Things to do in Madagascar: A Luxurious Road Trip Along the RN7

Embark on a mesmerising journey through the heart of Madagascar as we traverse the famous RN7, a scenic route that unveils the island’s rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and unique cultural treasures. This Madagascar road trip promises an unforgettable adventure, blending luxury accommodations with thrilling activities such as lemur spotting, hiking through national parks, and even indulging in some underwater exploration!

The RN7 is one of the classic things to do in Madagascar, as you can easily reach it from the international airport in Antananarivo, then hit the road and take in a stunning variety of sights as you travel towards the southwest. Two weeks is ample time to explore this route, including stops in several national parks, hiking, sightseeing, and snorkelling.

Day 1: Arrival in Antananarivo

Rova Palace in Antanarivo, Madagascar. One of the things to do in Madagascar is city tours of the capital
The Rova Palace in Antanarivo, Madagascar.

Your journey begins in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar. Antananarivo, often referred to as “Tana” by locals, is the bustling capital and largest city of Madagascar. Nestled in the central highlands of the island, it is situated on a series of steep hills, providing panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

After settling into your hotel, why not explore the city’s vibrant markets and historic sites, such as the Rova of Antananarivo.

Day 2: Antananarivo to Antsirabe – Unveiling the Cultural Tapestry

After a good night’s sleep and with practical matters like money and phone SIMs sorted, it’s time to get on the road to Antsirabe. On the way, as you head out of the city into the countryside, you will pass through the beautiful landscapes of the Merina people.

Stop briefly at Ambatolampy and visit the manufacturers of pots and decorative items from aluminium. This is a really important local industry, and the artisan forgers now make, as well as the pots and pans used every day by all Malagasy, beautiful polished trinkets made from aluminium.

Near Antsirabe, you can explore two beautiful natural lakes, Andraikiba and Tritriva, both of which have associated local legends.

Day 3-4: Antsirabe to Ranomafana – Lemur Encounters in the Rainforest

Your route will take you through the heart of Malagasy hand-sculptured wooden craftwork in the charming town of Ambositra, located 89km south of Antsirabe. Here, you’ll find a myriad of shops brimming with exquisite souvenirs, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich artistic traditions of the region.

Join a tour exploring the RN7 in 2024!

Leaving Ambositra behind, you’ll continue your journey south and then east, gradually venturing closer to the captivating village of Ranomafana. Nestled amidst lush rainforest, this village not only offers a picturesque setting but also serves as an open-air museum, showcasing the diverse wildlife and endemic plants that call this area home.

Ranomafana is rightly a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. With many species of lemur, leaf-tailed geckos, comet moths, birding and an arboretum, there is something for everyone. Spend a couple of days here and take in a night walk to spot some of the nocturnal wildlife, as well as guided visits to Ranomafana National Park. Multiple circuits are available depending on difficulty, fitness and of course what you want to see.

Day 5: Ranomafana to Anja Park – Connecting with Local Communities

Ring-tailed lemurs – the iconic species in their natural habitat

Travel further south to Anja Park, renowned for its unique community-based ecotourism initiative. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to witness ring-tailed lemurs in their natural habitat while supporting local conservation efforts.

The day ends with a stay in a luxurious lodge in Ranohira, harmoniously blending with the awe-inspiring rock formations that adorn the southern border of Isalo National Park.

Day 6-7: Isalo National Park – Hiking Adventures

As you continue your journey, make your way to Isalo National Park, an otherworldly landscape of sandstone formations, deep canyons, and oases. Immerse yourself in guided hikes, discovering the park’s unique flora and fauna.

You’ll encounter breathtaking canyons and intricate rock formations that have been carved over millions of years, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring backdrop for your journey.

Cool off and rejuvenate your senses at the Piscine Naturelle, a hidden oasis nestled within Isalo’s rugged landscape. This verdant haven boasts a lush natural pool and a cascading waterfall, inviting you to take a refreshing dip in its crystal-clear waters. As you descend from the elevated trails, you’ll be greeted by the soothing ambiance of this serene oasis, surrounded by towering palm trees.

The famous “Window of Isalo” – a great spot for a sunset photo

Day 8: Ranohira through Zombitse to Ifaty – Southern sights and birdwatching

Embark on a scenic journey today as we make our way to Ifaty, traversing through the distinctive landscape that characterizes southern Madagascar. The route unfolds amidst dry vegetation, showcasing the iconic baobab trees and thorny forests that dot the surroundings. Along the way, we pass through Ilakaka, affectionately known as “the mushrooms city,” a nod to the straw hats worn by sapphire seekers as they sift through the river in search of precious gems.

A fascinating stop awaits us at Zombitse National Park, where we can immerse ourselves in the beauty of this remarkable reserve. As we continue our drive, keep an eye out for the traditional tombs of the Mahafaly and Antandroy ethnic groups. These intricately decorated resting places serve as captivating visual narratives, adorned with drawings and often embellished with zebu skulls, symbolizing the wealth and status of the departed.

Finally, we arrive in Ifaty, a tranquil coastal village, as the day ends. With its long beaches and serene ambiance, Ifaty offers a perfect setting to unwind and immerse ourselves in the natural splendour of this coastal paradise.

Day 9-10 – Ifaty – Underwater Delights and the Spiny Forest

Start your day with a breathtaking snorkelling experience on the Great Reef of Tulear at Ifaty. Two of the top snorkelling sites, Rose Garden (Massif de Roses) and the south pass, are just a short boat ride from the shore. The Rose Garden is a patch reef located near the south pass, where you can explore the Montipora or Rose shaped coral colony, along with other coral species like Fungia and Acropora. With over 150 fish species, lobsters, shrimps, rays, and octopuses, the Rose Garden is a must-visit spot for any snorkelling enthusiast.

Kite-surfing is just one of the things to do in Madagascar for adventurous travellers

Spend an afternoon exploring the spiny forest, a unique and otherworldly ecosystem found in the southwestern part of the island. The distinctive landscape is characterized by a myriad of peculiar plant species, adapted to the arid and semi-arid conditions of the region. In the Reniala Reserve near Ifaty, we can see many endemic plants of the spiny forest, including the biggest baobab of Ifaty. It is said to be 1,500 years old and up to date has an impressive perimeter of more than 10 metres.

While you’re in Ifaty, why not take some time to relax on one of it’s many sandy beaches – the laid-back atmosphere makes it an ideal place for those seeking a peaceful escape. Or, for those looking for a bit more adventure, kite-surfing, quad-biking and ATV tours are also available. From June to September, Ifaty becomes a popular spot for whale-watching. Humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean to breed and give birth, providing a spectacular opportunity for visitors to witness these majestic creatures.

Day 11 – Fly back to Antananarivo and home

Continue on from Ifaty to Tulear (Toliara), the largest city in the area, from where you can catch a flight back to the capital, and then on home. On the way, botany fans can stop at the Arboretum d’Antsokay, where species of plants most threatened are looked after in order to preserve them from constant deforestation, bush fires and looters.

Don’t miss out!

The RN7 road trip in Madagascar offers a perfect blend of luxury, adventure, and cultural exploration. From encounters with lemurs in pristine rainforests to snorkeling in turquoise waters, this journey promises an immersive experience for those seeking the extraordinary. So, pack your bags and get ready to be captivated by the natural wonders of Madagascar along the enchanting RN7.

Picture of Brett Massoud

Brett Massoud

Our founder, Brett Massoud, first set foot on this magical island in 1987 and has spent countless months exploring its diverse landscapes, rich wildlife, and fascinating culture. Based in Fort Dauphin, he has easy access to national parks, beautiful beaches, and a wealth of other attractions.

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