27 DAYS BIRDING TOUR
Day 1: ANTANANARIVO (Arrival)
Welcome to Madagascar!
We will start the tour with an overnight stay at a hotel in Antananarivo.
Your airport transfer will be arranged by the hotel.
Your guide will meet you that evening at the hotel and brief you about the next day’s plan.
The following morning we will all meet for a trip briefing over breakfast!
Day 2: ANTANANARIVO- ANDASIBE
Early today we embark on a three-to-four-hour drive to Andasibe, one of Madagascar’s premier rainforest sites.
Here the unforgettable call of the indri resounds through the beautiful Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. In the afternoon we will visit its Analamazoatra section. We find the indri with ease, along with other spectacularly beautiful species such as ruffed lemur.
Birding is unbelievable, with four different ground rollers possible, along with two nightjars, including the bizarre Collared Nightjar at its daytime roosts. Madagascan Owl, Rainforest Scops Owl, and a suite of nocturnal lemurs and chameleons await us on a night walk in the area.
Days 3 – 4: ANDASIBE /MANTADIA NATIONAL PARK
We spend two more nights in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, birding the beautiful primary and secondary forests of the area. We spend the whole day on Day 2 and the morning of Day 3 in the Mantadia National Park section, while returning to the Analamazoatra section in the afternoon of Day 3.
We should find Velvet Asity, Common Sunbird-Asity, Benson’s Rock Thrush (Forest Rock Thrush), Madagascan Flufftail, many vangas including Blue Vanga and Nuthatch Vanga, Madagascan Blue Pigeon, Madagascan Cuckooshrike, several endemic warblers such as Rand’s Warbler, and more. We have stakeouts for Madagascan Grebe, the rare Meller’s Duck, and Madagascan Rail. We expect our first couas, Red-fronted Coua being a likely candidate. We should also see a few new lemurs such as ruffed lemur. We certainly don’t ignore other non-avian wildlife and often see giraffe weevil, tree boa, and many chameleons.
Day 5: ANDASIBE -ANTSIRABE
We embark on a long and scenic road trip, breaking the journey to amazing Ranomafana National Park in the south-east of the island with one night in Madagascar’s second largest city, Antsirabe a very picturesque and interesting town historically known as the “place of much salt”. It is renowned for its warm springs and thermal bath, it’s cool climate (at about 1500m altitude) and having hundreds of registered rickshaw taxis.
Day 6: ANTSIRABE-RANOMAFANA
We hope to see many of Madagascar and its neighboring islands’ common endemics en route to the national park, including species such as Madagascan Wagtail, Malagasy Kingfisher, Mascarene Martin, Malagasy Kestrel, Malagasy Bulbul, and many others.
Days 7 – 8: RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK
At the magnificent Ranomafana National Park we are in for a real treat. The rainforest here is similar to that at Andasibe, but it is a better place for several species we won’t yet have seen, such as the rare Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity, the recently described Cryptic Warbler, Madagascan Yellowbrow, Grey-crowned Tetraka, Pollen’s Vanga, Grey Emutail, Wedge-tailed Jery, Madagascan Snipe, and numerous others. As always in a new part of the island we expect new lemurs, such as golden bamboo lemur. The reptiles here include leaf-tailed gecko.
Day 9: RANOMAFANA-RANOHIRA
After some final birding at Ranomafana while hoping to clean up there, we begin another scenic road trip across the island, with the possibility to stop shortly at Anja Community Reserve. Today we start heading westwards, to much drier parts. We’ll spend one night in the beautifully picturesque Isalo National Park. Here we’ll search for some more star birds, such as Benson’s Rock Thrush (Forest Rock Thrush) and the attractively-patterned Madagascan Partridge.
Day 10: RANOHIRA -IFATY
We head towards the spiny forests of the southwest. This will be like entering a completely new world, and there is nothing else like this weird landscape anywhere in the world – Africa, although geographically close by, is nothing like Madagascar in landscape or wildlife. However, before reaching these spiny forests we first have another fascinating drive that should generate some of Madagascar’s most localized birds. On our drive westwards towards the spiny forests we stop at a unique dry deciduous forest at Zombitse National Park, inhabited by the critically endangered Appert’s Tetraka, Coquerel’s Coua, the incomparable Cuckoo Roller, which we often see displaying, and various other goodies. Then we bird a coastal site further west for two incredibly localized species endemic to “coral rag scrub”, Verreaux’s Coua and Red-shouldered Vanga. We should also start finding our first of more widespread dry area birds, including Subdesert Brush Warbler and others. Overnight: Les Dunes d’Ifaty, Ifaty
Day 11: IFATY
A world away from the eastern rainforests, after much anticipation we now bird the spiny forests near Ifaty, where baobabs and Diedera trees provide an absolutely unique habitat for a host of sought-after Madagascar endemics, among them such incredible birds as Long-tailed Ground Roller, Subdesert Mesite, Sickle-billed Vanga, Archbold’s Newtonia, Banded Kestrel, Thamnornis, Lafresnaye’s Vanga, Red-capped Coua (the local olivaceus subspecies, “Green-capped Coua”), Running Coua, and others. We also visit a site for Madagascan Plover.
