While you can slice and dice several of these recommended itineraries, the key to visiting Madagascar on a shorter amount of time is travel time itself. If traveling by taxi brousse, the local bus transport, expect every travel day to be just that, a travel day. This can take away from valuable time seeing the country itself. If you have limited time, it is best to hire a personal car and driver so you can see more of the country, as the roads are very poor and can take long hours getting just a few hundred kilometers away.
2 weeks in Madagascar is not common. It will come with a price, as you will have hire a private 4×4 and will be rushing all of your activities, possibly having to book things ahead. You also may need to take 1 domestic flight (expensive!) if you go South or North.
Best 2-Week Itinerary Option
East/West Option: Fly to Antanarivo and go West to Morondava. Visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Head back East to the other coast passing through Tana on your way to Saint Marie and Ile Nattes. Finish your trip with a day in Andasibe visiting the rainforest before heading home.
North Option: Fly to Diego Suarez from Tana. Spend 5 days in Diego Suarez and Ramena, then head to Nosy Be for a weeks stay. You can visit Tsingy Rouge, Amber Mountain, Emerald Bay, and visit one of the many islands surrounding Nosy Be.
South Option: Fly to Tana and head south in your private 4×4 hire. Have stops at Antsirabe, Anja Park in Ambalavao, and Isalo National Park. You can continue down to Toliara and spend a couple days at the beach of Anakao or Ifante, then fly back to Tana. The other option is from Isalo, go back to Tana and then to Andasibe for a couple days at the Rainforest before heading home.
3-4 weeks is the more common stay in Madagascar, with three weeks just enough time and four weeks the right amount of time needed to spend in Madagascar. You can mix a combination of private car (4×4) and taxi brousse to lower costs for the trip and still see a lot of the country. Rather than pushing to add a whole new region to your itinerary, it is better to slow your pace and add some extra days to relax (hello Ile Nattes!).
Best 3-4 Week Itinerary Option
East/West Option: Fly into Antanarivo and go West to Morondava. Visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Go back to Antsirabe and head south to Ambalavao. Visit Anja Park before going on a 3 day hike in the Andringitra Mountains. After your hike, head back up to Tana on your way to Saint Marie and Ile Nattes. Finish your trip with a day in Andasibe visiting the rainforest before heading home.
West/North Option: From Antananarivo go west first to Morondava. Visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Go back to Antsirabe and head North. Make a quick stop in Andasibe to visit the Rainforest, then head North to Diego Suarez and Ramena for a week.
West/South Option: Probably the most common route for tourists, starting from Tana and go West to Morondava. Visit the Avenue of Baobabs and Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Go back to Antsirabe and head south to Ambalavao. Visit Anja Park before going on a 3 day hike in the Andringitra Mountains. Continue South to Ranohiro to visit Isalo National Park for 1 or 2 days. Continue on to Toliara, to stay at the beach town of Anakao or Ifante. Hire a private car back to Tana.
8 weeks is long enough to see most of the country. This is by seeing a lot of the major attractions, and hitting the best of the North, South, East and West on the Island. You have the time to travel almost entirely by taxi brousse to lower costs and you can pick several spots to take a “break” and relax. We chose those breaks in the valley of Tsaronuru (Andringitra Mountains), Anakao, Ile Nattes, and Diego Suarez. Check out all of the following major highlights of the country.
Best 8-Week Itinerary Option Includes
Wild West Tsiribihina River Tour by Pirogue which includes a two days at Tsingy de Bemaraha and a stop at the Avenue of the Baobabs (9 days)
Take a Train Ride from Fianarantsoa to Manakara – This can definitely be skipped, although it will always be remembered (3 days)
Visit Anja Park outside Ambalavao (1 day)
Hike for 3 days in the Andringitra National Park to summit Pic Boby (5 days)
Go to Isalo National Park for 1 or 2 days (2 days)
Head to the town of Toliare for a day then move on and relax at a beach town, either Anakao or Ifante (7 days)
Head to the West coast for an excellent stop at Ile Saint Marie and Ile Nattes. Make a 2 day stop to visit Parc Mitsinjo in the Andasibe Rainforest (7 days)
Head North to Diego Suarez and Ramena where you will visit Tsingy Rouge, Amber Mountain, and Emerald Bay (7 Days)
The remaining days not accounted for is travel time by taxi brousse (10-14 Days)
Best of Madagascar:
Avenue of the Baobabs, Andasibe Rainforest, Ile Aux Nattes, Andringitra Mountains, and Tsingy Rouge.
Best Rainforest: Parc Mitsinjo in the Andasibe Rainforest
Best Beach: Ile Aux Nattes
Best Cultural Experience: Tsiribihina River Tour
Best Landscape: Andringitra Mountains
Best Food: Diego Suarez
Check out the Full Guide on Madagascar
Visited from June and July 2016.