Due to popular demand Bradt Guide author and tour-leader Daniel Austin (Madagascar: the Bradt Guide; Madagascar Wildlife: A Visitors Guide) will be leading a second small group departure for us in 2017.
This tour takes in a wonderful selection of the country's best known protected areas, from the incredible Tsingy de Bemaraha and Kirindy Forest in the western lowlands, to the famed Berenty Reserve in the dry south. To provide a perfectly well-rounded experience in terms of the country's chief habitat types, the tour ends at Andasibe-Mantadia, the country's number 1 'must see' protected rainforest area.
Day 1 Depart London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) on the overnight flight flight to Antananarivo.
Day 2 Upon arrival in Antananarivo you will be met by tour leader Daniel Austin and your professional Malagasy guide. Transfer to the very comfortable Relais des Plateaux just 10 minutes drive from Ivato airport. Meet the other tour participants here.
Day 3 This morning, we take an early private charter flight west to Amborody landing strip at Tsingy de Bemaraha. Our accommodation for two nights is the comfortable Olympe de Bemaraha. We will take an enjoyable visit to the Petite tsingy formations, as well as a short boat trip on the Manambolo River, flanked by its impressive gorges. Here we can see wildlife and flora typical of the extremely threatened western seasonally dry forests, the country's most threatened habitat type.
Day 4 Today we will be taken to experience one of Madagascar's most incredible attractions - the Grand Tsingy at Tsingy de Bemaraha. Please note that a reasonable level of fitness and a head for heights, are required for this excursion. The limestone pinnacle-fields or 'tsingy' are absolutely remarkable and in this part of the park, in some places almost resemble a forest of church steeples. The park also has sunken deciduous forests with rare wildlife such as the range-restricted and all-white Decken's sifaka and there are extensive caves and subterranean passages.
Day 5 We depart after breakfast on the drive in 4WD vehicles to Belo Sur Tsiribihina (5 - 6 hours drive on poor roads) where we have lunch at the renowned Mad Zebu, rated by all who go there as the country's best restaurant. This is followed by a 45min river crossing and then a two- hour drive to Kirindy Forest, near where we overnight at Camp Amoureux. This simple, well maintained accommodation at Marofandila Forest is run by proactive and inspiring NGO FANAMBY. We will be taken for a night walk in search of rare wildlife which Kirindy is known for.
Day 6 We will be taken on a forest walk in Kirindy, where resident highlights include the Fosa (Madagascar's largest carnivore). After exploring this fascinating dry deciduous forest, we travel back to Morondava (about 2 hours) to stay overnight in the very comfortable Palissandre Cote Ouest.
Day 7 After sightseeing in Morondava - a centre of the Menabe subtribe of the Sakalava people - we transfer to the airport for the lunch-time flight to Antananarivo. We transfer to Relais des Plateaux to stay overnight.
Day 8 We transfer to Antananarivo for the Air Madagascar (currently midday) flight to Fort Dauphin on the far south-east coast. On arrival we are met and transferred approximately 4 hours drive inland along deteriorating roads to the country's most famed protected area, Berenty Private Reserve. Subject and location of many wildlife documentaries through the last few decades, this is where people come to see the 'dancing' Verreaux's sifakas, emblematic Ringtail lemurs and a plethora of other wildlife of the dry southern region or 'Androy'. We should expect to arrive at the reserve by the end of the afternoon. As it is a private reserve, night walks are permitted.
Day 9 We have the day to get to know the amazing and prolific wildlife that put Berenty firmly on the tourist map. In 2016, the lodge was upgraded and many clients rated Berenty as the 'jewel in the crown' of their Madagascar itineraries. Broad, well maintained trails on flat terrain allow for very easy exploration and effortless wildlife viewing.
Day 10 We have another easy day for prolific wildlife viewing at Berenty Private Reserve, where we will be taken for guided day and night walks in the dry Tamarind gallery woods and the bizarre spiny bush (Euphorbia-Didieraceae bush).
Day 11 After a morning walk in Berenty, we travel to Fort Dauphin, taking in a few stops along the way to see some baobabs, spiny bush, an Antandroy ('People of the Thorns') settlement, some endangered Triangulated palms and then finally, we arrive in Fort Dauphin to overnight at Croix du Sud.
Day 12 We transfer to Fort Dauphin airport for the (currently) late morning flight back to Antananarivo. Our hotel for the night is Relais des Plateaux. We will take a trip to the tranquil, scenic Ambohimanga, a Royal village where departed Merina monarchs had their summer homes.
Day 13 After breakfast we transfer about 4 hours east along good tarmac roads to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, the country's number 1 'must see' protected rainforest area. Here we take an introductory rainforest walk in search of the amazing wildlife the park is known for. We can take a night walk after dinner. Our accommodation for 2 nights is Andasibe Hotel.
Day 14 This morning we take an early morning rainforest walk to witness the 'dawn chorus'. In particular, we will aim to see the ape-like Indri, largest of the remaining lemurs. There is also a wonderful variety of endemic bird and rainforest-dependent reptiles and frogs in this national park. After dinner we will take a night walk to seek wildlife including Avahi (Eastern woolly lemur), Sportive lemur, Dwarf and Mouse lemurs.
Day 15 In the morning, we visit beautiful Mantadia National Park for primary rainforest and rare wildlife. We travel back to Antananarivo after lunch to overnight in Relais des Plateaux.
Day 16 We take a guided sightseeing tour of the capital city highlights today before being transferred to Ivato airport to check in for the flight back to London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports)
Day 17 Morning arrival back in London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports).
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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