Day 12: IFATY-TOLIARA
Today we will explore, on our drive to Tulear, a small hill reminiscent of Table Mountain in Cape Town, here called La Table. Behind it is a small area of scrubby forest, where we will search for the now famous Red-shouldered Vanga, the last lifer Phoebe Snetsinger saw before she was killed in a car accident – while birding!, and the localized Verreaux’s Coua. We hope to locate both, as well as possibly Lafresnaye’s Vanga.
Day 13: TOLIARA -ANAKAO
Today in the morning we do a boat trip to the island of Nosy Ve, where we look at breeding Red-tailed Tropicbird and may find Crab-plover as well as multiple terns and waders. Across the island on the mainland the small fishing village of Anakao, where we have lunch, contains our site for Littoral Rock Thrush. Here we’ll also look for Sakalava Weaver, Madagascan Buttonquail, and Subdesert Brush Warbler. We should see various other new trip birds as well.
Day 14: ANAKAO- NOSY VE
The main attraction of Nosy Ve is its colony of Red-tailed Tropicbirds, and we should be able to get fantastic close views of birds in the air and also sat on nests under low bushes. We can check the shoreline for White-fronted Plover, Sanderling, Terek Sandpiper, Dimorphic Egret and with luck the rather nomadic Crab Plover. Seabirds could include Lesser Crested, Common, Greater Crested, Caspian and Saunder’s Terns and there is always the chance of something unusual. We have even had very close views of Short-finned Pilot Whales! Leaving this idyllic island behind us we will cross to the mainland and the small fishing village of Anakoa where our targets will be the localised Littoral Rock Thrush and Sub-desert Brush Warbler both of which could be seen right around our accommodation. With a nice beach-side restaurant and bar looking out over clear blue waters this will be a relaxing place to unwind.
Day 15: ANAKAO- TOLIARA
After breakfast, we ‘ll take a boat back to Toliara and then visit the local markets where many interesting things are on sale, from carvings, baskets and rocks to Aepyornis eggs!
Day 16: TOLIARA –FORT DAUPHIN – BERENTY
This morning we will take a short flight to Fort Dauphin (also known as Toliagnaro), in the south-eastern corner of the country. Upon arrival we will transfer to the world-famous private lemur reserve of Berenty. The 4 hour drive takes us from the wind-blown but picturesque town of Fort Dauphin through well watered valleys packed with paddy fields and finally into the rain-shadow of the Andohahela Mountains where the octopus like Didierea trees are diagnostic of the spiny desert. As we near Berenty, the natural habitat is replaced by extensive tracts of sisal plantations, stretching as far as the eye can see. Berenty Lemur Reserve belongs to the De Haulme family who have set aside sections of gallery forest along the Mandrare River to conserve its population of lemurs and other wildlife.
We shall venture out in the evening in search of Torotoroka Scops-Owl and the impressive White-browed Hawk-Owl but may also encounter a host of other nocturnal creatures such as the strange Greater Hedgehog Tenrec and several species of attractive geckos (including the remarkable Big-headed Gecko and unique Fish-scaled Gecko).
Day 17: BERENTY RESERVE
Berenty is justly famous for its lemurs, not only because its deciduous woodland is home to five species of these primitive primates but also for the ease with which they may be seen and appreciated in the wild. Brown Lemurs occur in large numbers during the day and both White-footed Sportive and Gray Mouse lemurs are regularly encountered on night walks through the reserve, though the undoubted favourites are the Ring-tailed Lemur and Verreaux’s Sifaka. Whilst the bands of cat-like, quizzical Ringtails are often the first to steal visitors’ hearts (as well as any spare fruit they may have on their persons!), their appeal is easily matched by the strikingly patterned sifakas, with their soulful expressions and bizarre, bipedal dancing locomotion. To spend time with groups of these gentle creatures will certainly be one of the highlights of our Madagascar adventure.
A further mammalian highlight of Berenty is visiting the Madagascar Flying Fox roost, were about 300 of these impressive animals sporting 1.25 metre wingspans spend their day squabbling and presumably sleeping.
We will be on the look-out for the numerous Giant Couas that stroll along the well-cleared paths through the woodland, any many other woodland birds. Potential new species we may find here include Long-tailed Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Madagascar and France’s Sparrowhawk, Helmeted Guineafowl, Madagascar Sandgrouse, Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk and Alpine Swift.
