Last Modified: 08 Apr 2014
Trip code: YBSM
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Stunning mountains, spectacular rainforests and white, sandy beaches make up Madagascar’s wonderful landscape. The island protects incredible numbers of endangered lemurs, rare plants and birds within its expansive national parks. Trek beneath the lush tree canopies for a close-up look at the country's most famous creatures, make local friends while learning about island life on a village homestay and while away your time on magnificent Indian Ocean beaches. Combining friendly locals, fascinating wildlife and idyllic island vistas, this adventure is a slice of paradise!
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 Antananarivo
Tonga soa Bienvenue! Welcome to Madagascar.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Antananarivo is Madagascar's charmingly crowded capital.
If you arrive early, take some time to get acquainted with the city - hilly Antananarivo is a fun place to explore. Head to Analakey to visit the permanent street markets or seek out the restaurants and nightclubs.
- Ambohimanga Rova - Free
- Lemur's Park - EUR59
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Ambositra
Rise early and depart for Ambositra on the National road number 7 ( approx 260km, 5hrs ).
On the way, we will briefly stop at Ambatolampy, a small town well known for its aluminium pot workshops.
Continue our journey making another short stop in Antsirabe.
With the tranquillity of a small European town, Antsirabe maintains a Malagasy touch, which it reveals in its markets and traditional quarters. Founded in the 19th century by Norwegian missionaries as a high-altitude retreat, the town was nicknamed 'Malagasy Vichy' for its hot springs and thermal baths.
Arrive in Ambositra this afternoon.
Visit one of the many small workshops that specialise in crafts as diverse as printmaking, woodcarving and marquetry.
Ambositra is the home of the Betsileo ethnic group, the third largest ethnic group of Madagascar. Located close by the Zafimaniry forest, Ambositra is most famous for its woodcraft but it's also known for its silk production, which is very important in the Malagasy culture.
The use of silk was once reserved exclusively for royalty but now everyone can wear it, though most of the time its use is reserved for the dead. When a Malagasy is buried, his body is wrapped in a large silk sheet called a 'lambamena'. After a few years, the family traditionally goes back to the tomb and changes this silk sheet with a new one - a custom known as 'famadihana'.
- Ambositra - Village Visit
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Ranomafana National Park
Depart early this morning for the nearby Manandriana villages, to explore the silk process. Each village is specialised in one step of the production, fully handmade.
Silk for malagasy people is very important in terms of history and culture. Formally reserved to the royal family, it is now worn by everyone. However, some specific silk scarf (lambamena) are used to wrap the body of dead people before being buried in the family tomb. The famous traditional celebration of Famahidina has for purpose to change this lambamena every 3 to 5 years.
Enjoy a traditional homestead lunch in the village before travelling on to Ranomafana National Park ( 140km, approx 3hrs ).
Our accommodation for tonight is a small cottage located within the Park
Ranomafana means 'hot water' in the Malagasy language and this mountainous rainforest area is a haven for small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects, as well as precious-wood trees, palms, bamboo, orchids and carnivorous plants. Ranomafana National Park is home to 13 species of lemur including the famous golden bamboo lemur, first reported at Ranomafana in 1985 and one of the reasons why the government decided to protect this endangered forest.
Day 4 is completely dedicated to the exploration of the National Park.
Explore Ranomafana National Park on a guided walk, keeping your eyes peeled for lemurs, striped civets, mongooses, goshawks, geckos, frogs and butterflies. You may get a chance to spot a net-casting spider, or the world's smallest chameleon.
- Ranomafana National Park - Rainforest walk
- Kelilalina Botanical Garden - EUR6
Cottage (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Isalo National Park
Drive to Isalo National Park ( 330km, approx 6hrs ).
Isalo National Park is known for its contrasting scenery of deep canyons, crazy sandstone formations and open grasslands. The park is home to over 80 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles and 14 species of mammals including 3 lemur species (ring-tailed, red-fronted and Verreaux's sifakas lemur).
On Day 6 we have a full day to explore the park and discover its inhabitants with a local guide.
