“Islands, Whales & Leaping Lemurs”

June 11 – 21, 2023                  Small group of 22 (space for 1 man)

Price listed below the daily itinerary, must close out by March  10


Islands, lemurs and whales, oh my… We’re mad about Mada! Magical Madagascar is truly the world’s most weirdly wonderful destination. Exotic species, postcard-perfect tropical beaches abound and underwater landscapes are pure heaven. Past AFS groups have gushed over their experiences here and our new itinerary covers even more adventures of one of the most unique and beautiful countries you’ll ever hope to visit.

 You’ll be going off the beaten track on a new level with sights and unimaginable creatures you can’t find anywhere else. An Indian Ocean eco-paradise, Madagascar is home to 5% of the earth’s flora and fauna, 80% of which are unique to this place which the 4th largest island in the world. There’s 40 crazy colorful chameleon species here and over 50 species of lemurs.  Nothing beats watching the fearless bug-eyed primates sail through the rainforest like ballerinas while screeching like a police siren. Yes, you’ll even be able to hold one! This is a sanctuary to nature’s strangest creatures, from elephant birds to tomato frogs to blue geckos and hissing insects. And those are just some found on land along with incredible marine life at sea. We’ll be there in June, the best time to go when Humpback whales are at the height of migration!

 After touring the capital of Antananarivo we head west. Our exotic adventure starts in captivating Andasibe Forest, rich in biodiversity with a rainbow array of butterflies, chameleons, and lemurs. We will be surrounded in the purest nature marvels while staying in a hilltop lodge in the heart of the dense rainforest. Then we fly north to our luxury oceanfront resort in Nosy-Be on the Mozambique Channel. There’s a reason why Mada is now one of the most popular tour destinations, so we secured rooms long ago at the coveted Ravintsara Wellness Resort. We’ll catamaran through azure waters teaming with marine life. You’ll be mesmerized watching the rays, whales, sharks, coral and turtles. By catamaran and dhow, we island hop to discover the surrounding atolls with stops to enjoy snorkeling, diving or fishing – or choose to hike the lush surroundings. Madagascar’s isolated location creates a colorful dive into an authentic  cultural melting pot with unique landscapes ranging from verdant rainforests to baobabs and desert.

This is a Bragging Rights vacation. Who else do you know who can say they’ve been to magical Madagascar? Enjoy 9 glorious days of large fun in rain forests and pristine seas. This is a small group of only 18 lucky participants at a great price with most meals included. Come join us to explore Natures Sanctuary as we explore a part of the world truly that almost defies description. Like the movie says, Let’s move it, move it, move it!

Map of Madagascar. Detail from the World Map.

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

” Suzy, I can sum this trip up in one word… Fabulous! I loved the small group size and wonderful local guides. As a poor country, at times I was challenged outside my comfort zone but it was all worth it. I laughed so hard watching the lemurs’ jump person to person. Thank you for showing us this unique destination.” Faith B.


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June 11 or 12 –  Fly USA to Antananarivo, Madagascar via Johannesburg or Paris or other gateways. Air details coming later in trip tips. Consider breaking up your long journey with a pre-or post-option to add another fun destination.


June 13 – Antananarivo                  Land begins

Welcome to Tana! Antananarivo is Madagascar’s largest city and we’ll have great views of it from our hillside home, Palissandre Hotel & Spa, located in the heart of the city. We’ll  head there directly from the airport to settle in.  Take a dip in the pool or relax and prepare for our welcome dinner with local entertainment in the evening to get to know our fellow travel lovers.

Overnight: Palissandre Hotel & Spa (1 night) D   

www.hotel-palissandre.com   Located on the slope of the hillside in the heart of the city. Exotic but elegantly decorated, each of the 46 air-conditioned rooms has its own electronic safe, Television with local and international channels, wifi, minibar, bathroom and hair dryer. A swimming pool is at your disposal.

June 14 – Antananarivo to Andasibe

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we’ll meet our guide then drive east towards Périnet National Park, traveling across the highlands and into the indigenous forest region. We’ll stop for lunch along the way and reach Mantadia Lodge by early afternoon. Perched high on a hill, Mantadia offers panoramic views of the forest in a natural setting.  Check into our jungle lodge

In late afternoon, we’ll head out on a guided 2-hour evening walk through a community-run reserve to spot the nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. Be prepared to see the smallest species of lemurs, chameleons, frogs and enjoy the music of the forest with the creatures’ night sounds, it’s loud!  Dinner is back at the lodge.


