Madagascar Overland Encounters

# Group Tour

Madagascar Overland Encounters

14 Days from £3240 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote
14 Days
Group Tour
Primate Watching

Our ever popular small group tour is an overland trip of exceptional variety and scope, using accommodation of a high standard and taking in some of Madagascar’s most rewarding national parks. Led by one of Madagascar’s best local guides, this wildlife filled small group tour is for those looking to experience Madagascar most contrasting environments on an ever-changing overland journey.

Beginning with the bizarre spiny forests of Ifaty in the far south, we then move north through the transitional and baobab forests of Zombitse to the rocky canyon lands of Isalo. Heading north again from here we can enjoy close encounters with ring-tailed lemurs with a backdrop of impressive granite mountains at Anja Park before reaching the lush rainforests of Ranomafana and Kianjavato. After some memorable sightings of the rare wildlife here we make our way back to Tana and to the wonderful species rich rainforests of Andasibe-Mantadia. Here we can enjoy a different cast of rainforest species with one of the highlights, being the largest lemur of all, the magical tail-less indri.

Accommodation is mostly of a surprisingly good standard as you visit some of the island’s highly rewarding and popular national parks. One of the highlights will be a visit to the Kianjavato Forest Reserve, away from the beaten track where we can enjoy some intimate encounters with many lemurs being studied by the Lemur Conservation Network. Here radio-collared agile black-and-white ruffed lemurs and highly endangered greater bamboo lemurs can be observed, usually at close quarters in their natural habitat. While in the evening we have excellent opportunities to find the mysterious nocturnal aye aye on a more strenuous nocturnal walk deep in the forest. Thanks to the research being done by the Kianjavato Project staff at least eight aye ayes are known to be thriving in the forest here and our visit here helps support their important work.

The group has been kept deliberately small in order to maximise wildlife viewing and access to your tour leader and local guides, who really know how and where to find the unique wildlife in their localities.

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Itinerary

Price from £3240 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms. Minimum group size is 5, maximum 8 plus the tour leader

Day 1 - Antananarivo

Arrive in Antananarivo (Tana). Met on arrival and transfer to your hotel.Relais Des Plateaux

Staying at Relais Des Plateaux. Includes No Meals.

Day 2 - Ifaty Spiny Forest

Transfer to the airport to take domestic flight to Tulear. Met on arrival by English speaking guide and explore the spiny forest habitat to the north of Tulear (an area called La Table) to search for localised specialities such as the attractive red-shouldered vanga and highly localised Verreaux’s coua. The birdwatching here will also give you a chance to see some of Madagascar’s more widespread endemic birds such as Madagascar bee-eaters and Madagascar kestrels.

Later return to Tulear and transfer 45 minutes to Ifaty on the coast. In the evening take a night walk in the spiny forest fragment nearby in search of nocturnal lemurs such as the recently described black-shouldered sportive lemur, reptiles and scops owl.

Staying at Les Dunes D'Ifaty. Includes All Meals.

Day 3 - Ifaty Spiny Forest

Morning guided bird watching in the local spiny forest habitat, with a number of special endemic species to see including the sub-desert mesite, Lafresnaye’s vanga, Archbold’s newtonia, Madagascar nightjar, banded kestrel and the main event the brilliant long-tailed ground roller.

The strange spiny forest here contains many endemic plants adapted to the arid conditions and is dominated by the thorny Didiereacae, or octopus, trees and the local baobab, Andansonia rubrostipa (fony). It is also home to many localised reptiles such as the warty chameleon, Dumeril's ground boa and rare radiated tortoise.

Enjoy the afternoon at lesuire at the hotel where you can book optional snorkelling trips to the local coral reef. In the evening we will take another night walk which may reveal the gray-brown mouse lemur.

Staying at Les Dunes D'Ifaty. Includes All Meals.

Day 4 - Zombitse National Park

Today we drive north to Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park, which acts as a transition zone between the dry and the humid forests of Madagascar.

The park supports a wide variety of interesting bird species, many of them endemic, with Zombitse’s special attraction the rare Appert´s tetraka which only lives in this forest and a remote montane evergreen forest at Analavelona. The park is also home to eight lemur species, including the Verreaux´s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, ring-tailed lemur and the endemic Hubbard´s (Zombitse) sportive lemur.

Other bird species include the white-browed owl, red-tailed and Chabert’s vanga, Madagascar cuckoo roller and more.

In the afternoon we will continue the drive to Isalo National Park passing the sapphire mining shantytown of Ilakaka.

Staying at Le Jardin du Roy . Includes All Meals.

Day 5 - Isalo National Park

Today we can enjoy exploring Isalo National Park.

The park, an eroded limestone massif, contains wonderful scenery and unusual plants like the endemic ‘elephant’s foot’ Pachypodium rosalatum and is a sacred burial ground for the Bara tribe. There are many interesting geological sites and places to swim in the park alongside its curious natural history. Wildlife is less diverse here but includes red-fronted brown lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs, jewel chameleons and the localised Benson's rock thrush.

Staying at Le Jardin du Roy. Includes All Meals.

Day 6 - Ranomafana

Today we will continue the drive north through vast open plains where some birds such as the Madagascar marsh harrier and Madagascar partridge could be seen.

We will make an exciting stop at the community-managed Anja Park to see wonderful habituated ring-tailed lemurs. We then continue the drive north to Ranomafana where we can take a short night walk before dinner for various nocturnal species.

