Cactus Tours Madagascar

The Backbone Route – 22 days

Immersion inside the red Island

Crossing Madagascar from the north most to the south was a dream for many travelers who visited Madagascar in the past.

Awake your explorer instinct through this grand tour of 22-day adventure which is crafted for refined travelers. 

Begin in the lively Diego Suarez, continuing through the Montagne d’Ambre and the Tsingy of Ankarana Reserve, which will immerse you with the harmonic serenade of its distinct wildlife.

The Nosy Be archipelago is your next destination, a serene haven where lush forests blend with the clear sea, offering chances for snorkeling among the reefs and encounters with the island’s distinctive species.

On the way down to the west coast, Ankarafantsika National Park emerges as a naturalist’s mosaic, its wild orchestra filled with the tunes of rare birds and the sight of colorful chameleons.

Continue to the core of Madagascar, Antananarivo, a mosaic of history and culture, before delving into the eastern rainforests of Andasibe/Mantadia, echoing with the cries of the Indri lemur.

The route ascends to the highlands of Antsirabe, with its hot springs and a panorama sprinkled with terraced paddy fields and volcanic lakes, before leading you to the southern splendors of Ranomafana National Park’s verdant rainforests.

Conclude your epic at the peaceful shores of Anakao or Ifaty, musing over the unforgettable moments you’ve collected, against the serene embrace of the ocean.

This journey is available throughout the year, offering moderate accessibility, ensuring that the essence of Madagascar is always within reach. Your stay includes a variety of accommodations from hotels to lodges and tents, with travel via 4WD, motorboats, pirogues, bicycles, and domestic flights, blending the thrill of exploration with the comfort of modern amenities.

This concept is truly to make you experience the real Madagascar in its entire kaleidoscopic beauty.

  • Wildlife viewing inside and outside national parks and reserves
  • Hiking
  • Birdwatching
  • Possibility of snorkeling, diving, wind/kite
  • Surfing
  • Possibility of potholing
  • Orchids spotting.
  • Local encountering and cultural immersion
  • Malagasy cuisine
  • Possibility of sailing
  • Sundowning
  • The rainforest and their biodiversity of the Mountain d’amber, Andasibe and Ranomafana National Parks
  • Lemurs and reptiles amongst other wildlife typical for each regions
    The famous Tsingy rock formation at Ankarana National Park
  • The pristine beaches and lagoons of Nosy Be
  • The dry deciduous forest of Ankarafantsika and its typical wildlife and birds
  • The thermal city of Antsirabe
  • The landscapes of the North, the West, the East and the Southern Madagascar
  • The lunar landscape and canyons of Isalo National Park
  • The beach of Anakao or Ifaty
  • Gondwana massif at Andringitra
  • Andringitra and its outer world landscape
  • The life styles of each regions
  • The oldest Baobab tree at Tsimanapetsotsa National Park and its reserve of turtles, birds and lemurs
  • The train trip from Manakara to Fianarantsoa though villages, jungles and mountains – Optional

Itinerary outline

  • Diego Suarez
  • Montagne d’Ambre
  • Ankarana Reserve
  • Nosy Be
  • Ankarafantsika National Park – Ampijoroa
  • Antananarivo
  • Andasibe/Mantadia
  • Antsirabe
  • Ranomafana N.P
  • Train trip from Manakara [optional]
  • Fianarantsoa
  • Tsaranoro Valley [optional]
  • Isalo N.P
  • Tulear
  • Anakao OR Ifaty
  • [Optional: Tsimanapetsotsa]
  • Antananarivo

Suggested extensions

Detailed itinerary

Begin in Diego Suarez, a melting pot of cultures set against a backdrop of French colonial architecture. Venture into Montagne d’Ambre and Ankarana Reserve, where the symphony of lemurs and the rustling of rare birds provide a natural orchestra. Witness the surreal Tsingy rock formations,  one of Madagascar’s geological marvels.

Reach the Nosy Be archipelago,  where azure waters meet lush rainforests. Here, opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and encountering the island’s endemic wildlife abound.

Traverse to Ankarafantsika National Park, a haven for bird enthusiasts, before arriving in Antananarivo, the heart of Madagascar’s history and culture.

Journey to Andasibe/Mantadia, immersing yourself in dense rainforests echoing with the calls of the Indri, the largest of the lemurs.

Experience the highland city of Antsirabe, known for its thermal springs and colorful rickshaws. This region’s landscape, characterized by terraced rice fields and volcanic lakes then continue down south to Ambositra, the capital of handicrafts of the island.

Explore Ranomafana National Park’s rainforests, home to myriad species of lemurs and orchids. The optional train trip from Manakara to Fianarantsoa is a journey through time, revealing remote villages and stunning natural scenery. The Tsaranoro Valley and Anja Reserves are two hotspots to meet in King Julian – the Catta Lemurs in the wild. Witness the dramatic landscapes of Isalo National Park, where deep canyons and sandstone formations create a lunar-like environment..

Conclude your journey at the beaches of Anakao or Ifaty, where the tranquility of the ocean offers a serene end to your adventure

Reflect on your journey as you return to the capital, carrying with you memories of Madagascar’s kaleidoscopic beauty and the warmth of its people.

Trip notes

Plan trip to Madagascar


Any day
>> How to book a tour

Trip planning


Whole year round

Madagascar best transportations


4WD - Motorboat - Pirogue - Bicycle Domestic flights
>> Transportation standard

Accommodation in Madagascar


Hotels - Lodges - Tent - By people
>> Lodging types & standards

Madagascar plan

City of departure

Antananarivo, the Capital city.

Leisurely hike in Madagascar

Ease of access



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