Overnight: Mantadia Lodge (2 nights) B, L, D    Mantadia Lodge received its first clients on the 10th of March 2018. It is located on a hill 100 meters high which gives a panoramic view of the forest. There are 25 rooms. All of them provide the comfort of a 3-star hotel, and are equipped with WiFi, cable TV and a terrace that offers a panoramic view, an inside living room and a wood-burning stove for the cooler season.

June 15 – Andasibe National Park

Today, we discover the protected forests of Andasibe and meet numerous species of lemurs. The park provides a habitat for numerous rare and/or endemic species of rainforest, offering remarkable biodiversity. Keep eyes out for the largest lemur, the Indri Indri, and it has fascinating family group behavior. Our expert guide will tell us all about its customs and what makes them so unusual. My favorite is the Aye-Aye (Daubentonia Madagascariensis) an endemic nocturnal lemur that is the most strange and archaic of all species. Other species living in the forest are bamboo lemur (Hapalemur Griseus) and woolly lemur (Avahi Laniger). You’ll be fascinated by the flora here which includes many medicinal plants. We return to the lodge for lunch.

The rest of the day is free to take advantage of Mantadia’s spa or pool overlooking the forest. Dinner is included at the hotel.  Overnight: Mantadia Lodge (2 nights). B, L, D

June 16 – Andasibe  to Antananarivo

Before we head back to Tana, we will board boats to visit Lemur Island belonging to the lodge, with habituated lemur species including the Bamboo Lemur, Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Brown Lemur and Diademed Sifaka. You’ll have a great Instagramable moment as a lemur (or two) hops on your shoulder and gives a bug-eyed look at the camera! The reserve also has crocodiles sunbathing on the grass.

We drive back to Tana, stopping for a local lunch along the way. Time permitting, we will visit the delightful Lemur Adventure Park. There are nine species on this private reserve. At present, around 50 free range lemurs roam around for delightful photos.  Dinner is again included at the hotel.

Overnight: Palissandre Hotel & Spa (1 night) B, L, D

June 17 – Antananarivo, Flight to Nosy-Be

After breakfast, it is off to the airport for a flight to the island of Nosy-Be and our luxurious Ravintsara Wellness Hotel. Surrounded by tropical gardens and oceanfront beaches, you’ll be able to kick back and enjoy your free afternoon in this stunning property with so many activities to choose.  Flight Tana to Nosy 12:40 to 2:30PM (note that time zone Air Mada, I can always change.)

Lunch is included in our program, but the schedule is dependent on flights. Dinner is included at the hotel at its renown Oceana Garden restaurant.

Overnight: Nosey Be Hotel (3 nights). B, L, D

AVINTSARA WELLNESS is a resort born from the harmonious encounter of nature and luxury. Located only 35 minutes away from Nosy-be airport (Fascene) and 20 minutes away from the city center (Hell Ville). The resort is facing Sakatia island on the west coast overlooking spectacular sunsets with shimmering colors. Ravintsara Wellness Resort welcomes guests in our peaceful and relaxing five-hectare tropical garden which offers a unique and immersive experience of well-being amidst nature’s sounds and smells. Our spacious and luxurious bungalows offer the finest sophistication and comfort. With its extraordinary setting and its wide range of facilities. Ravintsara Wellness Resort offers a luxurious break in the middle of nature.

June 18 – Day excursion to Nosy Komba

 After breakfast, we’ll spend our day exploring the islands and surrounding waters by our private catamaran. Our first stop is Nosy Komba, the 2nd biggest island after Nosy-Be. We’ll visit the island’s Lemur Park and the fishermen village with their traditional boats. We’ll also have time to take in the local market with their incredible table clothes, colorful stalls and smiling faces.

We’ll have lunch aboard our catamarans and then head to Nosy Tanikely, a protected marine natural reserve. Snorkeling equipment is all we need to dive into a real life-size aquarium. A few steps from the beach, we can see all kinds of corals, anemones, multicolored fish, shellfish, and if we are lucky, we’ll see turtles. We’ll spend the afternoon swimming or strolling to the lighthouse to see giant bats and lemurs, lizards, chameleons and butterflies.

