Magical Madagascar

Masoala - Eastern Woolly Lemur.jpg
Madagascar, off Africa’s eastern coast in the Indian Ocean, is the world’s fourth largest island and sits at the top of many nature lovers’ bucket list of places to visit on the planet. The combination of unique wildlife, stunning reefs and pristine beaches, fascinating culture, over 100 endemic bird species, delicious local cuisine, amazing scenic diversity, 750 species of endemic orchids, some of the best chocolate in the world and of course, the famous Lemurs, makes Madagascar an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Following the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian peninsula around 88 million years ago, allowing the fauna and flora to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on earth! The island boasts a remarkable array of endemic flora, reptiles, frogs, birds and mammals, the famous Lemurs and two thirds of the world’s chameleons. This is the reason Madagascar has often been called an “alternate world” or “a world apart”.
Geographically, Madagascar can be divided into five geographical regions: the east coast with its lowlands, the Tsaratanana Massif in the north, the central highlands with its prominent rift valley running north to south, the west coast that contains deep bays and well-protected harbours, and the southwest that contains the Mahafaly Plateau and the desert region. The Tsaratanana Massif region at the north end has the highest mountain on the island namely Mount Maromokotro, at 2,876 metres (9,436 ft) above sea level.
The fascinating uniqueness of this island has led to some people calling it the “Eighth Continent”. The diversity of Madagascar’s peoples, its incomparable natural beauty, its unbelievable fauna and flora and other major attractions will undeniably leave an indelible mark on each and every visitor for the rest of their lives.
This 13 day Madagascar Wildlife Tour will highlight the absolute best of what this fascinating island country has to offer.
DAY 1: Arrival in Antananarivo and transfer to the hotel
After meeting you at the Ivato International airport, 16 km (10 miles) northwest of the city centre, we will make our way to our hotel in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. The city is located in the island’s Central Highlands at 1280 m (4200 feet) above sea level, roughly in the geographical centre of the island. Antananarivo is the political, economic, educational and cultural heart of Madagascar, and home to about 1.7 million people.
Fondly known as Tana, with the name Antananarivo literally meaning “city of a thousand”, Madagascar’s capital is usually the first port of call for most overseas visitors. Its location makes it the ideal base for visiting the rest of the island’s attractions, but it’s also well worth exploring in its own right. Founded in the early 17th century, Antananarivo has a rich history and a burgeoning modern culture that includes world-class restaurants, the impressive Rova Palace ruins, art galleries, shopping opportunities at the bustling Analakely market and much much more.
Dinner will be at our comfortable hotel tonight.

DAY 2: Fly to Morondava and transfer to Kirindy Forest
This morning after breakfast we will make our way to the airport where we will fly to Morondava, about an hour away to the southwest. Morondova is located on the coast in the delta of the Morondava river.
We will then drive for about two hours towards Kirindy forest, where after our arrival we will enjoy lunch at the lodge where we will spend the next three nights.
In the afternoon we will visit the beautiful forest itself, with its three endemic Baobab species. We will also hope to see the unique predator of the island, the Fossa, as well as the Verreaux’s Sifaka, the Red-fronted Brown Lemur, Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat and many Tenrecs.
The birdlife is also very rich here and we could see White-breasted Mesite, Blue Vanga, Coquerel’s Coua, Madagascan Harrier-Hawk and many others.
At sunset we will go for a night walk in search of the smallest primate of the world, the 9.2 cm (3.6 in), 30 g (1.1 oz) Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur. We could also see the Grey Mouse-lemur, Red-tailed Sportive Lemur and Coquerel’s Giant Mouse Lemur.
We will enjoy dinner and a good night’s rest back at the lodge.

