Join Madagascar expert, tour leader and author of Bradt Guide to Madagascar; Madagascar Wildlife: A Visitors Guide and Madagascar Highlights, Daniel Austin, on a fascinating journey to seek some of the island's most endearing, weird & wonderful and also, most endangered inhabitants.
Daniel has led small groups of wildlife enthusiasts around Madagascar with us for several years, and if his 2016,2017 and the 2018 tour which he co-led with Hilary Bradt are anything to go by, this and next year's adventures promise to be wonderful experiences.The tour begins with a journey to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park ('Perinet'), which surely is Madagascar's number 1 must see protected rainforest, for its iconic and Critically Endangered Indri, Diademed sifaka and many other flagship species of the eastern rainforest band. During the time in Andasibe-Mantadia there will be wonderful guided wildlife walks. Then travel down to the Palmarium Private Reserve in the eastern lowlands, where the main objective is to see wild Aye ayes. These nocturnal, cat-sized lemurs epitomise all that is bizarre about Malagasy life forms. Because most of the wildlife in the privately protected tract of east coast littoral forest at Palmarium is so well habituated, the site is a wildlife photographer's dream.
The next leg of the tour entails a flight to the west coast town of Morondava, from where you travel about 2 hours north to Kirindy and Marofandilia forests. These seasonally dry deciduous forests receive some protection in the Menabe Antimena Protected Area. Visitors come here from all over the world to look for an extraordinary assemblage of mammals, including Fosa (Fossa), the island's largest carnivore; the Endangered Giant jumping rat and various lemurs, notably our tiniest relative, Madame Berthe's mouse lemur. To reach Kirindy, you pass through the 'baobab alley', a group of Grandidier's baobabs standing like sentinels presiding over a landscape converted for pasture. Again, day and night walks are scheduled in this extraordinary area. Additionally, you will have the chance - as our previous groups have - to plant an endangered, endemic Baobab at the habitat restoration site managed by the NGO FANAMBY, which will be visited.
A quick flight from Morondava will have you back in Antananarivo, which acts as a centrally located 'hub' for those who wish to experience the country's incomparably varied ecotypes.You then fly up to the far North coastal town Diego Suarez) near where you walk the Baobab Trail at Montagne des Francais Reserve. There you can see two of the endemic Baobabs of the northern region. Continue just an hour southwards to Montagne d'Ambre National Park for an overnight stay. This is mostly to seek its impressive nocturnal herpetofauna which includes various species of Uroplatus (Leaf-tailed geckos); chameleons and some nocturnal lemurs.Andrafiamena Andavakoera,makes this trip that much more special: this relatively new protected area has been much enjoyed by our guests to date, including Daniel's October 2018 tour group. Its tropical deciduous dry forest is home to one of the world's 25 rarest primates, the Critically Endangered Perrier's black sifaka. It is possible to see up to three of the family groups during a day walk here - a truly memorable experience not least considering there are less than 400 of these enigmatic lemurs remaining globally.From Andrafiamena, travel to Ankarana - the 'Lost World Within a Lost World' - for a two night stay. Your time here will enable for you to explore sunken deciduous forests, caves and marvel at the otherworldly scenery created by the 'tsingy' limestone pinnacle formations.
After having experienced Ankarana, travel through Sambirano country by road and then by speedboat to Nosy Be, where you visit the Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve, praised for its psychedelic underwater world. This makes for a wonderful end to a comprehensive and busy tour!
As ever, Daniel will be accompanied on this tour by ace Malagasy wildife tour guide, Harry (Hery) Rakotosalama.
Minimum group size: 6 Maximum Group size: 10
Day 1 Fly on Air France from London or selected other UK airports to Antananarivo via Paris CDG. On arrival late this evening, you will be welcomed at Ivato Airport and transferred to the very comfortable Relais des Plateaux to stay overnight.
Day 2 After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, meet the rest of the participants and travel in comfortable, air-conditioned 4-wheel drive vehicles to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, in the eastern escarpment. Here, stay for 3 nights in Vakona Forest Lodge with all meals included. During the balance of the day, enjoy an introductory walk in the mid-altitude rainforest here, which because of its diverse wildlife (notably Indri), has become the island's number 1 must see protected rainforest.
Day 3 This morning, venture into the world renowned rainforest of Andasibe ('Perinet'), in search of its Indri and many other flagship species. In the evening, make a second nocturnal wallk, in the small parcel of rainforest protected by VOIMMA, an association of resident guides.
Day 4 Today you'll enjoy the primary rainforest experience when you visit Mantadia National Park, about 37km north of Andasibe along a rutted road. Here, terrain is steeper and trails narrower than is the case in Andasibe. The objective will be to seek flagship species including Diademed sifaka, Red-bellied lemur and various rainforest-dependent birds such as the Short-legged ground-roller, pictured here.
Day 5 After breakfast, transfer by road down the escarpment to Manambato village, where you will be met and transferred by motorised boat for about an hour to Le Palmarium, where you stay for 2 nights in an en-suite bungalow with all meals included. After dark, enjoy the first excursion to see the extraordinary Aye ayes which live on a wooded islet in Lac Ampitabe.
Day 6 Today, explore the East coast littoral forest at Palmarium Reserve, in search of its prolific diurnal wildlife which will be very much in evidence from time you arrive at the hotel, on the shore of Lac Ampitabe. After dark, take another excursion to see the well habituated Aye ayes - the eye-to-brain connection with this extraordinary animal - the size of a large, overgrown house cat and strictly nocturnal - is unforgettable.
Day 7 Depart after a leisurely breakfast on the motorised boat transfer along the Pangalanes Canal back to Manambato, where you will be met by your drivers. Transfer overland back up to Antananarivo, to stay overnight in Relais des Plateaux.
Day 8 This morning, transfer to Antananarivo Ivato Airport to check in for the lunch time Tsaradia flight to Morondava on the central west coast. On arrival, you will be met and transferred in 4-wheel drive vehicles north to Kirindy Forest, via Baobab Alley. Stay 2 nights at Relais du Kirindy, all meals included. Make a night walk in Kirindy in search of its diverse nocturnal inhabitants which include the likes of Fosa, Giant jumping rat and nocturnal primates including Red-tailed sportive lemur, Pale fork-marked lemur and Gray mouse lemur. You will also be taken to look for the tiny Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, now Endangered as it is found only in the Menabe Antimena Protected Area.
Day 9 Today and tonight, you will be taken on guided walks in these fascinating dry forests which are home to a plethora of highly threatened animals and plants. Trails are easy and generally, wildlife viewing very rewarding.
Day 10 After a final early morning walk in the Menabe Antimena dry forests, travel back to Morondava Airport - once aga...
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