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Reviews: Madagascar Budget Trip - Canoe, Train & Car

Madagascar Budget Trip - Canoe, Train & Car

As young couples or friends, do you want to visit Madagascar on a small budget and want to discover the country and its population? Then this is the right trip for you.

star rating Trip rating 5/5 from 4 reviews
Operator rating 5/5 from 42 reviews
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This Trip Reviews

Client: Henrique Bente - from Brazil
Trip: This Trip: Madagascar Budget Trip - Canoe, Train & Car
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: Great experience!

A friendly and very attentive tour company run by lovely and multilingual Ms. Fanja and conducted by Mr. Romance, the extraordinary driver-guide-translator and my newest friend.

Highly recommended!!!
Client: Blasco D'souza - from Australia
Trip: This Trip: Madagascar Budget Trip - Canoe, Train & Car
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: I spent nearly three weeks in Madagascar in March. What an amazingly unusual and varied country! I am still struck by the unique harmony of the tall red brick houses and red earth combined with intense greenery of terraced rice fields in the Haute Plateau. The majestic granite outcrops near Fianarantsoa could have come from 'Lord of the Rings'. Even the cleared hills south of Ranohira had an uncanny beauty...and all of this is before the big attractions of wandering through primary rainforests laced with disarmingly inquisitive fauna, clambering over craggy limestone formations of Isalo Massif, and lazing on an idyllic beach or snorkelling in the fringing reef.

As my opportunity to travel came up at very short notice I was delighted to receive a quick response from the operator to my enquiry through the Africa Guide website. After I indicated an interest in trekking in national parks, wildlife and photography the administrator (Fanja) quickly adjusted the itinery and suggested better accommodation sites as they became available.

The term 'budget holiday' really is a misnomer because it suggests you must be 'roughing it', but this is far from the case. I travelled in in a very comfortable private car, stayed in hotels ranging from good to inspiring, and I was served such big breakfasts that lunch was often not required. Just remember, don't always order an entree and main meal unless you are ravenous! Even the most elaborate seafood meals were inexpensive by Australian standards and the service was always great.

My driver (Mamy) was excellent with his quiet attention to safety combined with a great sense of humour as well as providing intriguing stories behind the numerous sights. When initially reading about travel to Madagascar I suspect some people may be intimidated by various authors mentioning a need to speak Malagache or French. For an Anglophone with only a small amount of high school French I was pleasantly surprised to encounter English speaking staff at all the hotels and tourist sites,..and Mamy was never far away to sort out any misunderstandings.

Madagascar has to be experienced.
Client: Alan Feigenbaum - from United States
Trip: This Trip: Madagascar Budget Trip - Canoe, Train & Car
Rating: rating 4/5
Comment: I participated in the 16 day Madagascar tour including the Manakara to Fianarantsoa train trip.

It was a wonderful time for the most part but the stay at the Manakara beach bungalow was not up to par.

Other than that everything else was fine. All hotels were very clean, with hot showers, flush toilets, and good food. prices were reasonable too.

Would recommend this trip to anyone who enjoys strange flora and fauna.
Trip Operators Response:

Thanks for the constructive feedback as it does help us to improve services.

I am pleased that Alan had a good holiday but sorry that the Beach Bungalow was not up to standard.

Alan did mention to us about his dis-satisfaction with the Manakara Beach Bungalow, he explained it was clean but too primitive. I told him we had the same remarks from a client a short while before he arrived and we wanted to change the itinerary and book at another hotel. Unfortunately as the telephone connexion to Manakara were all out of order so we could not change the hotel at that late stage.

We no longer use Manakara Beach Bungalow.
Client: Chris Dyt - from Australia
Trip: This Trip: Madagascar Budget Trip - Canoe, Train & Car
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: My wife and I completed "The Budget Trip, train to Manakara, trekkings". Our trip was almost identical to the suggested itenary with only slight modifications to incorperate a couple of extra days in some places, and reduce time in one place. All this was easily arranged before hand via email with Mrs Fanja.

The tour operator organised a great driver for us, who spoke more than reasonable english, and who did alot more for us than just drive, such as helping organise excellent guides for walks in National Parks. He was also a wealth of information about the local customs, habits, etiquette and could suggest great places to eat.

The accomodation ranged, from quite/very luxurious in some locations, to clean and comfortable mid range places, through to only two places where whilst clean, the beds were pretty uncomfortable. This was mainly due to a lack of other options in those places (and the scenery outside was excellent).

Really "Budget Trip" is a bit of a misnomer, you stay at pretty much the same places that other trips do (in fact where most tour operators put tourists). We chose the trip because of the extra time in National Parks, and the train trip to Manakara which was just fantastic.