While exploring the park we'll base ourselves in Ranohira in a simple hotel with shared facilities.
- Isalo National Park - guided walk
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Fianarantsoa
Start the day with a visit to the nearby mining town of Ilakaka, where we'll go on a guided tour of the sapphire mines.
When sapphire was discovered in Ilakaka in 1999, this small village of a dozen houses grew became a mining boomtown, driving Madagascar to become the world's largest sapphire exporter. Today about 30,000 people live here, seeking their fortunes in the hand-dug mine pits, or in gravel sifted from the river.
Bordering the National Park, sapphire was discovered in Ilakaka in 1999. As a result this small village of a dozen houses grew into a small city. Nowadays, 300 000 people live in the city. Sapphire is still mined, and it is reportedly one of the purest in the world. On our visit to the city we will learn about traditional mining techniques (using “Angady” or spade), which represent an entire life for people.
On you way, stop at the ANJà community reserve, a very good spot for observing lemurs, and also to discover the local culture. Villagers will be your guides for this excursions. Your tour leader will translate all the knowledge they have to give you.
Continue on to the small city of Ambalavao, and visit of the Antemoro paper factory.
From here we depart for the city of Fianarantsoa, known as the south door ( approx 5hrs, 270km ).
The colourful town of Fianarantsoa is known for its markets and handcrafts. This heritage site is a must-see with its long paved road, labyrinths of small paths and old houses with flower-studded balconies and gleaming tiled roofs.
Stay in Fianarantsoa in a simple hotel with shared facilities.
Take a day to visit a typical Magasy village, where people live a way of life still the norm for most of the island's population. Explore the countryside around Fianarantsoa, dotted with rice paddies cultivated by the Betsileo people and vineyards that produce the town's famous wine. You'll get a chance to sample local cuisine with a lunch break in the villages.
In the afternoon, visit the historical old city of Fianarantsoa, a very nice area that you can only discover on foot. A local association in collaboration with the PNUD has funded people to renovate their traditional houses.
- Ilakaka - Sapphire mine
- Betsileo - village visit
- Fianarantsoa City Visit
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 9 Antsirabe
Drive to Antsirabe where we have free time upon arrival to discover the city ( 255km, approx 4.5hrs )
With the tranquillity of a small European town, Antsirabe maintains a Malagasy touch, which it reveals in its markets and traditional quarters. Founded in the 19th century by Norwegian missionaries as a high-altitude retreat, the town was nicknamed 'Malagasy Vichy' for its hot springs and thermal baths.
Colourful rickshaws, known as 'pousse-pousse', are a popular form of local transport in Antsirabe. Make use of them in your city tour and discover tree-lined avenues, mixed European-style architecture, markets and more.
- Rickshaw City Tour - EUR2
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Andasibe National Park
Drive to Andasibe ( 300km, approx 5.5hrs).
On your way, stop at the Pereyras exotic park, for a visit. This private reserve is a great spot to observe chameleons, frogs, snakes and some lemurs as well.
For those who want to head out and explore the forest at night, we have the opportunity to go on a nocturnal walk through the forest at Mitsinjo, a privately owned reserve to spot endemic butterflies, lemurs and other nocturnal species.
Andasibe National Park, the most visited park in Madagascar, is famous for its 11 species of lemur but this tropical forest is also home to unique endemic birds such as the long-eared owl and the rufous-headed ground-roller, and the smallest living chameleon, Brookesia minima, plus many types of reptiles, insects and frogs.
Indri indri, also called babakoto by the locals, are the main attraction of this rainforest. Standing about 64-72 cm, it's the largest of the lemurs. It's easy to locate and is identified by its loud, drawn-out, wailing territorial call. The indri's tiny stump of a tail leads some Malagasy to believe it's related to a sacred ancestor.
Day 11 is a full day to explore the most visited park in Madagascar known commonly for its 11 species of lemurs this tropical forest is also home to several species of bird, reptile, insects and batrachians.
Spend the final night at the lodge.
