Itinerary North Madagascar: Planning a 2-week trip through the North!

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

Creating an itinerary for Madagascar can be quite difficult. This large beautiful island has so many beautiful and various destinations to see. The travel distances between these attractions are often large and sometimes difficult to access. We have taken our time for Madagascar and have seen almost everything in 2 months.

To get you started, with all our experiences about backpacking through Madagascar, we have mapped out two ultimate itineraries: one for the south and one for the north of Madagascar. In this way, you can plan your own trip and visit the highlights of Madagascar in two to three weeks. These itineraries are logically built. So travel time between destinations is limited to a minimum.

We have also written travel guides for almost all Madagascar hotspots on these two itineraries. These travel guides are full of our tips, photos, fun things to do and great hotels to sleep at. This gives you a good idea of ​​a destination and what it is like to backpack through one of the poorest countries in the world.

Itinerary tips: travelling independently through north Madagascar

Although Madagascar is a large country with poor infrastructure, especially in the north, Madagascar is a good destination for independent travel. The easiest and best way to travel through Madagascar is by car. You do not need a driver for this.

Travelling by bus through the North of Madagascar

Are you a backpacker and travelling on a budget? Know that Madagascar has a bus system (consisting of taxi brousse and regular buses) that can take you to many places. Cotisse is a reliable bus company that runs from Antananarivo to all popular destinations. These are excellent buses and the drivers drive safely. You can even go for a VIP class with this company.

Low-budget travel with the Taxi-Brousse through Madagascar

If you want to backpack on a low-budget through Madagascar, there are the so-called Taxi-Brousse. These mini buses are the Malagasy version of bush taxis that you encounter in mainland Africa. These local vans drive everywhere and are packed with people, goods, animals and basically anything that can be transported. The big advantage is that travelling with Taxi-Brouse is very cheap. The disadvantage: the drivers often drive like chickens without a head and the buses often come to a halt due to mechanical problems. Therefore, travelling by Taxi-Brousse takes more time. Besides, there is no logical transfer system.

Travelling by plane through Madagascar

You can always fly to the larger destinations of Madagascar. This is often the fastest and most expensive way to travel. Air Madagascar, for example, offers domestic flights to major cities. You can also easily fly to Nosy Be and Ile Sainte-Marie by plane. It is also possible to visit these islands by boat.

The best hotels and accommodations in Madagascar

During our 2 month journey through Madagascar, we slept in various accommodations. We stayed in budget-friendly and very luxurious hotels. We have listed the finest and best accommodations per destination. Read here our favourite Madagascar hotels that we recommend to everyone. These can be hotels where we have slept ourselves or can be recommended by other friends and backpackers.


Map with top attractions of Madagascar

To help you plan your itinerary, we created a map showing almost all the highlights of this 4th largest island in the world. Do you miss a certain destination? Please let us know and we add this to our blog.

Highlights of Madagascar Travel guide Madagascar


South Madagascar vs North Madagascar

A frequently asked question is which itinerary to choose. Especially if you only have 2 to 3 weeks to travel around, you will have to make a choice. From our own travel experience through Madagascar we can tell the following:

Choose an itinerary through the North of Madagascar if:

The North of Madagascar, a region where you have beautiful nature, the most beautiful beaches and the best thing: almost no tourists! This area is often overlooked by travellers, while it is so diverse. You can also easily combine an itinerary through North Madagascar with a visit to the lovely island of Nosy Be!

North Madagascar is very adventurous, the roads are bad, so it takes longer to travel from one destination to another. You definitely need a 4wd. If you encounter problems along the way (which we had), you must arrange help yourself. On the other hand, this experience makes a trip through the north special!

Go for an itinerary through the South of Madagascar if:

Most people choose an itinerary through the south. South Madagascar has the famous Baobab trees and the better-known nature parks such as Isalo and Ranomafana national park. The roads are often in better condition. You can travel around with a regular car. However, if you want to drive from Morondava to Tulear along the coastal route, you will also need a 4wd car. This itinerary is an absolute must! In both the north and south of Madagascar you can see the Tsingy’s.

Combine a Madagascar itinerary with our favourite island of Ile Sainte-Marie!

We recommend everyone who goes to Madagascar to visit Ile Sainte-Marie! No matter which itinerary you choose, it is easy to add Ile Sainte-Marie to your Madagascar tour. From the capital Antananarivo you can easily fly on this island. You can also go to this paradise by boat. Read more about this in the travel guide about Ile Sainte-Marie!


The ultimate backpacking itinerary for 2-weeks through North Madagascar!

In this blog, you will find a great itinerary for a 2-week road trip through North Madagascar. This itinerary is based on a 4WD as a means of transport. If you travel by bus, you absolutely need more time for this route. Read here everything you need to know about a self-drive through Madagascar!

Itinerary 14 days trekking through the north of Madagascar

Antananarivo (Tana) –Ankarafantsika National Park – Antsohihy – Ankarana National Park – Red Tsingy – Diego Suarez / Ramena – Ankify – Nosy Be – Antananarivo

Madagascar itinerary north 2-weeks

In the above itinerary, you make a road trip along several national parks, a tsingy and beautiful beaches all the way to the port of Ankify. There you return the car to your car rental office. The last days of your holiday will be spent on the tropical island of Nosy Be. From there you fly back to the capital Antananarivo.

