Tortoise adventure eco-tour
This expedition lasts 11 days challenging tour, as our goal is to see the four native Malagasy tortoises in their natural habitats.
This quest to find all four Malagasy tortoises species leads to everything from gruelling mudflat hikes to toasted chameleons.
In addition, of course, we hope to encounter as many other “herps” as possible along the way too.
DAY 1 : Tana – Toliara
Arrival at the airport of Toliara, you need to relax before the adventure of your lifetime as this going to be a tough expedition. However, you can take your time to enjoy the lifestyle of the Vezo people (fisherman) by having a city tour. Night in a hotel
DAY 2 : Toliara – Itampolo
Leaving from Toliara early in the morning after breakfast, we drive to Itampolo – a fisherman village on the deep south of Madagascar with its particular white sugar sand. On the way to, we got a stopover at Capricorn Tropic strip-line where you can feel a heat more than any areas on the surroundings. Dry and deciduous forest dominates the landscape and we may see by chance few chameleons, birds and snakes. This 360km off-road will lead us to Wetland National Park called Tsimanampetsotse with its salty lake. Night in a tent
DAY 3 : Itampolo
Take a morning walk in Tsimanampestsotse National Park of 43 200 ha area with its unique wildlife that 90% are endemic to Madagascar. The best known both radiated tortoise (Geochelone or Astrochelys radiata) and spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides) are the highlights of this park. Both can be seen in the park as well as outside the park that are in natural habitats. In the afternoon, we take a tour in the spiny forest nearby by the village where tortoises shade under trees especially octopus trees (Alluaudia procera and Alluaudia ascendens) that are so common in the area. Sadly, these land tortoises are threatened by capturing and road construction. Night in a tent
DAY 4 : Itampolo – Ifaty
Drive back to Ifaty, another fisherman village located 28km north of Toliara city. This bustling big village lies next to the beach is a well-known destination for national holiday makers or local weekend makers.
Ifaty is also known by its tortoise village and reniala private park. This tortoise village homes 2700 individuals of different species that have 100 to 150 years life expectancy. This tortoise park is
financed by SOPTOM. However, these protected animals are always victims of traffic organized by illegal hunters. At tortoise village, there is clinic laboratory to take care of these tortoises from different kind of sicknesses for instance, prolapses, due to lack of water, to dry leave consumption and to under nutrition. Eco-volunteers regularly come there to take care of these species. Night in hotel
DAY 5 : Ifaty – Antananarivo – Morondava
Leaving early from Ifaty to take a flight to Morondava via Antananarivo, Morondava is one of the most visited destinations in Madagascar. It is located in the west of the island about 700km from the capital Antananarivo. It is has been frequented since the 17th century by foreign sailors and traders. The inhabitants in Morondava are called the Sakalava and has ceremonial royal bathing relics.
We will not miss the famous Baobab Avenue and Andranomena Special Reserve where we will track down the pyxis planicauda.
DAY 6 : Morondava – Andranomena
After an early breakfast, we drive towards the most photographed spot in Madagascar – baobab avenue where we keep on our drive until our final site, Andranomena Special Reserve.
This special reserve supposed to be the home of many reptiles among them are pyxis planicauda, locally known as kapidolo. It is likely difficult to spot this treasure as they hide under dead leaves camouflaging that they are hardly seen. Another species of reptiles abound our trail such as snakes, chameleons and iguanas.
On our route back to Morondava, we got few stopovers at different natural baobab styles – sacred baobab, triple baobab, baobab in love and finally baobab avenue at sundown where these giant trees are shining thanks to sunlight given by the sunset that shows the contrast colour. Night in hotel
DAY 7 : Morondava – Tana – Majunga
Flying from Morondava to Majunga via Antananarivo, we head directly for Soalala where we base our campsite. Soalala is a small town by seaside of Mozambic channel located 160km from Katsepy – another small village at the other side of Majunga separated by Mozambic channel. Night in tent
DAY 8 : Majunga – Baie de Baly
This 160km is a tough road during the rainy season and mostly unpractical by car. The only way to reach Soalala is by sea or by air. Baie de Baly national park is mainly isolated in summer. This national park is located only 5km from Soalala and it is the best site to observe Geochelone yniphora locally known as Angononoka in their natural habitats.
DAY 9 : Baie de Baly
Leaving by boat early in the morning after breakfast, we get out of our speedboat for a walk in the park with our local guide. This national park is managed by Madagascar National Parks in Madagascar. This is challenging day to spot yniphora spcecies of tortoise from little one to the biggest one. This species must be the highlight of this adventure of a lifetime.
In the afternoon, back to Soalala with our speedboat and get ready for the next cross over at dawn the next day to Majunga. Night in tent
DAY 10 : Baie de Baly – Majunga
Early cross over this day on speedboat to be around at noon in Majunga for a city tour bebore our flight the next day. Majunga is one of the hottest towns in Madagascar. The temperature may reach sometimes 38°C under shade.
Like Morondava, Sakalava is the dominant tribe here. Majunga is well-known as by its famous rickshaw that we can enjoy a city tour for a photograph . Night in hotel
DAY 11 : Majunga – Tana
Transfer to airport to catch scheduled flight to Tana. The flight takes about 2 hours. Transfer to our hotel near the airport where you will be able to share a day room if you wish and use the pool or take part in a half-day tour of the nearby crocodile farm.
After dinner together at the hotel, transfer to the airport for a night flight out. Check-in is likely to be a lengthy process at the Ivato international airport.
– Geochelone radiate
– Geochelone yniphora
– Pyxis arachnoides
– Pyxis planicauda
– Tsimanampetsotse Nationl Park (D3)
– Andranomena Special Reserve (D6)
– Baobabs (D6)
– Baie de Baly National Park (D9)
Comfortable hotels, lodges and tents
Cool to warm, cold evenings in highlands, rain expected
Please note: This a complex itinerary and may be subject to change.
Madagascar is a third world country, which is not fully geared up to tourism.
You should therefore be prepared for changes to the route and accommodation right up to the last minute and remember that facilities will not the same as Europe.