Great trek – The Highlands – 13 days

From 4 to 12 people. See details below.

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© Malagasy Tours | Carte Itremo region is incredibly beautiful and wild. It is yet unknown to the tourist routes. Western Highlands offers beautiful scenery of mountains and valleys, isolated villages surrounded by rice fields and meadows. On foot, we hike on quartzite massifs towards solitary summits, domain of silence and wind, borrowed solely by a few herders leading their zebu cattle from one pasture to another. We descend into the valleys, do balance on bunds bordering the rice fields to arrive in small hamlets with houses of red soil and thatched roof. Here, life is back with the children as welcoming committee and villagers going about their activities mainly agricultural. On large tracks that connect one village to another, a lot of people, carrying thousands of things in the zebu cart, on the bike or in the baskets on their heads. It is so many moments which make our journey, we cross ourselves, we greet, sometimes we walk side by side, make an end of path together exchanging on the life of the village and the valley.

Highlights

  • A unique and itinerant hiking in the mountains of Itremo;
  • The diversity of landscapes, villages and paths traveled;
  • The atmosphere of the Highlands associated with to local meetings;
  • A route to do as such or to combine with other trips to the west or south.

Travel identity card

  • Duration : 13 days (from Tana to Tana)
  • Number of days of walking: 10 days
  • Participant: In group – minimum 4 people
  • Accompaniment: English speaking Malagasy Guide
  • Accommodation: Hotels and 6 nights camping
  • Displacement: 4×4 assistance vehicle and minibus for transfers
  • Service: Full board
  • Period: From March to November
  • Level: moderate
  • Effort = 5

    “Engaged”

    This trip requires a prior physical and psychological preparation. Intense and prolonged effort on long hikes from 6 to 8 hours of walking per day for several days. The gradients may be important some day, more than 1200m. The isolation of the areas crossed is important.

  • Confort = 1

    “Expedition”
    Majority of of nights in a tent on their own. Comfort of bivouac rudimentary (climate, terrain).
    Meals on expeditions prepared by the team of Malagasy Tours. Food is often made with fresh local products.
    Participation may be required for meal preparation and installation / uninstallation of the camp according the team composition.

D 1 : Antananarivo > Antsirabe > Manandona

Meet your guide and start heading to the south. Once we leave the capital, typical villages of the highlands and rice fields draw well the landscape of the countryside. We stop in Ambatolampy to discover the impressive work of aluminum cooking pot artisans, pots people use all over the country.

We drive on south to Antsirabe which is situated 170 km away of Antananarivo. Then a little bit further on the road 7 we reach the village of Manandona at Mont Ibity foothill, it is a massive rocky mount.

We stay in a simple rural gite.

  • Duration : +/- 4h de route
  • Distance : 170km
  • Meals : Lunch include at the restaurant / Dinner included
  • Your hotel : Manandona. Gîte Bakobako.

    Gîte BakobakoGîte BakobakoA village surrounded with rice fields, a traditional house slightly apart from the village, a family on the threshold of the house. It is the gîteof Jean Gustave – the Old Cock – who makes us a simple and warm welcome. Dormitories of 4 beds at the top of a very steep staircase, showers with a bucket and the toilet at the back of the garden.Romazava for dinner and with a lot of people around the table.

D 2 to 4 : Mont Ibity and Ihasy valley

The massif is about 20 km from north to south, we hike along the hillside to ” the Grand Tombeaux ” mountain pass, go on on the crest to the south and towards the peak. Ibity is amongst mounts with different peaks, the rock in front or behind seem higher when you reach the summit. We go down hill to Ihasy Valley. Another gîte opens the door for us here, we must take the most of it because there is no more after. The following nights will be in tent and it is alright.

These rare local gîte always have simple but warm welcome, food made in a rural way, locals often come to meet you, so evening parties are with local dance and singings.

We stay 2 days around Ihasy valley.

  • Duration : 5 à 7h de marche
  • Meals : Picnic lunch included / Dinner included
  • Your hotel : Ihasy. Gite d’Ihasy.

    Gite d'IhasyGite d'IhasyMany villages are spread at Mount Ibity foothill. A traditional house welcomes you slightly away from a village. We are in the gite of Ihasy. The welcome is warm and friendly.
    The accommodation consists of rooms / dormitories with bunk beds inside, bucket showers and toilets in the garden.
    For dinner, we have a romazava!

