Exploring the Riches of the Eighth Continent

august 04–17 | 2019

As a RPCV, Friend or Family, your Next Step expedition will include special visits to witness the influence of volunteer practices within education, healthcare, economic development, and conservation.



August 04 – 17 | 2019


Journey to the “eighth continent” for a chance to discover the endemic plants and wildlife of one of the world’s most unique biodiversity hotspots —Madagascar! From lemurs and chameleons to its breathtaking scenery, the incredible diversity of Madagascar’s native species inhabit a range of ecosystems across varied and stunning landscapes. Discover important conservation initiatives within national parks and private reserves, and gain a deeper understanding of Malagasy life in both villages and cities. This specially designed expedition will balance our interest to explore education, healthcare, and the economy of the world’s 4th largest island.

Trip Highlights

  • Visit the Peace Corps Training Center (PCTC) in Madagascar.

  • Explore Lemur Island, a botanical park where nine different species of lemur can be observed roaming freely.

  • Visit with community leaders in several villages on topics of healthcare, education, and agriculture.

  • Engage with the Mitsinjo Association Reserve, formed by residents of the village of Andasibe who gained management of the Analamazaotra Forest Station, now known as Mitsinjo Park.

  • See the spires of Tsingy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Observe Madagascar’s distinct natural landscapes, from dry forest to cloud forest, savannahs to deserts.

  • Gain insight into the rich cultural heritages of Madagascar’s people.


Prices are based on the sharing of rooms and single members of the group will be put together in a twin room with 2 separate beds. (If you wish to have a private room to yourself, there is a single supplement available.)


While the tour itself is not very strenuous, please note that it can involve the following: somewhat long days, a good amount of walking, being in the sun in potentially hot temperatures, long journeys by bus or train (including overnight trips), early morning wake-ups and other similarly challenging scenarios.


Price includes accommodations, meals, entrance fees, and activities as indicated in the itinerary, private transportation unless otherwise noted in itinerary, non-alcoholic beverages with meals, local guides in each region for duration of program.

  • Guided interpretation
  • Private coaster van
  • Community engagement
  • Accommodations
  • Activities and park fees
  • Meals
  • Bottled water on the bus
  • Carbon offsetting


International airfare, gratuities, and items of a personal nature are not included.


A $250 per person deposit is due to secure your reservation. This deposit is refundable until 95 days prior to departure excluding a $100 cancellation fee. Non-refundable final payment is due at 95 days prior to departure.

Madagascar Reservation
Purchase Reservation

full trip price - $4525 ($475 single supplement)

trip size: maximum of 13

This purchase and the associated trip is made available via a close partnership with Holbrook Travel–an RPCV recommended operator. 

Trip Balance due 95 days before departure. Reservation fee will be credited towards full ticket price.



BLD = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 1 - Departure

Depart from United States on your international flight.


On arrival in Antananarivo, you will be met by your guide and assisted with formalities including currency exchange. Afterwards, you will be transferred to Au Bois Vert for your overnight stay which includes breakfast. Check-in is available at 12 pm. Overnight at Au Bois Vert.

Day 3 - Ambilobe

Transfer to the airport for an early morning flight to Antsiranana, previously known as Diego Suarez. On arrival, you will be met and driven to Ankarana to see the otherworldly limestone pinnacles called “tsingy.” Ankarana National Park is a deciduous forest network, with an eroded limestone fortress and deep caves. Afterward, head to Ambilobe to check in to your hotel. Ambilobe is located between Antsiranana and Nosy Be, and has developed thanks to the production of sugar cane. Ambilobe means “where we find many plantations.” Agriculture is indeed the main activity and the city has one of the region’s most important marketplaces. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner with program orientation to follow. Overnight at Relais de l’Ankarana. (BLD)

Day 4 - Ambilobe

Today, we will explore the surrounding villages, meeting with local Malagasy community members and making a specially organized visit to an area school. During the visit we will explore both the challenges and opportunities within the Madagascan education system. Following our community visit we will enjoy an expedition through Ankarana Reserve and its amazing landscape showcasing diverse dry forest flora dominated by baobabs and euphorbia plants. You may even witness crowned lemurs, a special sighting! This evening take a walk to the outskirts of the national park to spot nocturnal creatures. Overnight at Relais de l’Ankarana. (BLD)

Day 5 - JoffreVILLE

Early morning departure for Amber Mountain National Park. Amber Mountain is an isolated massif of montane cloud forest rising from the surrounding dry area. The park bearing its name offers exceptional biodiversity – even by Madagascar’s standards. Set against a backdrop of lush vegetation, waterfalls and volcanic crater lakes, it is also home to eight species of lemur, including crowned lemurs and Sanford’s brown lemurs, 75 species of birds, and 35 species of frogs. Following this day excursion, check in to Nature Lodge. From the terrace of this thatched wooden chalet are breathtaking views of Diego Suarez Bay, the Mozambique Channel and the Indian Ocean. Overnight at Nature Lodge. (BLD)

Day 6 - Joffreville

Today, we will explore this agricultural community (primarily lychee and bananas) comprising just 5,000 residents. We will meet the villagers within the surrounding area and visit with a labord’s chameleon by Pelin Karaca local hospital to survey rural healthcare of Madagascar. Our day will be a mix of fulfilling community engagement and service. Overnight at Nature Lodge. (BLD)

