The Wildlife of Madagascar’s Magical Forests with Oliver Smart

# Group Tour

The Wildlife of Madagascar’s Magical Forests with Oliver Smart

15 Days from £4783 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote
15 Days
Group Tour
Primate Watching

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

This special itinerary concentrates on three of Madagascar’s most wildlife-rich reserves that fall within very different habitat and climate zones, giving us a chance to sample a great 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 that enable us to experience the very different landscapes and gain an insight into the customs, lifestyles and vibrant cultures of friendly Malagasy tribes. There will be an emphasis on photographic opportunities and tuition in addition to observation of Madagascar’s special 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


Price from £4783 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 - 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 3 - 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 4 - 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 5 - 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 6 - Antananarivo

Today we will take a domestic flight back to Tana. Depending on the time of the flight we will then 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 7 - 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 8 - 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 9 - 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 Breakfast.

Day 10 - 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 Andasibe Hotel. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 11 - 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 Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.

Day 12 - 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 Andasibe Hotel. Includes All Meals.

Day 13 - 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 14 - 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 15 - 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.

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:
September to October

Area Specialist

Ian Loyd

With the majority of the key wildlife species that could be encountered there should be good opportunities for photography, although please note that some patience, perseverance and luck will always be a factor with any photography. For most of the wildlife on this trip a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera with a telephoto lens between 300-600 mm or a powerful zoom or bridge camera will produce the best results. Madagascar has some superb landscapes, so a wide-angle lens is also ideal if you have one and there will also be plenty of smaller wildlife that a macro or smaller lens will be most useful for and is highly recommended. A tripod can be very useful in many situations in Madagascar particularly with landscape and night sky images. It can also be very useful for aye aye and nocturnal wildlife photography which will be in very low light conditions. However, a tripod is not all that necessary for most of the daytime wildlife photography on this tour, which will sometimes involve fast moving lemurs under forest canopies, so handheld photography will also be best in some situations.


Perhaps also extend your stay in Madagascar with a few days at a beach location with more wildlife such as the lovely Eden Lodge near Nosy Be, the Dunes Hotel near Ifaty or the luxurious Anjajavy Hotel.

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

Download PDF

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

Thanks to everyone at Reef and Rainforest for making our holiday so memorable. I came home feeling like we had great experiences in Madagascar and that our itinerary had been really well planned to ensure we saw a great variety of what the country is about. Ian and the team were fantastic while we were away in fixing the one small issue we had but then ensuring we had day use of the hotel in Tulear, that we were on time for the plane and in upgrading some of our accommodation. The attentiveness of the company while we were away was really unusual for a tour company and showed how much you care about ensuring people have a truly great holiday.

Ms SS - London

Route Map

loading map - please wait...

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