Circumnavigation of Madagascar

Circumnavigation of Madagascar

From GBP £9,195


Join us for this unique opportunity to circumnavigate the island of Madagascar on what will be our most comprehensive exploration of this extraordinary island yet. Still relatively unexplored, there is minimal infrastructure in many parts of the island and for those wishing to explore the island in some depth, doing so by small ship, especially one as well-suited as the MS Serenissima is far preferable to exploring by any other means.

The world’s ‘eighth continent’, Madagascar long remained obscure as a destination and the animals, plants, landscapes and people that make up this thousand mile long island are unlike anywhere else in the world. Our expedition includes thirteen days on the island allowing for the opportunity to explore rainforests full of wildlife including lemurs, chameleons and indigenous birdlife as well as seeing the underwater world and village life. Our days will be spent exploring ashore, often traversing over rugged terrain and walking through spectacular rainforests and each evening we will have the benefit of returning to our comfortable ship to relax and look forward to the next adventure.

In addition to the breathtaking scenery, the region abounds with strange and wonderful plants and trees, countless varieties of birds and abundant wildlife including the iconic lemur. The long separation from the African mainland has given rise to its amazing number of endemic species of flora and fauna and its people are also unique having descended from Malay-Polynesian mariners who sailed from South East Asia between 1500 to 2000 years ago. Later arrivals included slaves from Africa, traders from Arabia, India and Portugal and more latterly French colonials.

With the vessel’s fleet of Zodiacs for forays ashore, allowing access to the wonderful places denied to larger ships, you can enjoy ample time to explore and encounters with fabulous endemic wildlife in this immensely rich and timeless corner of the Indian Ocean. Your experience will be made all the more memorable by our expert crew and officers who, along with our expedition team including marine biologists, ornithologists and botanists have many years of experience in the region.

Trip Name
Circumnavigation of Madagascar
Vessel Type: Luxury Small Ship Length: 90 metres Passenger Capacity: 116  Built / refurbished: 1992 / 2010 / 2017 Sister ship to Hebridean Sky. Island Sky and Hebridean Sky are truly sisters. Built in the same Italian Shipyard, both boast spacious, well-appointed suites, stylish common areas, and redundant core technology that allows them to operate smoothly, even under the most challenging of conditions. Both ships are all-suite, all-inclusive small expedition vessels with touches of elegance throughout. The Island Sky is scheduled for additional upgrades in 2017, including the addition of tinted sliding glass doors to all cabins on the Promenade Deck. Services: World-Class Cuisine Complimentary Wine or Beer with Dinner Live Entertainment Complimentary Coffee/Tea station Voyage Photographer On-board MD and Facilities Dedicated Passenger Service Manager Pre-voyage hotel night Complimentary Expedition Jacket Facilities: Elevator serving all passenger decks Upgraded WIFI Internet Library with computers Panoramic Top Deck Observation Platform Bar/Lounge with Live Entertainment Lounge with Audiovisual Facilities DVD Movie Library Tinted sliding glass doors in all cabins on the Promenade Deck World-Class Cuisine: Great expeditions require great food! Our team of world-class chefs offer breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that change daily. They have boat-loads of creativity, so you are sure to experience a variety of remarkable cuisine throughout your voyage. Accommodations: All Suites Feature: Exterior views Your choice of queen-sized or two twin-sized beds Sitting area with sofa and side chair Flat Screen TV with DVD/CD player Telephone Independent temperature controls Mini-Bar Marble-appointed bathroom with fine toiletries Hair dryer 220 square feet or more Sofa can be converted to bed for third person PLEASE NOTE - DECK PLANS CAN VARY.


