The Endemic Birds and Lemurs of Madagascar

# Tailor-Made Tour

The Endemic Birds and Lemurs of Madagascar

20 Days from £5743 per adult. All trip details below can be tailored just for you
20 Days
Tailor-Made Tour
Primate Watching
Birding

This extensive itinerary has been specially designed for those looking to focus on Madagascar’s unique and fascinating birdlife in addition to a wide range of its other wonderful wildlife. This special customised itinerary 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.

Itinerary

Price from £5743 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms

Day 1 - Antananarivo

Depart London. Arrive Tana, met on arrival and transfer to your hotel.

Staying at Au Bois Vert. Includes In-flight Meals.

Day 2 - Ifaty

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, reptiles and scops owl.

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

Day 3 - Ifaty

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 Madagascar plover can often be spotted and perhaps search for other localised species such as the Madagascar sandgrouse. In the evening 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 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, red-fronted brown lemur, ring-tailed lemur and the endemic Hubbard´s (Zombitse) sportive lemur.

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

Staying at Relais de la Reine. Includes All Meals.

Day 5 - Isalo and Anja parks

Enjoy some pre breakfast birding in the surrounding area for more widespread endemics and the localised subspecies of forest rock thrush; Benson’s rock thrush. Continue the 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 all be found here.

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

Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 6 - Ranomafana National Park

Enjoy a full day guided expedition (with packed lunch) in Ranomafana National park, in search of its exceptional bird diversity. 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 tough but generally the going is moderate.

There are different trails that offering access to different altitudes and different habitat niches within the 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 7 - Ranomafana National Park

Enjoy another full 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.

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.

Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 8 - Kianjavato Forest Reserve

Today transfer 1 hour 30 mins 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.

Spend the day exploring the rainforest, tree nursey and education centre at Kianjavato with a biologist studying two critically endangered species of lemur in the local area; the greater bamboo lemur and the southern black-and-white ruffed lemur. You can enjoy tracking both of these species with the help of local guides and GPS trackers. In the evening search for the elusive aye aye with the assistance of the research team.

Staying at SETAM Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 9 - Antananarivo

After perhaps a final morning walk in search of species proving elusive, transfer north (9-10 hours) to Tana stopping at points of interest such as the handicraft market of Antsirabe. Check in to your hotel in TANA for the night.

Staying at Pavillion de Lemyrne. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.

Day 10 - Andasibe

Morning transfer to Andasibe and Analamazaotra (Andasibe-Mantadia) National Park, also known as Perinet.

Afternoon excursion to Mitsinjo forest, a community-managed part of Analamazaotra rainforest. The forest here supports lowland streaked tenrecs, indris, the tiny Goodman’s mouse lemur, eastern woolly lemur and furry-eared dwarf lemur as well as Malagasy tree boa, many species of chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos and endemic frogs. Take a night walk once dark for the nocturnal species.

Staying at Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.

Day 11 - Mantadia National Park

Early drive (1 ½ hours) to Mantadia National Park to the north. Full day with 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 Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.

Day 12 - Antavalobe Reserve

Today drive (1.5 hours) to the forest at Antavolobe for a full day exploration with a packed lunch to search for the very elusive and striking helmet vanga. This unmistakable species has only very recently been discovered at this site and can prove elusive here. However with the help of local spotters there is reasonable chance of discovering and watching one of these spectacular birds on or near its nest. The rare Bernier’s vanga is also present in the forest at this site 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.

Staying at Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.

Day 13 - Perinet Reserve

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 the main Perinet rainforest reserve. This reserve is 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 birdlife includes the Madagascar long-eared owl, collared nightjar, Madagascan wood-rail and pygmy kingfisher.

In the afternoon transfer 4 hours back to Tana. On arrival back in Tana check in to the hotel for the evening.

Staying at Au Bois Vert. Includes Breakfast.

Day 14 - Majunga

Pick up from the hotel and transfer to the airport. Take domestic flight to Majunga on the west coast. Met on arrival and transfer to the hotel. Spend the afternoon relaxing at the hotel or explore nearby lakes depending on the time of the flight.

Staying at Karibu Hotel . Includes All Meals.