Day 18: BERENTY – FORT DAUPHIN -ANTANANARIVO
We will have a final morning to enjoy and photograph the approachable wildlife in Berenty, and visit the well presented local museum, which displays one of the few complete Elephant-bird eggs in the world. In the afternoon we will transfer back to Fort Dauphin to connect with our flight back to Tana.
Day 19: ANTANANARIVO –MAHAJANGA- ANKARAFANTSIKA
We will leave the hotel after breakfast, take our flight to Mahajanga, and eventually drive directly to Ankarafantsika (about 4 hours’ drive), heading for the Ampijoroa dry deciduous forest. A three-night stay should allow us to spot most of the key birds of the area. En route to Ankarafantsika, we plan to stop at Lake Amboromalandy and at rice fields to try to find birds like Madagascan Jacana, Malagasy Pond Heron, Humblot’s Heron, the strange Black Heron, and others.
Time-permitting, we can spend time at Lake Ravelobe, scanning for the critically endangered Madagascan Fish Eagle and many other birds. Beware of crocodiles, please, and don’t walk too close to the lake! We then return to the rustic accommodation, checking the trees around the “lodge” for spectacular birds, including Sickle-billed Vanga, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Grey-headed Lovebird, and many others. If we’re not too tired, we might do a night walk tonight (otherwise the next evening), and this might generate Madagascan Nightjar, owls, chameleons, and nocturnal lemurs.
Day 20-21: ANKARAFANTSIKA NATIONAL PARK
We have another early start to visit the various sections of Ankarafantsika. Here we need to find mega-amazing birds such as White-breasted Mesite, Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, the incomparable and spectacular Schlegel’s Asity, Red-capped Coua, Coquerel’s Coua, Crested Coua, and lemurs like the spectacular Coquerel’s sifaka. One afternoon we plan to do a boat trip on the lake for species mentioned previously that might have been missed.
Day 22: ANKARAFANTSIKA –MAHAJANGA-ANTANANARIVO
After final “cleanup” birding in the dry forests of Ankarafantsika, we will drive back to Mahajanga (Majunga) – a very lively town with plenty of rickshaws. Then we’ll eventually fly back to Tana where we spend the night.
Day 23: ANTANANARIVO – MAROANTSETRA
After our night in Tana, we’ll fly to Madagascar’s north-east, where the Masoala peninsula shelters the Baie d’Antongil. We’ll land in the small airport of Maroantsetra and stay the night in this sea-side town before we board our boat to Masoala at daybreak.
Day 24-25: MASOALA NATIONAL PARK
It’s a spectacular journey across the bay. The voyage passes nearby the island of Nosy Mangabe, with the peninsula’s thickly forested mountains as a dramatic backdrop. If we are
lucky, we may see Madagascar Pratincole by the shorelines. One we’ve settled into camp, we’ll start exploring the camp’s idyllic surrounds and its birdlife. The wooden bungalows close to the beach are elegant but quite rustic. We will stay overnight to the sound of the sea and the forest, which both border to our camp.
We have another two full days to explore the wonders of the Masoala Peninsula. The peninsula holds some of the rarest birds in Madagascar, including Helmet and Bernier’s Vanga(see photographs below, taken on our trip). There is also a tiny chance of Madagascar Serpent Eagle and Madagascar Red Owl, but we’ll need to be extremely lucky to find them!
We’ll explore the forest trails looking for bird parties which may hold the vangas. The area holds the largest primary rainforest tract in Madagascar and we’ll reacquaint ourselves
with many of the eastern rainforest specials that we might have seen earlier on the trip. We’ll all be hoping to lift our binoculars and be dazzled by the gigantic electric blue bill of the Helmet Vanga – the focus of our searches. We’ll stand a good chance of encountering one of the most spectacular lemurs endemic to the area: the noisy Red-ruffed Lemur with its orange and black fur. The area also offers fair chances to see the localised and handsome White-fronted Brown Lemur as well as the locally endemic Masoala Woolly Lemur and the Masoala or Scott’s Sportive Lemur.
Day 26: MASOALA –MAROANTSETRA-ANTANANARIVO
This morning we will take the boat back to Maroantsetra to connect with our internal flight back to Tana, where we will spend our final night of this Masoala Peninsula Extension. Depending on the time of our flight we may have some time for some final morning’s birding along the trails around our lodge.
Day 27: ANTANANARIVO & DEPARTURE
This morning, those that are staying on for the Comprehensive tour of Madagascar will begin the tour in Tana, while those not doing the main tour will depart on their flights home.
|Tour Price (Per Person) (Minimum group of 04 pax)||EURO (€)||US DOLLAR (US $)|
|Single Supplement||€1644||US $1874|
Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Internal flights are € 285 per person in 2018 and in in 2019. All prices and fares are quoted in Euro and subject to change. Contact us for more information.