The Route Nationale 7 trip is the most popular tour of Madagascar. See the country in a nutshell. Along 960 km of tar road, the landscape will be changing every day. RN7 will take you along highlands, dramatic mountains, dry savannah, baobabs and thorny forests. You will be wowed by the scenery along the way. The tours start in the chillier Asian part of the island, ending in the area of Tuléar, the real Africa, the ‘city of the sun’. This road trip can also start in Tulear in case you are exploring Madagascar in another order.
Antananarivo – Antsirabe – Ambositra – Ranomafana – Ambalavao – Isalo – Tulear
12 Days – From £1,330 per person
International flights are not included in the package price. We give you the freedom to 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.
This is a sample itinerary and prices are correct at the time of writing. We can tailor the itinerary to suit your plans by changing the length of the trip or the order of activities. More days can be added and different hotels can be chosen according to your preferences and needs.
Give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements, check availability and get a confirmed price.
Day 1 – Tongasoa! Welcome to Madagascar
Today you will arrive in Antananarivo Ivato International airport (TNR) where you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Antananarivo means “City of thousands”, the place which unified the tribes of Madagascar about 500 years ago. The city is built on 3 levels: the high city where the queen’s palace is situated, the mid-city with nice boutique shops and all the administrative buildings, and the bustling low city with the markets. Spend the rest of the day at leisure or take a stroll through the markets. A visit to Ambohimanga, the cradle of the Merina monarchy, is highly recommended (45 min drive outside the city). Overnight at Le Belvedere Hotel.
Day 2 – Antananarivo to Ambositra
Early after breakfast drive to Antsirabe (3,5h). Stop in Ambatolampy to visit the aluminum workshops. Beautiful terraced rice-fields and Merina villages will accompany your journey. Stop for lunch in Antsirabe, an elegant spa-town. After lunch, visit local ateliers by rickshaw. The mini bikes and old cars made from recycled cans are a must. Later on continue to Ambositra (2h). This is the area of green rice fields, pine trees and eucalyptus. One thing which marks the highlands is its architecture. Houses have carved wooden balconies and elegant shutters. Upon arrival, check in and take a tour of local sculptures and marquetry. Overnight at Artisan Hotel.
Day 3 – A cultural discovery of wild silk in Sandrandahy
Today explore the wild silk. It has been a traditional activity in Madagascar since the royal times. We work with a local NGO that supports the local people to continue this traditional activity. You will be given a complete introduction about wild silk, from the worm to the final weaved items. The story and importance of the wild silk for Malagasy people will also be explained, especially for the tradition of famadihana. When someone dies, he or she is buried into the family vault. 3 years later, the vault is re-opened, the body is taken out, washed and wrapped in a new large while silk scarf. Continue to Ranomafana rainforest. Overnight at Centrest Sejour.
Day 4 – Explore Ranomafana National Park
Today prepare for a full slow-paced exploration day in the park. Early after breakfast take a walk in the forest to spot lemurs and chameleons. Ranomafana forest is quite thick, the soil is often humid and slippery, and watching lemurs just take time. Overnight at Centrest Sejour.
Day 5 – A day full of surprises
In the morning, visit Namorona waterfall, then take a 20min walk through the rice fields to a local Tanàla village on the hill, Ambodipaiso. Discover the local lifestyle: looting of rice, basketwork, hair weaving. Attend a show of traditional songs and dances and taste the Malagasy pudding. After lunch, continue to Ambalavao (2,5h). In Fianarantsoa visit the photo-studio of Pierrot Men (closed on Sundays). Don’t miss out the beautiful Antemoro paper workshop, just before Ambalavao. The factory is a vestige of the Arabian civilization in the island. The scenery begins to change as you travel south where massive rocks dominate the skyline. Evening at leisure. Overnight at Betsileo Country Lodge.
Day 6 – Tsaranoro Valley (Andringitra)
After breakfast, transfer to the Tsaranoro valley, on the south edge of Andringitra. This valley offers an amazing panorama, a grandiose landscape and nice day hikes. It is hot and dry here. Andringitra has 3 types of vegetations. The lower altitude is dominated by rainforest, mango trees and zebu pastures, followed by mountainous woodland at higher altitudes, and an alpine vegetation further on. Here is the 2nd highest peak of the country – Pic Boby (2400m). Because of the height the temperature can go down to -8°C in July and August. You will be able to choose the hike they want to do once there. Stop at Anja Reserve. During the walk in the forest (2h) learn the story of the 3 brothers and spot the joyful Catta. Overnight at Tsara Camp.
Day 7 – Andringitra to Isalo
Early after breakfast continue to Ihosy, a Bara tribe area. Further south, huge mountains start growing from the emptyness. Bishop’s Hat and Gate of the South are marking the end of highlands and the beginning of the south. The massive Ihorombe plateau with its spacious red soil is a true ‘no man’s land’. The landscape becomes more and more imposing, filled with tranquillity. Many of these areas are sacred, therefore some have restrictive access. In the late afternoon, arrive in Ranohira in Isalo. Balance the evening at leisure. Overnight at Isalo Ranch.
Day 8 – Isalo
After breakfast, hike in the National Park of Isalo with a local guide. Isalo is a huge massif, eroded during the Jurassic time, one of the most spectacular in the country. Bara tribes used to bury their dead here, until they earned enough money to buy a silver coffin. Along the way you will see a botanical garden, canyons, beautiful viewpoints, a natural swimming pool and waterfalls. Nature lovers will have the opportunity to learn about the endemic plants of Isalo, among which the aloe and the bottle plant. Catta lemurs will often cross your path. At the end of the day drive to the Isalo Window to watch a beautiful sunset. Overnight at Isalo Ranch.
Day 9 – Isalo to Ifaty
Early after breakfast continue to Tulear. Stop in Ilakaka, a small market town of sapphire diggers. Because of the precious stones, the village population exploded. Thai, Sri Lankan, and Malagasy have come to this Malagasy Far West. The first baobabs will emerge after Ilakaka. Visit Zombitse Park to spot local wildlife (2h). Colourful Antanosy and Mahafaly tombs are often to be seen along the road. The flora is changing into deciduous thorny forests and baobabs. Balance the evening at leisure in Ifaty. Le Paradisier is a great quiet place to stay on the beach, located a bit outside of the main village. There are many self-guided trails to explore nearby. Overnight at Le Paradisier.
Day 10 – A botanical sanctuary
Located along the Mozambique Channel, immediately north of the Tropic of Capricorn, Ifaty easily accessible from Tulear. This part of Madagascar has always known strong sunshine. After breakfast visit the Reniala Baobab Reserve, a beautiful botanical sanctuary located near the sea, at the exit of the Mangily village. This is a really beautiful garden to see. The reserve covers a huge area. Local plants, threatened by constant deforestation and bushfires are protected here. Overnight at Le Paradisier.
Day 11 – A marine sanctuary
Today explore the spectacular watres. The Great Reef starts a bit south from here and goes north all the way to Morombe. Take a half-day canoe trip to the Massif des Roses, a superb protected coral reef. Colourful, wonderful landmark fish and marine animals of all kinds shelter in the corals. Overnight at Le Paradisier.
Day 12 – Back to Antananarivo
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Tulear for your onward flight.