Day 1: Arrival in Antananarivo / Ivato

Roadtrip Africa Madagascar

You arrived today or yesterday after a long flight. Take a breath, pick up your rental car and do some shopping at the Shoprite or Jumbo. Your road trip starts early tomorrow!

Tip: we preferred to sleep in Ivato. Ivato is the city near the airport of Madagascar, about 5 kilometers from the capital Tana. Traffic in Tana is extremely busy so it will easily take you a few hours to get from the airport to the city center. Read our fine sleeping places for Tana here.

Day 2: Antananarivo to Ankarafantsika National Park | Hours on the road: 8 hours | 425 km

Your road trip begins today! Leave as early as possible (we like to be in the car around 6 am). Today you have a long day of driving ahead.

In the beginning, the road is still quite good, only occasionally you come across potholes. Slowly the landscape around you starts to change, from the hills in the highlands you enter a more dry landscape.

Day 3: Hiking in Ankarafantsika National Park

Canyons Ankarafantsika itinerary

Ankarafantsika National Park is known for its beautiful hike routes. In this park, you can see many exotic birds and encounter the Sifaka and other lemurs. If you only have time for one hike, choose the Canyon trail!


Read everything you need to know about this beautiful park in this travel guide!


Day 4: Ankarafantsika National Park to Antsohihi | Hours on the road: 7 hours | 310 km

Camping Ankarana National Park

On the way to Antsohihi, you will encounter impressive rivers. If you look closely you can see children playing in the water while the parents try to catch fish or do the laundry in the river. Antsohihi itself is not that special. The only natural park nearby is the Bora Reserve where you can also camp for free (there are no further facilities here).

Day 5: Antsohihi to Ankarana National Park | Hours on the road: 7 hours | 310 km

Get up in time for your trip to Ankarana National Park. Slowly you see the landscape change and everything around you becomes greener and more tropical. During your trip, you will pass through the nice town of Ambanja. Stop here for a lunch break at Palma Nova Hotel. This busy town has many cyclists and tuk-tuks, so driving fast is not an option. After Ambanja the landscape changes again from palm trees to a mountain landscape with beautiful views.

Day 6: Discover Ankarana National Park

Tsingy Ankarana National Park

In the Ankarana National Park you can make many different cool hikes. Don’t miss the big Tsingy. The Big Tsingy or Benavony track lasts approximately 6-7 hours. During your hike you can encounter many different types of lemurs! If you stay here longer, take the hike to the viewpoint of Ambohimalaza from where you can admire the Mozambique canal!


Read more about visiting Ankarana National Park here.


Day 7: Ankarana National Park to Diego Suarez / Ramena | Hours en route: 4.5 hours 100 km

Red Tsingy Madagascar

This part of the itinerary is probably the worst in all of Madagascar. The roads are so bad that you cannot drive faster than 30 km/h. Halfway through you pass the Red Tsingy, definitely worth a visit! This nature reserve has brand new facilities and you can take a nice short walk here. A perfect stopover before continuing on to Diego Suarez!


Read our travel guide about the Red Tsingy here!


Day 8 & 9: Relax on one of the most beautiful beaches of Madagascar!

Ramana beach Madagascar

Enjoy the beautiful beaches of Ramena. Learn how to kitesurf and visit the Trois Bays! Here you will find beautiful beaches with turquoise water. It is so nice and quiet that you can easily stay here for a week. Also, a cool activity to do is visiting the Emerald Sea where you can snorkel and see the underwater world! Done with the beach and relaxing? Visit Montagne d’Ambre National Park. This park is famous for its crater lakes and different types of chameleons.


Diego Suarez’s mini travel guide is coming soon!


Day 10: Diego Suarez / Ramena -> Nosy Be | hours on the road: 9.30 am | 250 km

Drive all the way back to Ambanja and drive towards Ankify port. Hand in your jeep here. From Ankify you take the boat to Nosy Be. Nosy Be is the perfect final destination of your Madagascar trip. Finally, you come back to civilization, which you have had to miss in recent days!

Day 11 & 13: Relax and sunbathe on Nosy Be

Travel Guide Madagascar Nosy be

Nosy Be is a beautiful bounty island with many good restaurants. Nosy Be Island is surrounded by other tropical islands such as Nosy Komba, Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Iranja. A visit to one of these tropical paradises is a must!


Read here everything you need to know about Nosy Be and what you can do there!


Day 14: Nosy Be to Antananarivo | 1.5 hours | By plane

Unfortunately, it is time to travel back home. First, you fly from Nosy Be to Antananarivo from where you can catch your international flight back home. If you have a day left, a visit to the capital of Madagascar is a day well spent.

Tip: keep one-day between the domestic flight of Nosy Be and your return international flight. Sometimes, domestic flights are rescheduled or changed.


Best time for visiting North Madagascar

The best time to visit Madagascar is during the ‘dry’ months from April to September. Try to avoid Nosy Be between Christmas and New Year. This popular island is chock full of tourists. The rainy season starts in mid-December and lasts until March. Many roads in northern Madagascar may be closed during this time. Keep in mind that due to climate change the weather is sometimes difficult to predict.

How many days do you need for North Madagascar?

Based on our experience, we would say you need at least 2 full weeks. Three weeks would be better since you can take your time and stay longer on places you really like. And a big plus, if you stay longer than 2-weeks you can visit Ile Sainte-Marie too!


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