Having someone who knows the different towns and hotels pre book for you makes a big difference, especially in peak season where the limited accomodation must pack out. Having a driver is really the only way to do it if you want to move around at any sort of pace and still be able to stop where you wish.

Really I cant fault the operator, they communicated very well, organised a great tour, driver and accomodation. Minor hiccups (outside of their control) were dealt with quickly and with no effort from us. I'd heartily recommend them.

Chris Dyt
Perth, WA

This Operator Reviews

Client: Carol Marquis Alen - from United States
Trip: customised itinerary
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: Thank you for putting us in touch with this operator. We loved Madagascar and thought the tour was great. Fanja is a very nice person and was helpful throughout.
Client: Lois Gahm - from United States
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: The tour company was excellent.

I reccommend them highly.Their prices are reasonable. The only problem is the expense from South Africa to Tana, Madagascar.
Client: Ken Sullivan - from United Kingdom
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: Not much to add to all the other reviews for this company and it's employees.

Despite the best efforts of Air France to disrupt the holiday by changing flight times at the last moment the rest of our time went off without a hitch.

All credit must be given to Fanja and Hiengu (probably spelt that wrong, sorry) for looking after us while we were there to ensure that there were no problems in the rest of our time in Madagascar.

All in all would heartily recommend this company to anyone looking to holiday in Madagascar.
Client: Tom and Carol Warschauer - from United States
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: I hesitate to write a review for this trip because it is hard to express how wonderful it was.

The tour company is small but the care the company director took was very great. First of all our trip was not one of the "off the shelf" variety. They has such things, and I am sure they are wonderful, but we had studied the guidebooks, and had our own ideas of what we wanted, and they accommodated our plans and guided us towards what was possible and desirable.

The company selected our competent drivers and our helpful guides. They selected our hotels and arranged for our inter-country air travel. They saw to every detail. We were always met by folks with our name on a placard and taken to our destinations promptly.

When I got a case of travelers' disease they accommodated the changes to our schedule and insured that the hotel staff took good care of me. I lost my cell in Paris on the way there and Fanja (the tour company director) lent me one of hers for the duration of our travels!

I have written an extensive travelogue of the trip and am very proud of all we saw and did in this very active vacation. There is nothing a tour company could do that was not done and not done well. We will be forever grateful for the caring treatment and the attention to detail that made this complicated itinerary work.

This was a trip of a lifetime for me and my wife. It could not have been done better. Thanks to the Africa Guide for the referral.
Client: David Daneker - from United States
Trip: Safari on the south west coast of Madagascar (a guided tour)
Rating: rating 4/5
Comment: I would say that the tour itinerary was very good, giving us a broad view of a substantial part of Madagascar, while the pacing was very reasonable. The hiking opportunities at Ranomafano and at Isalo National Parks were some of the best hikes that I have taken.

The accommodations exceeded our expectations and the provided meals (as well as the places suggested for meals on our own) were excellent. The vehicle provided was satisfactory.

The company manager, was most gracious in an initial greeting meeting and in a farewell assessment meeting. Overall, I would say that the trip was a good value for the price.
Client: Alice Perlman - from United States
Trip: Lemur Tour in Madagascar
Rating: rating 4.5/5
Comment: My god daughter and I had a most amazing time in Madagascar. We thank the tour operator who helped us put together the trip and Aro who was very patient and was able to reroute us when we were rained out.

I don't recommend that any traveler spend a Sunday or other holiday in Antananrivo as the city has little to offer other than the museums which were all closed.

Thanks again for your hospitality and great service.
Client: Tricia Kolp - from South Africa
Trip: customised itinerary
Rating: rating 4/5
Comment: I just completed a 5 day trip to Anatananarivo and Andasibe National Park. We just had a few days to spend, but the tour operator made it possible for us to see and do quite a bit.

They met us at the airport and checked in with us twice more during the trip. We had a wonderful driver who was pleasant, informative and accommodating. Our wildlife guides were excellent!

Accommodations in Tana were very nice. Our bungalow at the National Park was a little more rustic than expected (broken toilets and shower heads), but the people were very nice.

Overall, it was a great experience and I would recommend working with this company.
Client: Mamta Shah - from India
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: With great sense of satisfaction, we would Like to say that our first trip to Madagascar was fantastic.

All Credit to the tour operator, who has stretched herself beyond to make the group comfortable. The tour Guide Mr Jean Jaques with his unparalleled knowledge of flora and fauna made our trip a super success.