DAY 3: Kirindy Forest
We will enjoy breakfast and lunch at the lodge, but have the full morning and afternoon to further explore Kirindy forest.
Kirindy Forest was in the 1970s operated as an experimental sustainable timber harvesting scheme by a Swiss company. It comprises one of the most outstanding and threatened wildlife habitats on the island: the dry deciduous forest, whose area has unfortunately been reduced to only 3 per cent of its original size. Dominated by majestic Baobab trees and a forest canopy of about 15 metres high, this protected area of approximate 100 square kilometres is home to some fascinating endemic fauna and flora, including 40 bird, 50 reptile and 15 amphibian species.
At sunset we go for a night walk again, followed by dinner and a good night’s sleep at the lodge. The wonderful Relais du Kirindy opened in 2017 and has provided a welcome luxurious accommodation option just 30 minutes’ drive from the Kirindy Forest. The main lodge is very stylish and reminiscent of an upmarket safari lodge, with beautiful views over the surrounding landscape.

DAY 4: Kirindy Forest
We have the full day to explore the wonderful Kirindy Forest again.
Due to its large numbers of unique and endemic fauna and flora species, Kirindy is a meeting point for scientists from all around the globe, and many scientific projects have had their home base here. This will undoubtedly continue in the future.
Kirindy is the best place on the whole island to observe the only carnivore of Madagascar, the cat-like endemic Fossa. Sometimes they even come up to the lodge area to explore : a rare treat!
The forest is also home to seven species of Lemur. The most common are the Brown Lemurs and the Verreaux’s Sifakas. These long-legged, seven-pound Lemurs, white with dark patches, leap among tree trunks high in the canopy, propelled by their powerful hind legs but continually maintaining an upright posture.
Several bats, tenrecs, mongooses and rodents complete the mammal population. The flora is also quite unusual and contains several locally endemic plant species.
We will again return to the lodge for dinner and our overnight stay.

DAY 5: Kirindy Forest to Morondava to Antananarivo
After breakfast we will depart for Morondava.
On the way we will go through the famous Avenue of the Baobabs, also called the Alley of the Baobabs. It is a prominent group of Baobab (Adansonia grandidieri) trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina. Its striking landscape draws travellers from around the world. Along the Avenue, over almost 3 kilometres, are 200 to 250 Baobab trees, each about 30 metres in height, endemic to Madagascar. It is a photographer’s dream!
We will continue to the airport for the flight back to Antananarivo. After our arrival in Antananarivo we will transfer to the hotel and have lunch.
Our hotel is housed in a classic circa-1913 building previously occupied by the American Embassy. The rooms have rosewood floors and balconies with beautiful garden or city views.
The afternoon is at your own leisure – go and enjoy Tana!

DAY 6: Flight to Fort-Dauphin and drive to Berenty Reserve
We will have an early breakfast and make our way to the airport again.
We will fly for 2 hours in a southerly direction to Fort-Dauphin, or Tôlanaro or Tolagnaro as it is now known. It has been a port of local importance since the early 1500s, and was the first French settlement in Madagascar.
We will then drive to the Berenty reserve (about 3 hours of a quite bumpy road). We cross the Great South of Madagascar, Antanosy villages, the Mandrare river and huge sisal plantations on the way.
We will arrive in time for a late lunch at the lodge in the Berenty Reserve.
At sunset we go for a night walk in the reserve in search of the White-footed Sportive Lemur, Ring-tailed Lemur and many other interesting fauna and flora.
We will enjoy dinner and a good night’s rest at the lodge.

