We are all different. While you might be interested in seeing the lemurs and conquering a mountain, I might rather want to focus on the unique plant life and go on a river safari.
I have searched all over the Net (so you don't have to), reading loads of trip reports and articles about Madagascar holidays. It's a great way to find out what Madagascar holidays are really like.
Below is a list of trip reports to get you started. I have summarised them so you can quickly see if it's your type of holiday or not.
I'll continuously add to the Madagascar holidays list to keep it fresh, so check back every now and then.
You can easily spend 5 weeks on Madagascar, or focus on a smaller area for a shorter time.
Madagascar holidays range from Nosy Be with its lovely beaches, Ile Ste-Marie for snorkelling and seclusion and various national parks where you can see different types of lemurs, chameleons and other wildlife to the highlands and wine lands. There are mountains to conquer, delicious food to be enjoyed and friendly people to meet.
Read on to pick up tips on the weather, photography, transport and mixing with the locals during your future Madagascar holidays…
Destinations: Tana, Ramanofara National Park, Fianarantsoa, Isalo National Park
Tour Operator: GAP Adventures
Species Seen: Golden bamboo-, woolly-, owly-, sportive-, greater bamboo-, white/dancing- and mouse lemurs, right breasted brown Sifaka, chameleons, snakes, civet, geckos, interesting insects
One week 29 Sep - 7 Oct 2007 Jeff Bradshaw, UK
Jeff spent a week in Madagascar which he thought was a beautiful country (Tana not being the highlight). He swam at a waterfall, enjoyed natural hot springs and tasted local berries. The GAP tour guide was great and full of information. Meals were generally good and cheap.
The group of 10 visited an aluminium factory, gemstone works, silk weavers, paper factory, wood carving shop, a wine cellar and various markets where he had the opportunity to buy dried crickets.
The group travelled by bus and stayed in a mixture of accommodation, from a wooden shack lodge in the middle of a rainforest to camping next to a stream.
At Ramanofara they had a superb guide and during their 5 hours and 15km morning walk saw 6 species of lemur along with chameleons and geckos, all the while accompanied by bird song. They also had a night walk during which they saw the mouse lemur (I think Jeff fell in love) and a striped civet.
Out of his Madagascar holidays accommodation, he loved Isalo the most. He also hiked to the awesome canyon, kings pool (like the garden of Eden), the blue and black pools. Wildlife seen there: snakes, birds, white/dancing lemur, scorpions, lizards, kestrel, beautiful grasshoppers, dragonflies and interesting plants.
Jeff is very observant and experienced a variety of aspects of Madagascar, and through his writing one picks up a lot about the people and their strange culture.
He could have spent more time at Ramanofara where the wildlife experience exceeded his expectations: "Absolutely loved it!"
Destinations: Tana, Vakona Private Reserve, Andasibe National Park, Antsirabe, Ranomafana National Park
Tour Operator: Madagascar EcoTours
Species Seen: Black and white ruffed-, brown-, gray bamboo-, golden bamboo-, greater bamboo-, red-bellied- and red-fronted brown lemur, sifaka, indri, fosa, crocodiles
August 2007 (6 days) Angela, USA
Angela and John's Madagascar holidays didn't start off too well: they were met by non-English speaking representatives of their travel company and were transferred to their first hotel (which wasn't the one on their itinerary) in a fume-filled car which was thankfully later improved on. En-route to their next destination, no lunch was provided or stopped for and they reached the hotel after the restaurant had closed.
In the parks itself (Andasibe, Ranomafana) they had excellent guides on their walks and saw many lemur species. At Vakona private reserve the animals are very used to humans which afforded them close contact with lemurs and the opportunity to see the fosa (cat-like animal) and lots of crocodiles.
She was amazed by Madagascar's extreme beauty and interesting culture. She visited some markets, got to see how the locals, who are very poor, live and found the food tasty. Angela vows to be back, because 5 nights was a very short time for such a diverse and unique country.
