This expedition is set to achieve ambitious and adventurous goals, by crossing the central massif of the island of Madagascar by foot and in rafts. The challenge is to travel eastwards, starting near the Mozambique Channel in the North, climbing the island's highest peak and navigating the Bemarivo rapids to end up in the Indian Ocean.

Expedition aim

To conduct an incredible adventure crossing northern Madagascar by foot and raft. On the way we aim to summit Mount Maromokotro, Madagascar’s highest peak, forge a path through the wildest and most pristine rainforest on the island, taking in some of the world’s most unusual wildlife, spectacular scenery and navigate the uncharted Bemarivo River ending up flowing into the Indian Ocean.


  • Climb Madagascar’s highest peak, Maromokotro (2,876m).
  • Navigate some extremely wild and uncharted river systems.
  • Trek across an uninhabited and pristine rainforest environment.
  • See any of the 200,000 species – including 105+ varieties of lemur – on the world’s oldest island.

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Blog and Press Coverage



Phase one

The expedition will begin in the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo. After having the time to spend the afternoon in the city or visit its renowned lemurs’ park we will be departing by plane the next morning for the famous island of Nosy Be, our starting point to reach the trailhead. After crossing the Mozambique Channel through the Bay of Ampasindava in small speed boats, we will be aiming to set up our first campsite just outside the Natural Reserve of Tsaratanana, reaching the trailhead of the trek. This is where the fun begins.

The first phase of the expedition will consist of approximately 5 days of serious uphill trekking. We will be starting our journey at an elevation of approximately 35 meters to reach the summit of Mount Maromokotro at 2,876 meters on day 5, including a 1,500+ meters vertical climb day. Incredible landscapes, absence of civilization and sore muscles are to be expected!

Phase two

After reaching Madagascar’s highest summit, we will be aiming to reach the Bemarivo River, taking us down to 400 meters. Over the next 4-5 days, we will be trekking across the country’s most uncharted and pristine rainforest being home to some of the world’s most unusual wildlife including over 10 different species of lemurs. The jungle is so dense in that region that we will barely cover five km over eight hours of hard work in some of the toughest days. We say ‘work’ because trekking in the Madagascar jungle cannot be described by the word ‘walking’. Hacking, climbing, sliding, getting slapped, hurting and river crossing would be more like it. Epic adventure guaranteed.

Phase three

After an approximate 150km trek, in the final phase of the expedition, we will be rafting down the wild and little-travelled Bemarivo River aiming to reach the Indian Ocean in less than 6 days. During this 125 km rafting journey we will be going through some extremely challenging rapids and physically demanding portage. Deserted white-sand beaches will truly be a deserved reward when we will arrive at our destination on the coast at Sambava.

Relax for a day at the end on the shores of the Indian Ocean for some well deserved rest. This expedition is going to be tough and so the opportunity to sit back and enjoy yourself will be gratefully received.

The varied terrain of this isolated region make this expedition truly remarkable. There are few expeditions that cross through such a wealth of ecosystems in such a short space of time. This gives us an excellent opportunity to see the famed flora and fauna of Madagascar. The island harbours some 13,000 species of flowering plants of which a staggering 89% are endemic. On top of that, Madagascar is home to a huge array of birds, reptiles and mammals – most famously over 100 varieties of lemur.

Check out Lev Wood, our 2012 leader, talking about last year’s epic expedition!

As featured in the Sunday Times:

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Expedition grading (degree of effort required)

315 degree expedition graphic 150x150 Mountains and Rivers   MadagascarSecret Compass grades each of its expeditions according to the degree of effort required by each team member. Due to the demands of this particular expedition it has been awarded a 315° rating. Find out more about our degrees of effort grading system here.


Team members should be willing to be part of a team working together to achieve the goal of the expedition. They should have an adventurous and robust spirit. They should be over 21, fit and healthy as this trip involves several continuous days of trekking carrying a 15kg pack in remote areas over and through difficult terrain at altitudes of up to 3000 metres and long days paddling on the river. Please speak to us about the fitness requirements.


  • Full services of a Secret Compass expedition leader with local guides, experts and porters.
  • All meals.
  • All specialist and safety equipment.
  • All accommodation including tents.
  • All permits.

not included

  • International flights.
  • Local airport taxes.
  • Tips to local guides.
  • Alcoholic beverages and any costs of a personal nature.
  • Personal equipment. Upon booking you will receive a comprehensive kit list.


In Antananarivo and Sambava we will be accommodated in small hotels. For the remainder of the expedition we will be wild camping. The accommodation will be by no means be luxurious but the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of the region will make you wonder what appeal a posh hotel really has! Sleeping is unlikely to be an issue as our long, hard days hiking will wear out even the hardiest of us.


In ‘civilisation’ we will be eating in hotels and restaurants. Whilst on the expedition we will be eating basic meals carried and cooked by our porters.


The trip will involve internal flights, bumpy rides in 4WD vehicles, trekking and rafting.