Madagascar’s Endemic Birds

# Tailor-Made Tour

Madagascar’s Endemic Birds

20 Days from $5,671 per adult. All trip details below can be tailored just for you
20 Days
Tailor-Made Tour
Primate Watching

This comprehensive itinerary has been specially designed for those looking to focus on Madagascar’s unique and fascinating birdlife in addition to its wide range of other wildlife. This special route takes in some of Madagascar’s most biodiverse habitats and enables one to see a great range of its most iconic bird and lemur species in their natural habitats.

Starting with the ancient spiny forests of the arid south, a range of localised and specially adapted species can be found. These include the sub-desert mesite, banded kestrel, running coua and the fantastic long-tailed ground roller. From here an exciting journey north commences firstly taking in the transitional forests of Zombitse National Park, before heading into the open plains and rocky canyons of Isalo National Park. Alongside many great birds, family groups of ring-tailed lemurs, Verreaux’s sifakas and the endemic Zombitse sportive lemur may also be seen along the way.

Next comes the lush montane rainforest of Ranomafana National Park; home for some of the most endangered of Madagascar’s birds and lemurs plus a staggering 120 species of endemic frog. This wonderful National Park deserves plenty of time for exploration and offers different forest elevations and niches for wildlife including the attractive yellow-bellied sunbird asity, pitta-like ground roller and the golden and greater bamboo lemurs. The nearby rainforest and lemur research station of Kianjavato can also be explored for a chance to see the most bizarre of all lemurs, the gremlin-like aye aye.

Further north, is the rainforest of Andasibe where a different cast of birdlife, lemurs and other wildlife can be found. The old growth primary rainforests of Mantadia are a highlight with the stunning scaly ground roller and agile black-and white ruffed lemur with the song of the indri often in the background. The recently researched Antavalobe rainforest also now offers the chance to spot the spectacular helmet vanga and rare Bernier’s vanga, both species which until recently were only possible to find in the remote north east.

The last destination is different again with dry deciduous forest in the North West. Here a plethora of exciting birds and different lemurs can be found in the wildlife rich Ankarafantsika National Park, Katsepe Peninsula and nearby Betsiboka River Estuary. This special itinerary is a perfect choice for those looking to experience each of Madagascar’s main ecosystems.


Price from $5,671 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms

Day 1 - Antananarivo

Arrive Antananarivo, met on arrival and transfer to your hotel.

Staying at Au Bois Vert. Includes No Meals.

Day 2 - Ankarafantsika National Park

Transfer to the airport for domestic flight to Majunga on the West coast. On arrival transfer (2 hours) south to Ankarafantsika National Park. Here you can enjoy your first exploration of the Park in the late afternoon and evening.

Staying at Park Bungalows . Includes All Meals.

Day 3 - Ankarafantsika National Park

Today enjoy a full day to explore the wonderful wildlife rich habitats of Ankarafantsika National Park (aka. Ampijoroa Forest Station). The Park is characterised by typical western dry deciduous forest (Dalbergia-Commiphora-Hidegardia).

There are many localised avain specialities here to see such as the rare Madagascar fish eagle, Van Dam’s vanga, Schlegel’s asity, white-breasted mesite and Coquerel’s and red-capped couas. One of the mammalian highlights will be the stunning Coquerel’s sifakas which often make acrobatic leaps through the trees.

An evening night walk in search of nocturnal species will include the highly range restricted golden-brown mouse lemur as well as the Milne-Edwards’s sportive lemur and Western woolly lemur.

Staying at Park Bungalows. Includes All Meals.

Day 4 - Ankarafantsika National Park

Today enjoy another full day to explore the National Park, exploring different trails and perhaps taking a boat trip around Lake Ravelobe, good for sightings of the fish eagle. There are also excellent bird watching towers where it is easy to watch glossy ibis, night herons and egrets in the reed beds.

More widespread dry forest species include sickle-billed, white-headed, hook-billed, blue and rufous vangas, Frances’s sparrowhawk, greater and lesser vasa parrots, Sakalava weaver and many more.

Take another night walk in the evening.

Staying at Park Bungalows. Includes All Meals.

Day 5 - Antananarivo

Today you can enjoy a final morning of wildlife watching at the Park Headquaters. Later into the morning depart for a long drive (approx. 8 hours) south back to Antananarivo though changing landscapes and stops for photographs and lunch. (It is also possible to fly back to Antananarivo if preffered)

Staying at Au Bois Vert. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.

