Experience Madagascar Trip Notes

Experience Madagascar

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016
Experience Madagascar
Trip code: YBSM
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Lying adjacent to the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is home to stunning mountains, spectacular rainforests and white, sandy beaches. The island protects incredible numbers of endangered lemurs, rare plants and birds within its expansive national parks. Go trekking beneath lush tree canopies for a close-up look at Madagascar's most famous creatures, walk through quaint towns filled with markets and European-influenced architecture, and enjoy relaxing holiday time on magnificent Indian Ocean beaches. Combining friendly locals, fascinating wildlife and idyllic island vistas, the Madagascar experience is a unique slice of paradise. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017: From 1st January 2017 this trip will include one less night in Sainte-Marie to be replaced by one extra night in Isalo National Park. The reason we have implemented this change is due to consistent feedback from past travellers indicating additional time in the National Parks is preferred over multiple nights at the beach in Sainte-Marie. This change allows for time to visit the Zombitse National Park and the opportunity to see the famed baobab trees - a highlight of Madagascar this itinerary previously omitted. Customers can still extend their stay in Sainte-Marie post-trip by purchasing additional accommodation at the finishing hotel/resort. The new itinerary is outlined below: 1 Antananarivo 2 Ambositra 3 Ranomafana National Park 4 Ranomafana National Park 5 Isalo National Park 6 Isalo National Park 7 Isalo National Park 8 Fianarantsoa 9 Fianarantsoa 10 Antsirabe 11 Andasibe National Park 12 Andasibe National Park 13 Foulpointe 14 Sainte Marie 15 Sainte Marie 16 Sainte Marie
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersFinish point description
ThemesAccommodationFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapMoney mattersWhat to take
ItineraryGroup leaderHealth
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyTravel insurance
Physical ratingJoining pointA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Style
Original
Themes
Wildlife
Is this trip right for you?
- Although anyone with a good level of fitness should be able to partake in this itinerary, there are several challenging aspects: guided day walks through the many national parks can be hot and humid.
- Road conditions in Madagascar are also notoriously poor. This means some of the driving days will be long as well as bumpy.
- Some accommodation inside the national parks is basic and may not have the creature comforts of hotels in bigger towns and cities. Be prepared for no wifi or air conditioning. But also for charming, tucked away locations you won’t quite believe are real.
Why we love it
- Stay in a cottage deep within the Ranomafana National Park – surrounded by lush rainforest and countless species of flora and fauna.
- See how many species of lemur you can spot in Isalo, Anadsibe and Ranomafana National Parks (there are 33 different types!).
- Learn how sapphire is mined from the experts: the people of Ilakaka – the world’s largest sapphire exporter!
- Explore the sandstone formations, deep canyons, palm-lined oases and vast grasslands of Isalo National Park – just some of its awesome variety of landscapes.
- Take a refreshing dip in the Indian Ocean from the relatively untouched paradise of Ill Sainte Marie.
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Antananarivo
Tonga soa Bienvenue! Welcome to Madagascar. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm 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.
Optional Activities
  • Ambohimanga Rova - EUR63
  • Lemur's Park - EUR69
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Special Information
    A pre-paid airport arrival transfer is available for pre-booking. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel).