DAY 7: Berenty Reserve
Today we will spend a full day exploring Berenty Private Reserve.
It lies 90 km west from Fort-Dauphin and is a small private reserve created in 1936 by the de Heaulme family as a private park to protect 250 hectares of semi-arid spiny forest and a Woodland of tamarind trees along the Mandrare river.
The reserve is home to six species of Lemur and the south’s largest colony of Madagascan Fruit Bats. The ease with which to observe many species of fauna has turned this small protected area into one of Madagascar’s primary wildlife destinations.
The bird life is also very rich with rare species such as Frances’s Sparrowhawk, White-browed Owl, Hook-billed Vanga and many others.
We will have lunch back at the lodge and in the afternoon visit the nearby Arembelo Museum. It presents a unique collection of artifacts and traditions of the Antandroy culture, the people of the land of thorns.
At sunset we go for a second night walk in another part of the reserve, and return for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

DAY 8: Berenty Reserve
This morning we will have breakfast and then dedicate another full day to discover another part of this beautiful reserve.
Since its opening to the public in 1981 it has gained international fame. It attracts the most visitors of any Madagascar nature reserve, and many public figures have been here, including Prince Philip of Edinburgh and the son of the Emperor of Japan.
The Berenty Reserve is also an important reference site for scientists and is visited by many travelers, curious to discover the animal and plant diversity that inhabit this reserve. The reserve is a real sanctuary for the 2 000 lemurs who live there freely and also allows you to discover over 100 species of birds and more than 100 other fauna species like reptiles, turtles, bats and more.
We will enjoy another night walk at sunset in search of nocturnal wildlife, before our last dinner and overnight stay here.

DAY 9: Berenty Reserve to Fort-Dauphin and flight to Antananarivo
After breakfast we will make our way to Fort-Dauphin, have lunch there and get to the airport for our flight back to Antananarivo.
Upon arrival in Tana we will transfer to the hotel for check-in and leisure time, before dinner and a good night’s rest.

DAY 10: Antananarivo to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
We will have breakfast at the hotel and then drive to Andasibe, a four hour drive away.
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a 155 square kilometre protected forest area, located about 150 km east of Antananarivo. The park’s elevation ranges from 800 to 1260 metres (2600 to 4100 feet) above sea level. The rainforest habitat is home to a vast number of biodiverse species of fauna and flora, including many endemic rare and endangered species, including 11 different Lemur species.
The park’s two parts are Mantadia National Park and Analamazoatra Reserve, which is best known for its population of Madagascar’s largest Lemur, the Indri, with its distinctive and peculiar call. Andasibe is the best place to observe these animals given that there are a couple of families habituated to humans. It lives in small groups and cannot survive in captivity.
Amazing bird species can also be seen here such as the gorgeous Blue Coua, Blue Vanga and Pygmy Kingfisher.
Tonight we will do a night walk to search for some of the nocturnal creatures such Goodman’s Brown Lemur, Greater Dwarf Lemur, chameleons and tree frogs.

DAY 11: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Today we explore the hilly, wilder and thicker forest of the northern part of the Park.
The primary forests of Andasibe-Mantadia contains a dense humid forest covered with moss, fern tress and more than a hundred orchids species blooming between September and January. Other common plants growing here are pandanus, ravinala palm-tree, tambourissa, bamboos and some precious wood, like palisander and ebano.
We have the full day to explore the pristine Mantadia forest in search of Indri, Diademed Sifaka, Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur as well as three species of Ground Rollers. We will enjoy a picnic lunch somewhere in a pretty setting in the park.
The extraordinary animal diversity is completed with another 15 mammal species, more than 100 species of birds (many of them endemic, like the Madagascan Yellowbrow, Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk, Madagascan Wagtail or the Madagascan Serpent Eagle), 50 species of reptiles, among them the biggest chameleon in the world (Parson’s Chameleon), the Malagasy Tree Boa, Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Gecko and more than 80 amphibians. There are also a few local endemic fishes swimming in the small rivers and hundreds of insects, among them some extraordinary colourful and big butterflies.
We will do a nocturnal walk tonight in search of some interesting species of fauna, before enjoying dinner and a good night’s sleep.

DAY 12: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park to Antananarivo
We will have breakfast and enjoy a final morning exploring the park and its natural wonders.
We will have lunch at Restaurant FEON’NY ALA in Andasibe and then drive the four hours back to Antananarivo.
We will have our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 13: Departure
We will have breakfast in the hotel and then you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home.

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