ROAD TO MADAGASCAR

April 5th – April 16th

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Expedition Overview

Motoring Journey across the most infamous RN5

When the journey is as, if not more exciting than the destination; you are in Madagascar. The drive through Route No. 5 (aka RN5) is a painstakingly curated expedition, that will allow you to live the real Madagascar experience that only the locals know! The RN5 is regarded as one of the most dangerous roads in the world which runs alongside the Indian Ocean and includes river crossings, deep sand, slippery red clay, steep gradients and rocks. The short segment of this route was part of the popular show – Grand Tour, hosted by the famous trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. As per Jeremy “The Madagascar Special was the Grand Tour’s toughest trip yet”. What we intend to do is to drive even further into the RN5 making this expedition a one of its kind.

What to Expect

Motor Across Challenging Routes That Only Our Legendary 4×4s Can Travel.

Expedition Details

Country Madagascar
Duration 11 days
Expedition Vehicle Specially Prepped Nissan NP300 4×4 Pickup
Group Size 12 Pax
Terrain Paved Roads + Challenging 4×4 Trails
Weather Max 30°C and Min 15°C
Drive 800 kms, its just a figure!
Ideal for : Active Adventure Seekers

What You'll See ...

You Will See Some of the Most Breathtaking Views during Our Madagascar RN5 Expedition.

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Expedition Itinerary

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DAY 1: ARRIVE AT ANTANANARIVO 

Accommodation: Au Bois Vert 

Vibrant, alive and chaotic, Antananarivo, usually termed by its colloquial short hand Tana, is the capital city of Madagascar and its political and economic powerhouse. This commanding city will be our gateway into our Madagascar adventure. Upon arrival, you will be received by our team and transferred to your hotel. Your tryst with nature starts right here! All expedition members are advised to choose the flights in such a way that you arrive by noon, because this evening, we have our informal expedition briefing followed by a welcome dinner which is a wonderful opportunity to meet all the fellow expedition members. 

 

Recommendation: We have planned one additional day in Antananarivo at the end of the expedition. That way you can explore the town at leisure during the end and there is no need to come in early into Madagascar unless you want to acclimate before the start of your adventure.

 

About the Accommodation: Hotel Au Bois Vert is a contemporary property in the capital of Antananarivo., just a five-minute drive from the international airport, is a blissfully peaceful oasis. The property spans three hectares of woodland, with a large courtyard and a swimming pool, and sleek, modern accommodation that offers oodles of old-world Malagasy charm.

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DAY 2: andasibe

ion: Vakona Forest Lodge

Distance: 160 km | Drive Time: 3-4 hours | Terrain: Paved Roads

We begin our epic motoring journey into Madagascar. Today will be a pretty simple and short drive through some winding roads, which in no means will be representative of what lies in store for you! You will be heading towards one of the most spectacular parks in eastern Madagascar – Andasibe. Once you arrive at the property you will get spend enough time to enjoy the beautiful evergreen rainforest and later in the evening, get surprised with a special nocturnal walk. 

About the Accommodation: Located at the edge of Madagascar’s mighty Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Vakona Forest Lodge is a spectacularly isolated rainforest retreat surrounded by some of the island’s most beautiful rivers, lakes, and mountains. This is the ultimate rainforest experience, offering comfortable accommodations and interesting activities leading guests into the heart of Madagascar. Its designed in line with local Malagasy architecture and surrounded by lush vegetation and filled with fresh mountain air, only the sounds of frogs and other wildlife can disturb you here. You will be spending two nights in this beautiful property.

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DAY 3: Andasibe – Mantadia - Andasibe

Accommodation: Vakona Forest Lodge

Distance: 50 kms | Drive Time: 3 Hrs | Terrain: Dirt Roads

This morning you will wake up to Indri calls! A stunning if almost spooky way to start the day. Indri is the largest living Lemur! The eerie, yet beautiful call of the Indri can be heard over a mile from the park, building up the excitement. Seeing them in the wild is always an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, most visitors limit themselves to the very accessible, and therefore very popular part of the nature reserve. Very unjustified, we think. Hence, we decided to make it even more exciting and truly exploratory by driving towards the Mantadia part of the park which is only accessible by 4×4 on a 20 km long dirt road, which is quite difficult to ride, especially after rainfall. But once you get there, the reward is well worth the hard work. This will be the primary testing grounds of your driving skills before you head to RN5. 

 

Almost the whole park is formed by primary forest which has never been touched by men. It is also a refuge for many animals and plants. Thus, it is not uncommon to come across a multitude of species: lemurs, birds, chameleons, and insects of all kinds. If you are a fan of the great outdoors, you can opt for a trek in the lush forest of the park or go for a dive in the beautiful natural pools, with its fabulous waterfalls, or admire the sacred fall of the park, containing the secrets of the great cultural traditions of the island. We spend almost the whole day in this forest, enjoy and wonderful picnic lunch and before it gets too dark, head back to our property to reminisce on all the great experiences you had this day.