    On arrival in to Antananarivo Airport, please exit the arrival hall. A transfer representative will be waiting to meet you outside of the arrival hall. Please look for an Intrepid board with your name on it.
    Day 2 Ambositra
    Rise early and depart for Ambositra on the National road number 7 ( approx 260km, 6hrs ). 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'.
    Included Activities
    • Ambositra - Village Visit
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast
      Day 3 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.
      Enjoy a traditional homestead lunch in the village before travelling on to Ranomafana National Park ( 140km, approx 6.5hrs ). 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.
      Accommodation
      Cottage (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch
      Day 4 Ranomafana 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.
      Included Activities
      • Ranomafana National Park - Rainforest walk
        Optional Activities
        • Kelilalina Botanical Garden - EUR6
          Accommodation
          Cottage (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 5 Isalo National Park
          Drive to Isalo National Park ( 330km, approx 8hrs ). On the way we will stop at the ANJà community reserve, a very good spot for observing lemurs and discovering the local culture. Villagers will be your guides for this excursion. 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.
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 6 Isalo National Park
          Today we have a full day to explore the park and discover its inhabitants with a local guide. 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).
          Included Activities
          • Isalo National Park - guided walk
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 7 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 into 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. During our visit, we will learn about traditional mining techniques (using “Angady” or spades), which represent an entire life for people.
            From here we depart for the city of Fianarantsoa, known as the south door ( 320km, approx 7.5hrs).
            Included Activities
            • Ilakaka - Sapphire mine
            • Antemoro - Paper Factory Visit
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast
              Day 8 Fianarantsoa
              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. 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.
              Included Activities
              • Betsileo - village visit
              • Fianarantsoa City Visit
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                Day 9 Antsirabe
                Drive to Antsirabe where we have free time upon arrival to discover the city ( 255km, approx 6.5hrs). 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.
                Optional Activities
                • Rickshaw City Tour - EUR2
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 10 Andasibe National Park
                  Drive to Andasibe ( 300km, approx 7hrs). 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.
                  Included Activities
                  • Pereyras Private Reserve
                    Optional Activities
                    • Mitsinjo night walk - EUR6
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast
                      Day 11 Andasibe National Park
                      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.
                      Included Activities
                      • Andasibe National Park - guided walk
                        Accommodation
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Meals
                        1 breakfast
                        Day 12 Foulpointe
                        Head off early to reach Tamatave, the biggest commercial harbour of Madagascar ( 300km, approx 7hrs ). 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.
                        Optional Activities
                        • Rickshaw City Tour - EUR2
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Meals
                          1 breakfast
                          Day 13 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 2.5hrs). We arrive at around 11.30am and transfer to Vanivola hotel. Rooms are basic without air conditioning. The rest of the day is free to explore at your own leisure.
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Meals
                          1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                          Special Information
                          Please note that, due to inclement weather conditions, the visit to the island of Sainte-Marie is not always possible. If bad weather occurs, alternative arrangements will be made.
                          Day 14 Sainte-Marie
                          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. Today is a full day of leisure to explore this lush green island. 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.
                          Optional Activities
                          • 4x4 tour - EUR40
                          • Ile aux Nattes trip (full-day) - EUR45
                          • Whale-watching tour - EUR40
                            Accommodation
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                            Day 15 Sainte-Marie
                            Perhaps island-hop by canoe to the paradise of Ile aux Nattes, where coconut and palm trees shade white sand beaches and idyllic lagoons beckon.
                            Accommodation
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                            Day 16 Sainte-Marie
                            You are free to depart any time today 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. Currently this flight departs each day of the week. As with any online airfare the price will vary but currently costs around 240 Euros for economy class. We recommend that you don't 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. For passengers wanting to travel back to Antananarivo overland or cannot book a flight the below options can be organized through your tour leader on day 1 and paid locally in Euro.

                            Sainte-Marie to Antananarivo
                            Take a boat to Soaniera Ivongo where a private transfer will be waiting for you to take you to Antananarivo Airport or your hotel. This option will leave early in the morning and take 12 hours. The transfer price starts at EUR 212 per person (for a minimum of 2 passengers) and may reduce in price when more passengers book.

                            Sainte-Marie to Tamatave
                            Take a boat to Soaniera Ivongo where a private transfer will be waiting for you to take you to Tamatave Airport arriving at approximately 1pm. The transfer price starts at EUR 123 per person (for a minimum of 2 passengers) and may reduce in price when more passengers book.

                            Alternatively, take a 3.5 hour boat journey to Mahambo that leaves before sunrise. Take a bus from Mahambo to Tamatave City Centre arriving between 11:00 at 13:00 (depending on departure time from Sainte Marie). This service will be approximately EUR 41 per person.

                            Tamatave to Antananarivo
                            There is a scheduled Sunday Air Madagascar flight from Tamatave to Antananarivo at 19:05.

                            Alternatively, to reach Antanarivo you can take a local “taxi brousse” for around 12 Euros (approx. 7hours).
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast
                            Itinerary disclaimer
                            ITINERARY CHANGES 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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! 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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                            OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: 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 approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                            Physical rating

                            Included activities
                            Ambositra - Village Visit
                            Ranomafana National Park - Rainforest walk
                            Isalo National Park - guided walk
                            Ilakaka - Sapphire mine
                            Antemoro - Paper Factory Visit
                            Betsileo - village visit
                            Fianarantsoa City Visit
                            Pereyras Private Reserve
                            Andasibe National Park - guided walk
                            Important notes
                            1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
                            2. This trip finishes at our Sainte Marie hotel on day 16. You are free to depart at any time.
                            3. 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.

                            Group size
                            Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                            Your fellow travellers
                            GROUP TRAVEL
                            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.

                            SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                            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.
                            Accommodation
                            Cottage (2nt), Hotel (11nt), Lodge (2nt)
                            Meals introduction
                            Your group leader will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. These instances will be indicated in the ‘trip notes’ itinerary. Please notify your group leader of any dietary requirements in your group meeting at the start of the trip.

                            For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
                            Meals
                            15 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners
                            Money matters
                            When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need.

                            Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document).
                            Please note: all recommendations for additional costs, tipping etc. are in USD. You will need to convert these into the relevant local currency.


                            MEALS NOT INCLUDED
                            For lunches not included, a budget of USD10 to USD15 per meal will be more than sufficient.
                            For dinners not included, your leader will normally recommend options and restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD12 to USD25 for a main.

                            These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget or are happy to try local food, you can eat cheaper than this.
                            If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.


                            TIPPING
                            Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. If you are happy with the services provided, a tip is an appropriate way to thank them. 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.

                            Usually the equivalent of around USD5 to USD10 per person, per day to cover tips is fine. 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, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep 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. This kitty does not include tips for your leader and crew.


