The Perfect Travel Itinerary For Madagascar

Madagascar may be the definition of exotic destinations. Nestled in the south Indian Ocean, this island is home to thousands of endemic animal and plant species found no where else in the world. Its landscapes are as different as they are otherworldly, as well as its people, a curious mix of Southeast Asian and African. Of all my travelsMadagascar is still the answer I give to people when they ask me my favorite country. I spent a month in Madagascar which I think was still a bit too short. I could have easily spent three months because there is so much to see. There’s as much geological diversity here as there is in the United States.

I spent just under a month traveling through Madagascar. It’s not an easy place to travel through. Roads and general infrastructure here is some of the worst in the world. The main highways are equivalent to side streets in most other countries, but riddled with potholes and teeming with people walking their ox-carts.

Andringitra mountains

Base of the Andringitra, the tallest mountains in Madagascar. This place is a short detour off the RN7.

I would recommend a minimum of 10 days in Madagascar (not including the flight to get here which can be very long), purely because the road conditions are awful and the sole airline, Air Madagascar, is suspect at best.

Interested yet? If you’re planning to visit Madagascar, make sure to read my Guide to Madagascar for all the little things I picked up along the way. Then read the itinerary below 🙂


Table of Contents

Where I went

In total, our trip was 28 days and our itinerary included the following

  • Antannarivo
  • Morondava
  • Avenue of the Baobabs
  • Tsingy Stone Forest
  • Ranomafana National Park
  • Isalo National Park
  • Andasibe National Park
  • Ile Sainte Marie & Ile Aux Nattes

If these sights are on your list and you have about a month for your visit, this post is for you! This itinerary can easily be tailored for a two week or three week Madagascar itinerary. Just pick the places you want to go!


In depth Madagascar posts


 Full Itinerary:


Day 1-5: Straight to the Tsingy Stone Forest

We landed in Antananarivo International Airport in the early afternoon on a South African Airways flight. After clearing immigration, which gives all Western passports FREE 30 day tourist visas, we met our driver, Serge, waiting for us at arrivals. We planned on exchanging some Euros at the FX counters at the airport but our driver said he had a guy that would hook us up with better rates. A bit early in the trip for potentially shady practices, but what the hell?

My driver’s name was Serge, and his email is [email protected] Feel free to email him and see if he has availability for you!

We met with the guy, and he did indeed give us a better exchange rate and we were rolling in stacks of cash (the biggest bill in Madagascar is worth $3-4). We decided to skip Antananarivo (Tana) and drove straight towards Antsirabe where we spent the night.

First baobab sighting!! Very excited.


Antsirabe to Tsingy Stone Forest

The next day we headed the Western beach town of Morondava. The drive took the whole day, but not without beautiful rice terraces and otherworldly landscapes. Morondava is a must stop for those visiting the Tsingy Stone Forest because it’s impossible to drive there at night. We would come back to Morondava afterwards for a few nights of R&R.

From the top of Tsingy Stone Forest!

The next day we drove straight to the Tsingy Stone ForestIt was offloading and make shift barge ferries the entire way up but we made it to our guesthouse just before sunset. We stayed here for three nights and hiked the Grand Tsingy and Petite Tsingy. Unforgettable places!

Tsingy Madagascar

Leap of faith suspension bridge. No worries though, this bridge is stable and incredibly well developed.


Read Also:  The Perfect One to Two Day Itinerary For Cairo, Egypt

Day 6-8: Morondava and Avenue of the Baobabs

Day 6 was spent entirely on the same road back towards Morondava. We arrived around sunset to one of my favorite places in the world, the Avenue of the Baobabs. This is one of those places that looks amazing in photos, and looks just as magical and special in person. The giant baobab is native only to Madagascar and it’s about as unique of a tree as there is.

avenue of the baobabs sunset

Big baobab with the sunset.

We stayed the next two nights in Morondava. We enjoyed the beach, partied with the locals by drinking copious amounts of Three Horses Beer, and hung out with local fisherman to eat hearty portions of lobsters and prawns.


Helping the locals bring in their catch/boat.

Morondava Beach

Morondava Beach


Day 9-11: Ranomafana National Park

Day 9 was another all day drive. We had plenty of these because Madagascar is a surprisingly big country, and the roads are so bad, you’re never driving more than 90 km/h. We arrived in Antsirabe (where we also spent the first night), to spend the night.

Ravenala palm tree madagascar

Gorgeous Ravenala tree in Ranomafana.

The next day, we drove south along the RN7, Madagascar’s main highway, to Ranomafana National Park. This park is known for their numerous species of lemurs, including the elusive golden bamboo lemur. The contrast in scenery is extraordinary as Ranomafana looks like a tropical rainforest, where the previous segment of our trip was some combination of desert and ocean.