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DAY 4: MAHAMBO

Accommodation: La Pirogue

Distance: 320 km | Drive Time: 7-8 hours | Terrain: Paved Roads + Potholes

A long day of driving ahead of us towards the remote parts that mark our entry onto the treacherous RN5. The road snakes down from the humid, rain forest covered, slope of the central highlands towards the east coast. After about 3 to 4 hours of winding roads, you will reach the coastal town of Brickaville where the road turns northbound towards Toamasina, the biggest port of Madagascar. We will stop in the middle of a coconut plantation just before the city, where a special picnic lunch has been planned. After Toamasina, is where the RN5 officially starts. The roads are paved until Mahambo but with potholes you couldn’t imagine that can exist. We will reach the quiet sand fringed coves of Mahambo by late afternoon. You can head out for a swim in the ocean, partake in optional activities like snorkeling or kayaking.

About the Accommodation: La Pirogue Mahambo is nestled in a vast coconut grove that borders a pristine sandy beach facing the Indian Ocean. The thatched rooms and bungalows are scattered randomly in the tropical garden. The open-air restaurant serves a fusion of local flavors and French cuisine along with fish and seafood specialties, and the bar serves a variety of alcoholic beverages. It’s the perfect stop-over before we enter the infamous RN5 as the next couple of days you will be staying in very basic properties spread along the coast. So, soak in the luxury as much as possible.

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DAY 5: Manompana

Accommodation: Chez Wenky

Distance: 130 km | Drive Time: Approx. 4-5 hours | Terrain: Pothole Roads + Dirt Road

For the first two hours we follow the asphalt road peppered with huge potholes. Along this route you will be able to see the famous Pangalanes Canal, a network of man-made channels connecting fresh water lakes and lagoons running parallel to the Indian Ocean. It’s considered by many as one of the most biodiverse and alluring waterways in the world. After a while we reach Soanierana Ivongo where we will have our first bush ferry crossing as we inch closer to the ill-famed RN5. This drive truly marks the beginning of our adventure as we reach one of the most solitary and off the beaten track in the whole country. Beaches lined with coconut trees and the village life greets us here. Before we hit the hotel, we will visit the local market where we’ll buy the necessary ingredients for tonight’s special barbecue dinner we have planned on the beach. The place you will be staying are standard bungalows with private rooms and utilities.

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DAY 6: Antanambe

Accommodation: Chez Gondrin

Distance: 50 km | Drive Time: Approx. 4-5 hours | Terrain: Dirt Roads

Just 50 kms today? That’s 50 long long kilometres on RN5. These adventurous hours will truly hone your off-road driving skills.  At some sections, we be driving above the Indian Ocean, along the clove and vanilla plantations hidden behind the green foliage. As we go further into RN5, driving through more and more challenging terrains, you will also explore the beautiful villages along the coast, meet the locals and enjoy the wonderful local cuisines. Depending on how well we handle the terrain, the drive can be longer or shorter and we will eventually reach the small town of Antanambe where we will be staying for the day. Again, the accommodation tonight will be simple and standard.

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DAY 7: Mananara Nord

Accommodation: Chez Roger

Distance: 60 km | Drive Time: Approx. 4-5 hours | Terrain: Dirt Roads

The 60 km drive today includes the Ivontaka section, a road that will put to test all your driving skills. The treachery of RN5 is at its best here. This is truly not for the faint hearted. There are sections of sheer rock, sections of deep sand and everything in between, particularly mud. Once we clear this section, we will then reach a place called Mananara Nord, a bustling trading town in the bush. Because of the countless workshops, it is sometimes called the Toyota Hilux capital of the world. The Mananara Nord Biosphere Reserve is part of the global network of Biosphere Reserves. The fascinating ecosystem in this reserve include tropical humid forest, sandy coastal plains with littoral vegetation, river vegetation, mangrove formations, marshlands and coral reefs. With such diversity, you can be assured to have an unforgettable experience of your life. In order to make the experience even more exciting, we are planning to head out for a night driving into the reserve. If you are lucky, you might spot the the ugliest animal in the world – the most elusive nocturnal Aye Aye Lemur which is found only in this region.

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DAY 8: rantabe

Accommodation: Chez Christine

Distance: 80 km | Drive Time: Approx. 6-7 hours | Terrain: Dirt Roads

Literally drive through the Indian Ocean! A feat few can boast of. A bamboo barge crossing for the cars as we come to hard wood villages. We will be driving along the ocean for the most part of the day, at time stop and enjoy the real Madagascar experience! Rantabe is located along a river that is subject to the tides of the ocean. The place where we will be staying is after we cross the river. Our team will investigate whether the crossing can be made safely on this day, else we will stay on the other side of the river for the night and do the crossover the next morning.

