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Tsingy in west Ankarana, Ankarana Special Reserve (2)

Tropical North: Tsingy, Jungle and Islands



10 Days

Prices Start from

£2,750pp (ex. flights)

The less-visited northeast of Madagascar is tropical and wild. Discover beautiful rainforests full of lemurs and orchids, spot inch-long dwarf chameleons and hike between dramatic tsingy pinnacles. Once you have had your fill of wildlife and landscapes, escape to a desert island, staying at one of the secluded beachside retreats.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Dwarf chameleon, Amber Mountain, Madagascar 1

Tiny Chameleons

Spot inch-long dwarf chameleons hiding just off the ground in Amber Mountain National Park.

Small waterfall, Amber Mountains, Madagascar 2


Wander through cool forests, full of waterfalls, lakes and lemurs.

Sunrise over western tsingy, Ankarana, Madagascar 3


Explore Ankarana’s impressive tsingy, experiencing both sides of this dramatic massif.

Panoramic View, Tsarabanjina, Nosy Be Archipelago, Madagascar 4

Tropical Island

Spend time relaxing on the tropical beaches of Nosy Be, off Madagascar’s northwestern coast.

Why we like it

Northeast Madagascar is both accessible and diverse, yet it sees only a fraction of the visitors that explore the central highlands. A guided journey through this beautiful region makes the most of the spectacular landscapes and wealth of wildlife, with the added benefit of finishing beside the country’s most beautiful stretch of coastline – perfect for relaxing after several days of on-foot adventures.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
    Antananarivo - Diego Suarez - Amber Mountain National Park
  • Day 3
    Amber Mountain National Park
  • Day 4
    Amber Mountain National Park - Ankarana Special Reserve
  • Day 5 - 6
    Ankarana Special Reserve
  • Day 7
    Ankarana Special Reserve - Nosy Be
  • Day 8 - 10
    Nosy Be

Now for the details

Emerald Sea, Diego Suarez, Northern Madagascar
Diego Suarez, Madagascar

Gateway to the North

Diego Suarez (Antsiranana), Madagascar’s most important northerly port, still retains an air of faded colonial grandeur. What it lacks in conventional beaches, it makes up for in beautiful bays, including the famous Emerald Sea.

Exploration of the country’s wild northern region begins here. Set out with a private driver and guide, in a 4×4 vehicle – necessary to tackle the challenging roads here. With a guide accompanying you throughout, benefit from a far more in-depth experience, learning about this little-visited region.

Crowned lemur, Amber Mountains, Madagascar
Amber Mountain National Park, Madagascar

Montane Forest

Taking its name from the resin found in the trees, Amber Mountain National Park offers a welcome respite from the heat of the plains. Explore the network of trails that cut through the trees, climbing up ridges, passing sacred waterfalls and descending to crater lakes.

This montane forest is noticeably different from the eastern highlands and the coastal forests. Far lusher and wetter, it also attracts a fraction of the number of visitors. Wildlife ranges from lemurs and birdlife in the canopy to centipedes and leeches on the forest floor.

There are also numerous chameleons, including the striking panther chameleon and the inch-long dwarf chameleon – the second-smallest species of chameleon

Lady on rope bridge, Ankarana Special Reserve, Madagascar
Ankarana Special Reserve, Madagascar

Tsingy from Above

Explore this vast eroded landscape of limestone pinnacles and chasms – encompassed by the Ankarana Reserve, which can be accessed from both east and west.

The east is slightly more accessible, with trails running above the tsingy, looking down on this spectacular landscape. Pass through dry deciduous forest, home to a surprising amount of wildlife. Look out for families of habituated crowned lemurs, as well as ground boas and land crabs.

Venture out onto the tsingy, where well-worn trails cut across the razor-sharp rock. Admire the landscape from viewing platforms and even cross one of the deep chasms on a hanging wire bridge.

Ankarana Massif, Ankarana Special Reserve, Madagascar
Ankarana Special Reserve, Madagascar

Tsingy from Below

The western side offers a very different perspective on this spectacular landscape, since you start below the tsingy. This is best appreciated on a dawn hike up into the tsingy, following a winding path as the golden light washes over the jagged pinnacles and the distant plains below.

At dusk, canoe on the lake that sits at the foot of the massif. Everyday rural life plays out along the water’s edge, where villagers wash clothes, grow rice and bring their cattle to drink. Local children splash in the shallows and bats flit overhead as darkness descends.

Overhanging palm tree on the white sands of Andilana Beach, Nosy Be, Madagascar
Nosy Be, Madagascar

Tropical Beaches

Finish with time on Nosy Be or one of the neighbouring islands. This area is famous for its beautiful beaches, stunning coastline and fantastic marine life. Coral reefs lie offshore, offering excellent snorkelling. Spot sea turtles, whale sharks and colourful reef fish.

Idyllic beach lodges sit on secluded beaches, scattered across the smaller islands. There are options to suit everyone, with properties ranging from active family escapes to romantic honeymoon retreats.


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

Nature Lodge £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

These safari-tent style cottages not only look great from the outside (a mixture of sleek canvas, stone bathrooms and thatched roofs) but the dark polished wood inside, covered in colourful batik and traditional lamba fabrics softens the atmosphere. The location of the lodge itself is also a big draw with endless views of the valleys below, best enjoyed from the private terrace outside each tent. The main bar and restaurant follow the same theme, with raffia matting hanging on walls next to local paintings and the high timber-beamed ceiling helps keep things cool. If feeling brave, you should try the regions speciality rum – made with local lychees.

View Property

Iharana Bush Camp £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Wilderness

Iharana Bush Camp is one of the nicest places to stay in the reserve. The setting alone is worth a trip, overlooking a huge lake, looking up at the Ankarana massif which makes for some spectacular sunsets (and great birding). As the plan of the camp itself, the handful of rooms are a wood, stone and thatch combination, which manages to combine a very natural feel, with a surprisingly stylish look. In the rooms, the bathrooms and bedrooms are on separate levels, designed to take full advantage of the views, whilst allowing for a lovely open feel.

View Property

Tsarabanjina £££££

  • Madagascar
  • Beach and Island Escapes

This tiny island in the north of Madagascar is perfect for those who crave Robinson Crusoe adventure, but with five-star luxuries. The 25 beach facing, thatched villas are split between the north and south beaches (the north is slightly quieter) combining contemporary interiors, with wooden Malagasy artefacts, on the white-washed walls. Small wooden verandas come with cushions and sofa’s offering shade from the sun and the large, stone bathrooms and high ceilings keep you cool. The main bar and restaurant sit high on the corner of a rocky outcrop of the island itself, perfectly positioned for sunrise and sunset. A split level arrangement here offers a very relaxed beach bar spilling out onto the sand, with small wooden decking and cushions in which to relax, whereas the main dining area is upstairs, making the most of the views.

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 £2,750 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.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary?

Why Steppes

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