Guide to Madagascar rafting holidays

May 22, 2014 BY Paul McWilliams

Rafting often takes you places that you can’t get to by any other means, and in Madagascar those places happen to be some of the most magical on earth. With a stunning array of endemic plant and wildlife, and incredible landscapes too, Madagascar rafting holidays are unforgettable adventures.

Manambolo River Madagascar rafting holidays Flickr image by Olivier Lejade

Float through a rich rainforest on the eastern lowlands or navigate the gentle Manambolo River towards the mysterious formations of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park on the west coast – these are just two of the myriad adventures available on Madagascar rafting holidays.

What to expect on Madagascar rafting holidays

One of the premier rafting destinations in Madagascar is the Mangoky River in the south-west of the country. The six-day calm water float passes through the greatest Baobab forest in the world and offers a truly unique remote camping journey. The majestic Mangoky is a remote ‘floating safari’ suitable for all ages and interests. The tranquil river passes through ever changing landscapes with a great variety of endemic flora and fauna.

Combining the Magoky River with the spiny forest of the southwest, scuba diving at Ifaty, the coastal towns of Belo sur Mer and Morodava, with the world famous Avenue of Baobabs offers an unparalleled Madagascar adventure.

One of the most popular and most accessible of Madagascar’s rivers is the Tsiribihina. The 3-day calm water float from Mizandrivazo to Belo Tsiribihina is a wonderful family trip – encompassing a variety of wildlife, good birding, side hikes to waterfalls, natural pools and beautiful sandy beach camps.

The journey also offers a glimpse into the Magalasy culture and life along the river. The Tsiribihina River also combines well with the Tsingy de Bemaraha. A World Heritage Site, the jagged rock formations of the park are both beautiful and enigmatic.

Tsingy de Bemaraha Madagascar Flickr image by Marco Zanferrari

If you’re looking for something a little more adrenaline fuelled, then the Benahy and Onilay Rivers further south might float your boat (hopefully at least). Navigate your way down through the canyons of Isalo and continue on your way down to the coastal delta.

An east coast rafting and trekking adventure will take you through rich rainforest, where you can camp in jungle clearings and make your way to the little explored Sahatandra River. From there you can raft the rapids that lead down to the coast.

Madagascar kayaking adventures

A few of Madagascar’s rivers are only suitable for kayaks. The Matsiatra River is largely unexplored, so will require substantial training before taking it on.

The Mazy River is one of the island’s most incredible kayaking rivers, flowing through huge gorges with fresh springs and several big drops.  Similarly challenging is the Manankazo in the northern central area. Big slides and rapids make one 65 kilometre stretch a tricky ride, but one that is very rewarding too.

The wild side of Madagascar

One of the major attractions of Madagascar rafting holidays is the chance to see some of the wildlife and plant life on the island. After the prehistoric breakup of the super-continent, Gondwana, the island then split from India around 90 million years ago and as a result the animal and plant life on the island is unique.

Lemur of Madagascar Flickr image by Marco Zanferrari

An incredible 80% of all flora and fauna is endemic to the island, reaching around 95% in the spiny forests of the south-west. There are 30 species and subspecies of the charming and charismatic lemurs, which are only found on the island, and are perhaps the most recognisable inhabitants.

All 100 mammal species on the island are only found here, with the exception of certain bat species, which were introduced. There are 250 bird species that call the island home, many of which are endemic. And the frog and chameleon populations are equally fascinating and unique. Plus, with 8,000 species of flowering plants and 1,000 unique orchid species, the flora is stunning.

In short, Madagascar is a must visit destination for anyone with an interest in the natural world, and what better way to see it all than from a raft on one of the country’s stunning rivers?

Isalo NP Madagascar rafting holidays. Flickr image by Reibai

Madagascar rafting holidays, with a professional tour company like Remote River Expeditions – Madagascar, let you see a side of the country that is otherwise inaccessible. In such a beautiful and bountiful place, this is a rare privilege and in our opinion it ranks as one of the best adventures holiday in the world.

If you like camping, stunning weather, friendly people and exploring one of the most naturally diverse places on the planet, then there is no better way to explore Madagascar than on the river.


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