Madagascar,

The Wildlife of Madagascar’s Magical Forests with Oliver Smart

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Group Tour
17 Days
From 5356
Primate Watching
Birding
Photographic

Tour Introduction

17 Days from 5356 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote

This expert-led small group tour focuses on the photogenic wildlife and landscapes of Madagascar’s three main forest types. It includes unique habitats and iconic wildlife that make Madagascar so unlike anywhere else on Earth. Not only is the fauna and flora found nowhere else, there is also much fascinating evolutionary history behind the wildlife that we will be sure to encounter. In the areas we visit, the animals are mostly habituated thus affording excellent viewing and photographic opportunities. For those who enjoy close, intimate encounters with wildlife and/or have an interest in photography, this is an ideal destination which will be greatly enhanced by the expert guidance and tuition of the tour leader, Oliver Smart.

The special itinerary concentrates on three of Madagascar’s most wildlife-rich reserves, each representing very different habitat and climatic zones, thereby allowing us to sample a wide selection of wildlife. Within these locations we will focus on finding and photographing Madagascar’s most iconic and celebrated species including ring-tailed lemurs, indri, aye aye, “dancing” Verreaux’s sifakas, tiny mouse lemurs, the fossa, all sizes of chameleons and other reptiles and frogs, peculiar insects and also plants ranging from huge baobabs to orchids and pitcher plants.

There will be many stops to experience and photograph the stunning, varied landscapes and gain an insight into the customs, lifestyles and vibrant cultures of various Malagasy tribes. There will be an emphasis on photographic opportunities and tuition in addition to observation of Madagascar’s extraordinary wildlife at a leisurely pace.

The tour will be jointly led by award-winning wildlife photographer, naturalist and ornithologist Oliver Smart and local wildlife expert Daniel Razafimandimby who together will help you make the most of each experience. The combination of their good humour, knowledge and extensive experience in the field will help you gain maximum enjoyment and image results from this exciting adventure.

Click here for full tour details of the 2022 Tour

Full Itinerary

Price from 5356 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms. Minimum group size is 6, maximum 8 plus the two tour leaders.
Day 1
Antananarivo

Arrive Antananarivo (Tana). Met on arrival and transfer to your hotel.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux . Includes No Meals.

Day 2
Antanarivo

Leisurely morning, then a visit to Tsarasaotra Lake for birdwatching. Evening presentation by Oliver Smart.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux . Includes Breakfast.

Day 3
Berenty Reserve

Today we transfer to the airport to take a flight to Fort Dauphin in the far south of Madagascar. On arrival we make the bumpy 4-hour transfer through the eerie spiny forest to the Berenty Private Reserve. Depending on the timing of the flight, we can explore the reserve and take a night walk to look for nocturnal wildlife.

Staying at Berenty Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Berenty Reserve

A full day to enjoy the wildlife of the Berenty Reserve. The gallery and spiny forests of this reserve are famed for their many habituated ring-tailed lemurs and photogenic “dancing” Verreaux’s sifakas.

This is one of the best locations in Madagascar to observe and photograph the "dancing" behaviour of these wonderful sifakas. While the curious and bold ringtails will also provide many memorable encounters and photography as they interact with each other and walk the trails with their tails up in the air. With luck we will also hopefully see some new born baby lemurs clinging to their mothers.

The reserve also supports a large colony of Madagascar flying foxes, white-footed sportive lemurs and gray-brown mouse lemurs. In the evening we can take a night walk in the bizarre spiny forest for its nocturnal species.

Staying at Berenty Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Berenty Reserve

Today we can enjoy another full day of morning and afternoon guided walks on the easy and flat forest trails.

Besides the wonderful lemurs, birds we may see and photograph include the hook-billed and sickle-billed vangas, Madagascar paradise flycatcher, the ashy cuckooshrike, white-browed owl, greater and lesser vasa parrots and the souimanga sunbird. We also spend time with the fascinating reptiles of this habitat such as thick-tailed and fish-scaled geckos, various skinks, warty chameleons and snakes such as the Dumeril’s ground boa.

Staying at Berenty Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Berenty Reserve

We have another morning for wildlife viewing and photography in Berenty. After lunch we will make the 4 hour drive back to Fort Dauphin for the night, stopping to admire and photograph the spiny forest, local villages and mountains along the way.