Day 6 - Ifaty Spiny Forest

Transfer to the airport to take domestic flight to Tulear in the South. Met on arrival by your guide and transfer 45 minutes north to the coastal village of Ifaty. Ponds along the journey can offer sightings of painted snipe and a variety of herons and egrets. In the afternoon explore the local spiny forest habitat and take a night walk.

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

Day 7 - 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). Later in the day explore areas of coastline and mudflats where the endangered Madagascar plover can often be spotted. Perhaps search for other localised bird species such as the Madagascar sandgrouse.

In the evening take another night walk which may reveal the gray-brown mouse lemur, a lesser hedgehog tenrec or a warty chameleon.

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

Day 8 - Ifaty Spiny Forest

This morning take another early morning birdwatching excursion in either the Mosa or Reniala spiny forest reserves. Later in the morning enjoy some time at leisure for Optional excursions such as snorkelling on the nearby coral reef or whale watching.

After lunch transfer south to Tulear and search for more bird specialities of the far south. In the late afternoon explore the strange spiny forest collection and wildlife of the Antsokay Arboretum.

Staying at Auberge de La Table . Includes All Meals.

Day 9 - La Table and Zombitse National Park

This morning 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 Verreaux’s coua.

Later in the morning 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. Other species include the white-browed owl, red-tailed and Chabert’s vanga, Madagascar cuckoo roller and more. The park is also home to eight lemur species, including the Verreaux´s sifaka and the endemic Hubbard´s (Zombitse) sportive lemur.

In the afternoon continue the drive to Isalo National Park.

Staying at Isalo Ranch . Includes All Meals.

Day 10 - Isalo National Park

Today 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 the localised Benson's rock thrush and dry country bird species such as Madagascar hoopoe and harrier hawk, plus
jewel chameleons and ring-tailed lemurs.

Staying at Isalo Ranch . Includes All Meals.

Day 11 - Anja Park and Ranomafana

Drive north through vast open plains that are mostly quiet, but open country species such as Madagascar marsh harrier, Madagascar harrier hawk, Madagascar partridge, Madagascar bush lark and Madagascar cisticola can be found here.

Stop at the community-managed Anja Park to see habituated ring-tailed lemurs, before continuing the north to Ranomafana National Park.

Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 12 - Ranomafana National Park

Enjoy morning and afternoon guided walks in Ranomafana National Park, in search of its exceptional bird diversity. Well over 100 bird species have been recorded in the park with specialities including the attractive pitta-like, short-legged and rufous-headed ground rollers, Madagascar wood rail, red-fronted coua, yellow-browed oxylabels, velvet and yellow-bellied sunbird asitys and brown mesite to name a few.

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

There are different trails that offering access to different altitudes and different habitat niches within the National Park for a variety of secretive forest dwelling bird
species. Take a night walk in search of nocturnal wildlife in the evening.

Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 13 - Ranomafana National Park

Enjoy another day of guided excursions within Ranomafana National Park. Ranomafana is an exceptionally rich high-altitude rainforest where the very rare golden bamboo lemur and eleven other lemur species also exist including the critically endangered greater bamboo lemur and beautiful Milne Edwards’s sifaka and red-bellied lemur.

A staggering 120 endemic frog species have also been recorded within the park. While the large O'Shaughnessy's chameleon and camouflaged satanic leaf-tailed gecko are among the reptile highlights.

Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 14 - Ranomafana National Park

Today perhaps explore more of the high altitude Vohiparara trail which is the best location to find the endangered yellow-bellied sunbird asity, brown emutail, yellow-browed and white-throated oxylabes and the elusive cryptic warbler. An area of montane marsh offers good chances to see Madagascar snipe and grey emutail can also be found here too. The forest close to this marsh is a reliable area to find the skulking brown mesite and a henst goshawk nest has been in this area in recent years too.

If of interest, perhaps visit the nearby Kianjavato Forest Reserve in the evening to search for the nocturnal aye aye.

Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 15 - Antsirabe

Spend the early morning on a final walk in the forest at Ranomafana National Park. Later transfer north to the interesting spa town of Antsirabe with stops along the journey.

Staying at Soa Guesthouse . Includes All Meals.

Day 16 - Andasibe

This morning visit the fascinating handicraft stalls of Antsirabe, if of interest, before transferring north to Antananarivo for lunch. In the afternoon continue the drive to the village of Andasibe.

Staying at Feon Ny Ala . Includes All Meals.