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DAY 9: Maroantsetra

Accommodation: Masoala Resort 

Distance: 50 km | Drive Time: Approx. 4-5 hours | Terrain: Dirt Roads

Today will be our last stretch of the infamous RN5 and we will emerge from here to say hello to civilization again! We arrive in a town that’s bustling with activity but the beauty of Madagascar will continue to charm you. The murmur of coconuts tree leaves agitated by a constant sea breeze that strokes your face and the rustling of the large waves of the Indian Ocean, serenity is absolute here. People in brightly colored hats and holding umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun walk at a very leisurely pace and you feel very welcome. It’s a place where nothing much happens fast and is ideal for a relaxed stay. You deserve this relaxing time after the last couple of days of sheer madness. You will be staying in one of the finest hotels in the region located on a nice stretch of beach – the Masoala Peninsula visible across the bay. In the evening, we have planned for a very special farewell dinner to commemorate our successful completion of the most dangerous overland journey. A night that you will remember throughout your life.

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DAY 10: Antananarivo

Accommodation: Le Louvre 

Distance: NA | Drive Time: NA | Terrain: NA

Today you will bid adieu to north-eastern Madagascar and the RN5 by taking a flight back to the capital city – Antananarivo. You will be staying at the centrally located Le Louvre hotel, so that you can explore the city and local handicrafts at your own pace. We can also recommend some curated experiences during your stay in Antananarivo.

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DAY 11: Antananarivo

Accommodation: Le Louvre 

Distance: NA | Drive Time: NA | Terrain: NA

This is a buffer day we have planned considering the unreliable domestic flight schedule. Its better being prepared than being sorry. Here are some optional activities in and around Antananarivo. You can also stay back in the hotel and relax at the spa.

 

Ambohimanga: The royal hills of Ambohimanga, around 20 kms from the town, a palace complex of kings and queens from the 17th and 18th century. The site is still in use as a shrine, rituals take place at times. The view from this hill is magnificent.

Lemurs’ Park: Approx. 25 km from the centre of Antananarivo, this natural area of 5 hectares – bordered by the river Katsaoka – has seven lemur species from different regions of Madagascar that can be easily spotted during a guided visit.

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DAY 12: Depart from Antananarivo

Accommodation: NA

Distance: NA | Drive Time: NA | Terrain: NA

Depending on the time of your flight, a private transfer will take you to the airport.

 

Au Revoir

What Our Clients Say ...

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Your Expedition Vehicle

SPECIALLY PREPPED NISSAN NP300 4X4 PICKUP

Dates & Prices

Dates Price per Person Interested?
 April 5th – April 16th $6,550 INQUIRE TODAY

The quoted price is per person on double occupancy basis unless otherwise noted, and are subject to change without notice. Families travelling with kids are requested to contact us for exclusive family prices. Solo travelers and groups with more than 2 members and those who need single supplement are requested to contact us for the differential pricing. Optional activities are at an additional cost. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars.

*Go Solo : Additional US$ 4943 USD per person (An exclusive expedition vehicle for one person and accommodation on single supplement)

What's Covered & What's Not

  • Exclusive Modified Expedition Vehicle for each team of 2 people with fuel
  • Domestic Flight from Maroantsetra to Antananarivo
  • Nomadic Road Expedition Leader throughout the trip
  • Exclusive Expedition Photographer cum Filmmaker throughout the trip
  • Local cultural expert and hospitality staff throughout the trip
  • 4x4 support vehicle that will carry essential tools and equipment's for the trip
  • Field Chef & Technical Crew throughout the expedition
  • Accommodation on all nights on twin share basis
  • Specially prepared meals throughout the expedition. The Lunch & Dinner will be prepared on all days based on your preference keeping in mind your food restrictions if any. And almost all our lunch will be a picnic lunch somewhere in the most scenic location possible and dinners will be private expedition style setup.
  • Special Welcome and Farewell Dinner
  • Bottled water and refreshments.
  • Entrance Fee to enter Andasibe National Park
  • Entrance Fee to enter Mantadia National Park
  • Nocturnal Walk at Andasibe
  • Night Drive at Mananara Nord Biosphere Reserve
  • Visit local farmers village and walk inside vanilla and clove plantations
  • Airport transfers
  • Comprehensive Vehicle Insurance
  • All excursions, entrance fees, and visits as described in the itinerary
  • International Flights, Visa
  • Dinner on Day 2, Day 3 & Day 4 to give you the freedom to explore local cuisine on your own instead of having a pre-set menu.
  • Lunch and Dinner on Day 11 & Day 12 since you will be exploring Antananarivo on your own it made sense not to make this part of the program.
  • Optional activities mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Comprehensive Personal Insurance(s)
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Personal medication
  • Extras like room service, drinks, optional excursions and items of personal nature like laundry, tips, phone calls etc.
  • Additional activities at resorts

Come explore some of the least accessible places in Madagascar.

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