Overnight: Nosey Be Hotel  B, L, D

June 19 – Day at leisure in Nosy Be and Farewell Dinner

 Today is free to relax at the resort or take advantage of the numerous activities available both inland and at sea. You can choose to swim with the turtles in Nosy Sakatia, relax by the white sand beach of Iranja, encounter more lemurs at the lemur island, or hike to the highest peak of Nosy-Be for an amazing sunset.  Just make sure you have enough time for our not-to-be-missed farewell dinner.

Optional activities: (check with resort for prices – range around $60 to $80)

  • Day excursion to the paradise island of Nosy Iranja – Nosy Iranja is situated 1 hour and 30 minutes from Nosy Be by speed boat. These two islands are connected by a fine white sandbank, covered in high tide and discovered in low tide. It is a paradisiacal island with its turquoise blue colors, white paradise, and green nature. Turtles still lay their eggs there, hence its name “Turtle Island”. Various type of birds can be seen including terns, herons and sometimes maritime eagles too.  Lunch buffet is served under the shade of coconut trees (crabs, grilled fish, beef stew, shrimps, coconut rice, salads, and tropical fruits).  Visit of the lighthouse and the authentic village of Iranja Be.  En route , discover the coast of Madagascar and kilometers of bare beaches, the “sugar loaf” (big rocky mass of rocks halfway) and Nosy Antsoa, an island still totally authentic, worthy of Robinson Crusoe.

  •  Day excursion to Nosy Sakatia or the Island of orchids –  Morning discovery, afternoon relax…. Nosy Sakatia is the most authentic island of Nosy Be (protected and classified by the Ministry of the Environment). Accompanied by a local guide, discover the inside of the island during a 1 ½ hrs trek: blazing flamboyant plants, coffee trees, pepper pots, vanilla, tree of the “traveler”, pineapple, anacardier, mangos, jacques, guava, eucalyptus, raphia, orchids, healing plants, etc… Everything is here !!!  Explore the culture and traditional activities of the ethnic Malagasy. The fishermen and craftsman invite you to share their lives with the rhythm of a generous and respected nature.  You will finish your journey on a private and beautiful beach- a real piece of paradise and tranquillity. Lunch on the beach, snorkeling, kayaks and beach games are at your disposal.
  • Day excursion to Lokobe reserve and Immersion in the primary forest. Lokobe is the last primary forest of Nosy Be, with its numerous medicinal and endemic plants and its millennium trees. It is a Protected area which attracts many scientists every year. Let your guide take you through this well-preserved universe, looking for nocturnal and diurnal lemurs (Macaco and Lepilemurs), reptiles, chameleons, insects, and tropical birds.  Transfer by road to the fishermen’s village of Ambatozavavy in the south of the island, from where you’ll embark on a traditional boat rowing along the mangrove swamp up to the reserve. Your specialist guide invites you to discover the lively treasures of his reserve and will teach you its secrets and its legends.
  •  Tour of Nosy Be, the perfume island East to West Visit the village of Dzamandzar, the sugar factory which still stands as a landmark and the sculptor.  Tour of Hell Ville (capital of Nosy-Be), its covered market with spices, crabs, tropical fruits, its colonial buildings, and its tablecloth market. Quick visit to the harbour and free time for shopping.  Departure to discover an authentic sacred tree (Banyan millennium). On the road we will be perfumed by the flowers of coffee, of pepper, fruit trees, and above all “Ylang Ylang”.  Lunch in an eco-lodge in the heart of Nosy-Be. After lunch, several options: you can visit the botanical course, the waterfall, the Malagasy Ylang Ylang factory, or relax and admire the beautiful view from the restaurant.  We will continue to Mountain Passot, the highest point of Nosy-Be where we can admire a fabulous sunset with a 360-degree view over the island.

By 6.00pm, we meet at the reception of the hotel and we’ll sail to our private island of Ambaliha for a 15-minute motored dhow pirogue from Ravintsara to our farewell dinner. The evening includes welcome drinks, local folk entertainment, and a sundowner followed by buffet seafood dinner. We’ll have a DJ and open bar for dancing under the stars. Returning to the hotel by midnight.

Overnight: Nosey Be Hotel    B, D


June 20- Flight from Nosy-Be  to Antananarivo. 3PM to 4:45PM

 After breakfast and a last swim in the turquoise waters, transfer to the airport to fly from Nosy-Be to Antananarivo.  Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Our schedule depends on flights which are still being arranged, but lunch and dinner  are both included.

Overnight: Palissandre Hotel (1 night)   B, L, D

June 21 – City Tour and Farewell.