Day 1 - Day 1 London to Mauritius.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight.
Day 2 - Day 2 Mauritius.
Arrive today and transfer to the MS Serenissima moored in Port Louis. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail this evening.
Day 3 - Day 3 Reunion.
We arrive at breakfast in Reunion where we have a choice of excursions. On a full day tour we will visit the central highlands where spectacularly rugged peaks of dormant or extinct volcanoes cradle huge amphitheatres known as cirques, where mountains tower to over 10,000 feet and beautiful waterfalls plummet hundreds of feet. The rich soil and mellow climate produce a lush and verdant landscape which is dotted with villages and towns with a uniquely French atmosphere. Fields of sugar cane and plantations of tropical fruits, vanilla and all manner of spices perfume the air. We will enjoy views from the Nez des Bouefs and see the Piton de la Fournaise crater. After enjoying a creole lunch in a local restaurant we will visit the ‘Cite du Volcan’ museum. Alternatively enjoy a morning tour to a vanilla plantation in St Andre where we learn about the history and culture of this integral part of Reunion’s heritage. Continue to Salazie, a verdant landscape and home to many waterfalls including the ‘Voile de la Mariee’ before spending some free time in St Denis on the way back to the MS Serenissima. This afternoon is at leisure before we set sail this evening.
Day 4 - Day 4 At Sea.
Spend the day at sea as we sail towards Madagascar. Maybe join a lecture or find a spot on deck to relax.
Day 5 - Days 5 & 6 Taolagnaro, Madagascar.
Our first call in Madagascar is the south eastern port of Taolagnaro, also known as Fort Dauphin. This was the first French settlement in Madagascar, situated on a peninsula overlooked by the Anosy mountains. We will moor overnight and during our afternoon and morning here we will offer a choice of excursions including Nahampoana Private Park. The reserve is only 67 hectares but home to four species of lemur including ring-tailed and sifakas whilst the gardens showcase Madagascan plants with three-cornered palms and spiny Desiderata trees. A tour of Taolagnaro will include the market, public gardens and the Fort Flacourt Museum where we will learn about the arrival of the Magalasay people to Madagascar and the historical links with Reunion. Also enjoy walks in the forest at the Madena Conservation Zone, a 200 hectare park protected from the region’s mining industry and where we hope to see bamboo lemur and different varieties of orchids.
Day 6 - Day 7 Tulear.
Having sailed around the southern tip of Madagascar we arrive in Tulear at lunchtime. This afternoon choose a drive to the Antsokay Arboretum which is entirely devoted to the conservation of the plants from the south west of Madagascar and, after more than 30 years of hard work, offers a densely kept selection of flora presenting a typical sub-arid thicket with baobab trees towering over the smaller plants. We will see the four hectare botanical garden which comprises over 900 species of plants of which 90% are endemic to the region. Alternatively visit the Reniala Private Reserve, a small area of just 60 hectares but containing a spiny forest which is unique to south eastern Madagascar. The park is home to 200 plant species including baobabs as well as being a haven for birders with sightings of paradise flycatchers, Madagascar hoopoe and Madagascar crested drongo.
Day 7 - Day 8 Andavadoaka & Nosy Hao.
The vessel will anchor this morning off the small fishing community of Andavadoaka, home to the Vezo fishing people. The area offers the most diverse marine ecosystem on the southwest coast. It is also the base for Blue Ventures, a marine conservation society that has helped the local villagers invest in their community by way of training local guides and showing ways to preserve their resources. We hope to learn more about the local projects before sailing over lunch to Nosy Hao to discover the sandy white beaches where we can enjoy a swim in the warm waters.
Day 8 - Day 9 Morondava.
From our anchorage off the town of Morondava, we will use the Zodiacs to land on the local beach. From here there will be a choice of excursions to explore the local region. A half day morning tour will visit the Avenue de Baobabs. Of the eight baobab species in the world, six are endemic to Madagascar and here we will see the Adansonia grandidieri species with a row of 20 to 25 trees which border the gravel road. We will learn about the trees and their spiritual significance before returning to Morondava and exploring the local market. Alternatively, join a full day excursion to Kirindy Forest. Situated approximately a two hour drive from Morondava, we will pass the Avenue de Baobabs as we travel north. Kirindy is a 10,000 hectare, dry deciduous forest, one of the most endangered in the world where the flora and fauna includes many endemic species. Here we find three species of baobab, many birds and reptiles including snakes, tortoises and lizards. Eight species of lemur reside here including the pale form marked lemur.
Day 9 - Day 10 At Sea.
Our lecture programme resumes as we continue our journey around the Madagascan coast.
Day 10 - Day 11 Mahajanga.
Mahajanga is a major port in northwest Madagascar situated on the Betsiboka River and is our base for a full day excursion to Ankarafantsika National Park. This deciduous forest is a haven for birds, lemurs and reptiles and on a choice of walks, we will explore with our guides. Eight species of lemur have been observed here including the famous Microcebus, the smallest primate in the world. Meanwhile over 120 species of birds nest here and we will keep an eye out for the Madagascan fish eagle and banded kestrel whilst the 44 species of reptile include chameleon, turtles and crocodiles that live in Lake Ravelobe. We will enjoy lunch in the park and in the afternoon there will be options to join further walks or watch for birdlife at the nearby lake before returning to the MS Serenissima.
