Bay of the Sakalavas. A little bit of relaxation at the beach with a picnic lunch will balance off the feeling of jet-lag. On the way back to town, don’t miss the awing view over the Sugar Loaf from the French Mountain. There are a few baobabs in the area which are always nice to see. Overnight at Suarez Hotel.

Madagascar

Day 2 - Emerald Sea

Today’s colour is emerald. After breakfast, your driver will take you to the fishermen village of Ramena. Here you will embark on a traditional Arabic-style dhow to the Emerald Sea – a lagoon with transparent dark green waters and a rich marine life. This is a perfect place for snorkelling with the turtles and colourful fish. Emerald Sea is a haven of peace, Mora Mora says it all. A fresh picnic with grilled fish will be served by friendly locals. Here, time seems to have stopped, you will always remember the beautiful scenery of this day. Upon your return to the hotel, balance the evening at leisure. Overnight at Nature Lodge.

Emerald Sea in Diego Suarez, Madagascar

Day 3 - Amber Mountain

After breakfast, drive south to Joffreville (45 Km/1h) to visit Amber Mountain National Park, a beautiful mountainous rainforest. The park owes its name to the amber coloured resin that flows from its trees and is used by Malagasy people for medicinal purposes. During the walking excursion you will discover a wide variety of birds, lemurs and chameleons. Spend the day hiking in the dense forest, discovering small crater lakes and magnificent waterfalls, hidden by exuberant vegetation. The trail will take you further to an elevated point where you can have amazing views over the rainforest. It is well worth the hike. Overnight at Litchi Tree.

Montagne d'Ambre National Park, Madagascar

Day 4 - Red Tsingy

Early after breakfast drive southwards to the Red Tsingy (50 Km/2h), a strange sculpture looking like a forest of red chimneys. The last part of the trip is done on a dirt road for about 1h. This is one of the most impressive sites of the northern region. Located on the plateau of Sahafary, at the foothill a beautiful canyon, they have an incredible ochre colour which changes according to the time of the day. This is also a good place to stop for lunch. In the afternoon, continue to Anjahakely. Don’t miss the sapphire diggers in Ambondromifehy village on the way. Upon arrival balance the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at Akiba Lodge.

Tsingy Rouge, Madagascar

Day 5 - Anjahakely

After breakfast, visit the protected area of ​​Andrafiamena, surrounded by a magnificent landscape of mountains and forests. The Analamerana Special Reserve is the last refuge of the critically endangered all-black Perrier’s sifaka, of which only 250 or so individuals remain in the wild. One comes here for the pristine rainforests with unique endemic flora and fauna. Hike along several circuits: Perrier Black Sifaka circuit, the Natural Swimming Pool circuit, the Point of View circuit and the Long-Distance Hiking circuit. You can have a packed lunch with you for a picnic. Return to the lodge for dinner. Overnight at Akiba Lodge.

Black Lemur Camp, an ecolodge situated in a protected area in the north-east of Madagascar

Day 6 - Ankarana Reserve

After breakfast, visit of the National Park of Tsingy d’Ankarana. It is a beautiful rocky park made of sharp needles of limestone, with a very thick network of cracks, underground caves and lakes. This is another spectacular landmark of the north, a beautiful place to get lost for nature lovers. Various species of animals and plants still keep their cradle inside the rocks. Spend the whole day in the park, exploring the various paths and trails in the East and West of Ankarana. A picnic lunch will be served whenever you will want to make a break. Overnight at Iharana Bush Camp.

Ankarana, Madagascar

Day 7 - Ankarana to Ankify

After breakfast, drive towards Ankify (150km/4h). This road will take you across an agricultural paradise. This region is volcanic and therefore one of most fertile lands in Madagascar. Coffee, cacao, sugar cane, vanilla, cashews and ylang ylang plantations grow all along. You will also drive along the mountain chain of Tsaratanana, which has the highest peak on the island. Stop in the picturesque markets of the Muslim villages of Ambilobe and Ambanja and don’t miss a visit to the Cyrille cacao and vanilla plantation. Upon arrival to Ankify you will take a short speedboat to to lodge, with a private beach. Balance the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at Antoremba Lodge

Antoremba Lodge, boutique beach hotel in Ankify, Madagascar

Day 8 - Nosy Be Island Tour

Today explore Nosy Be. Start with visiting Andoany, a melting pot of cultures. Mosques, churches and the sacred trees represent all forms of beliefs. You will see the impressive 200 years old Sacred Banyan Tree: it has a surface of 5000 square meters and is still growing! The tree is 200 years old and it was brought by Indian traders to the Queen of Nosy Be. The tree is sacred and many people come here to pray. Swim under the sacred waterfall in the natural pool. Continue to the historic Marodoka village and Lemuria Land, located in the middle of an ylang ylang plantation with a divine smell. This flower is used for essential oils and perfumes, among which Chanel 5. There is a museum and a distillery of essential oils and rum. On your return, enjoy nightlife in Ambatoloaka. Overnight at Manga Soa Lodge.

