Madagascar is a beautiful country with many places to visit. It is also a massive country with horrible infrastructure, leaving precious time on holiday often on a bus or plane. With these in mind, it is important to consider logistics within Madagascar for each destination, so we came up with the ultimate Madagascar itinerary – from two up to eight weeks – for your stay.
Depending on the length of your stay, it is best to choose a small area of Madagascar – unless you intend to backpack for 2+ months – in which case most of the country is doable. The main transport within Madagascar is the local buses or the taxi brousse. Often, we would expect the journey to be only a few hours, but it was normal to take an entire day.
It is better to hire a personal car and driver to get between destinations as quickly as possible if you have limited time. The roads are very poor and can take hours to move even one hundred kilometers.
Deciding how much time you want to spend in Madagascar? Unless you plan to fly to Nosy Be and just spend a week at one of the resorts, the least we would recommend would be to visit Madagascar for two weeks. This is still going to be rushed with limited sites to have a smooth holiday.
One month is a great amount of time backpacking in Madagascar. To see most of the country, hitting all the major highlights in both the south and north of the country, six to eight weeks is more realistic. Domestic flights with Air Madagascar can set you back $300 USD one-way.
If short on time, consider flying between some of the destinations whenever possible. Two weeks provides you with enough time to hit our three favorite spots in Madagascar – Tsingy de Bemaraha, Avenue of Baobabs, and Ile Aux Nattes, our favorite beach, and the rainforest of Andasibe.
Whether you’re staying for two weeks or maybe eight, read on to learn about the ultimate Madagascar itinerary ideas!
Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.
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Best Two-Week Itinerary Option
East/West Option: Fly to Antananarivo and go West to Morondava. Visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, then head back East to the other coast passing through Tana on your way to Saint Marie and Ile Nattes. You can finish your trip with a day in Andasibe visiting the rainforest before heading home. This is a good travel itinerary that hits the two best sites, our favorite beach, and a very accessible rainforest with lots of wildlife and lemurs.
North Option: Fly to Diego Suarez from Tana. You can spend five days in Diego Suarez and Ramena, then head to Nosy Be for a week’s stay. You can proceed to visit Tsingy Rouge, Amber Mountain, Emerald Bay, and some of the islands surrounding Nosy Be.
South Option: Fly to Tana and head south in your private 4×4 hire. You will have stops at Antsirabe, Anja Park in Ambalavao, and Isalo National Park. Then, continue down to Toliara and spend a couple of days at the beach of Anakao or Ifante before you fly back to Tana. The other option is from Isalo, go back to Tana, and then to Andasibe for a couple of days in the Rainforest before heading home. A private driver from Tana to Toliara (or vice-versa) costs around 150K Ariary (~$50 USD).
Three or four weeks is a good amount of time to stay in Madagascar. You can mix a combination of a private car (4×4) and taxi brousse to lower costs for the trip and can see a lot of the country. Rather than pushing to add a whole new region to your itinerary, it is better to slow your pace and add some extra days to relax at the beach (hello Ile Nattes!).
Best 3-4 Week Itinerary Option
East/West Option: Fly into Antananarivo and go West to Morondava. You can visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Then, go back to Antsirabe and head south to Ambalavao. You can visit Anja Park before going on a 3-day hike in the Andringitra Mountains. After your hike, head back up to Tana on your way to Saint Marie and Ile Nattes. You can finish your trip with a day in Andasibe visiting the rainforest before heading home. This is very similar to the two-week itinerary, plus an awesome hike.
West/North Option: From Antananarivo go west to Morondava. From there, visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Then, go back to Antsirabe and head north. You can make a quick stop in Andasibe to visit the Rainforest, then head to Diego Suarez and Ramena for a week.
West/South Option: Probably the most common route for tourists, starting from Tana and going west to Morondava. You can visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Then, go back to Antsirabe and head south to Ambalavao. You can visit Anja Park before going on a 3-day hike in the Andringitra Mountains. Then, Continue south to Ranohiro to visit Isalo National Park for one or two days. You can then continue on to Toliara and stay at the beach town of Anakao or Ifante. Hire a private car back to Tana.
Eight weeks is a long time in one country, but to see most places in Madagascar, is actually the perfect amount of time. With plenty of time, you can check out all the popular sites while cutting down costs by traveling almost entirely by taxi brousse. Because travel takes forever and is frustrating at times, it is good to take a few small breaks during this itinerary. Our favorite spots to just relax for a few days to unwind were in the valley of Tsaronuru (Andringitra Mountains), Anakao, Ile Nattes, and Diego Suarez.
Best 8-Week Itinerary Option
- Wild West Tsiribihina River Tour by Pirogue includes two days at Tsingy de Bemaraha and a stop at the Avenue of the Baobabs (nine days).
- Take a train ride from Fianarantsoa to Manakara – If it lasts 24 hours instead of eight hours as it did for us, this might be miserable, but it will always be remembered (three days).
- Visit Anja Park near Ambalavao (one day).
- Hike for three days in the Andringitra National Park to summit Pic Boby (five days).
- Go to Isalo National Park for one or two days (two days).
- Head to the town of Toliare for a day then move on and relax at a beach town, either Anakao or Ifante (seven days).
- Head to the east coast for an excellent stop at Ile Saint Marie and Ile Nattes. Make a 2-day stop to visit Parc Mitsinjo in the Andasibe Rainforest (seven days).
- Head north to Diego Suarez and Ramena to visit Tsingy Rouge, Amber Mountain, and Emerald Bay (seven days).
- The remaining days not accounted for is travel time by taxi brousse… yes, it actually will account for that much time (10-14 Days).
Best of Madagascar
Avenue of the Baobabs, Andasibe Rainforest, Ile Aux Nattes, Andringitra Mountains, and Tsingy Rouge.
Rainforest: Parc Mitsinjo in the Andasibe Rainforest
Beach: Ile Aux Nattes
Cultural Experience: Tsiribihina River Tour
Landscape: Andringitra Mountains
Food: Diego Suarez
That’s it – we hope you have an amazing visit to the beautiful country of Madagascar!
Planning a trip to Madagascar? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!