Join author of Madagascar: the Bradt Guide and co-author of Madagascar Wildlife: A Visitors Guide Daniel Austin on his third exclusive small group tour with us. This very special small group departure takes in some of Madagascar's most scenically spectacular national parks, ranging from the humid, luxuriant rainforests of Marojejy in the north-eastern corner, to the dramatic limestone pinnacle-fields of Tsingy de Bemaraha in the remote western lowlands. Also included in the tour are visits to two of the country's best known wildlife hotspots, the fascinating Kirindy Forest near Morondava (and the nearby Allee des Baobabs) and finally, the country's number 1 'must see' national park, Andasibe-Mantadia. In all this combination offers participants an unsurpassed blend of spectacular scenery, diverse wildlife and also, the endlessly intriguing culture of the Malagasy people. Accommodation varies from basic (Marojejy) to excellent. A reasonable level of fitness is required for this trip (Marojejy in particular).
Day 1 Fly on Air France from London Heathrow or selected other UK airports to Antananarivo via Paris CDG. On arrival late this evening, meet your tour leader Daniel Austin and your Malagasy guide. Transfer to the comfortable Relais des Plateaux, 10 minutes from the airport.
Day 2 Transfer to Antananarivo airport for the flight to Sambava, the island's 'vanilla capital' on the north-east coast. We transfer to the comfortable Carrefour Hotel to overnight. Daniel will give a briefing on the tour today.
Day 3 After breakfast we depart to Manantenina where we leave the vehicle. We then embark on the hike 7km to the park entrance. (Grading: challenging). From here, we continue another 2 - 3 hours up to the first camp, Mantella to overnight in basic mountain huts or tents (There are 6 huts in camp 1 so these are supplemented with tents. Catering is excellent; all provisions are brought up from Sambava or Andapa.
Day 4 After a morning walk in the superb low elevation rainforest here, we walk up to Camp Marojejia (750m asl), set in montane rainforest and home to one of this incredible national park's star attractions, the Silky sifaka. It is one of the world's five rarest primates and Marojejy is the place in which to seek it. (Duration of today's walk between the camps is 1 - 2 hours, depending on stops en route to see wildlife). Camp 2 has 4 mountain huts which again will be supplemented with tents. (Please refer to our page on Marojejy National Park for further details).
Day 5 We have a second day in which to explore what is arguably one of the richest Malagasy rainforests in terms of biodiversity, with Camp Marojejia as our base. Please note that trails in this park are challenging. (Those who want, can summit the mountain - we always provide two park guides so that one can accompany participants who wish to adopt a more moderate pace).
Day 6 We leave Marojejy today and travel to Flavien's Farm for a lunch stop, after which we continue to Sambava to stay overnight in Carrefour Hotel.
Day 7 We transfer to Sambava airport for the flight to Antananarivo. On arrival, we will transfer to Relais des Plateaux where we stay overnight. Time allowing, we visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ambohimanga, 24km from the capital city. In this beautiful and restful place, departed Merina Monarchs had their summer homes.
Day 8 An early start: we take a private charter flight from Antananarivo airport to Amborodia, one of the air strips around Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Our base for the next two nights is Soleil de Tsingy. Today's excursion entails a visit to the Petite Tsingy and a short boat trip on the Manambolo River to enjoy the spectacular baobabs and tropical deciduous forests.
Day 9 Today we explore the magnificent Grand tsingy formations at Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. (A head for heights is required for this).
Day 10 We depart after breakfast on the drive to Belo Sur Tsiribihina, where we have lunch and take a ferry crossing across the river. We continue southwards to the fascinating Kirindy Forest, home to an assortment of wildlife including many species unique to western Madagascar's highly fragmented tropical dry deciduous forests. Our accommodation for the night is the simple but well-tended Camp Amoureux. We will visit the Alley of Baobabs for sunset photography, and make a night walk in Kirindy Forest, in hopes of seeing some rare species such as Fosa and Giant jumping rat.
Day 11 Today will be spent exploring Kirindy Forest for its wonderful diurnal wildlife. It is the best place in which to seek rarely seen species like the Fosa, Madagascar's biggest predator. We continue south via Allee des Baobabs to Morondava where we stay overnight in the very comfortable Palissandre Cote Ouest.
Day 12 Transfer to Morondava airport for the flight back to Antananarivo. On arrival we will visit the capital highlights. We overnight in Royal Palissandre Hotel & Spa.
Day 13 We set off after breakfast for the 4 hour drive to Andasibe-Mantadia Natonal Park, Madagascar's number 1 must see protected rainforest. Here we stay for 2 nights in a comfortable lodge. Introductory walk into this popular park which is an easy place to explore and best known for iconic species such as Indris.
Day 14 We explore Mantadia National Park, 37km from Andasibe. Later in the day we can visit Lemur island, and take a night walk for the area's nocturnal rainforest denizens.
Day 15 A great end to the wildlife aspect of our tour: we take a walk in Andasibe aka 'Perinet', where key species resident include Indri and Parson's chameleon. After lunch we travel back to Antananarivo where we have the use of day rooms at Relais des Plateaux. In the late evening after a farewell dinner, we transfer to the airport to check in for the Air France flight departing early the next morning.
Day 16 Participants flying on Air France: depart to Paris CDG where you connect with your onward flight to either London Heathrow or selected other airports.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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