Day 17 - Mantadia National Park

Early drive (1 ½ hours) to Mantadia National Park to the north. Enjoy a full day with a packed lunch to explore the primary rainforest of the National Park in search of its special birds. Amongst the exciting birdlife to look for in this area are 4 species of ground roller with the stunning scaly-ground roller and colourful pitta-like ground roller particular targets of this park.

The shy red-breasted coua is another speciality of this forest and can be found with patience and effort while the blue and red-fronted couas are more common.

You will hopefully also find the stunning diademed sifaka, indri and vocal black-and-white ruffed lemur alongside other wildlife such as extraordinary leaf-tail geckos, colourful painted mantella frogs and giraffe-necked weevils. Take a night walk in the evening for nocturnal wildlife.

Staying at Feon Ny Ala . Includes All Meals.

Day 18 - Andasibe (Analamazaotra)

This morning visit the Perinet (Analamazaotra) Reserve. Birdlife here includes the Madagascar long-eared owl, collared nightjar, Madagascan wood-rail and pygmy kingfisher.

This is also the best place to see the largest lemur species, the indri, along with common brown and eastern grey bamboo lemurs, diademed sifakas, huge Parson's chameleons and the wonderful giraffe-necked weevil. Take a night walk in the evening in the nearby Vohimana Reserve.

Staying at Feon Ny Ala . Includes All Meals.

Day 19 - Antavolobe Reserve

Today drive (1.5 hours) to the forest at Antavolobe for a full day exploration with a packed lunch to search for the striking helmet vanga. This unmistakable and spectacular species has only very recently been discovered at this site so can be elusive. However, with the help of local spotters there is reasonable chance of finding one of these impressive vangas.

The even rarer Bernier’s vanga is also present in the old growth forest at Antavalobe as well as other forest dwellers such as the blue coua, red-tailed vanga, spectacled tetraka and Madagascar cuckoo roller.

Please note that the walking conditions here can vary and can require walking up some steep trails and uneven terrain. Other walks and areas of forest can be visited instead if preferred.

Staying at Feon Ny Ala . Includes All Meals.

Day 20 - Andasibe

Morning excursion to the Torotorofotsy Marsh where the endangered slender-billed flufftail can occasionally be seen with some patience along with Madagascar snipe and rails and the skulking grey emutail. Also visit the main Perinet rainforest reserve again to see more exciting rainforest species.

After lunch return to Antananarivo and enjoy day use of a room at the Au Bois Vert Hotel before transferring to the airport.

Staying at Au Bois Vert. Includes Breakfast.

Travel Info

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

Flight Info:
Fly to Antananarivo with Air France, Kenya Airways or Ethiopian Airlines.

Best Visited:
September to December

Area Specialist

Ian Loyd

For those looking for a greater opportunity to see the wonderful helmet vanga, we would recommend a stay in the Masoala Peninsula where sightings are easier than in Antavalobe Reserve. While in the Majunga region, remote multi day extensions involving lots of driving on very poor roads can also be arranged to see the rare Sakalava rail at Kinkony Lake and the Madagascar pochard and Madagascar red owl too.

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

It was lovely to meet Helen face-to-face and to devise the ideal trip with her – her enthusiasm for Madagascar certainly confirmed us in our choice of destination. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides, seemed genuinely interested in their work and in interacting with tourists. Invaluable in spotting wildlife and discussing uses of local medicinal plants. [Our escort guide] was a delightful companion on our journey in Madagascar and very solicitous of our welfare. We were thrilled by the wildlife. Without the keen insight and knowledge of our guides we would certainly have failed to spot the giraffe-necked weevil and stick insects. The night walks were very productive – several mouse lemurs. The first sight of indris was an especial thrill as was the sight of a sleeping mouse lemur in broad daylight. Perhaps the most rewarding experience occurred when the lemurs came to us – six ring-tailed lemurs in Isalo, sifakas on the balcony in Anjajavy, flocks of grey-headed lovebirds on the lawn at breakfast. An excellent tour which gave us a good insight into the wildlife and potential conservation issues in Madagascar. We had opportunities to visit local communities. We were most impressed by the efficiency in ensuring a trouble-free and very enjoyable time in Madagascar. Our tour leader and driver were delightful and very hard working. We shall certainly look forward to booking a further tour with you.

Mr & Mrs V - Ashprington, Devon

Route Map

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Pavillion De Lemyrne: -18.912726, 47.520375
Relais de la Reine: -22.645114, 45.331823
Andasibe Hotel: -18.922638, 48.408489
Karibu Hotel: -15.714723, 46.300732
Les Dunes d\'Ifaty: -23.131323, 43.606110