After breakfast, we take a short, guided walk to the upper town, to discover the old town full of history and many narrow streets. We’ll learn the rich history as we explore the area around the Queen’s Palace.  In the afternoon, we make our way to the airport for our flights home.   *** The program of the day will depend on the flight schedule.


Deposit and Price

Land Price $2895 + $680 internal flights (estimated). Plus gratuities of $90 added to invoice for your convenience = $3665. ( Our cost was given in South African rand and based on that exchange. If there is a more than 10% fluctuation our price may need to be adjusted accordingly.)

Deposit $500

Based upon 18 participants.  Price is based on per person twin share and quoted in euros so we will be mindful of any currency fluctuations should they exceed 10%. Single supplement is $1095 limited to two.


  • English-speaking guide throughout the tour (two when in Tana, during the round trip to Andasibe and one in Nosy Be)
  • All transportation throughout. Group will be split in half within two buses.
  • The accommodation as indicated
  • The meals as indicated (full board from days 2 to 8)
  • Welcome dinner and farewell dinner
  • Entrances to parks and indicated sites
  • The local and park guides
  • Excursion to Nosy Komba and Tanikely on catamaran (private excursion)

Not included:

  • International Air
  • All optional activities and during the day at leisure in Nosy Be
  • Visa fee is +/- 35 €

Domestic flights are not in the airline system yet on Air Madagascar. We are awaiting a group quote from airline

AIR –  Mada is not an easy destination, but it’s all worth it! Most are flying Kenya airways and going in a day early to rest. Our group hotel is Pallissandre at €85 a night. You can book direct at www.hotel-restaurant-palissandre.com or ask Nicki for help. (Nicki in Cape Town is our fabulous African supplier for years. She’ll be reaching out to you later.)

If you don’t have air yet, please get it now! Airfares expected to soar. We just received this perfect schedule and price below. It may increase this week. As per trip tips, there is no group air, but this individual air is great. You can email them today with your credit card to grab your seats at flights@diversedestination.com. Seats are already tight to Antananarivo so don’t delay. For now only focus on air. We’ll be sending you more updates to come in the months ahead as we near departure.

1  KQ 003  11JUN  JFKNBO         1345 1030+1 
  2  KQ 256  12JUN  NBOTNR       1215 1535   
  3  KQ 257  21JULN TNRNBO       1625 1950   
  4  KQ 002  21JUN  NBOJFK         2335 0735+1 

Group Airfare :
USD 1865 per person in Economy class for this routing subject to change

Click Here for Trip Tips 


                      From the movie Madagascar 

Prepare to be thrilled by the wonders of Madagascar nature’s, sanctuary! The world’s 4th largest island is packed with diversity and unspoiled, epic landscapes, pristine beaches, and wildly unique animals, with just 6% of the world’s animals found nowhere else on earth. Everyone loves the omnipresent lemurs. You’ll get the cutest photos. Dry season is June, the perfect time to visit this island-hopping country to see the turtles, dolphins, and it’s whale season!

We have a wonderful small group. Start connecting with each other on your private Facebook group page now. The Link came when you signed up for the trip and you’re welcome letter. I know your main concern is Air. But you have time. Read all below. Many updates will be at it after January and once we get them all will be posted here.

 Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Check back from time to time.

It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes here.  Let us sweat the small stuff as we strive to make your trip worry-free. This may well be the best time to go and fully enjoy your vacation!  Bookmark this page to conveniently find your way back.

FINAL PAYMENT DUE FEB 9.    (A 2nd deposit was collected December 16. Bookings after Dec 14 pay an $1800 deposit (1st and 2nd deposits) with final payment due February 9.)

Our new booking platform by WeTravel allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. You can enter your routing and checking number online that way.  Simply follow the instructions or can text the photo of a check made to AFS 27704328225. You do not need to mail it.  Terry will process your check payment will be processed without a cc fee.   If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080.  Credit cards are assessed a processing fee at time of purchase.  As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.

Your fearless GTL Salanda Williams (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)

GTL SalandaSalanda has decades of experience in the travel industry and has worked over 12 years as a travel consultant for one of the world’s largest management companies!  She has been on dozens of AFS solo travel tours over the years. With a passion for nature and unique culture is, she chooses and has led some of our most exciting adventures – (Kilimanjaro, Mt Everest base camp and Galapagos to name a few.)


