Our very popular and successful set, small group tours allow you to explore some of Madagascar's spectacular, protected areas for their compellingly unique wildlife in a diverse range of habitats. You will see many species of lemurs, endemic birds, reptiles such as chameleons, and an unsurpassed array of plants, from baobabs to orchids.
These tours are led by experienced, higly-praised, professional guides. In locations where there are trails of varying grading, two parks guides are enlisted to take care of partipants: one for those preferring a more moderate pace, and one for those preferring a slower pace.
The itinerary includes a coastal stop at Ifaty, bordered by spiny bush. Accommodation is always in the best available lodges or hotels at each of the locations in the itinerary.
Should you wish to add individual extensions before or after the tour to other protected areas, or to a beach location, let us know and we can tailor-make something for you.
We will also be pleased to quote with other international carriers - ask us for details.
Group size: minimum 6 - maximum 10.
Day 1 Fly with Air France from London (or other selected regional airports) to Antananarivo via Paris CDG. On your arrival late this evening you will be met, assisted with currency exchange and transferred to Relais des Plateaux, a comfortable hotel only 10 minutes drive from the airport to stay overnight with breakfast included.
Day 2 Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel. Your tour leader and driver will meet you and give the group a briefing. Depart on the 4hr drive east along good tarmac roads to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, the country's number 1 'must see' protected rainforest site. Located in the central-eastern escarpment, Andasibe is perhaps best known for key species such as Indri (largest of all extant lemurs), birds such Red-fronted coua and Coral-billed nuthatch vanga, and 'herps' including Mossy leaf-tailed gecko and the critically endangered Golden mantella, the area's flagship frog. Take a guided introductory walk in Andasibe where trails are mostly graded as 'easy'. After dinner, take a night walk across the road in Analamazaotra Forest Station which is administered by proactive NGO Association Mitsinjo. Stay in Vakona Forest Lodge or Sahatandra River Hotel.
Day 3 After an early breakfast you will be taken to the rainforest at Andasibe, where the main objective is to see - among other species - the remarkable Indri. Hearing their whale-like calls emanating from the mist-enshrouded rainforests in the early mornings, is pure Malagasy magic at its best. During the dawn chorus birding is wonderfully productive too. In the quieter middle part of the day, visit Lemur Island, a refuge for lemurs confiscated from trappers. Another rainforest walk can be done in the mid afternoon and if you wish, a second night walk in Analamazaotra to catch up on species previously missed out on.
Day 4 Today you will be taken on a visit of the beautiful 10,000ha primary rainforest national park of Mantadia. It is about 37km north of Andasibe and holds a select band of mammals, birds and 'herps' not necessarily present at Andasibe. Key attractions include Diadem sifaka, Black & white ruffed lemur, Scaley and Blue-headed ground-rollers; Parson's chameleon and colourful Mantella baroni frogs, among others. The scenery here is beautiful.
Day 5 During the morning you will be taken on a final rainforest walk in Andasibe-Mantadia, during which you can seek species previously not seen. A visit will also be made to the reforestation project under way by Association Mitsinjo: this is one of the many inspiring initiatives now being supported by Money for Madagascar. After lunch, drive back to Antananarivo in time for dinner and overnight at Relais des Plateaux.
Day 6 You will be transferred to the airport after breakfast for the flight to Tulear on the south-west coast. This is the most arid corner of the island and the natural habitat around it is mostly sub-arid 'spiny thicket' or Euphorbia-Didieraceae thorn bush. It is remarkable in places, being comprised of much bushy Euphorbia interspersed with drought-resistant trees and plants including Bottle baobabs (here Adansonia rubrostipa) and spiky Octopus trees (Didieraceae family). The endemicity rate among this floral assemblage is remarkably high and people come here also to seek some rare, range-restricted birds and reptiles. They include the Long-tailed ground-roller (pictured). Stay for 2 nights in the very comfortable Les Dunes d'Ifaty.
Day 7 An early start: after breakfast, you will be taken to a nearby parcel of 'spiny bush' (there are two locally managed/protected parcels that are visited this day) to see the remarkable flora which travel writing legend Dervla Murphy so aptly Christened 'Nature's Botanical Lunatic Asylum'. In this otherworldly habitat you'll be able to seek some very rare birds such as the aforementioned ground-roller; Sub-desert mesite and LaFresnaye's vanga, along with rare or range-restricted reptiles such as Madagascar radiated tortoise (now critically endangered) and the strange little Three-eyed lizard.
Day 8 This morning travel 20 minutes south along the recently tarred road back to Tulear, outside where you will stop at Arboretum de Antsokay, a delightful place for nature enthusiasts which showcases the strange sub-arid South's spiny bush habitat. Its also great for small wildlife - one can see many birds, reptiles and wonderful invertebrates. Continue traveling inland for just under 3hrs on a good, flat tarmac road to Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park, where some very range-restricted species are found: you'll be able to look for Verreaux's sifaka; Hubbard's sportive lemur; the massive Oustalet's chameleon; Standing's day gecko and birds including the locally endemic Appert's greenbul and the stately Giant coua. After the nature walk in Zombitse, continue 1 hour to the sandstone massif of Isalo, where the country's most visited national park is located. Stay 2 nights at the very comfortable Relais la Reine
Day 9 Your guides will take you to explore Isalo National Park. While much of the park is comprised of dry, 'ruiniforme' sandstone formations, trails do take visitors to verdant streamside vegetation. Here, you can look for Ringtail lemurs, Verreaux’ sifakas and locally endemic flora. The best known plant here is the dumpy 'Elephant's foot' Pachypodium, which flowers in September. Look on the lodge buildings at night for birds such as Madagascar long-eared owl, Madagascar white-browed owl and Madagascar nightjar.
Day 10 After breakfast, drive about 6-7hours east across the desolate central southern interior (Bara country) to a granite domes region which marks the entrance to the southern Highlands. Here, visit another deservedly popular stop, Anja Parc, a community- managed protected area near Ambalavao which is home to a thriving population of Ringtailed lemur, the island's national mammal. Overnight in Bougainvillier Hotel.
Day 11 A 3 - 4 hour drive north-east will take you to the upland rainforest of Ranomafana National Park, where seeing 5 species of lemur in a day walk is not uncommon. Key species include the Milne-Edwards diadem sifaka and adorable Red-bellied lemur. Ranomafana is also home to a number of rare bird species, including the Brown mesite, Rufous-headed ground-roller, Yellow-bellied sunbird asity and Pollen's vanga. Walks vary in length from a couple of hours to a half day. Your accommodation for 3 nights is the recently completely refurbished Thermal Hotel, now the best accommodation at this park. Enjoy an introductory walk in this very beautiful national park.
Day 12 Explore wonderful Ranomafana National ...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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