                            TIPPING GUIDE
                            To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground.
                            - Basic restaurants – When checking the bill, if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
                            - Local guides – Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest USD2 to USD3 per person, per day for local guides.
                            - Your crew (including leaders, drivers and cooks where applicable) – You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD2 to USD3 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.


                            EMERGENCY FUNDS
                            We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.

                            CREDIT CARDS, ATMS AND MONEY EXCHANGE:
                            Credit cards are generally accepted in tourist shops and some restaurants across Africa. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only. Foreign currency is easily changed at exchange bureaus and they generally offer the best rates.

                            With ATMs being increasingly available in the many major towns and cities and even some campsites, credit or debit cards are a convenient way to access money. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. Throughout Africa, cards with the Visa logo are most readily recognised, although MasterCard is also accepted in most places. 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 Africa. You may also want to notify your bank that you are visiting Africa 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.

                            PLEASE NOTE: Many businesses and banks in Africa, especially East Africa, do not accept US dollar notes older than 2006. If you are bringing USD, we strongly recommend large bills in good condition, 2006 series onwards only. Any old or damaged notes may not be accepted.
                            Group leader
                            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.
                            Safety
                            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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. 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 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 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:
                            www.intrepidtravel.com/safety


                            FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                            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.

                            BALCONIES:
                            Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

                            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!

                            SEAT BELTS:
                            Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                            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 or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                            WATER SAFETY:
                            Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.

                            TRAVEL ADVICE & TRAVEL INSURANCE
                            We recommend that you check your government's advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.
                            Joining point
                            Hotel Belvedere
                            Lot IF 27 bis Isoraka
                            Antananarivo
                            101
                            MADAGASCAR
                            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 outside the arrivals hall. Please look for our driver who will be holding a card with your name on it. They will be waiting outside the arrival building. The driver will wait for an hour after your scheduled arrival time.
                            If you are unable to find your driver you can call our local operator on +261 33 15 812 12 or +261 33 37 061 79. 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 50,000 which is payable to the driver. The taxi rank is located just outside the arrivals area.
                            Finish point
                            Vanivola Hotel
                            Lambontsira-Mahavelou
                            Ile Sainte-Marie
                            MADAGASCAR
                            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.
                            Finishing point instructions
                            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 240 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.
                            Emergency contact
                            In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local Antananarivo-based ground representative for Madagascar can be reached on the following numbers:
                            +261 33 15 812 12 – Laurence, General Manager
                            +261 33 37 061 79 – Ando, Intrepid Coordinator for Madagascar
                            +261 33 15 123 00 – Fenitra, Sales Manager

                            For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

                            For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                            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.

                            - Laurence SCHAFFNER (GM): +261 33 15 812 12
                            Visas
                            PASSPORT

                            As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

                            VISAS

                            Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                            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 countries not listed below must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.


                            MADAGASCAR:

                            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. Tourist visas valid for 30 days 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.

                            Entry Requirements - Travelling with Children:
                            Minors travelling to Madagascar with only one parent are required to carry a legal document signed by any non-travelling parents, giving approval for the child to travel, or other applicable documents, such as custody orders.
                            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, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.

                            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.

                            Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

                            ESSENTIALS:
                            - Closed in shoes. As most of our trips include some 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.
                            - Lightweight clothing. 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.
                            - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses

                            RECOMMENDED:
                            - A good quality, high-beam headlamp or torch for around the lodges and permanent tented sites at night. Some of these properties have limited lighting and are powered by generators that switch off at a certain time.
                            - Waterproof/windproof jacket is a good idea for wet days, and early morning or evening activities when it can be cool.
                            - Warm fleece and beanie for morning and evening activities including game drives where applicable.
                            - Personal medical kit. Large kits will be on hand at the lodges and from your leader (on trips that have a dedicated trip leader) but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and bandaids.
                            - Insect repellent.
                            - Water bottle. 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.
                            - Camera with spare batteries. Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days but we recommend you take a spare battery. You’ll take more photos than you think.

                            OPTIONAL:
                            - Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
                            - Ear plugs to guard against a snoring room-mate
                            - A good book, a journal or an Ipod for the long drives.

                            LUGGAGE LIMIT:
                            Please keep your luggage to a minimum. One small soft-sided bag plus a day pack (no more than 15-20kgs in total per person) is essential.We recommend against bringing hard/externally framed suitcases as they are difficult to store and can damage equipment and other travellers' belongings. If your trip is beginning and ending at the same location, excess luggage can usually be stored at your arrival/departure hotel and can be collected after your trip.

                            VALUABLES:
                            Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

                            BATTERIES/POWER:
                            Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. Hotels and lodges have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.
                            Health
                            All 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, we reserve 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.

                            YELLOW FEVER:
                            A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

                            It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.


                            DRINKING WATER:
                            As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it may contain much higher levels of different minerals than the water you are used to at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about three litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
                            Travel insurance
                            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 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.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                            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.

                            Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                            Responsible Travel
                            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.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                            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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                            http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                            Feedback
                            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.

                            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback