Best of Madagascar
- Expedition starts & ends in Antananarivo
- Small group of only 5 travellers
- No single supplement for solo travellers
- Visit four of Madagascar’s most iconic regions
- Experience and photograph lemurs, chameleons and landscapes
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Small Group
Madagascar is a dream destination for outdoors enthusiasts and nature photographers with half the fun is getting to all the diverse attractions.
Lemurs, baobabs, rainforests and deserts – few places on Earth offer such an intense and uniquely diverse kaleidoscope of nature. The fauna and flora of Madagascar is matched only by epic landscapes of prolific beauty and bizarre obscurity. Imagine the possibility of travelling from rainforest to desert in less than 500km/310 Miles!
On this natural history tour we will go in search of the island’s signature animals ranging from lemurs and chameleons; to fossa and the amazing array of birds. We will also focus on landscapes which includes everything from baobabs to orchids and so much more.
Madagascar is a one-of-a-kind destination and on this Wild Eye departure our goal is to explore the world’s fourth largest island by immersing ourselves in the various destinations we will be visiting.
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Arrival in Antananarivo
pon arrival into Ivato Airport we will be greeted by our English speaking guide who will accompany us to our hotel in the upper town of Antananarivo. ‘Tana’ – as the locals call it – has fascinating traditional architecture and a more Indonesian influence than the rest of Madagascar. Overnight at Palissandre Hôtel & Spa.
After an early breakfast, we will head east towards Andasibe, a stunning rainforest park, about 4 hours’ drive from the city. The park consists of two protected areas, the Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia National Park. Perinet is world famous for its population of Indri Lemurs, which are the largest living lemur species. The journey to Andasibe offers first time visitors to Madagascar a gentle introduction to rural life with rice fields, redbrick houses and roadside stalls selling seasonal fruits and vegetables lining the route. After checking in at Mantadia Lodge and enjoy a delicious lunch, we will venture onwards to Lemur Island which is Vakona Lodge’s private reserve that protects a number of habituated lemurs. There are four species to see, the Bamboo Lemur, the Black & White Ruffed lemur, Brown lemur and one family of Diademed Sifaka.
After breakfast we will head to Mantadia National Park which is about a 1.5 hour drive from the lodge. At Mantadia we will look for some of the lemur species in this stunning park including the Indri Indri, Diademed Sifaka, Grey Bamboo Lemur, Red-Bellied Lemur and White Ruffed Lemur. While the trails are slightly more difficult, the rewards are great as the forest is taller, wilder and less crowded than Perinet. There are an abundance of birds including the Scaly Ground Roller, Pitta-like Ground Roller and Red Breasted Coua. To do justice to Mantadia you need to spend a whole day in the park. This is a naturalist’s goldmine with many seldom seen species of mammals, reptiles and birds. For lunch we will enjoy a picnic by the Rianasoa Waterfall. Hike back to the vehicle and return to the lodge. A night forest walk will be organized in late evening in the neighboring reserve with a local guide. You could see a variety of nocturnal lemurs as well as a number of chameleons which makes for amazing and very unique photography.
After breakfast, we will enjoy a visit to the 810 ha Perinet Reserve with a local guide in search of the Indri indri. With a barely visible tail, black and white markings and a surprised teddy–bear face, this Lemur is one of the few animals in the world that cannot survive in captivity. There are another 11 species of lemur to try and spot as we walk through the rainforest. We may find a troop of Grey Bamboo Lemurs, Common Brown Lemur, Diademed Sifaka and Black and White Ruffed Lemur. Birdwatchers should look out for the Velvet Asity, Blue Coua, Nuthatch Vanga and many more endemic species. Perinet is home to many reptiles, invertebrates, and some of Madagascar’s over a thousand orchid species. After returning to the lodge we will do another evening hike in search of the many nocturnal species of lemurs and reptiles we could photograph.
After breakfast, we will depart Andasibe and drive for three hours to Manambato. Here we will link up with the boat transfer that will take us to Palmarium. The Palmarium hotel is situated on the edge of the reserve on Lake Ampitabe, Palmarium Reserve. It has nine species of lemurs that can be seen there or nearby, of which three are nocturnal, including the rare and elusive Aye Aye.