  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. Scan your important documents – Covid tests, trip tips, passport etc. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email folder on your phone to re-issue new one quickly.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  •  The Government of Madagascar has ended all COVID-19 testing requirements for entry.
  • The local supplier and AFS may require you sign a Travel Pledge before departure.  If so, we’ll email a form to you  prior.

VISA – All foreign visitors to the Republic of Madagascar require entry visas regardless of nationality, and can obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport in Antananarivo, provided the visitor’s passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the last day of the intended stay in Madagascar, and your return flight ticket. $35

Fitness Level – No trouble walking on uneven surfaces.

Air–  AIR DATES AIR JUNE 11-21.    Supplier Niki is looking into group air. Will advise. But minimum a 14 ppl needed and I doubt we will reach that.  Trip dates are firm.  Land begins June 13 when you check in to Palissandre Hotel & Spa and our last day is June 21.   We like Google Flights and Skyscanner.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.  Please let us know your flight arrival details as soon as flights have been booked so we can advise the hotels and book your rooms a day or two earlier. This way you don’t have to move hotels.

Own air –  I suggest you fly in a day early to rest so dates can be June 11-21 depending on air schedules, USA to Antananarivo / TNR. 

Airlines are Air France, Kenya, Turkish, SAA Airlink, Qatar, Ethiopia. Best routes are on Kenya airways via Nairobi from JFK which has a perfect schedule or Air France has nonstop from Paris to TNR, but coming home is a 12 hour layover. Use Google flights or call Raj our air guy for assistance….raj8travel@gmail.com  (281) 912-9173‬. It’s wise to get air now. Fares will rise later. When you get air, Niki will need a copy of your ticket. Also, a copy of the info page on your passport to ticket your internal flights.

AIR –  Mada is not an easy destination, but it’s all worth it! Most are flying Kenya airways and going in a day early to rest. Our group hotel is Pallissandre at €85 a night. You can book direct at www.hotel-restaurant-palissandre.com or ask Nicki for help. (Nicki in Cape Town is our fabulous African supplier for years. She’ll be reaching out to you later.)

If you don’t have air yet, please get it now! Airfares expected to soar. We just received this perfect schedule and price below. It may increase this week. As per trip tips, there is no group air, but this individual air is great. You can email them today with your credit card to grab your seats at flights@diversedestination.com. Seats are already tight to Antananarivo so don’t delay. For now only focus on air. We’ll be sending you more updates to come in the months ahead as we near departure.

1  KQ 003  11JUN  JFKNBO         1345 1030+1 
  2  KQ 256  12JUN  NBOTNR       1215 1535   
  3  KQ 257  21JULN TNRNBO       1625 1950   
  4  KQ 002  21JUN  NBOJFK         2335 0735+1 

Group Airfare :
USD 1865 per person in Economy class for this routing subject to change

Internal Domestic Air –  June 17   TNA to Nosy. 12:40 to 2:30 PM.  On return June 20.  Nosy to TNA. 3PM-4:45PM.  Note air Air Mada rarely runs on time, so we must be flexible. It’s part of the adventure here and our past groups loved Mada!

Everyone, check your flights! Airlines are canceling routes left and right now, Many won’t even inform you by email that there’s been a change. If your flight has been canceled, they MUST rebook you book on any other carrier to accommodate your schedule. Stand firm. If you’re not getting anyplace ask for their supervisor.   (Good news, conversely many airlines are adding other new routes which be a better fit for you.). New:  In today’s air & hotel landscape, avoid booking tickets on 3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, Google Flights, hotels.com and more! It’s too difficult getting refund and it’s nearly impossible to change your ticket. Use sites only to view air prices. Then go directly to the airline or hotel website and book through them for your best protection and price.

Transfers-  We get only one airport transfer in and out to hotels and will give you set times closer to departure. Chosen times will be based on the majority of arrivals of airlines. If your flight time coincides with the group, you may take our single airport group transfer.  It’s your responsibility to find the group as they exit baggage claim.  If your flight time falls outside the group, you’ll need to make your own transfer arrangements.  Consider Uber or sharing taxi ride with group member.

Meet Up With Group- On Day 1 a time will be set to meet the group at the hotel for a briefing. More on this later.

Click here for More Tips like packing, money, shopping and more

Supplemental Trip Tips Info


Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lbs – weigh on a bathroom scale – are ideal. This weight limit is set for our porterage and luggage vans.  If you overpack by adding side pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. So many cool new luggage trackers with GPS available now to prevent lost baggage!  We like LugLoc, DynoTag, Samsung or Apple Trackers.   The new hard cases are difficult to fit in coach storage. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.   Leave space for souvenirs.