We honour both of them and thank them from the bottom of our Hearts. We would be doing this trip Regularly.
Client: Karin McCollum - from United States
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: If you want to be in the caring hands of someone who meets you at the beginning, explains everything line by line, sends you off with the English speaking driver, meets you again upon your return to debrief you on how things went, sign up NOW with this tour operator, with Fanja as your manager.

Think of a mother sending her children off to camp with love and concern for her dependents. She was every bit as stellar as all the other recommendations stated and leaves nothing to chance. She truly wants to ensure your trip is fantastic and settles only for the best for you.

Thank you, Fanja, and driver Hengu!!
Client: Jo and Howard Fine - from United States
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: Before I begin, I must is impossible to capsulate our experience in a brief paragraph.

We would be most happy to provide you our thoughts on one of the most pleasurable trips we have ever taken. And, thank you, Africa Guide, for providing this most appreciated referral.

First of all, a little background on us. We are certainly globetrotters, seeking to see as much of the world as we can in a lifetime! We have been to 132 countries, and have made a pact with ourselves to not return to any........unless it is passing through, or in conjunction with another "new" itinerary. However.......that may now change!

In 2004, we had watched an episode of "Lonely Planet", now known as "Globetrekkers", on the country of Madagascar. Since seeing that one episode, Madagascar has been on our "short list"! Only now, have we found the time to go and complete our dream!

We love to customize our own tours to each our destinations, thus controlling lost time that might be spent on something we are not interested in seeing. So when we received Africa Guide's referral, that was one of the first issues we discussed with the tour operator. Fanja was every traveler's dream of a tour operator! She truly represents the epitome of "grace"! She began a supportive dialogue with us upon our first contact, and it has continued until this day.

Fanja was diligent in her effort to ensure that we were able to include each of the destinations on our checklist; and that they could realistically be covered in a 10-day itinerary. Ten days, however, was just an appetizer in a land with main courses spread out in so many directions. And, Madagascar just may be the first country in which we break our pact to "not return" to a destination we had previously visited!

We began our tour the minute we were picked up from the airport, heading south to Antsirabe, where we arrived at nightfall. Our driver and English-speaking guide, Mr. Romance, was as positive as his name! He stuck with us the entire trip, and did a superb job of introducing us to his country. He stopped when we needed, or when we asked for a "photo stop". He openly discussed the culture and lifestyle of the country. He was attentive, and strived to keep us comfortable and informed.

One of our most dubious side trips, proved to be the most adventurous and fun! We longed to take a drive into the back country somewhere in Madagascar, and we chose Andringrita National Park! Fanja knew it would be a difficult journey, and was always upfront about this. But, it only intrigued us more! She did not question our enthusiasm, and cheerfully agreed to work with contacts in Ambalavo to arrange a 4Xwheel drive vehicle and driver for us. We set off on a 27 mile see-saw ride, which took 3.5 hours to complete, due to poor road conditions! We spent a few hours enjoying the beauty of the park, trekking the trails, and enjoying a picnic lunch at a view point before turning around to repeat the 3.5 hours in our return.

The operator offers services with a high degree of ethics, cooperative spirit, and an intent to please their clients. Fanja responded to all our pre-trip questions within 24 hours! If we had a lodging preference, she agreed to arrange it. She was there at the airport to meet us when we arrived, she came to the hotel prior to our departure home, and she followed up with us once we returned home. Should we decide to return to Madagascar, Fanja and her agency will be our first contact!

And one final note: One of the most magical places on earth has to be in the area of I'Isalo National Park! The park is studded with rock formations that seem to grow out of the land! Perhaps our most awesome experience within these dramatic "rock stars", occurred during our dusk-time visit to La Fenetre de I'Isalo; a "must do" stop after a day of trekking, to watch the sun set through a natural opening in a large lichen-covered rock. There, we......... by pure happenchance.......... caught a glimpse of the rising full moon, perfectly centered, as we gazed through the opposite side of this interesting geological oddity! What a photo; what a memory! Only timing and luck.......or by good "Grace"??? And the Le Jardin du Roy Hotel, which was just a few miles away, and where we stayed, continued to carry on the spirit of this land. Our room was literally surrounded on two sides by big, beautiful boulders! Waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the moonlight reflecting off the stone boulders, kept this magical park alive! A footnote to the note: Hotel Le Jardin surpasses many 5 star hotels in the US! It is castle-like, built with tons of stone, each placed in an almost artistic pattern. Huge cathedral ceilings. And all the amenities of the finest of hotels; including the food and its presentation!!!