- Pereyras Private Reserve
- Andasibe National Park - guided walk
- Mitsinjo night walk - EUR6
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Foulpointe
Head off early to reach Tamatave, the biggest commercial harbour of Madagascar ( approx 3.5hrs ). Please note that the roads in this area are particuarly bad and driving times can vary.
On arrival we have free time to explore the city.
Continue on to the coastal town of Foulpointe ( approx 2.5hrs ), a small fishermen village north of the Tamatave harbour.
The vestiges of an ancient fort watch over the pirate's cemetery at Foulpointe.
Stay in a simple hotel with shared facilities located on the beach front.
- Rickshaw City Tour - EUR2
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 13-16 Sainte-Marie
Travel along the coast to the small river port of Soanierana-Ivongo and board a boat to the island of Sainte-Marie ( 105km, approx. 3hrs ).
The romantic island of Ile Sainte-Marie was once a shelter for pirates and sea-faring vagabonds. Today its green hills hide a wealth of bays and coves sheltered by coral reefs, with shipwrecks to dive in, remnant primary forests with cascading waterfalls, rare orchids and a bounty of wildlife.
We arrive at around 11.30am and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore at your own leisure.
Days 14 & 15 are full days of leisure to explore this lush green island or to take a visit to a nearby island; Ile Aux Nattes.
Island-hop by canoe to the paradise of Ile aux Nattes, where coconut and palm trees shade white sand beaches and idyllic lagoons beckon.
There is plenty to see and do, with optional activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, hiking and cycling. The island is also a whale-watching hotspot between the months of July and September.
You are free to depart any time on Day 16 as there are no activities planned. Checkout time is 10am.
To get back to the mainland from Sainte-Marie you can take either a flight to Antananarivo or public transport in the form of coach, boat and taxi.
A direct oneway flight from Sainte-Marie to Antananarivo is by far the easiest and fastest way back to the mainland. The flight takes approximately 1hr 40mins and can be booked online with Air Madagascar. As with any online airfare the price will vary but currently costs around 190 Euros for economy class. Check the Air Madagascar website for up to date schedules. We don't recommend that you plan to connect any regional or international flights within the same day. It's important to note that these flights can fill up quickly in high season and we also recommend that you purchase a re-routable ticket.
The public transport option takes considerably longer and is a little bit more challenging. The journey needs to be made in 2 parts; Sainte-Marie to Tamatave and then Tamatave to Antananarivo.
Sainte-Marie to Tamatave:
For around 37 Euros you can go back to Tamatave using the same transportation used during our trip, which is boat and coach. From Sainte-Marie harbour you will need to take a boat to Soanierana Ivongo ( approx. 2hrs ). From there you can take a bus to Tamatave city centre ( approx. 3hrs ).
Tamatave to Antananarivo:
To reach Antanarivo you can take a local “taxi brousse” for around 8 Euros (approx. 7hrs ).
Alternatively Air Madagascar fly from Tamatave to Antananarivo daily for around 125 Euros oneway in economy. There is no guarantee that the flight will connect with the boat and coach and you may need to overnight in Tamatave. Please check the Air Madagascar website for their latest schedule.
- 4x4 tour - EUR40
- Ile aux Nattes trip (full-day) - EUR45
- Whale-watching tour - EUR40
Hotel (3 nts)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
- YBSM Single supplement (YBSM)
We also recommend
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Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
There are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and handicrafts while on this trip. While we do not make arrangements for specific shopping excursions due to our passengers feedback, there may be opportunities where your local guides can offer services if you are particularly interested. Please note it is customary for local guides (not Intrepid group leaders) to accept commission from the factory or shop in exchange for their service. You are under no obligation to purchase anything from local guides and we do encourage you to enjoy shopping in the markets to compare prices and quality.
The official currency of Madagascar is the Ariary (MGA).
Cash is easily changed at exchange bureaus and they generally offer the best rates. These fluctuate daily. If you are changing money at a bank you will not have to pay commission.
EUR are widely accepted and US dollars are sometimes accepted in Antananarivo, major cities and tourist areas.
