Trip reference number: ITN-MDG007
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
We are proud to be offering this unusual and comprehensive Madagascar Wildlife set departure, led by Madagascar expert Daniel Austin, who is the author/co-author of three Madagascar guidebooks: Madagascar: the Bradt Guide; Madagascar Wildlife: A Visitors Guide and Madagascar Highlights and superb Malagasy guide Harry Rakotosalama.
This tour takes in a wonderful selection of protected areas covering a wide variety of Madagascar's chief ecotypes. You will be able to explore lush rainforests in Andasibe-Mantadia (aka 'Perinet') in the eastern escarpment and in Montagne d'Ambre in the far North; marvel at the otherworldly 'tsingy' formations and caves of Ankarana National Park; be amazed by the endemic Baobabs and other drought-resistant flora on Montagne des Francais and explore Sambirano Forest at Lokobe National Park as well as the marine environment in Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve. Aside from these deservedly popular places, this itinerary also takes in some rarely visited sites such as Andrafiamena- Andavakoera Protected Area In the north, where one of the world's 25 rarest primates, the Critically Endangered Perrier's black sifaka, is protected.
Daniel and Harry combined their extensive knowledge of Madagascar to select the most unusual and extraordinary wildlife experiences for this itinerary, taking visitors away from the usual tourist ‘hotspots' in some cases. Participants can expect to see a wide spectrum of iconic Malagasy life forms, including lemurs from the ape-like Indri to various species of tiny Mouse lemurs; chameleons ranging from gigantic Oustalet's and Parson's chameleons to tiny Brookesia 'stump-tailed' chameleons; various species of Uroplatus 'leaf-tailed' geckoes; many rare birds including Couas, Cuckoo-roller and Vangas, and diverse flora including 3 of the island's endemic Baobab species to a profusion of Orchids.
Attention will also be given to Malagasy culture, with the itinerary including visits to the domains of tribes including Merina, Bezanozano, Sakalava and Antakarana. You will have the opportunity to learn about conservation programmes under way at the sites visited, as well as the challenges faced by resident communities.
Day 1 Flight from UK airports to Antananarivo (these are booked on an ad-hoc basis so fare subject to change). On arrival this evening, you will be welcomed at Ivato airport and transferred to Relais des Plateaux Hotel where you meet the other participants and where you stay overnight.
Day 2 You will be transferred to Ivato Airport to check in for the early morning flight up to Diego Suarez, on the far north coast. On arrival, you will be met and taken to Montagne des Francais, to enjoy the easy Baobab Trail. Afterwards, travel to Montagne d'Ambre National Park for a 2 night stay in Domain de Fontenay, with all meals included. A night walk in the private park ought to reveal some wonderful nocturnal wildlife. Species commonly seen at night in the private park, include Greater dwarf lemur, Mouse lemur, Giant leaf-tailed gecko, Mossy leaftailed gecko and various species of Chameleon, which initially reflect white in torch beams.
Day 3 Montagne d'Ambre makes for a super place in which to start a wildlife tour of Madagascar: easy trails fan out from the centrally located campsite, into the rainforest which is in an isolated massif not in any way connected with the eastern rainforest belt that will be visited at the end of the tour. After breakfast, transfer to the national park where easy exploration should reveal wildlife including Sanford's and Crowned lemurs; well habituated Ringtail vontsira (mongoose); reptiles such as Leaf-tailed gecko and tiny Brookesia chameleons and much more. Scenic highlights in this tranquil forest park include two beautiful waterfalls which are reached on easy walks. After dinner, another night walk is on the agenda.
Day 4 After breakfast, travel through some very interesting countryside along variable roads (there will be potholes and some rutted sections) to Andrafiamena Andavakoera Protected Area, where the group is based for 2 nights in the much-enjoyed Black Lemur Camp. The drive will take about 4 hours, after which an introductory walk and a night walk should reveal wildlife unique to the deciduous woods in this area. Species often seen include Northern sportive lemur, Northern mouse lemur and reptiles such as some very large Sakalava velvet geckos and with luck, even 'Screaming' (Henkel's) leaf-tailed gecko, which the 2018 tour group managed to locate.
Day 5 After breakfast at Black Lemur Camp, head up the slope at the back of the property along one of the trails into the tropical deciduous forest, in search of wildlife such as the habituated family groups of Critically Endangered Perrier's black sifaka, which inhabit the forest. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest - porters and resident guides will bring everything to the site. Afterwards, walk back to Black Lemur Camp, arriving mid afternoon. Visit the Famamby tree nursery, where you have the opportunity to plant an endangered, endemic tree as part of habitat restoration work under way here. (If you wish, this can be a Baobab sapling). This is a truly gratifying way to literally put something back into Malagasy soil. You will also be taken to visit the nearby village, to gain an insight into the lives of the permanently resident community living around the park. After dark, make another night walk to seek some more nocturnal wildlife.
Day 6 After breakfast at Black Lemur Camp, travel for about 5 hours to Ankarana Ouest, where for two nights the base is the uniquely designed Iharana Bush Camp. After settling in at the camp, a short walk will take you to the impressive tsingy formations nearby. Here, the 'Tsingy-tsingy' circuit will take you to marvellous viewpoints. Enjoy sundowners on one of the viewing platforms, and then descend to the nearby lake, where a short night walk along the shore should reveal various snakes which aggregate there in search of frogs. (This is a very unusual experience!).
Day 7 After an early breakfast, a 90 minute drive will take you to Mahamasina Gate at Ankarana Est. After entering the national park here, a trail , takes you to some spectacular viewpoints for more of the 'tsingy' formations as well as the weird natural sinkhole 'Pert de Rivier;. During the walk, wildlife viewing is usually excellent, with more Crowned and often Sanford's lemurs; Ankarana sportive lemur; chameleons and birds including distinctive endemic birds such as Crested coua and Sicklebill vanga. Lunch at the national park. In the afternoon, return to Ankarana Ouest to stay overnight in Iharana Bush Camp.
Day 8 After breakfast at Iharana Bush Camp, transfer by road (drive time is about 4 hours) to the seaside town of Ankify on the north-west coast, for the 30 minute speedboat transfer to Nosy Be. Here, the group will be taken to Lokobe National Park, where the last tract of Sambirano Forest is protected, Sought-after locally endemic species include the strongly sexually dichromatic Black lemur and the Critically Endangered Nosy Be sportive lemur. Afterwards, transfer to Vanila Hotel to stay overnight.
Day 9 In the morning, enjoy a boat trip to the marine reserve island of Nosy Tanikely, where snorkelling is wonderful over healthy heads of coral. Many visitors see Green turtles underwater here. On the island itself are roosting Madagascar flying foxes. After lunch on the island, transfer to Nosy Be airport to check in for the flight back to Antananarivo in the afternoon. Transfer to Relais des Plateaux, to stay overnight. This evening (time allowing) you will be joined by a representative from one of the prominent NGOs involved in conservation work in Madagascar,...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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