Our expeditions in Madagascar formally start and end in the southwest coastal city of Toliara. We therefore offer a very popular overland tour from the capital Antananarivo down to Toliara at the beginning of each expedition, and from Toliara back up to Antananarivo at the end of each expedition. 

This journey covers 1,000 kilometres through beautiful scenery and some of Madagascar's most famous national parks, with plenty of opportunities for spotting lemurs! It's also a great chance to get to know your fellow expedition volunteers before arriving in Andavadoaka.

Summary of the overland tour from Antananarivo to Toliara:

Day 1

Depart from the Auberge du Cheval Blanc hotel in Antananarivo at 7am, drive through the Malagasy highlands with their distinctively terraced rice paddies and traditional red brick houses.

Rice paddies

Stop for lunch in the bustling town of Antsirabe or Ambositra with their colourful pousse-pousse (rickshaws). 

Pousse pousse

Continue on, pausing for photography breaks before arriving in the main highland city of Fianarantsoa at 6pm, dinner and overnight stay at Mini-Croq hotel.

Day 2

Wander the old town of Fianarantsoa after breakfast; this has been listed as one of the world's top 100 threatened cultural heritage sites.

Fianarantsoa

Depart for Ambalavao, where we visit the traditional paper factory to see Antaimoro paper being made using sisal and pressed flowers. Lunch is at the nearby community-run Anja reserve, which is home to ring-tailed lemurs, chameleons and and other endemic species.

Paper makingoverlandtour01

Hike over the rock formations in Anja to admire the views of the surrounding countryside. Back in the minibus, and arrive in the village of Ranohira at 6pm, dinner and overnight stay at Momo Trek hotel.

Day 3

Trekking in Isalo National Park (Madagascar's outback!) with an English-speaking guide to visit natural swimming pools, waterfalls, grasslands, sandstone cliffs and canyons.

Isalo trekking

Opportunities to see brown and ring-tailed lemurs as well as chameleons. 

overlandtour04

BBQ lunch in the park, dinner and overnight stay at Momo Trek hotel.

Day 4

Depart from Momo Trek hotel in Ranohira at 8am, drive down to the coast and arrive in Toliara at 1pm. This is the end of the overland tour; volunteers are responsible for organising their own accommodation in Toliara, and we can recommend places to stay.

Cost

The cost is £185 for the 4-day / 3-night trip from Antananarivo to Toliara, and £160 for the return 3-day / 2-night trip from Toliara to Antananarivo. This includes minibus hire, driver, accommodation, national park entry and guide fees. Please let us know if you're interested and we can reserve you a place on a tour. The dates can be found on this page.

Volunteer story

Blanchard Campbell did the overland tour before his expedition in Andavadoaka, and this is an account of his experience in the Isalo National Park:


We had a very friendly tour guide, Momo, to show us around Isalo. We started on a route called Canyon des Makis, taking a hike around the canyons that surrounded us, and were told about the rare endemic plants on our trail, as well as sacred burial sites embedded in the canyon walls. After hiking for twenty minutes, we climbed to the top of one of the canyons to rest, and appreciated the view that surrounded us.

Isalo

From the canyon top, we descended back to the main footpath. On the way, we encountered a number of small reptiles and dragonflies. Approaching an area called Piscine Naturalle, the sound of rushing water began to fill the air around us. After a few minutes we found ourselves at a beautiful waterfall with a small natural pool that we waded into, cooling ourselves down after our hot trek. 

Piscine naturelle

We then hiked to an area resembling a lowland equatorial evergreen rainforest! Momo, our guide, pointed out a native species of aloe, called Aloe isaloenis, and answered many of our questions about the national park, its history and heritage. Soon after, we were greeted by a number of brown lemurs (Eulemur fulvus). Everyone was amazed by the way they moved. Even the slightest jump had us staring in awe!


 
Just as we were calming down from the sight of the brown lemurs, two of us spotted a group of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) in the trees surrounding us. We eventually managed to eat lunch, and then headed down a a small path towards the exit of the park. During this section, we came across another species of lemur, the sifaka (Propithecus diadema), which I found the most impressive. It was incredible to see these lemurs in their natural state, jumping from tree-to-tree, gathering food.