Staying at Le Croix du Sud. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Antananarivo

Today we will take a domestic flight back to Tana. Depending on the time of the flight we will again visit Tsarasaotra Lake in a district of Tana for some urban birdwatching. Here we can see a variety of waterfowl, egrets, herons, Madagascar malachite kingfishers, swamp warblers, white-throated rails and also many beautiful butterflies and dragonflies.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux . Includes Breakfast.

Day 8
Kirindy Reserve

Today we will transfer to the airport to take our domestic flight to Morondava. On arrival we transfer to the Kirindy Reserve past the Avenue of Baobabs and begin exploring the reserve in search of its special wildlife including eight species of lemur.

The 10,000-hectare Kirindy reserve is a rare remnant of Madagascar’s threatened dry tropical deciduous forest.

Highlights may include the acrobatic Verreaux’s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, the charismatic predatory fossa, narrow-striped mongoose (bokiboky) and birds such as the white-breasted mesite and crested coua.

In the evening we will take a night walk to see nocturnal species including the tiny Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, the smallest primate in the world and the strange giant jumping rat.

Staying at Kirindy Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Kirindy Reserve

Today we will have exciting morning and afternoon guided walks in the Kirindy Reserve in search of its special wildlife. In the late afternoon we will particularly be on the lookout for fossa and narrow striped mongoose around the lodge grounds.

Later in the evening we will take another night walk where we could encounter big-headed panther geckos, ground boas, scops owls and six species of nocturnal lemur.

Staying at Kirindy Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 10
Kirindy and The Avenue of Baobabs

This morning we will have a final morning of wildlife photography around Kirindy. We then transfer back to Morondava for lunch and some time to rest and swim in the pool in the afternoon. In the evening we then return to the Avenue of Baobabs to take enjoy and photograph these iconic 800 year old trees in the best light.

Staying at Palissandre Cote Ouest . Includes All Meals.

Day 11
Andasibe

Today we transfer to the airport for our flight back to Tana. We then continue to transfer (5 hours) on to the village of Andasibe.

In the evening we will take a short night walk along the road outside the hotel to spot and hopefully photograph nocturnal wildlife of the rainforest.

Staying at Vakona Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 12
Perinet Reserve

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

We will also look for other lemur species such as the Eastern grey bamboo lemur, common brown lemur and the stunning diademed sifaka.

Bird highlights might include the nuthatch, red-tailed and blue vangas, Madagascar cuckoo roller, and if lucky the skulking brown mesite or a roosting collared nightjar.

In the afternoon we can visit one of the community-run sections of rainforest such as the VOIMMA Reserve. Here we can usually get very close to indris and bamboo lemurs and we may also find a snuffling tenrec in the leaf litter or a massive Parson's chameleon. As dusk approaches, we will stay in the forest to enjoy the fantastic nocturnal wildlife opportunities here.

Staying at Vakona Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 13
Mantadia National Park

Today we make an early drive (1 ½ hours) takes to explore the old growth rainforest at Mantadia National Park.

Our highlights here will hopefully include encounters with the agile black-and-white ruffed lemur and various frogs such as colourful painted mantella plus nose-horned chameleons and unusual insects like the giraffe-necked weevil.

Mantadia is home to an extraordinary bird life too and we may find some of the beauiful ground rollers as well as several species of vanga and coua.

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

Staying at Vakona Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 14
VOIMMA Reserve Palmarium Reserve

Today we will return to the wonderful rainforest of VOIMMA for more memorable encounters with lemurs, chameleons, frogs and insects.

After lunch we will transfer (4 hours) by road to the village of Manambato and then by boat to the Palmarium Reserve.

In the early evening we visit a small forested islet on the edge of Lake Ampitabe for a close encounter with aye ayes.

Staying at Palmarium Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 15
Palmarium Reserve

Today we can enjoy exploring the Palmarium Reserve on its wide and easy trails.

This is the perfect location for us to enjoy some very intimate sightings and photography with lemurs. The lemurs here including indri, Coquerel's sifaka and crowned lemur have been introduced to the reserve from outside of their natural range and are not truly wild. However, this is a perfect finale to our trip as the lemurs here are very tame and allow exceptionally close views.