Packing –  Check Google Weather a week prior to departure. Temps should be mild.  Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Pack your hygiene kit and munchies in clear plastic bags.  Airport and inflight food service may be limited.  This trip is so easy. Simply pack summer clothing with a light jacket for nights and long flights. Think umbrella, daypack, wide-brim hat, sunscreen, comfy sneakers, … swimsuit, beach gear, wet shoes. Just some long pants, shorts, cotton tops, sandals, sneakers. Laundry available. For forest walks, bring headlamp or small flashlight, rain jacket, and insect repellent with DEET.


Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.

See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

In Madagascar the power plugs and sockets are of type C, D, E, J and K. Check out the following pictures.

  • Type C: also known as the standard “Euro” plug. This socket also works with plug E and plug F.


You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $400 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card.  Always bring some cash!  Wise to have new crisp bills.)   Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.  Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.

                                                Click for chart

Be sure you bring Newer Bills that are not torn, as countries may not accept older, damaged bills when changing money. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases.  MasterCard is not accepted. Only visa.

Gratuities – (Prepaid)  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $10 to $15 per day should cover all for the trip.  They have been added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum.  For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I personally carry a personal stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Bell staff/porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip $2. Restaurants – 10%. For group lunches or dinners, please leave a dollar or two for waitstaff!

COMMUNICATION – Most hotels offer free WIFI. Sometimes in the rooms/bungalows, but more often in the common areas of the establishment. Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.  Madagascar is well equipped with mobile providers. Most used are Orange, Telma, Airtel. The network works almost everywhere in the country except of course in very remote places.  You can buy a SIM card in the many kiosks. You will thus have a Malagasy number with data to connect to the Internet, a Whatsapp connection and you will be able to call and be called from abroad.   Don’t forget your charger! Electrical outlets in Madagascar are like French outlets: Type C and E. For all other outlets, provide an adapter.

More Stuff – Vehicles – we divide into 4 vans. Guide – you’ll have an expert head guide who knows the entire country and manages local guides. Accommodations – Madagascar has no luxury five-star hotels. Here are the focus is on small boutique-style properties with a lot of charm. Health – no shots needed. Malaria pills recommended but not necessary. All food is safe. In our hotels. Bottled water provided throughout. Never drink tap water. Bring anti-diarrheal medicine. Poverty – this is a poor country with far less infrastructure. Mini beggers in Antananarivo.  They are harmless. Best to avoid them. Books – Lemurs of the Lost World and  Muddling through Madagascar.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • In hotel rooms, hide valuables to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.


Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!

Websites of Interest  https://www.lonelyplanet.com/madagascar , https://www.facebook.com/MDGTourismBoard,


Chewing – All are fresh, organic and delicious. Best breads, wide variety of seafood, chicken, dishes, exotic fruits, yummy salads, and desserts with a French flair. Cocktails are expensive. Best to stick with wine or local beers.

Accommodations – Our itinerary has links to each hotel.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare.  Please note that Madagascar has no large 5-star hotels and few international hotel brands. Here they focus on “Boutique Hotel” style: Small structures with small capacities favoring a personalized, family welcome. Always in privileged environments. Charm is the key word!

Roomies – Single supplements have significantly increased – if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   Note, kindness begets kindness.

Leisure Time – For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

3 options June 19 – Nosy Iranja €90, Lokobe Reserve €60, Nosy Sakaita €60.  Will get headcount vis email later.   You can do Helville Market and ylang ylang factory by scooter or taxi on your own.

AMENDING PRE OR POST TOUR  or arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.

PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP PAGE The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  Where can I find the FB link? Ask us for an invite.

(We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors and misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted here in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/  and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.  3 weeks prior to departure more details on this will be emailed.

Cancellation Penalty –  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions We will refund your deposit less 50% until 5 weeks prior trip’s secondary payment due date.   Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of all your deposits. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.

Travel Insurance– I strongly recommend here for trip interruption, and added medical expenses.  While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world, we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Call to ask what Covid coverage they have.   Some companies cover Covid related issues. Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com.   CFAR or cancel for any reason may cover some Covid costs but is expensive.  Note, no company covers for fear.  Call the company and ask them exactly what you are looking to cover before booking.  Click to learn about Travel Insurance 101

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, World Nomads and Seven Corners.

Travel Psychology 101 – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

One tour per person