We did see the lemurs, chameleons, zebu, and other endemic animals, but it was the landscapes, the spiky plantlife, and the peoples and their cultures that held the most interest and intrigue for us. Madagascar has something for everyone! But one can't wait too long. Forests are being replaced with rice fields. Natural habitats to wildlife are being lost. But the people and their lifestyle remain largely unaffected by Western influence, for now. It remains a country that is still on the frontier of tourism. And now is the best time to go! The vanilla is the best! And Dzama's Coco to die for!!!

Our tour exceeded our expectations, and it was all made possible by the assistance, the patience, and the expertise of this operator and Fanja!
Client: Don & Cherie Chantler - from Australia
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 4.5/5
Comment: We had a really great trip through Madagascar. The tour was well organised, the driver was excellent and the itinerary gave us a great introduction to the sights of the island.

Fanja was really helpful throughout, from the initial briefing session to dealing with the chaos at Tuliar airport!

The real downside of the trip was the overbooking of our return flight from Tuliar to Tana. This completely disrupted our holiday and meant that we missed the connecting flight to Mauritius. When we checked in to fly back to Antananarivo on Air Madagascar, we were told that the plane was full (even though we HAD tickets), and there were no other flights back for 30 hours. We believe that there is widespread corruption by Air Madagascar staff at Tuliar airport who take bribes from passengers to ensure their seat on the plane.

The tour operator worked really hard to sort out this problem. The driver came back to the airport to try to help, and they re-scheduled our flights, organised additional accommodation and took us to the Head Office of Air Madagascar (with little result).

Overall a great place to visit, so different and interesting, the operator is a great travel company, would recommend them to anyone, but beware of flying Air Madagascar who have the monopoly for internal flights.
Client: Brian - from United Kingdom
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Madagascar. The arrangements all worked well and, although there were one or two aspects of the trip where improvements to the itinerary could be made, all in all we thought that our trip was the perfect introduction to an incredibly diverse and interesting country.

We loved seeing all the wonderful animals on our trips into the National Parks, and the guides and in particular our driver were excellent.

We certainly hope to return to see different parts of the island and would definitely use the same travel company again.
Client: Nicholas Hartley - from United Kingdom
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: We had an excellent holiday.

All the contact with the tour operator prior to our trip was very helpful and the organisation of the tour was well planned.

The system of contact via your web site initially but then direct with operator worked well.

Thanks for the contact
Client: Mike Bertram - from United States
Trip: Lemur Tour in Madagascar
Rating: rating 4/5
Comment: the trip we took to Madagascar was based on a standard tour. The operator was very willing to tailor the tour exactly to our requirements. The party consisted of myself and my wife. We had 2 English speaking drivers during the tour and their English was very good, so we could have interesting conversations with them. The trip length was 15 days.

We started our trip by spending a few days in Isle Sainte Marie off the northeast coast. Then from Tana we were driven to the Andasibe, Ranomafana, and Isalo National Parks, ending the trip by spending a couple of days at Ifaty on the southwest coast, and then flying back to Tana.

The National Parks were wonderful with knowledgeable guides at each Park. We saw many lemurs, chameleons, birds, and other animals and plants. Not being a beach lover I found the resorts at the beginning and end of our trip less interesting.

Except for a couple of minor problems, they did a great job.
Client: Lesley and Nigel - from United Kingdom
Trip: Nature & Culture Tour of Madagascar
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: We, a 50s couple, had an amazing time travelling over 1000km over the 11 days from the capital, Tana, to Ifaty on the south-west coast and then by internal flight back to Tana and a couple nights in Andasibe.

Walked through rainforests - day and night, hiked across the National Park of Isalo, rode in Zebu carts. Hotels were sometimes a little basic but all were charming, can particularly recommend the Hotel l'Artisan, Ambositra and the Ifaty Beach Club (Oh, and the French restaurant at Hotel Grégoire, Tana).

Our driver, Aro, was great even with the challenges of Madagascan roads and in organising good guides at all the national parks. Food was good (Zebu fillet can be delicious) but you need to be constantly aware of taking basic hygiene precautions.

Yes, lots of good memories - not least the friendliness of the Malagasy people.
Client: Mura Sayers - from United Kingdom
Trip: Madagascar - VIP - Luxury Trip
Rating: rating 5/5
Comment: We are just back from the wonderful 'Nature and Culture tour of Madagascar' which was most interesting.

The tour was well organised. Fanja, could not have been more helpful. Also our driver Hainjo whom we got to know quite well over the 10 days was always considerate of our needs and made sure we saw everything to our full satisfaction.

We can highly recommend this company.

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Madagascar Budget Trip - Canoe, Train & Car

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