Staying at Palmarium Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 16
Antananarivo

Today we make the long but interesting journey back through the rice growing countryside of Eastern Madagascar to Tana. We will arrive at our hotel, Relais Des Plateaux in the late afternoon and have time for a final dinner as well as use of a hotel room before transferring to the airport for our departing flights. (An overnight and airport transfer the next day can also be arranged)

Staying at Relais des Plateaux. Includes Breakfast.

Day 17
Antananarivo

Morning visit to Lemurs Park or City Tour of Tana. Day use of room at the hotel until late night transfer to airport for check in.

Staying at Relais des Plateaux. Includes Breakfast.

Day 18
Paris and London

Catch flight in early hours and depart for Paris, connecting to London.

Staying at In air. Includes In-flight Meals.

Download the full details of this itinerary and start planning your trip today.

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Tour Accommodation

Madagascar Eastern Madagascar

Relais des Plateaux

Overview

Situated about 10 minutes’ drive from the airport, this comfortable three-star hotel set in exotic gardens offers well equipped, en suite rooms including air conditioning, satellite TV, mini-bar, tea and coffee facilities and hair dryer. Each room is decorated in a Malagasy design using local materials and the rooms are arranged in a village layout with good access.

Other facilities in the hotel include a local handicraft shop, restaurant serving delicious French cuisine and local delicacies, bar and swimming pool (heated in the cooler months).

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
42
Facilities

Restaurant, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, mini bar, safety deposit box, satellite TV, direct-dial telephone,

Optional Activities

City tour of Antananarivo, excursion to Ambohimanga Hill, visit to Tsarasaotra Lake (aka. Lac Alarobia) in a district of Tana for some unusual Hauts Plateaux birdwatching.

Madagascar Southern Madagascar

Berenty Lodge

Overview

Established in 1937 as one of the first nature reserves in Madagascar, Berenty is not for everyone, but for the right people it is much appreciated and enjoyed. Accommodation is fairly basic and service is in need of attention but Berenty provides easy walking along well tended, level and wide trails in shady riverine gallery forest and patches of spiny forest where habituated lemurs and other wildlife can easily be seen. It is suitable for families with young children, those with mobility problems and those who relish tame “wilderness” in which plenty of habituated wildlife can be seen.

The lodge and land are owned by the locally powerful de Heaulme family, who developed the extensive, surrounding sisal plantations and owns some hotels in Fort Dauphin, including the Croix du Sud and Le Dauphin.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
25
Facilities

13 bungalows and 12 rooms. Snack bar, restaurant, Antandroy tribal museum, nearby sisal factory

Local Wildlife

Ring-tailed, red-fronted brown, collared brown, white-footed sportive, grey mouse and Verreux’s sifaka lemurs can all be seen quite easily at Berenty. There are also many bird species such as giant coua, souimanga sunbird and hook-billed vanga, and reptiles including radiated tortoise and Oustelet’s chameleon.

Optional Activities

Walking in the private reserve on wide, well-marked trails and within the patches of spiny forest, either independently or with a guide. Guided nocturnal nature walks.

Madagascar Western Madagascar

Kirindy Eco Lodge

Overview

The only accommodation available within Kirindy Special Reserve itself, Kirindy Ecolodge (previously called Kirindy Gite) is operated by the government parks service, Madagascar National Parks.

The accommodation in the past was seriously basic, but now is in renovated yet rustic wooden bungalows with en suite flush toilets and cold showers. Early booking is advisable in high season. Impressive in-camp and nocturnal wildlife encounters may leave you feeling that your night in this simple accommodation was well worthwhile. Bedding is minimal and temperatures can drop at night in the cooler months of June to September when we recommend taking a light sleeping bag and a fleece.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
12
Facilities

Private flush toilets, cold water showers, mosquito nets, restaurant/ lounge area

Local Wildlife

A wonderful place for wildlife, augmented by the iconic Avenue des Baobabs through which you drive en route to Kirindy. The park is best known for its nocturnal wildlife, including fossa and giant jumping rat (both often seen in camp), narrow-striped mongoose and six species of nocturnal lemur: pygmy mouse, grey mouse, red-tailed sportive, pale fork-marked, Coquerel’s dwarf and fat-tailed dwarf lemurs. Diurnal lemurs include Verreaux’s sifaka and red-fronted brown lemur. Several tenrecs occur here: common, lesser hedgehog and large-eared. Some very rare bird species inhabit Kirindy, including white-breasted mesite, Coquerel’s coua, crested coua, sickle-billed vanga and cuckoo roller. It’s also a good location for the surprisingly beguiling hissing cockroach.