Staying at Setam Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 7 - Ranomafana National Park

Morning and afternoon excursions in Ranomafana National Park. Ranomafana is an exceptionally rich high-altitude rainforest reserve where the very rare and locally endemic golden bamboo lemur and eleven other lemur species exist including the beautiful red-bellied lemur and large Milne Edwards sifaka. Birdlife is fantastic with numerous forest specialities to see such as the pitta like ground roller. Over 120 species of endemic frog have also been identified in the area.

The trails can be steep and tough but generally the going is moderate.

Staying at Setam Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 8 - Kianjavato Forest Reserve

Today we will transfer (1 hour 30 mins) east to the Kianjavato Forest Reserve. The Kianjavato Reserve and project is managed by the Madagascar Biodiversity Project and Lemur Conservation Network and was set up to research lemur ecology and threats in fragmented forests.

Here we will spend the day exploring the rainforest trails for two highly endangered species of lemur in particular; the greater bamboo lemur and the southern black-and-white ruffed lemur. we have very good chances to observe these lemurs alongside red-fronted brown lemurs and beautiful red-bellied lemurs.

Later in the afternoon we will head deep into the forest to the site of an aye aye nest thanks to the help of our local guide. As night falls we have an excellent chance to see this elusive species as it sets out for an night of foraging. Please note that the aye aye excursion involves walking the rainforest undergrowth on potentially very steep and slippery trails.

Staying at Setam Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 9 - Ranomafana National Park

Today enjoy another day of morning and afternoon guided walks in the biodiverse Ranomafana National Park. Perhaps explore the higher altitude Vohipara Circuit in the morning where secretive forest dwelling birds such as the yellow-browed oxylabes and beautiful yellow-bellied sunbird asity can be found. In the afternoon perhaps explore the trails near the lookout and focus on the many lemurs found in the reserve.

If unlucky with the aye aye the night before, we have an opportunity to return to Kianjavato this evening for a second try for this wonderful lemur.

Staying at Setam Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 10 - Antsirabe

After perhaps a final morning walk, we will transfer north (6-7 hours) to interesting spa town of Antsirabe stopping at points of interest along the way such as the woodcarving centre of Ambositra, the origin of the intricate inlayed wood designs that are found throughout Madagascar.

Staying at Royal Palace Hotel. Includes All Meals.

Day 11 - Andasibe

This morning we can perhaps visit the handicraft stands in Antsirabe before transferring (3.5 hours) north to Tana for lunch (not included). In the afternoon we will drive east (4 hours) to the village of Andasibe and the Analamazaotra (Andasibe-Mantadia) National Park, also known as Perinet.

In the evening, we will take a night walk along the nearby road for a variety of nocturnal species.

Staying at Vakona Forest Lodge. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 12 - Mantadia

An early drive (1 ½ hours) takes us to Mantadia National Park to the north. Here we can explore the primary rainforest of the National Park in search of its special wildlife.

Highlights will hopefully include the stunning diademed sifaka, indri and very vocal black-and-white ruffed lemur, alongside extraordinary leaf-tail geckos, colourful painted mantella frogs, many chameleons and unusual insects such as the giraffe-necked weevil.

Amongst the exciting birdlife to look for are 4 species of ground roller, the shy red-breasted coua and more common blue and red-fronted couas. In the evening we will take another night walk along a nearby road for more wildlife.

Staying at Vakona Forest Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 13 - Perinet Reserve

This morning we will visit the Analamazotra (Perinet) Reserve or the quieter community run VOIMMA Reserve. Here the wonderful tail-less indris are particularly habituated allowing for some very intimate and memorable sightings and photographic opportunities.

Other diurnal lemur species such as the eastern bamboo lemur, common brown lemur and diademed sifaka can also be found during our time here. Bird highlights might include the nuthatch, red-tailed and blue vangas, Madagacsar cuckoo roller, and if lucky the skulking brown mesite, collared nightjar or a roosting Madagascar long-eared owl.

We return to the hotel for lunch and some time at leisure before another evening walk for nocturnal species.

Staying at Vakona Forest Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 14 - Perinet Reserve

This morning we will visit the Analamazotra (Perinet) Reserve or the quieter community run VOIMMA Reserve. Here the wonderful tail-less indris are particularly habituated allowing for some very intimate and memorable sightings and photographic opportunities.

Other diurnal lemur species such as the eastern bamboo lemur, common brown lemur and diademed sifaka can also be found during our time here. Bird highlights might include the nuthatch, red-tailed and blue vangas, Madagacsar cuckoo roller, and if lucky the skulking brown mesite, collared nightjar or a roosting Madagascar long-eared owl.

In the afternoon, we will return (4 hours) by road to Tana. Transfer to Relais des Plateaux hotel for day use of a room and facilities before your flight. Transfer to the airport later to check in for flight home or onward destination.

Includes Breakfast.

Travel Info

Are Flights Included?
No

Flight Info:
Fly to Antananarivo via Paris from London on Air France. Other options include Kenya Airways via Naiorbi and Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa.

Best visited:
October to October

Area Specialist

Ian Loyd

The aye aye watching at the Kianjavato Reserve can be on quite steep slopes so footwear are highly recommended.

If you have any queries about this tour please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

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It was an excellent trip. I saw a lot of a wonderful country and would like to return. The Malagasy people are lovely. Friendly and hospitable throughout. Everything was done to ensure we were happy and comfortable. Excellent service and wildlife. Wildlife highlights: mating fosas, close encounters with indri, diademed sifaka and ringtailed lemurs above us as we picniced below.

Ms C G - Wiltshire

Route Map

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Setam Lodge: -21.251798, 47.438965
Couleur Café: -19.867319, 47.039745
Le Jardin du Roy: -22.649403, 45.329611
Relais des Plateaux: -18.834180, 47.463010