White Lemur in Madagascar

Day 9 - Nosy Iranja

After breakfast embark on a private boat to visit the most beautiful place in the north of Madagascar. This will be an unforgettable getaway to sun-kissed beaches, azure waters with natural coral reefs teeming with exotic fish. A breathtaking sunset and absolute tranquillity is on the menu. Nosy Iranja is located about 1,5h by speed boat to the south of Nosy-Be. There are two islets, Iranja Be and Iranja Kely, connected by a 1.2 km strip of white sand. The islands are also the nesting ground for Hawksbill turtles. Have a relaxing day discovering the beautiful views. In the evening return to Nosy Be. Overnight at Manga Soa Lodge.

Nosy Iranja in Madagascar

Day 10 - Nosy Komba

Today visit one of the smaller islands surrounding Nosy Be – Nosy Komba (Nosy Ambariovato), which has a lush tropical forest. It is a very exotic beautiful island with picturesque villages. Visit the small lemur park and the local community who are the masters of embroidery. Nosy Komba is not just a lemur island, it has an abundant wildlife and nature. You can see lots of animals in their natural habitat, like the neon green day gecko, giant turtles, small turtles, chameleons and others. You will see exotic trees like jackfruit, vanilla, mango, pineapple and so many other unique trees and plants. Black lemurs, namely the Macaco lemurs or black lemurs, live only in the north-west of Madagascar. On the island of Nosy Komba they are considered sacred and are protected. They live in groups of 20 and the female are dominant. Nosy Komba shelters around 5000 lemurs in a dense tropical forest. Overnight at Tsara Komba Lodge.

Tsara Komba Lodge, a luxury eco hotel located on the beach in Madagascar

Day 11 - Nosy Tanikely

After breakfast, take a 30 min boat ride to Nosy Tanikely, a protected marine reserve with a spectacular marine life. The small, uninhabited island and marine sanctuary is located southwest of Nosy Be. Welcome to a majestic natural aquarium with exceptional biodiversity. This is one of the best places in Madagascar for snorkelling. You can see spectacular corals, colorful fish, sea turtles, rays, dolphins and small harmless sharks. The turquoise blue lagoon is mesmerizing and the water is very transparent. When you feel that it is time to refresh, a seafood lunch will be prepared for you on the island. Don’t miss the lighthouse at the top of the hill with 360° panoramic views over the region. In the evening return to Nosy Be. Balance the evening at leisure. Overnight at Home the Residence.

Diving

Day 12 - Nosy Sakatia

After breakfast embark on a boat to visit the tiny island of Sakatia (10-min ride). Take a great expedition with passionate local scientists to swim with turtles or observe whales during the trip. On the island visit the local village, relax on the beach and go snorkelling. This island is relatively untouched by tourism and a secluded piece of paradise with many tropical plants like orchids, coffee, vanilla, medicinal plants and lots of animals. Enjoy the beach with white sand and turquoise water. On your return to the main island, visit Andilana, the most beautiful beach of Nosy Be. Finish with a splendid sunset at Mont Passot and a 360 degrees view over the sacred lakes. The legend says that spirits of the Sakalava royal family live in the lakes. Overnight at Sakatia Lodge.

girl diving with a giant turtle near Nosy Sakatia in Madagascar

Day 13 - Lokobe Reserve

Today spend some time away from the beach and discover the reserve of Lokobe, a protected forest located in the south-east of Nosy-Be. This reserve shelters a dense primitive forest of about 600ha. In Lokobe, you will discover more about Madagascar’s wildlife. The tropical humid climate has created conditions for the magnificent trees sheltering lemurs, orchids and smaller cute reptiles. Hike in the forest with your guide to meet the famous black lemurs ‘macaco’ and see the local endemic flora and fauna. On your return to the hotel, spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at Overnight at Eden Lodge.

Madagascar

Day 14 - Departure

According to your flight’s schedule, you will be transferred to the Fascene Airport (NOS) to take your flight home. If you have to pass via Antananarivo in order to connect to your international flight, we can add additional nights at the beginning and end of the trip in order to tailor the trip up to your needs, making sure your flight connections fit well into the schedule. We also recommend the islet of Sainte Marie, which is a good option for a relaxing beach break with children. The most beautiful and clearest turquoise water is on the eastern parts of Sainte Marie. In the south-west of the islet there are sea urchins, therefore hotels have a peer that leads you further away from them.

Sunset in Nosy Be, Madagascar

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