An awesome bamboo lemur not scared to get close to us. The guide gave it some bamboo bark and it stood there eating it in front of us for at least 10 minutes.

We spent two nights in Ranomafana and spent a whole day hiking through the park.


Day 11-14: Isalo National Park

Day 13 was another transit day as we drove along the RN7 from Ranomafana National Park to Isalo National Park. The landscape changed yet again to rugged landscapes that reminded me of the American southwest, but with palm trees dotting the horizon. We made the full day drive and stopped at various locations like the base of the Andringitra Moutnains and the Anja Nature reserve, home to numerous ring tailed lemurs.

Windows of Isalo

Isalo National Park is one of the most popular parks in the country and this is where we decided to stay in our “luxury” accommodations”. We spent three nights here, and I could have used another day as I very much enjoyed it here.

Isalo National park sunset

Ya, can’t complain about this view from our accommodations…

We hiked all around the park, including the two canyons, Windows of Isalo, and Piscine Naturelle.

Isalo Hike Madagascar

Beginning of our long day hike in Isalo


Day 15-18: Andasibe National Park

After an amazing visit to the Isalo National Park, our next destination was Andasibe National Park. This is the most visited park in all of Madagascar, likely because of its proximity to the capital (3-4 hours drive). It is home to the Indri lemur, the largest species of lemur that is famous for its loud and distinctive howl.

There are numerous luxury lodges here. One of these, the Vakona lodge, has a sanctuary for orphaned and domesticated lemurs of all species. You can play with them as well as they are completely unafraid of jumping on you. I’m not sure if there is some questionable ethics happening at this place, but it was a great experience nonetheless.


Day 19-25: Mahambo and Ile Sainte Marie

The last leg of our trip was beach time! From Andasibe, we drove to east towards the port town of Mahambo where we stayed for the night. They had a resident ring-tailed lemur that was also domesticated and followed us around the entire time. It even followed us into our bungalow where we tried (unsuccessfully) to kick it out. It ended up staying the night in our bungalow which in hindsight, was pretty cool.

Mahambo Lemur friend

But in the end, what a badass lemur. Wish I could take him with me

The next day, we drove to Soanierana Ivongo, where we caught the passenger ferry to Ile Sainte Marie. Upon arrival, we took another transport to the smaller nearby island of Ile Aux Nattes. This place was pure paradise. Not only was there the bluest waters and whitest sand, but we had the whole place to ourselves. We did day trips to scuba dive, and took mopeds all around Ile Sainte Marie.

Ile Aux Nattes Beach madagascar

For the best snorkeling around, just walk into the water at this beach and start swimming. Tough life…

Ile aux nattes beach paradise madagascar

Paradise on Ile Aux Nattes


Day 25-27: Antananarivo

Alas, the end of the trip. We took the morning ferry back to Soanierana Ivongo, and took a bus to the port capital of Tamatave. From Tamatave, we charted an entire Taxi-Brousse, the local form of transportation as we didn’t want to wait for it to fill up. We had a day to explore Tana which is about all you need.

Antananarivo madagascar views

Views of Tana

Tana offered more to see than I had imagined. There are beautiful viewpoints all around the city as it is in the highlands, as well as nice colonial French architecture.


Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1: Land in Tana, drive to Antsirabe
Day 2: Drive to Morondava
Day 3: Drive to Tsingy Stone Forest
Day 4: Hike Grand Tsingy
Day 5: Hike Petite Tsingy
Day 6: Drive back to Morondava, stop at the Avenue of the Baobabs
Day 7: Relax in Morondava
Day 8: Drive to Antsirabe
Day 9: Drive to Ranomafana National Park
Day 10: Hike Ranomafana
Day 11: Ranomafana to Isalo National Park
Day 12: Hike Isalo
Day 13: Hike Isalo
Day 14: Isalo to Andasibe National Park
Day 15: Hike Andasibe National Park
Day 16: Hike Andasibe National Park
Day 17: Andasibe to Mahambo
Day 18: Mahambo to Ile Sainte Marie
Day 19: Ile Sainte Marie / Ile Aux Nattes
Day 20: Ile Sainte Marie / Ile Aux Nattes
Day 21: Ile Sainte Marie / Ile Aux Nattes
Day 22: Ile Sainte Marie / Ile Aux Nattes
Day 23: Ile Sainte Marie / Ile Aux Nattes
Day 24: Ile Sainte Marie to Antananarivo
Day 25: Antananrivo
Day 26: Fly out

This itinerary hopefully will help you in planning a trip to Madagascar. To be honest, I could have stayed at least another week or two. There is just so much to see and so much geological diversity that you could spend months traveling the country. If you have any questions or comments, please leave below!