Day 15 - Betsiboka River Delta, Majunga

An early departure from the hotel to transfer to the port. Take a boat trip into the Betsiboka River Delta and mangroves in search of a wide range of wetland birds in a private boat. This is the stronghold of the Madagascar teal, and the local subspecies of sacred ibis as well as waders such as terek sandpiper, plus Humboldt’s heron and greater and lesser crested terns are also frequently seen. Return to the hotel and enjoy some time at leisure.

Staying at Karibu Hotel . Includes All Meals.

Day 16 - Katsepe Peninsula

Early pick up from the hotel and transfer to dock. Transfer by boat (40 minutes) across the estuary to the Katsepe Peninsula. Disembark on the beach and then walk (30 mins) to the Lighthouse. The forest fragment around the lighthouse offers superb opportunities to see and photograph the rare crowned sifaka as well as mongoose lemur and rufous brown lemur.

After lemur watching return to the beach for a lunch before returning to Majunga and driving (2 hours) south to Ankarafantsika National Park. Arrive at your lodge in the early evening.

Staying at Blue Vanga Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 17 - Ankarafantsika National Park

Enjoy a full day to explore Ankarafantsika National Park (aka. Ampijoroa Forest Station)in search of its many localised avain specialities such as the Van Dam’s vanga, Schlegel’s asity, white breasted mesite and Coquerel’s and red-capped couas. 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.

The park is characterised by typical Dalbergia-Commiphora-Hidegardia western deciduous forest that covers most of the reserve with its dense, low canopy.

In the evening take a night walk in search of nocturnal species including the highly range restricted golden-brown mouse lemur, gray mouse lemur, Milne Edwards’s sportive lemur and western woolly lemur.

Staying at Blue Vanga Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 18 - Ankarafantsika National Park

Enjoy another full day to explore different trails through this wonderful National Park. There are various walking trails and areas of interest to explore during your stay to be decided with your guide. Excursions can include a gentle boat ride around Ravelobe Lake offering excellent chances to see the rare Madagascar fish eagle and a range wetland species.

Around the park headquarters at Ampijoroa, groups of the stunning and acrobatic Coquerel’s sifaka and common brown lemur can be routinely encountered in the mango trees. This is also the site of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’s exemplary Angonoka Project for the conservation of the ploughshare tortoise, the rarest in the world. Enjoy a final night walk around the park boundary.

Staying at Blue Vanga Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 19 - Antananarivo

Today leave the lodge for a long drive (approx. 8 hours) south back to Tana though changing landscapes and stops for photographs and lunch. Arrive in Tana in the late afternoon and enjoy day use of a room and the facilities of Au Bois Vert before your flight home.

Staying at Au Bois Vert. Includes Breakfast.

Day 20 - London

Depart Tana on flight back to London (or other regional airport) via Paris. Arrive London in the early afternoon.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Travel Info

Are Flights Included?
Yes

Flight Info:
Fly to Antananarivo with Air France 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 Antavlobe 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 Sakalava rail at Kinkony Lake and Madagascar pochard and Madagascar red owl too by special request.

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

Having recently returned from a truly memorable 3 weeks in Madagascar we wanted to express our sincerest thanks to you Helen, and all at Reef and Rainforest for arranging such a superb wildlife viewing experience.

As you are aware, we were particularly keen to see and photograph the fosa. At Kirindy forest we actually encountered 3. Despite the rather challenging accommodation we would highly recommend the Kirindy experience to all those wanting an exceptional primate viewing experience.
Overall our lemur species/subspecies count was 22 and other notable sightings included 2 species of mongoose, giant jumping rats, a huge Madagascar ground boa, humpback whales and the Madagascar fish eagle.

Every detail of the trip from start to finish was superbly well arranged and managed, which cannot be easy in a country with such complex problems. Well done Helen.
All aspects of the trip were outstanding. Wildlife, people, culture and geography. We will certainly return again to visit the north of the island and return to paradise, Anjajavy.
This was our second trip with Reef and Rainforest and I cannot speak highly enough of your company. I would recommend your services to any natural world/wildlife enthusiast. Thank you again.

Mrs A & Mr J W, Selkirk

Route Map

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Pavillion De Lemyrne: -18.912726, 47.520375
Setam Lodge: -21.251798, 47.438965
Au Bois Vert: -18.824275, 47.490774
Blue Vanga Lodge: -16.332208, 46.848101
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