Amazing 15 day experience with Laurencia, Olivier, and Ravu!
My husband and I had a spectacular 15-day tour with Madagascar Circuit Tours. Booking the tour: Requesting information and booking via email was straightforward. Based on what we hoped to see and our time, the company recommended a circuit that included stops in Antsirabe, Miandrivazo, a Tsiribihina River cruise, Bekopaka (Tsingy de Bemaraha), Kirindy, Morondava, Andasibe, and the Pangale Lake region. It was clear what was included in our fee and what was not. We did a bit of everything, from viewing wildlife (Lemurs! Fossas! Chamelons!) to taking in scenic landscapes to interacting with people in small villages to learning from artisans. It was a wonderful trip. Guide and Drivers: Our guide Laurencia and drivers Olivier (first 10 days) and Ravu (last 5 days) are the reason this was an amazing trip. From when we were greeted at airport arrivals until we were dropped off to fly home, all three were extremely friendly and completely committed to making our trip amazing. We cannot say enough good things about Laurencia. Laurencia is an experienced and knowledgeable guide and was eager to share information with us, and encouraged us to ask many questions. She was our guide for the full trip and constantly checked in with us to make sure we were comfortable and happy, and that our expectations were being met. She went to great lengths to make sure we had excellent guides at the parks and accompanied us every step of the way. She also ensured my husband's vegetarian dietary preference was accommodated everywhere we went. Laurencia is an absolute pleasure, and we're happy to call her a friend after our time together. If you are booking a tour, I encourage you to request her! Olivier and Ravu were both excellent drivers. Both drove safely on poor roads and made every effort to make us comfortable. They were both friendly and responsive to anything we needed, from photo stops to stretch breaks to finding stores for supplies. We got to know Olivier better because we were together longer and he speaks some English; he is a delightful person to be around and we were sad when he had to return to Tana for personal business. He is also very calm - our vehicle briefly got stuck on a muddy 4x4 track and he kept a level head as he worked to solve the problem. Though we didn't get to know Ravu as well, he made us feel welcome and offered to help us at every turn, even helping us cart groceries around. Both Olivier and Ravu are excellent, and you will be in good hands with either. I will also mention that Laurencia and Olivier went above and beyond when my husband became unexpectedly ill in rural western Madagascar. They did not panic, and checked in on him frequently when it became clear he was unwell, even coming to our hotel room at my request. They got him to a doctor as quickly as they were able to (we were an 8-hour drive from the nearest city) and acted as translators and stayed with us in the exam room while my husband met with the doctor. They promptly got us to the pharmacy to pick up the necessary medications. Both Laurencia and Olivier were reassuring and compassionate through the entire ordeal, and they made a scary situation manageable. This isn't just good customer service; this speaks to their character and care for other people. River Cruise: Our three-day cruise was excellent. The boat was well-equipped, the crew was so friendly and helpful. Camping was more comfortable than either of us expected. Our chef Stefan made excellent meals using local products and even surprised us with pizza one night after hearing that it was one of our favorite foods. All of our campsites were very safe and secure. We were so glad we opted to do it! Accommodations: The accommodations included in the package we booked were quite nice. We especially liked the different bungalows we stayed in, especially the one in Kirindy. There was only one place that we did not care for, in Bekopaka, and based on the reviews it appears that the issues are relatively recent and couldn't have been anticipated by the tour company. Note on Distances: Having read other reviews, I'll note that distances are vast in Madagascar. Because of road conditions and weather, it can take 8 hours to travel 100 km. All of this was clearly outlined in our tour proposal. It's all part of the adventure, and you will see lots of interesting and beautiful things in transit. If you can't imagine that sort of travel, then overland travel in Madagascar is not for you. Overall: This was an exceptional trip, and we are so glad to have booked with Madagascar Circuit Tours. This is an extraordinary country, and we are so thankful to Laurencia, Olivier, and Ravu for sharing it with us!