In the morning we will visit the private Palmarium Park. The reserve is also known as Ankanin’ny Nofy which translates from Malagasy as ‘nest of dreams’. It is spread across 50 hectares of peninsula land in the Lake Ampitabe area on the East coast of Madagascar, nestled on the banks of the Pangalanes channel and the Indian Ocean. Separated from the latter by thin coastal sand dunes, the landscape otherwise comprises of littoral forest with relatively flat terrain and some well-kept trails for exploration. You will be able to discover the endemic flora and fauna of Madagascar, such as rare palm trees and plants like orchids and mahoganies, as well as reptiles and ten different species of lemurs. In the evening we will head over to a small island in search of the Aye Aye which are protected on this island.
After breakfast we will again head into Ankanin’ny Nofy for more photography and to try and find as many of the lemurs and chameleons that can be found on this island. In between we will have enough down time to relax on the beach or work on Lightroom. In the evening we will do a night walk around the hotel to look for more nocturnal photographic opportunities.
- Day 8 Tana
Today we will transfer to the airport for our private charter flight to Morondava. Upon arrival we will meet our local guide and transfer to our hotel. Morondava is situated in the west of the country, on the delta of the river of the same name at the edge of the Mozambique Channel. Morondava was the centre of the Sakalava Kingdom and is known for its elaborately sculpted wooden royal tombs. These tombs are frequently decorated with well-executed, often erotic, funerary carvings representing life and fertility. The afternoon is at our leisure, we can focus on post processing or we can choose to have a tour around Morondava. In the evening drive about 20km to the Avenue of the Baobabs for a beautiful sunset and fantastic photo opportunities. This is the most iconic view of Madagascar. Overnight at Palissandre Côte Ouest.
After an early breakfast drive again through the “Allée des Baobabs” to enjoy the gorgeous sunrise then continue 50km to the north-east of Morondava to the Kirindy Reserve. This is a privately managed forest that is known as the best place in Madagascar to see the elusive Fossa. It is also home to the very cute Madagascar Giant Jumping Rat, endemic to this forest, and eight lemur species including Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur which is endemic to Kirindy. Birdwatchers can enjoy the 70 bird species including the rare White-Breasted Mesite. The landscape is dry deciduous forest interspersed with towering baobab trees. Three out of the island’s seven baobab species are found here. After a leisurely picnic lunch, we will drive back to Morondava through the “Allée des Baobabs” and enjoy the gorgeous sunset and have some photo opportunities. Overnight at Palissandre Côte Ouest.
After breakfast, we continue onwards with our private charter flight to Tsingy de Bemaraha. On arrival at Amborodia airstrip, we will be met by our local guide, and then transferred by 4X4 vehicle to our hotel. After lunch, we will visit the otherworldly pinnacles of the Petit Tsingy. We will take the Tantely circuit or the Andadoany forest trail depending on your level of fitness. We will look for and photograph some of the 53 bird species and six lemur species that make their home here and take in the fabulous views of the surrounding area. Overnight at Le Soleil des Tsingy.
After breakfast, we will head out for a full day exploration of the “Grand Tsingy.” The walk itself is an adventure: on tiptoe over the sharp roof of the Tsingy, crossing the high roped-bridge, and meandering through pockets of dry deciduous forest. This unique site, a virtual forest of 50 meter high limestone peaks is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and located about 20km from the village of Bekopaka. The Tsingy are razor sharp pinnacles produced by the erosion of limestone massifs over millions of years. The Tsingy shelters a startling array of wildlife: 11 species of lemur including Verreaux and Decken’s Sifaka and the Red-Fronted Brown Lemurs, 103 species of terrestrial and aquatic birds, 15 species of bats, 22 species of amphibians and a variety of reptiles. We will again overnight at Le Soleil des Tsingy.
This morning we will head to Belo sur Tsiribihina and onto visit the Manambolo gorge, home to many interesting rock formations. We travel by dug-out canoe to see the Tombs of the Vazimba tribe from the river. These ancient people were the original inhabitants of Madagascar and grew no more than one metre tall. We spend the afternoon visiting the small Tsingy in The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.
After breakfast we will drive back to the airstrip for our private charter flight to Morondava. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. This afternoon we will focus on arranging and backing up all our images and start working on processing some of the images we have created during the last two weeks. Overnight at Palissandre Côte Ouest.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in time for your private charter flight back to Tana. Upon arrival, our driver guide will meet and accompany us to Relais des Plateaux, our hotel near the airport. At the hotel we will enjoy our last dinner together, work through any questions you might have from the trip and prepare for our flight back home the next day.
After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for your outbound international flight.