Quest for the Aye Aye and Undiscovered Masoala

# Tailor-Made Tour

Quest for the Aye Aye and Undiscovered Masoala

10 Days from £2745 per adult. All trip details below can be tailored just for you
10 Days
Tailor-Made Tour
Primate Watching
Birding
Whale Watching
Off The Beaten Track

Experience a beautifully wild region of Madagascar, well away from the beaten track on this exciting tailor-made itinerary to Madagascar’s largest rainforest. A particular focus and highlight of this itinerary is the excellent chance to see the most mysterious, charismatic and extraordinary of all Madagascar’s lemurs; the wonderful aye aye truly in the wild.

The aye aye was once described by Gerald Durrell as resembling a Walt Disney witch’s black cat with a touch of ET thrown in for good measure. They are sadly very rare throughout much of Madagascar and still sadly persecuted as certain tribes believe they represent an ill omen.

The Farankaraina Reserve visited at the start of this itinerary however offers excellent chances to see this most elusive of all nocturnal lemurs. At least eight aye aye live within the forest here and during August, September and October particularly they can reliably be seen feeding on fruit bearing Canarium trees. At this time we have had close to a 90% success rate with aye aye sightings over a two night stay in the last three years.

After hopefully some very memorable aye aye sightings, move on to explore the vast virgin rainforests of the pristine Masoala National Park. Masoala supports some Madagascar’s greatest biodiversity with species new to science still being discovered here most years. Much of the fauna and flora is also highly localised and found nowhere else in Madagascar. Lemurs include the attractive red-ruffed, white-fronted brown and Northern bamboo, while bird highlights include the helmet vanga. This mossy forest also supports numerous leaf-tailed geckos, colourful chameleons and fascinating insects. During August and September breeding humpback whales add to the wildlife spectacle.

For those looking for a greater level of comfort and more reliable charter flights, we recommend upgrading accommodation in Masoala to the excellent Masoala Forest Lodge.

 

Itinerary

Price from £2745 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms

Day 1 - Antananarivo

Arrive into Antananarivo (Tana). Met on arrival at the airport and transfer 10 minutes to your nearby hotel.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux. Includes No Meals.

Day 2 - Farankaraina Forestry Reserve

This morning pick up from the hotel and transfer (15 minutes) back to the airport to take Tsaradia flight TZ 416 at 1245 to Maroantsetra arriving 1400.

On arrival transfer by road (20 minutes) and motorised canoe (45 minutes) and finally on foot (1-hour easy walk) to the Farankaraina Forestry Reserve. Porters will be on hand to carry your main luggage to the bungalows, but a day rucksack is recommended.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the forest of Farankaraina in search of wildlife. In the evening take a roughly 40-minute night walk into the forest to look for aye aye.

Staying at Farankaraina Bungalow. Includes All Meals.

Day 3 - Farankaraina Forestry Reserve

A full day to explore the Farankaraina Forestry Reserve for wildlife or perhaps visit a local village.

The Northern bamboo lemur can often be found in the stands of giant bamboo next to the reserve bungalows along with white-fronted brown lemurs. Also look out for the ring-tailed vontsira, tenrecs and even crabs on the forest floor, plus a variety of frogs along the streams.

In the evening take a second night walk to hopefully enjoy some more aye aye watching.

Although sightings can never be guaranteed of this rare species, this area of forest supports a particularly high density of this fascinating nocturnal lemur (at least eight individuals). Sightings of aye ayes here during August, September and October are usually particularly reliable due to the abundance of endemic Canarium trees that will have fruit that aye ayes love.

During the day your guide will scout favoured feeding trees for recent signs of feeding activity and check which trees are bearing fruit and are most likely to be attracting them. On some occasions up to four aye ayes have even been seen feeding in the same tree.

Staying at Farankaraina Bungalow. Includes All Meals.

Day 4 - Nosy Mangabe and Masoala

This morning after an early breakfast, walk back to the river (approx. 1 walk) and then transfer by boat, back to the Maroantsetra dock where you will switch to a larger boat for the crossing into the Bay of Antongil and to the Masoala Peninsula.

