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Manafiafy Beach, sunset

Sacred Spiny Forests and Coastal Jungle



10 Days

Prices Start from

£4,600pp (ex. flights)

Explore southern Madagascar, based at two beautifully designed camps. At Mandrare River Camp, walk through sacred spiny forests, spot ring-tailed lemurs and visit ancient tombs. At Manafiafy Rainforest Lodge, search for chameleons, meet local communities and even spot whales swimming offshore.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

RIng tailed lemur walking down branch, Berenty, Madagascar 1

Ring-tailed Lemurs

Explore deciduous gallery forest, where iconic ring-tailed lemurs thrive.

Sifaka in flight, Berenty, Madagascar 2

Spiny Forest

Walk through arid forests dominated by leafless Euphorbia trees, covered in small thorns.

Manafiafy, Whale breaching, 3

Whale Watching

Between June and November, spot migrating humpback whales off Madagascar’s southern coast.

Snake, Fort Dauphin, Madagascar 4

Night Walks

After dark, spot chameleons, frogs, spiders, dwarf lemurs, sportive lemurs and even snakes.

Why we like it

With warm, personal hosting, excellent guiding and a diverse array of activities, these two camps stand out in Madagascar. Inspired by the best safari camps of mainland Africa, they are superbly run and make the most of their spectacular locations. And despite their seeming proximity to one another, they are in fact located in completely contrasting ecosystems. Combining both camps means exploring seven distinct ecosystems inhabited by 10 lemur species.

Explore the itinerary

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
    Antananarivo - Mandrare
  • Day 3 - 5
  • Day 6
    Mandrare - Fort Dauphin - Manafiafy
  • Day 7 - 9
  • Day 10
    Manafiafy - Fort Dauphin - Antananarivo

Now for the details

Sifaka, Berenty, Madagascar
Spiny forest, Ifotaka, Madagascar

Spiny Forests

The spiny forests of southern Madagascar are unique to this region. Mandrare River Camp sits next to a swathe of unspoilt spiny forest, where thorn-covered Euphorbia trees dominate the arid landscape.

This otherworldy ecosystem is fascinating to walk through, spotting lemur species, chameleons, snakes and even scorpions. Certain areas of forest are sacred to the local tribes, which only adds to the eerie feel.

Beyond the spiny forest, across the river, the deciduous gallery forest is home to a large population of ring-tailed lemurs. Arguably the most iconic of the 100+ lemur species, ring-tailed lemurs are fantastically photogenic and this population is remarkably habituated to humans.

Mandrare River Camp, traditional dancing, Ifotaka
Mandrare River Camp, Ifotaka, Madagascar

Southern Traditions

Sacred forests are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uncovering this rich and ancient culture. Fadys – or taboos – still play an important part here and you must be careful to respect them. For example, it is forbidden to point with your index finger in the gallery forest – a temptation that is hard to resist for many.

Ornate tombs still dot the landscape surrounding Mandrare, which is home to a number of small villages. To see these communities come to life, visit on a market day. Villagers from miles away travel for days by zebu cart to these weekly markets – an occasion that demands only the finest Malagasy outfits.

Manafiafy, lemurs
Lemurs, Saint Luce Bay, Madagascar

Coastal Rainforest

Reaching Manafiafy is a testament to the wild nature of this region. A 4×4 is vital, even on the main highway, which is regularly flooded by torrential rains. This eastern side of Madagascar’s southern tip receives far more rainfall than dry Mandrare, so it is no surprise to encounter dense rainforest that extends right up to the beaches.

Explore this coastal jungle on day and night walks, even taking boat trips to reach the best protected and least accessible promontories. Spot woolly, brown and mouse lemurs, as well as flying fox bats. Also, explore the network of mangroves that stretches almost 50 kilometres along the coast and can be visited by motorboat or kayak.

Manafiafy Wild Beach, Manafiafy, Madagascar
Saint Luce Bay, Madagascar

Unspoilt Beaches

Manafiafy is far more than a beach destination, but it still boasts some beautifully wild beaches. Swim, canoe and whale watch from the beach in front of the lodge, which looks out onto the idyllic Saint Luce Bay.

Between June and November, migrating humpback whales pass in front of the beach, often breaching close to the shore. Spend time at the top of the specially designed tower spotting these beautiful mammals or set out by boat to try and get closer to them.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Mandrare River Camp £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge
  • Tented Camps

Located in near the southern tip of Madagascar, this is an adventurer’s camp with a dash of style. The handful of large, Meru-style tents are spread out along the banks of the Mandrare River. They are the best place in the country for a genuine, African bush lodge experience. The huge bathrooms are connected to the back of the shady tents and the cool showers are a welcome relief after a day wading through rivers, searching for ancient tombs and exploring lemur filled forests.

View Property

Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Beach and Island Escapes
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Offering the perfect antidote to the dusty and adventurous Mandrare (its sister camp), these enormous, open-plan, luxury cottages are about exceptional service and being wined and dined. The rooms themselves and private decking are discreetly tucked away on a remote and wild stretch of mangrove beach, with the main lodge open but designed in such a way as to create a cosy and convivial atmosphere.

View Property

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From £4,600 Per person

When to travel

Madagascar in January

January, February and March are cyclone season. Many places are closed and roads can become impassable. Travel is not advised at this time

Madagascar in February

January, February and March are cyclone season. Many places are closed and roads can become impassable. Travel is not advised at this time

Madagascar in March

January, February and March are cyclone season. Many places are closed and roads can become impassable. Travel is not advised at this time

Madagascar in April

The rains start to abate, but there is still a chance of heavy downpours. The countryside is lush and green, and it is a quiet time of year to visit.

Madagascar in May

Rainfall drops significantly, as the winter brings mainly dry weather to many areas. A great time to visit as you will have the choice of your preferred accommodation and the landscapes are beautiful with flora and fauna flourishing.

Madagascar in June

A fantastic time to get out into the highlands and go trekking, with less rainfall and still relatively warm temperatures. It is still outside of the peak season so you can still have your pick of the accommodation, and it is an excellent time to spot lemurs.

Madagascar in July

Humpback whales start arriving in Ile St Marie, having migrated from the Antarctic. The weather is at its coolest and driest, making it an ideal time to explore the naturally humid rainforests. This is peak season so expect to book well in advance.

Madagascar in August

The best time to see a humpback whale, and it is highly likely you will if you visit Ile St Marie. The busiest time of year, with European school holidays, so you will need to reserve well in advance to secure your preferred accommodation.

Madagascar in September

Temperatures increase, without much more rainfall. It is a fantastic time to visit, with the chance to still see humpback whales before they return to the Antarctic, lower visitor number, and ideal conditions for relaxing on the beach. The birds and lemurs are also breeding, so there is lots to see.

Madagascar in October

The country continues to warm as summer approaches. The jacarandas bloom, making it a colourful time of year to visit. As little birds and baby lemurs appear, it is also ideal conditions for snorkelling or just enjoying the beautiful beaches.

Madagascar in November

A quieter time of year, with plenty of lemurs, birds and other wildlife able to be seen. Still a great time to travel, with no species hibernating and warmer weather.

Madagascar in December

The start of the wet season, and the hottest time of year. If you are travelling at this time, it is best to head to go at the start of the month, to the south and west of the country where it is cooler and drier.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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