Antananarivo, Perinet, Antsirabe, Ranomafana, Fianarantsoa, Ranohira, Tulear, Fort Dauphin
15 types of lemur, many different reptiles & birds
Two weeks October 2006
Marina Bird, Canada
Source: Review submitted
Recently Added Review!!:
Marina's Madagascar holidays was thanks to winning a competition. They joined a bus tour of this unique country and were not disappointed.
She loved walking in the rain forests and experience the different areas and climates of Madagascar.
She talks about the different accommodations they stayed at, the food and rates their trip a 10 out of 10.
Périnet (Mantadia and Analamazaotra), Berenty Private Reserve, Ile St Marie, Ile aux Nattes
11 species of lemur incl. Diademed Sifakas, chameleons, lots of birds, fish (snorkelling)
Three weeks September 2006
Katie Slocombe, UK
Source: African Safari Journals
Katie and her husband went for their honeymoon. As wildlife lovers they found this amazing country the perfect destination, with the beaches and sea life an added bonus.
They were nervous to book everything with a Malagasy based company, but the company and the guides were wonderful and performed incredibly well. The best part is the cost - a third of UK agent prices.
The language wasn't really a problem as their guides could all speak English. However at two of their accommodations only French was spoken.
Their highlight was the snorkelling off Ile aux Nattes (south of Ile Ste Marie) as they could literally swim in from the beach and see a wide variety of beautiful tropical fish.
Katie also recommends the museum in Berenty (about the local people).
Her advice is to go on Madagascar holidays now; the national parks need tourist support to help protect the unique wildlife against the ongoing deforestation...
Andasibe, Isalo and Ranomafana National Parks
One month 26 May - 24 June 2006
Dianne and Murray, Australia
Dianne and Murray and two of their relatives were joined by two other travellers in their group, a bit disappointing as they were hoping to meet more new people. They thought a month was a little too long especially considering the language barrier.
They say that the locals they spoke to are hopeful that their economy would flourish on account of tourism, but in Dianne and Murray's opinion there is not really enough on offer to keep people coming back for more.
The lemurs and birds they saw were fantastic although it shocked them a bit to discover that lemurs can only be seen in National Parks these days and not in unprotected areas.
Nosy Be and Ifaty rank at the top of their list of beautiful Madagascar beaches, but they say that they have seen better elsewhere.
The food they had throughout the trip was mostly mediocre and sometimes good, hot water was sometimes available and mostly not and they warn to be careful of taxi drivers who overcharge…
Destinations: Périnet Reserve, Mantadia National Park, Berenty Reserve
Tour Operator: Unusual Destinations
Species Seen: Grey Bamboo Lemur, Red-fronted Brown Lemur, Diadem Sifaka, Ruffed Lemurs, Ring-tail lemur, carnivorous pitcher plants
Three Weeks 15 January 2005 Akshazza
Source: Real Travel
Madagascar holidays offer so much variety in their rickshaws and ox drawn carts, baobab dotted landscapes, rice paddies, fishing villages, woolen blankets to protect against the highland cold, narrow two storey houses, forests filled with lemurs and large canoes along the coast.
Roads are rough and distances long, making travelling around a challenge.
In (An)Tana(narivo) poverty is clearly demonstrated with lots of begging children and hordes of hawkers trying to sell their wares.
The money is confusing as two currencies are used. Additionally, the banks didn't accept US$ but only €uro.
The visit was in cyclone season which meant good sunny days and afternoon thunderstorms. A cyclone did hit (best to stay on the western side of Madagascar) and forced a change of itinerary because of flooded roads to Ifaty. Muddy areas also meant the planned hike couldn't take place.
Perinet's rainforest teems with wildlife: birds, indris, chameleons, orchids ... and was a highlight. Two early morning walks and one evening walk delivered plenty lemurs and indris, many not even far from the group's bungalows...
Destinations: Perinet, Isalo, Avenue de Baobab, Ranomafana rainforest, Anja reserve, Le Canyon de Lemur, Ifaty, Fort Dauphin, Ile Ste-Marie
Tour Guide: Rija, freelance licensed guide & Dina, driver
Accommodation: Sakamanga (Antananarivo), Le Retrait (Antsirabe), Hotel Feon'ny Ala, Ifaty Beach Club, Hotel Lakana (Ile Ste-Marie)
Species Seen: Golden Bamboo Lemurs, Brown Lemurs and big Black-and-white Sifaka's, Wooly Lemur, Ring-tailed lemur, Parsons chameleon, Giant J
Three Weeks 19 April 2004 Dylan L., The Netherlands
Source: UCP Zone
Dylan and his girlfriend booked nothing in advance. Their trip had a distinct local flavour and they interacted with natives, hardly seeing other tourists along their route.
Rija is a great guide who cares for his fellow citizens, entertained Dylan and his girlfriend with stories and information about Madagascar.
The money is confusing. However, hotels, delicious food and services are generally cheap.
Highlights are too numerous to mention but some were paddling down the Tsiribihina river in dug out canoes past villages and beautiful bird life, camping on the riverside under very bright stars; the paradise beach accommodation at Hotel Lakana; Anja Reserve where you can get close to ring-tailed lemurs; the precious stone factory at Antsirabe; the big market Mazy Be in Tana, the perfect place to buy souvenirs at cheap prices.
A guided tour through the beautiful Ranomafana rainforest presented amazing plants, waterfalls, the Greater Bamboo Lemur, the rare Golden Bamboo lemur in large numbers and at close range, Brown Lemurs, Sifakas and Wooly lemurs.
Parque Nationale de Perinet was beautiful and here Dylan and his girlfriend saw the tiny Mouse lemur, a baby Tenrec searching for insects, heard then saw the Indri Indri with its unique whale-like call, the large Parson's chameleon and a tiny (<1cm) frog.
One word of warning on the boat Rosina II to Ile Ste-Marie. It does not do well in uncalm waters and the beer drinking captain seemed to enjoy the terror of his passengers caused by the rocking about and splashing of water into the passenger area.
They vow to be back for more Madagascar holidays. As Dylan puts it, "there's only one suitable description; paradise."...
Destinations: Berenty Private Reserve, Périnet Reserve (Reserve of Indri d' Analamazaotra)
Trip Operator: Adventure Associates
Accommodation: Berenty bungalows, Vanila Hotel (Nosy Bé), Vakôna Forest Lodge
Species Seen: Indri Lemur, White Sifakas
Guidebook used: Bradt (excellent)
01 April 2004 Rod Eime, Australia
Rod's Madagascar holidays was aimed at exploring the amazing flora and fauna, but he didn't know exactly what to expect... so it was all a wonderful discovery.
To get around on Madagascar holidays, taxis work best in the cities. To cover large distances however, Rod recommends air travel even though it's quite expensive. Land travel by 'bush taxi' is slow and tiring.
He found his accommodations clean and usually spacious, with food ranging from good to great.
At Berenty, Rod thoroughly enjoyed the visits from White Sifakas, running on their hind legs across the open grounds in the late afternoons.
The foresty Vakôna Forest Lodge near the Perinet Reserve, where he saw Black and White Ruffed and Brown Lemurs, is recommendable as a good base from which to explore the surrounding area.
A highlight for many people going on Madagascar holidays, including Rod, is hearing the unmistakable and overwhelming call of the largest living lemur, the Indri, within the Perinet Reserve. Thanks to the group's capable guide, they also got to see some of these rare primates in the treetops, swinging and leaping about and feeding on leaves and shoots...
Tackling your Madagascar holidays without a tour company can be quite a feat. Terry spent three days gathering information but ended up having an adventurous time. He, his wife and kids give the country the thumbs-up.
He recommends three local places they found very helpful in planning their time, including Le Lac Itasy Centre, owned by an English couple.
Their favourite destinations included Perinet where they saw the large Indri lemur and Foulepointe, a stunning white beach with gorgeous blue water.
Destination: Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve
Accommodation: Camping in the mountains
Wildlife Seen: Lemur
Two days June 2007 Marta
Marta warns that you need to prepare (and gather patience) for an uncomfortable - but very scenic - journey to get to Tsingy, but once there be ready to be amazed.
She and her friend travelled independently to this world heritage site park, arranging accommodation and guides as they went along. Language was a bit of a barrier but they got along fine.
They hiked into the unusual and beautiful Tsingy mountains for an overnight adventure, explored some caves by canoe and even saw five lemurs, which she just loved. Madagascar is now one of her favourite places in the world.
Destination: Antananarivo, Parc National de Ranomofana, Ambalavao, Parc National de L'Isalo, Anakao, Fianarantsoa
Accommodation: La Reserve (Anakao), The Tsara Guesthouse (Fianarantsoa)
Species Seen: Indri Lemur, Ring Tailed Lemur
11 Days 4-15 August 2005 Weixiao & Rebecca, UK
After this trip, Madagascar holidays now rate as Weixiao's top destination in the whole world. It is a world in one with never a dull moment, and the people are wonderful, friendly and warm.
They started with her friend in 'Tana', who along with her boyfriend guided them around. It was a big advantage going round Madagascar with local residents and a driver who was well connected.
Some of the scenic highlights of the trip was the emerald blue Lake Trivatia, watching the landscape change from forested mountains to flat savannah decorated with baobab trees and mining towns. The canyon in Parc National de L'lsalo was astonishing.
At Parc National de Ranomofana, the group of friends explored the forest with a guide who explained all the different medicinal uses of amazing plants to them, and finally they saw Brown and Indri lemurs. All the tourists were a bit off putting but couldn't spoil the amazing experience of wandering through this beautiful forest.
Near Ambalavao they got to see a group of ring-tailed lemurs up close - a definite highlight of the trip!
The activity highlight was going on a 5-hour pirogue (dug out canoe) trip among the mountains near Fianarantsoa. The town also has a surprisingly impressive nightlife...
Destination: Antananarivo, Ambodifotatra, Ile Ste-Marie, Toamasina, Fianarantsoa and Parc National de Ranomafana
Accommodation: Mellis Hotel & Hotel de Paris (Antananarivo), Hotel La Zinia (Ambodifotatra), Hotel Raza & Zomatel (Fianarantsoa), Le Rianala
Species Seen: Golden Bamboo Lemur, Grey Gentle Lemur, whales
Some Madagascar holidays focus on less touristy areas. Stuart went from the humid and wet east coast to the wet and bitterly cold central highlands.
He had a lot of rain during his trip, but luckily it wasn't cyclone season.
To save time, he opted for air travel to cover long distances and made use of the bush taxis only for relatively short trips.
Generally the food in the country is very good. Dinner in the capital cost about US$5 at an upmarket restaurant.
Most of the people travellers come across on Madagascar holidays are poor and a lot are unemployed. Stuart was invited to visit a local family of 9 living in a small house. Although this family could speak some English, it's a good idea to brush up on your basic French to get the most of interacting with the locals.
Onto the Madagascar wildlife - at La Crique Stuart saw quite a few whales. His money-saving tip here is not to pay US$30 for a whale watching tour, as you could see them just as well from the US$5 ferry between Ste-Marie and the mainland.
At de Ranomafana, Stuart was blessed with a sunny day and took a guided tour into the rainforest where he saw groups of Grey Gentle and Golden Bamboo lemurs.
Despite tummy trouble slowing him down, Stuart enjoyed Madagascar as a unique country with stunning scenery, beautiful coastline and coral ... and rain forests filled with lemurs and waterfalls...
Destinations: Toliara, Isalo National Park, Ranomafama National Park, Périnet Reserve
Accommodation: Hotel Sakamanga
Species Seen: Indri Lemur, chameleon, owl, lizard
July 2003 Tan Wee Cheng, Singapore
Source: Wee Cheng's website
Wee Chen's preparation for his visit included learning about the culture, history and economy. He left with a pessimistic feeling about the protection of Madagascar wildlife.
He found Tana to be chaotic and messy with 3-storey buildings sharing city space with rice paddies - a sign of the extreme poverty he noticed all around the country; and Fianarantsoa to be a big disappointment, apart from the fantastic Panda Restaurant offering excellent Chinese food.
Madagascar holidays are good for the palate. Tan Wee thought the local red wine to be fairly good and loved the abundance of large lobsters at cheap prices.