When changing money, only use reputable authorised money exchange vendors and never anyone on the street. There are many instances of travellers being given counterfeit notes or being tricked when money is being counted out.
Some people like to carry traveller’s cheques for back up emergency cash. While traveller’s cheques are undoubtedly the safest way to carry money, they are becoming harder to cash around the world and can often result in unfavourable exchange rates and commission charges. They are no longer accepted in many locations in Africa. It can also be tricky to reach banks during banking business hours which are often short in many African countries. Note: Receipts for traveller’s cheques are required by banks and money changers.
VISA AND MASTERCARD:
There are ATMs in Antananarivo and other major towns. However, many ATMs only accepted Visa cards. Mastercard is only accepted by one bank in Madagascar and there are very few places which will accept it as payment. It is strongly advised that you bring a Visa card. A charge is made for each international transaction - please check with your bank how much this fee will be. Check with your bank before leaving home that your card can be used as a debit card in madagascar. You may also want to notify your bank that you are visiting Madagascar as it's not unknown for banks to freeze cards which show sudden transactions in other countries. If you're on a multi-country tour, your tour leader will be able to give you an approximate idea of how much money you may need for your stay in each country.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
As of the 1st July 2013 the Civil Aviation Authority in Madagascar introduce a new departure tax, payable by passengers at departure in cash (either USD or Malagasy Ariary MGA) at the daily rate in the airport, irrespective of the airline that passengers are travelling with.
The charges are as follows:
Domestic: 2.50USD per passenger
Regional and long-haul: 14.35USD per passenger.
Infants under 2yrs old are exempt from this charge.
This trip finishes at our Sainte Marie hotel on day 16. You are free to depart at any time. If you are flying from St Marie to Antananarivo we do not recommend you plan to connect any regional or international flights the same day.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
Hotel (13 nts), Cottage (2 nts)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
15 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Lot IF 27 bis Isoraka
Phone: +261 347986638
Joining point description
Belvedere Hotel is centrally located in Antananarivo, perched on a hill with views of the city, and within walking distance to shops, restaurants and banks. Rooms are equipped with private ensuite, air-conditioning, TV, phone & mini-fridge. Hotel facilities include restaurant, bar, and WiFi access.
Joining point instructions
If you have pre-booked a transfer, your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area near the point you clear customs. Please look for our driver who will be holding a card with your name on it. The driver will wait for an hour after your scheduled arrival time.
If you are unable to find your driver you can call +27 11 4717400 during business hours, or +27 82 822 9407 after hours. If you are delayed beyond one hour after your scheduled arrival time, please make your own way to the hotel.
Taxis are also available. The cost to the hotel will be approximately AR 20,000-25,000 which is payable to the driver. The taxi rank is located just outside the arrivals area.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Finish point description
Vanivola Hotel is a small but comfortable hotel located directly on the beach on the Southern end of Ile Sainte-Marie.
All rooms are equipped with ensuite, aircon, and a private terrace.
Property facilities include an infinity pool, restaurant, WiFi and, laundry service.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - Visa required
Belgium: Yes - Visa required
Canada: Yes - Visa required
Germany: Ye - Visa required
Ireland: Yes - Visa required
Netherlands: Yes - Visa required
New Zealand: Yes - Visa required
South Africa: Yes - Visa required
Switzerland: Yes - Visa required
United Kingdom: Yes - Visa required
USA: Yes - Visa required
All nationalities require a visa for Madagascar. If you have an embassy in your home country you can obtain the visa prior to departure. 30 day tourist Visas are also available for most nationalities on arrival at Antananarivo airport. Currently the visa fee has been suspended. Visa and other entry and exit conditions change regularly so we recommend that you contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Madagascar for the most up to date information.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.
As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.
HEADLAMP OR TORCH:
A headlamp or torch is recommended for around your accommodation at night. Some properties have limited lighting and are powered by generators that switch off at a certain time. It’s a good idea to bring a headlamp or torch to navigate your way around at night.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 1200.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.