D 5 to 7 : Villages, rice fields and valley of Mania

We meet some gold digger with their kitted sieving the stream bottom as we go along the mountain to the south. Looking for gold is a specific action farmers do occasionally, they are more or less happy doing it when farming works are slowing down. The trail leads us to Mania River (also the name of the region). The large market town called Ambatomifanongoa offers us fresh supplies.

The grocer in the village is the greatest friend of travellers in Madagascar. First because he must have all that we need in the mess of his store, even as more or less cold coke or beer, but also mainly because he must know everything and everybody in there. He becomes often our first interlocutor as we arrive.

We cross the river with a ferry if it is deep enough to work; otherwise we ride a local dugout. We meet our 4WD crew for logistic this evening as before and the following days. They have been getting around several events and difficulties of the mountains, valleys and rice fields we’ve passed through. They set up the camp and prepared hot drinks preceding the restoring meals for us. They supply us solid and good logistic that way.

We stay in the same valley to join Soavina which is another large market town. We walk along the main track, that is the best place to meet and get close contact with locals, who moves from one village or market to another continuously. They carry products to sell as rice in a basket, chickens hanged up in the bike handlebar or fruits and vegetables on their head. They go back home with a colourful fabrics, a brand new aluminum pot, a petrol can or a radio set with spare batteries.

  • Meals : Picnic lunch included / Dinner included
  • Your hotel : . Nuit sous tente.

    Nuit sous tenteNuit sous tenteA night under the stars around campfire, in the nature,… we like it !We provide SVALBARD brand FERRINO tents. These tents are for 3 persons but we only put 2 persons inside. Both sides have access door with mosquito net and the entrances are a kind of apse where we put a mat for your bags.We also provide a 5 cm thick foam mattress.You should take your sleeping bag.

D 8 and 9 : Massif of Saronara

We go back up to the mountain to be quiet in the summits after villagers’agitation. Saronara is monumental and looks inaccessible from where we arrive in the deep basin, we nevertheless located a little trail to cut or to walk along it. We find a different vegetation that we have never seen before so far. Once we are in the west part, we start to see succulent plants as aloe and strange pachypodium. Terrestrial orchids are also frequent, flora endemic species are very important in the area. We climb on Saronara to be on the other side and discover imposing Itremo mass from far away.

  • Duration : 5 à 6h de marche
  • Meals : Picnic lunch included / Dinner included
  • Your hotel : The same as the day before

D 10 and 11 : towards Ambatofinandrahana

We then head to Ambatofinandrahana during those last  two days of trek. We pass by crests and narrow valley inside the massif. We go to Ranomafana where there is a thermal spring ; a sort of natural Turkish bath is waiting for us to end up the hike, swim happily. Ambatofinandrahana only come to life during the market day, hope it is today, this large market town seems to be sluggish and a bit lost in the mountains.

  • Duration : 5 à 6h de marche
  • Meals : Picnic lunch included / Dinner included
  • Your hotel : The same as the day before

D 12 : Ambatofinandrahana – Ambositra

We take our time to walk around in the village, really hope it is the market day.

We are back to cars after Ambatofinandrahana, we are on tarred road to get back to Ambositra village ; stop on the way for picnic before we join that lively town. We put in our hotel for an overnight.

 

 

  • Duration : +/- 5h
  • Distance : 150 km
  • Meals : Picnic lunch included / Dinner not included
  • Your hotel : Ambositra . Artisan.

    ArtisanArtisanLocated in the west of the centre, close to handicrafts shops for which Ambositra is famous for. 12 guestrooms spread out on 2 traditional houses and 10 bungalows, all with private bathrooms. This recently built hotel has restaurant, bar and a nice garden.

D 13 : Ambositra > Antananarivo

Ambositra is the town of the woodcarvers. Visit of the workshops of craftsmen Zafimaniry.
We hunt around in search of the sculptured piece of wood or of the finely decorated square of marquetry.
Arrival at the end of morning at Antsirabe for the lunch.
Continuation in the afternoon to Antananarivo.

  • Meals : Lunch include at the restaurant / Dinner not included
Number of person 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Supp single
Price per person 1 087 € 970 € 922 € 880 € 838 € 820 € 808 € 794 € 776 € 50 €

 

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