The Mahafaly tribe of the southern coast creates impressive tombs, unexpected in such a poor people. The Highland tribes again, practises turning of the bones, meaning they exhume their dead periodically, celebrate the life of the person, rewrap them and then rebury them along with gifts.
Wee Chen visited Isalo National Park where he saw 3 species of lemur; Ranomafama National Park where he was delighted to see Aye Ayes at night as well as chameleons, geckos, civet cats and other lemurs; and Perinet where they saw two families of the incredibly beautiful Indri.
His tip to photographers planning their own Madagascar holidays, is to make sure they visit the baobab trees, and that the locals seem to love being photographed...
Destinations: Montagne d'Ambre National Park, Ankarana National Park (Tsingy's), Marojezy National Park, Nosy Mangabe Reserve, Perinet & Mantadia Reserves
Tour Operator & Guides: Naomi from Sambava Voyage, and various guides in the different Parks
Accommodation: Rousette Lodge, "Feon'ny Ala" (voice of the forest) Bungalow Hotel (Perinet)
Species Seen: Crowned Lemurs, Brown Lemurs, chameleons in all sizes (from the smallest Brookesia), Uroplatus gecko, Boa Madagascariensis, birds like Kingfisher, insects like Pill Millipede, night active Lepilemurs, Aye-aye
One Month 29 August 2001 Laszlo Bolgar
Laszlo is a nature lover who couldn't get enough of what this special and unique country has to offer on Madagascar holidays.
He visited many parks: Montagne d'Ambre National Park with its wonderful variety of wildlife; Ankarana National Park with the razor-sharp limestone pinnacles called "Tsingy" - a sight unlike anything he's ever seen and a definite highlight; and Park Marojezy where he accidentally ended up as the only overnight guest at a deserted camp and found this solidarity in the middle of a rain forest a treasured memory.
Nosy Mangabe Reserve's highlight was seeing the Aye-aye during a night trip. Other species seen here were the sweet Mouse lemur, the flat tailed gecko, Brown lemurs, the screaming black and white ruffed lemurs, the tiny Brookesia chameleons, camouflaged frogs, a lazy boa and many shiny green geckos. Rounding all of this to a perfect experience was the picturesque beach.
He spent 3 days walking 90km from Nandrasane to Mananara and found it an unforgettable experience leading him through neat villages and providing the opportunity to meet and stay with the friendly and sincere locals.
At Perinet Reserve Laszlo got up early to try and catch the shouts of the Indri. He was rewarded and mesmirised by it. Unfortunately the guides seem to disrespect the Indri's space slightly in favour of satisfying the many tourists.
The last park visited was Mantadia National Park, home to the rare and elusive and critically endangered Diademed Sifaka. Laszlo was lucky and saw a group of them for half an hour.
Transport tip: the Presidential "airline" is not advertised for Madagascar holidays, but the locals know about and it works. Laszlo saved some time this way as Air Mad(agascar) didn't have flights fitting his schedule from Mananara to Toamasina...
Destinations: Nosy Mangabe, Andasibe (Perinet) Reserve, Parc National Andohahela, Isle Ste. Marie
Accommodation: Hotel Isoraka, Betty Plage
Species Seen: Brown Fuffed Lemurs, Black & White Ruffed Lemurs, Mouse Lemurs, Dwarf Lemurs, chameleons (including the tiny Brookesia and the great Leaf-tailed gecko), Black Widow spiders, a Boa Constrictor and frogs
30 June - 21 July 2001 Dale & Dana, USA
Source: Dale & Dana's website
Dale and Dana believe that Madagascar may be the most wonderful country they have ever been to and that's saying something because they have been on a world tour.
Internal flights using Air Madagascar were a very interesting experience with no airport security, no flight safety instructions, flickering lights, few seat belts and the occasional live chicken that some people sneak on as hand luggage. But apart from that they got to their destinations with no problems.
Nosy Mangabe reserve was a highlight of their trip where they saw many lemur, chameleon, gecko, frogs and reptiles but unfortunately they didn't spot the highly endangered and elusive Aye-Aye lemur...