Optional Activities

Wildlife walks in Kirindy National Park, both during the day and after dark. Visit the iconic Avenue des Baobabs en route from/to Morondava.

Madagascar Eastern Madagascar

Palmarium Lodge

Overview

Located on the edge of longest canal system in the world; the Pangalanes Canal, the Palmarium Beach Lodge is a simple but comfortable lodge, ideal for families and those keen to see the wonderful aye aye. The lodge is located inside the private Le Palmarium Reserve which means nest of dreams in Malagasy.

The lodge consists of very simple wooden bungalows with solid built en suite bathrooms and mosquito nets located above the beds on the shore of Lake Ampitabe. The bungalows have shared verandas with hammocks and are only a short walk from the lake’s sandy beach and are backed by a private littoral forest reserve, home to a wide range of endemic palms.

The restaurant has a very fresh menu as much of the food comes from the local market and the adjacent main lodge building has a small but comfortable lounge area and bar. The lodge is only accessible by boat and is around 4 hours total travel time from Andasibe including a 1-hour boat ride from Manambato village. Due to its remote location, electricity is only available for limited hours only (between 6 – 11 pm each evening) and there is no Wi-Fi, phone reception or facilities to use Credit or Debit Cards at the lodge.

The Le Palmarium Reserve protects around 50 hectares of coastal littoral rainforest and provides a refuge for a good selection of native wildlife. The wildlife highlight is the population of currently eight aye ayes that live on a small forested islet on the edge of the lake. The aye ayes live wild on the island and forage naturally, but they are also offered coconuts by the local rangers each evening at a designated viewing area affording excellent eye levels.

Although the setting is a little less natural, this excursion offers a very rare and special opportunity to view these mysterious, elusive and fascinating nocturnal lemurs at uniquely close quarters. Flash photography is not allowed, but the local rangers provide sensitive illumination with torches for a great view and some low light photography and video of these remarkable primates. This is by far the easiest location to see and photograph a semi-wild aye aye in Madagascar.

The reserve is also home to numerous diurnal species of lemurs including black-and white ruffed lemur, indri, crowned lemur, black lemur and Coquerel’s sifaka. However, most of these species have been introduced from outside of their natural range and some have also hybridised. Most of these lemurs are very inquisitive and fully habituated, so will often approach to within a few feet in the hope of some banana handouts. Many of the introduced species can be seen in their natural habitat elsewhere in Madagascar, but the site is ideal for keen photographers, looking to take more artistic and abstract images and those keen to see an aye aye.

There are also many reptiles and beautiful endemic frogs to search for as well the superb diversity of orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants, palms and pandanus plants to admire. If spending a few days in the area a boat trip to explore more of canal and lake network is another highlight. As the trails are flat and easy going and the wildlife very easy to view, this is an ideal location for families with young children too.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
30
Facilities

Simple private bathrooms, a large restaurant and lounge with limited use of electricity only between 6 and 11 pm in the evenings. So bring plenty of spare camera batteries.

Local Wildlife

This is the easiest location in Madagascar to see the wonderful nocturnal aye aye. There are eight living semi-wild on a small forested islet on the edge of Lake Ampitabe where coconuts are provided for them each evening by the local rangers. The boat trip to see them departs the lodge at 17:30 ecah evening with a 15 minute boat ride to the iselt, followed by a short walk with a few steps. The whole excursion usually only lasts one hour and is shared by all guests at the Lodge, so can be busy at peak times. Up to four different aye aye have been seen feeding together at the same time, but usually there will only be one or two visible at the same time. Flash photography is not allowed, so a tripod and camera settings suitable for the low light conditions of torchlight only is recommended.