Day 11 - Day 12 Nosy Tanikely.
We arrive mid-morning at the Nosy Tanikely Island Marine Reserve, an uninhabited island which offers snorkelling opportunities and wonderful beaches. We will take the chance to either swim in the clear waters or snorkel over the corals keeping an eye out for reef fish, turtles and morays. Alternatively our naturalists will lead guided walks on the island where we may see the resident lemurs, fruit bats and hermit crabs and enjoy fantastic views from the lighthouse on the island’s highest point.
Day 12 - Day 13 Nosy Hara.
As we continue our journey along the western coast of Madagascar we will find a number of strangely shaped limestone islets that dot the aquamarine-coloured sea. The expedition team will decide on the most suitable island for landing, such as Nosy Hara with its abundant birdlife and great places to swim off the beach. We will spend the day exploring the island on foot, walking through dense woodland and observing the unusual vegetation. Alternatively join a Zodiac cruise around the islands and a chance to snorkel over the coral.
Day 13 - Day 14 Diego Suarez.
Overnight we will have sailed around the northern tip of Madagascar and first thing this morning we will enter dramatic Panther Chameleon Diego Suarez, a stunning natural harbour with a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants including Creoles, Indians, Chinese, Comorans and Arabs. This afternoon choose from a city tour visiting the Commonwealth Cemetery and Place Joffre, or the Malagasy Rain Forest at the Mount Amber National Park. Dividing into short and long walk parties we will go in search of lemurs, chameleons and endemic birds as we explore the rain forest. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at sea.
Day 14 - Days 15 & 16 Masoala National Park & Nosy Mangabe.
We will spend a day and a half exploring from our anchorage in Antongil Bay. We visit Madagascar’s largest protected area, the Masoala National Park which comprises coastal rainforest, flooded forests and marsh and mangroves. Mammal species encountered include the red-ruffed lemur, the redfronted brown lemur and the ring-tailed mongoose. The park is also home to various species of brightly coloured Mantella frogs and all manner of extraordinary chameleons. Masoala is also a refuge of the endangered Madagascar red owl, Madagascar serpent eagle and many endemic bird species. We will run a series of walks for all levels during our time here whilst you will also have the option to swim off the beach or perhaps visit the local village. We will also explore Nosy Mangabe, a 520 hectare island reserve. Here we find one of the most diverse areas of virgin rainforest in Madagascar which has also been an important research centre since the mid-1960s when several aye-ayes and lemurs were released into the forest. We will use our Zodiacs to land on the beach next to the forest and a series of nature walks will be offered to look at the varied trees, plants and ferns and we also hope to spot chameleon, lizards and black and white ruffed lemur. For the birders, we will keep an eye out for the Madagascar buzzard, kingfisher and paradise flycatchers.
Day 15 - Day 17 Taomasina.
Our last call in Madagascar is at Taomasina, the country’s main port and second largest city but also the gateway to the Pangalanes Canals, a series of rivers, waterways and lakes that extend for over 400 miles down the island’s east coast. Used mainly for transportation and fishing, the canals are also home to unspoiled beaches, lagoons and lakes whilst providing access to national parks and private reserves. This morning we will take a local boat cruise through the canal to enjoy the scenery followed by a nature walk in one of the private reserves. Enjoy lunch in the reserve before returning to Taomasina this afternoon. Alternatively visit the Ivoloina Zoological Parc, a 282 hectare property combining a small zoo where we will see up to 12 species of lemur as well as indigenous tortoises and chameleons. Meanwhile in the surrounding forests we can see wild lemurs or malachite kingfishers on one of the many walking trails.
Day 16 - Day 18 At Sea.
Enjoy the day at sea to relax and reflect on our Madagascan adventure as we sail back to Mauritius.
Day 17 - Day 19 Mauritius to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 18 - Day 20 London.
Arrive this morning.
Day 19 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £9,195Standard Stateroom
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £9,495Classic Stateroom
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £10,195Standard Single
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £10,295Superior Stateroom
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £10,295Deluxe Stateroom
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £10,795Junior Suite
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £11,195Owner’s Suite
16-12-202102-01-2022GBP £11,495Serenissima Suite
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £9,795Superior Stateroom
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £10,195Standard Single
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £10,295Deluxe Stateroom
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £10,795Junior Suite
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £11,195Owner’s Suite
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £11,495Serenissima Suite
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £9,195Standard Stateroom
03-02-202222-02-2022GBP £9,495Classic Stateroom


    • Discover Mauritius & Reunion.
    • Visit Taolagnaro, Madagascar.
    • Explore Andavadoaka & Nosy Hao.
    • Enjoy Nosy Tanikely.
    • Travel to Masoala National Park & Nosy Mangabe.