Madagascar, the 8th continent of the world, is one of the most unique and stunning places in the world. Its diversity of animals and landscapes is unrivaled in the world. Here is an itinerary to do Madagascar right. #madagascar #travelitinerary #traveltips #travel
Showing 28 comments
  • Tristan Elmhirst

    Hi Johnny,
    Great reading through all your stuff on here. Me and a couple of mates are heading to Madagascar for 1 month also in September. Out of interest is there anything on your trip you felt you missed out on speaking to other travelers and locals, anything you would skip if you had to do it again?
    Let me know cheers matey!

    • Johnny

      Hey Tristan, that’s a tough question! I thought my itinerary was pretty solid all throughout. obviously if I had more time I would add things to the itinerary like a visit to the very north (Diego Suarez). If I had like 4 or 5 more days, I would probably do the drive from Morondava to Tulear along the coast. Then make my way up the RN7 back to Tana stopping at the national parks. My driver said the drive along the western coast is very beautiful but the roads are very bad and takes a lot of time. Also, I would consider doing the hike up the Andrigintra mountains if I had few more days (instead of just passing it by).

      If I HAD to skip something, I would probably skip Ranomafana National Park as I’ve seen cooler rainforests and I think Andasibe was enough for me to get the gist of it. Hope that helps!

  • Anthony

    Great write up and this is very helpful! I am trying to decide between Ile Sainte Marie and Nosy Be as a beach destination after doing the main RN7. Do you have any opinions for or against either option? THanks!

    • Johnny

      Hi Anthony! I never visited Nosy Be so can’t speak to it exactly. I chose Ile Sainte Marie mainly because it was a cheaper destination and had more of a rustic, chiled out vibe. Nosy Be is more for the resorts. You can’t go wrong as far as natural beauty in either place so it just depends on the vibe you’re seeking. Also from what i hear, the diving in Nosy Be is better, which I wouldn’t be surprised of as the diving i Did around ISM was not that great.

  • mychoicevacation

    Hello Johnny,

    Your travel journeys are so amazing. I came across your blog while trying to decided between Mozambique and Madagascar for a short five day break next month.

    I think I am leaning more towards Madagascar.

    Having read your blog on Madagascar I can see that five days is not sufficient but I was wondering if you could suggest which place (favorite) I should go to in the short time frame I have.

    Secondly, is Madagascar an affordable destination.

    I would appreciate your feedback

    Thank you

    • Johnny

      Hi there! Yes Madagascar is a very affordable destination. It is probably one of the cheapest countries you can visit. With 5 days, you rea`lly won’t have much time to explore the island. I would dio either of the following:

      1. Fly to Morondava and do a 3 day 2 night tour of the Tsingy Stone Forest and stop by the Baobabs on the way back.
      2. Visit Andasibe National Park which is nearby to Antananarivo

      You can’t go wrong with either option!

  • Gaby

    Hey Johnny,

    Thanks for the great post. I will be traveling to Madagascar this August. I am staying for a few months, but my mother and grandmother are coming with me, and they will only be staying for a week (which I am now thinking isn’t an adequate amount of time). I think renting a driver will be the best way to get the most out of our time and I also like the suggestion about visiting the western region since our time is limited.

    I am curious about the transportation system. You had Serge for 3 weeks of the trip. Would he just get his own accommodations for the nights or did you cover the cost of the accommodations for him?

    • Johnny

      Hi Gaby! It’s funny, I asked myself the same question about that. “Where does the driver stay?? Does he sleep in the car??”. Turns out the answer is definitely no. He will stay in very modest hotels for locals and sometimes the places you stay in will accommodate the driver as well. It is all included in the per day price they quote you.

      In 2014, Serge said he normally pays 10000-15000 Ariary per night at these hotels. Local restaurants have food for 3000-5000 Ariary so he will be sorted. Have fun on your trip!

  • Amy

    Hi Johnny,

    How much did you pay when using Serge? Is he affordable? Trying to get the best price!

    • Johnny

      Hi Amy! I paid gmt+3 €40/day for serge. They are a travel agency in Madagascar and contract out their drivers so I don’t know how much serge actually gets from that price. This was 3 years ago so keep that in mind it’s probably more now.

      Also gas isn’t included in the price but that is standard through the country.

      • Amy

        Hi Johnny,

        Thanks for your reply! He is charging a little more, which I expect that is normal. What is the best itinerary you recommend for someone going for 1 week? Also, how much cash should one bring for 1 week? Thanks!

      • Johnny

        You could do a 1 week trip to the west which you can see the Baobabs and Tsingy National Park. This was my favorite part of the country. Unfortunately, one week isn’t much time since getting around is so tough. Alternatively, you could do Andasibe for a few nights, and then fly to Ile Sainte Marie for a few nights of beach if you’re into that. Almost all places in Madagascar don’t accept credit card, and I’d imagine that hasn’t changed in the last few years. I think a thousand euros per person should be good. Note that there are ATMs all over the island.