Day 7 - Antananarivo

This afternoon transfer to the airport for your flight back to Antananarivo. Antananarivo, formerly Tananarive, is the national capital of Madagascar. Founded in the 17th century as the capital of the Hova chiefs, Antananarivo has remained the economic and political center of Madagascar through monarchies, civil war, colonization, and independence. Today, the city has a population of over 2 million and includes industries such as tobacco, various food processing refineries, and the manufacture of leather goods and clothing. On arrival transfer to the hotel. Overnight at La Belvedere. (BLD)

Day 8 - Mantasoa

This morning after breakfast, we will drive to Mantasoa village to visit the Madagascar Peace Corps main office and training center (PCTC), which overlooks the Mantasoa lake. The training facility consists of many buildings along the main road that juts out on a peninsula into the lake, providing stunning views of the hilly shoreline across the lake. Here we will enjoy an onsite talk and activities with the veteran and new Peace Corps volunteers. Overnight at Mantasoa Lodge. (BLD)

Day 9 - Mantasoa

After breakfast, we will enjoy a talk about specific Peace Corps projects in the area before we set out to participate in some of the everyday activities of the local people. Our day will be under the direction of fellow Peace Corps volunteers and may include a guided exploration of a rice field (over 95% of the population are farmers), along with time spent on Lake Mantasoa with fisherman (just 1% of the population) to showcase key local agricultural practices. We will also visit the local hospital in Mantasoa. The population of Mantasoa is about 10,000, the majority of whom work in agriculture and forestry. However, tourism is a growing industry here, as the town has become a popular weekend destination for Antananarivo residents. In the 1850s, Mantasoa was a burgeoning industrial center, thanks to the architect and engineer Jean Laborde, a Frenchman who was instrumental in developing Madagascar’s “industrial revolution,” an early demonstration of French pre-colonial influence on the island. He is buried in Mantasoa, and an endemic species of chameleon, Furcifer labordi, is named after him. Overnight at Mantasoa Lodge. (BLD)

Day 10 - Andasibe

Transfer to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. The journey takes you through the scenic highlands with brickworks, paddy fields and typical villages. Visit the Mitsinjo Association Reserve, formed by residents of the village of Andasibe who gained management of the Analamazaotra Forest Station, now known as Mitsinjo Park. They also work in the Torotorofotsy Ramsar Site in close collaboration with Asity Madagascar. The Forest Station and Tororofotsy are now their main focal areas for conservation, research, and sustainable development initiatives. After lunch is a lecture by the local manager of the association. Late in the afternoon set out for a walk through the V.O.I.M.M.A. Community Reserve. V.O.I.M.M.A. is an abbreviation of the Malagasy sentence “Vondron’olona ifotony miaro sy mitia ny ala,” which means “Local people love the forest.” V.O.I.M.M.A. was begun by villagers in Andasibe as an alternative to the government-led national park in the neighborhood. The local people wanted to manage their land and be a part of ecotourism in this area. Half of the generated money is used for several projects in Andasibe, such as building water taps or supporting local hospitals. Overnight Sahatandra River Hotel. (BLD)

Day 11 - Andasibe

You will spend the day exploring rare wildlife in the pristine rainforest of Analamazaotra reserve within the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Here we will watch for sought-after rainforest bird species like the Madagascar wood rail, White-throated Rail, and Nelicourvi Weaver. Also to be seen is the Indri – the largest of the living lemurs, and well known for its loud vocalizations. In the afternoon, visit Lemur Island, an educational project aimed at showcasing a wide variety of species (all rescued), allowing visitors and locals alike an opportunity to form a bond and understand the importance of conserving such species. The star attraction is the diademed sifaka (dancing lemur), the second largest of all the living lemurs. Other lemurs to see include the elusive red-bellied lemur, the black and white ruffed lemur, the eastern bamboo lemur, and common brown lemurs. Be ready: these creatures are habituated to humans, and you are likely to enjoy an “up close and personal” experience with the lemurs of Madagascar! Overnight Sahatandra River Hotel. (BLD)

Day 12 - Antananarivo

Today return to Antananarivo, with one last community visit en route in Moramanga. The name Moramanga literally means “easy to beautify,” and the city itself has an important place in the history of Madagascar. It was in Moramanga, on the night of March 29, 1947, that the Malagasy Uprising against French colonial rule started. Moramanga is also the capital city of the Bezanozano people (one of the eighteen ethnic groups of Madagascar). Overnight at Le Belvedere. (BLD)

Day 13 - Antananarivo

After breakfast learn about the history of this capital city, “Tana,” during a bus and walking tour. Accompanied by a local historian, learn about the Imerina royalty, and then continue to the modern city before heading to the sacred village of Ambohimanga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Experience a farewell Malagasy lunch at the Ambohimanga restaurant, then enjoy entertainment by traditional dancers and singers. The Rova of Antananarivo is a royal palace complex that served as the home of the rulers of the Kingdom of Imerina in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as of the the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. Enjoy a farewell luncheon, then as a sweet treat participate in a chocolate-making demonstration. Return to the hotel to rest before this evening’s departure. Evening transfer to airport for international flight home. Day Room at Le Belvedere. (BL)

Day 14 - Arrive IN THE U.S.

Arrive home.