Other wildlife includes the huge tail-less indri and vocal and acrobatic black-and white ruffed lemur although please note these and other diurnal lemur species here have been introduced.Nocturnal Eastern woolly lemurs, tenrecs and a wide range of reptile and frog species can also be found in the reserve as well including the giant hog-nosed snake (Leioheterodon madagascariensis) and blue-back reed frog (Heterixalus madagascariensis). Birdlife is not very diverse but includes the France’s sparrowhawk, Madagascar green sunbird and crested coua.

Optional Activities

Enjoy a boat trip to explore more of the lake and canal system.

Enjoy walking the trails, observing and photographing the lemurs and perhaps swimming in the Lake.

Madagascar

Palissandre Cote Ouest

Overview

Located in the attractive Nosy Kely area of Morondava, and set just steps from its sandy beach, this is one of the best hotels in Morondava. Accommodation consists of 29 comfortable beach front bungalows made of local materials. The large comfortable air-conditioned rooms have a spacious private bathroom, satellite TV, safe and mini bar. Each bungalow has immediate access to the beach but the sea here has strong currents and is not suitable for swimming.

Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant offering international and local cuisine, bar, spa and large swimming pool. There is plenty of seating around the pool and Wi-Fi is also available.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
29
Facilities

Restaurant and bar, private bathrooms with hot water, all rooms are air-conditioned and feature a satellite TV and minibar. There is also a large swimming pool, spa and Wi-Fi.

Madagascar Eastern Madagascar

Vakona Forest Lodge

Overview

Vakona Forest Lodge is conveniently located between the entrances of Analamazaotra (Perinet) and Mantadia rainforest reserves, just north of Andasibe Village and around four hours’ drive from Antananarivo. It is one of the most comfortable hotels in the Andasibe area with a peaceful and attractive location.

Bungalows are built surrounding a lake with a eucalyptus forest backdrop. All the bungalows are en-suite with mosquito nets over the beds, hot water showers and heaters for the cool winter evenings. Family bungalows have a mezzanine level for children.

The restaurant, which is built over the lake, serves mainly French-inspired cuisine on a set menu or more exciting a la carte (remember to ask to see it). Meals can be taken inside or on the terrace. Service is friendly but can be a little slow.

There is a small swimming pool for guests and Vakona Lodge has its own stables where horse riding from beginner to experienced standard can be undertaken on forest trails. There are also various walking trails into the forest from the lodge. There is also a games room for children.

Vakona Lodge also owns ‘Vakona Island’ where a brief canoe ride takes guests to enjoy a ‘lemur on the shoulder’ experience. Please be aware that these lemurs have not necessarily been ‘rescued’ from anywhere other than the wild. Similarly Vakona Lodge owns a small private zoo / crocodile park where caged wildlife can be seen. Not recommended from an animal welfare standpoint.

Vakona Forest Lodge is probably the most conveniently located lodge of this standard for the parks.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
28
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, lounge, swimming pool, private bathrooms, hot water and 24-hour electricity.

Local Wildlife

Indri, diademed sifaka, black and white ruffed lemur and eastern bamboo lemur can be seen during the day, while Goodman's mouse lemur, Crossley's dwarf lemur and eastern woolly lemur can be spotted at night. Other abundant wildlife includes Parson's chameleon, leaf chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos, giraffe-necked weevils. Birds include the scaly- and short-legged ground rollers, red-fronted coua, velvet- and sunbird asitys, blue- and nuthatch vangas, forest fody and more.

Optional Activities

Wildlife walks in the rainforest, horse riding, canoeing and squash.

Route Map

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Berenty Lodge: -25.004915, 46.302052
Relais des Plateaux: -18.834180, 47.463010
Palissandre Cote Ouest: -20.300007, 44.267781
Kirindy Gite: -20.067050, 44.657240
Andasibe Hotel: -18.922638, 48.408489
Palmarium Beach Lodge: -18.605185, 49.213421

Departure Dates

Tour Dates
Adult Price
Single Supp
01/09/2022
5356
853

Travel Information

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:

September to October

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Alan Godwin

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965

We had an EXCELLENT honeymoon – the preparations Reef & Rainforest made and the package put together were very well done. All guides excellent.

Ms N & Mr F, Gillingham