      • Amy

        Johnny, thank you so much for all your replies! They are super helpful. A few more questions-

        – Do you have a page that talks about Andasibe? I asked about Tsingy and unfortunately, the roads are bad due to a cyclone that happened this year so we are unable to visit it 🙁

        – Did you fly in Madagascar? How were the flights? Reliable?

        – Would you recommend Serge? What was your experience with him like? How did you communicate with him besides email when getting there? Also, how much should one tip a private driver?

        Thanks again!

      • Johnny

        Ah bummer! Yes It is rainy season right now and roads don’t usually clear up until May or June. I didn’t fly in Madagascar and there is just Air Mada that does the domestic flights. It’s not the best from what I’ve heard (could be different now). Serge was great. He has been literally everywhere in teh country and knows everything. He didn’t speak much English when I had him 3 years ago but I can speak enoguh French to converse with him. I think we tipped him about 200k Ariary between two people for 3 weeks of driving.

        Also, be sure to read the Guide to Madagascar post I made, will probably be very helpful for you!

      • Amy

        Hi Johnny,

        Did you pay in advance (full amount) with the company gmt*3 or did you pay them in person?

      • Johnny

        I paid Serge upfront. I don’t think GMT+3 had credit card processing systems when i went but perhaps they have that functionality now. Would be comfortable with either option actually.

  • Emily

    Hey Johnny! I just found your site and it seems really helpful. I’m going to southern Africa for 6 weeks before heading up to Kilimanjaro this August/September. I’m starting in South Africa, but I’m interested in going to Madagascar for a little while. I’m primarily interested in Tsingy and the Northern Coast (which I saw wasn’t on your itinerary). I’m travelling alone and slightly intimidated by the difficulties of traveling in Madagascar. How did you set up your driver ahead of time? Do you think it’s safe for a solo female to travel this way in Madagascar? Any tips are greatly appreciated!!

    • Johnny

      Hi Emily, super jealous of your upcoming trip! I didn’t go to the north coast but my driver always raved about how the beaches in Diego Suarez were his favorite. I got my driver beforehand by emailing some tour operators. You can read about it Here.

      Also, I think being a solo female is no problem either. I saw a bunch of solo female travelers along the way. I wouldn’t recommend trying to get around with the taxi brousse system. You need a lot more time and patience for that!

      • Emily

        Thanks so much for your response! I’ll send an email to the GMT+3 and see what I can get set up!

      • Johnny

        Awesome. Enjoy your trip!!

    • Louise

      Hi Jonny,
      This has been so helpful. I am desperate to get to Madagascar but unfortunately I have only 2 weeks there.
      I really would like to dive, I have never done it before so wandered if there was a place to learn at Ile Sainte Marie as this is the place I have been more geared towards.
      Saying that I am trying very much so to do this trip on a budget! Any recommendations?
      Also did you travel and find places to stay along the way or did you book in advance to stay?
      Any help would be hugely appreciated seen as a few travel agents seem to have very limited knowledge of the country

      • Johnny

        Hi Louise, there are definitely places to learn how to dive. I did my diving at Princess Bora resort and they were fantastic. You can read all about it on my Ile Sainte Marie Post. There are also plenty of cheap accommodations and where I stayed on Ile Aux Nattes was simply paradise.

        As for booking everyhting in advance, you definitely don’t need to do it but since you’re only going for 2 weeks, I would recommend it as it’ll give you more time to enjoy things!

  • Filip

    Dear Johnny, how was the weather in Ile Sainte Maire in september? I am planning to go there in the end of august -.september.

    • Johnny

      Hi Filip, I went during the end of September and the weather was as you’d expect from a tropical destination during the dry season. Mostly sunny, but sometimes there would be a short storm, and there was one day where it was mostly cloudy. August/Sep is firmly int he dry season so I don’t think you need to worry about any prolonged periods of storms (that’s more Dec-Mar)!

      • Filip

        Thank you for your reply. Mostly, I am interested in temperatures. I have read that the temperatures that time in Ile Sainte Maire in the end of August – early september are around 24.

      • Johnny

        Ah OK, ya the temperatures are most certainly warmer than 24. Maybe that is in the middle of the night but I can assure the temperature is well into the 30s for the day. And it’s humid, so add few more degrees for real feel temperatures!

  • Courtney Blacher

    I’ve wanted to visit Madagaskar since I wantched the movie. I hope I’ll get a chance soon. Thank you for sharing this useful post.

    • Johnny

      Yes and you definitely should! It’s a wonderful country and you will see plenty of King Julien’s around 🙂

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