Stop at the beautiful offshore island of Nosy Mangabe to see giant leaf-tailed geckos, (Uroplatus fimbriatus), green-backed (climbing) mantella frogs, white-fronted brown and black-and-white ruffed lemurs.

Continue approx 2 hours depending on the sea state to the Masoala Peninsula. On arrival, settle in to your simple lodge next to both the forest and beach.

Staying at EcoLodge Chez Arol. Includes All Meals.

Day 5 - Masoala National Park

Today enjoy a full day of guided exploration in the Masoala National Park. Search for the incredible wildlife found in this pristine rainforest covering 210,000 hectares.

Highlights include the beautiful red-ruffed lemur, found only in this Park, the Parson's and panther chameleons and the impressive helmet vanga.

The forest is rich in plant diversity too with numerous species of orchids, many locally endemic palms, epiphytes and ferns to discover.

Staying at EcoLodge Chez Arol. Includes All Meals.

Day 6 - Masoala National Park

Enjoy another full day of guided excursions from the lodge. You can choose whether to return to the Masoala National Park or explore more of the coastal rainforest on flatter trails.

This is an excellent area for birds with the scaly and short-legged ground rollers, tylas and Bernier's vangas, red-breasted, red-fronted and blue coua and velvet asity among key species. This forest also supports an extraordinary diversity of frogs, many locally endemic and also several tiny Brookesia leaf chameleons.

Other options include visiting the local villages to learn about the cultivation of vanilla and other products or snorkelling in the nearby marine reserve (weather dependent).

Staying at EcoLodge Chez Arol. Includes All Meals.

Day 7 - Masoala National Park

Enjoy another full day of guided activities from the lodge. Each day's activities are flexible and can be customised around your interests and discussed with your private guide at your disposal.

Perhaps take a night walk in the grounds of the lodge this evening where nocturnal Masoala sportive and mouse lemurs, frogs and tenrecs may be spotted.

Staying at EcoLodge Chez Arol. Includes All Meals.

Day 8 - Masoala National Park

Enjoy another full day of guided activities from the lodge. Each day's activities are flexible and can be customised around your interests and discussed with your guide.

Staying at EcoLodge Chez Arol. Includes All Meals.

Day 9 - Antananarivo

Today depart the lodge early for the boat transfer (1-3 hours) back to Maroantsetra.

Look out for the Madagascar pratincole, flocks of crested terns and occasionally even bottle-nosed dolphins or humpback whales (July - Sep) on the journey. On arrival back in Maroantsetra look for the locally endemic tomato frog in the ditches around the town on arrival.

Transfer to Maroantsetra airport and take Tsaradia flight TZ 417 at 1435 to Tana arriving 1550. Met on arrival at the airport and transfer 10 minutes to the hotel.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux. Includes Breakfast.

Day 10 - Antananarivo

Morning transfer to the airport. Check in for international flight or domestic flight to another region of Madagascar.

Includes Breakfast.

Travel Info

Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:
If flying from the UK, Air France has flights from London and Manchester via Paris. Other flight options include Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.

Best Visited:
June to December

Area Specialist

Ian Loyd

For those looking for a greater level of comfort and more reliable charter flights, we recommend upgrading accommodation in Masoala to the excellent Masoala Forest Lodge.

This itinerary can be combined with several other regions of Madagascar, so please ask us for suggestions on how other locations can be combined.

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

“It was a fab trip. Everything went very well in Madagascar. All the local guides were really good but special praise goes to [our guide] at Andasibe – so knowledgeable and interesting. He, like all the guides, showed a real love for the wildlife and environment. Excellent wildlife: highlights – fosas in daylight within 10 mins of the first rainforest walk, diademed sifakas, golden bamboo and ringtailed lemurs and giraffe necked weevil.

Ms J B - London

Route Map

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Relais des Plateaux: -18.834180, 47.463010
Farankaraina Bungalows: -15.435637, 49.839778
EcoLodge Chez Arol: -15.712062, 49.964028