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The Pride of Madagascar’s Natural Beauty

Over 51 lemur varieties occur in Madagascar

Over 51 lemur varieties occur in Madagascar

Duration: 15 Days / 14 Nights
Depart: Home – Tana
Return: Tana – Home
Tour type: private departures

Tour dates: *on request*

A 15-day exploration of the unique island of Madagascar. Manahaona! Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean, ±400km’s from the Southern African east coast. Over millions of years, Madagascar developed a unique flora and fauna. This is the place where evolution has run wild and it has such a high degree of endemism, that it is truly a place like nowhere else on earth! Madagascar is famous for their remarkable selection of lemurs (51+ lemur varieties occur here!), primitive primates endemic to the island, brilliantly coloured chameleons & lizards, tenrecs, fossas, bats and rodents.

Several early evening walks are also planned for this tour, in order to experience the “darker” side of the nocturnal creatures – first hand! This Tour Program is designed to offer guests of all ages a unique experience. We concentrate on nature and not just lemurs or plants or birds – we make time for it all!

A medium level of fitness is required, as we can do quite a bit of walking. This Tour Program is also designed to be family-friendly and photographers will love it!

Tour Details

DAY 1: TANA – ANDASIBE/PERINET
Touching down at Ivato International Airport in Tana, the capital of Madagascar, your guide will meet you in the arrivals hall. We board our vehicle and drive through the green landscapes of the east, towards Andasibe. The area around Andasibe is well-known for its prime forests and lakes as well as the hot and humid conditions! En route we may see Yellow-Billed Kites and Madagascar Kestrels. We make a brief stop at the Mangoro bridge just before we enter the town of Moramanga. This is probably one of the most accessible sites in Madagascar where we can find the Madagascar Pratincole. A number of the more common “rainforest specials”, which include Madagascar Wood-Rail, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Blue- and Red-Fronted Couas, Collared Nightjar, Coral-Billed Nuthatch Vanga, Ward’s Flycatcher, Rand’s Warbler, Spectacled Greenbul and Nelicourvi Weaver, might be seen. We stop at the town of Moramanga, a historical city where a bloody battle between Malagasy soldiers and French colonizers took place many years ago. On our arrival in Andasibe, we check in at the Vakona Forest Lodge. A night walk in Perinet should reveal a wide variety of nocturnal lemurs, reptiles, frogs and fascinating invertebrates.

DAY 2: ANDASIBE-PERINET
Up at daybreak for birding in Andasibe (Perinet)! Andasibe is an excellent example of montane rainforest and covers an area of 810ha at altitudes between 930 and 1.040m. Many of the largest trees have been removed and the canopy averages 25m to 30m. The main part of the reserve resembles a table, with steep forested hillsides (with steps to make it easier for us human beings!) and bordered by a small lake. Early morning birding can be very successful in this lovely stretch of Montane Rainforest. Our target birds for the morning include Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Blue- and Chabert’s Vanga, Madagascar White Eye as well as the striking Souimanga- and Long-Billed Green Sunbird. After our exciting walk in the forest, we are off to the “lowlands” for a visit to one of the areas several marsh patches, hoping to find Madagascar Rail, White-Throated Rail, Madagascar Flufftail, Madagascar Snipe, Madagascar Swamp Warbler and Grey Emutail. These marshes are probably one of the best places to find the prize bird of the area, and Madagascar, the “ultra-scarce” Slenderbilled Flufftail! We return to the lodge for breakfast after which we visit the Special Reserve of Andasibe again. This reserve is visited to see the Indri Indri – the biggest lemurs of Madagascar. The reserve is only 810ha in size with very unique and beautiful endemic fauna and flora. Chances are good that we will see a wide variety of orchids, canopy inhabitants which include Chameleons, Tenrecs and a good number of birds. After lunch, we visit Mantadia National Park in search of more bird- and mammal species of the region. The Mantadia National Park is 10 000 ha in size and our target lemur species include Indri-, Brown-, Grey Bamboo- and Eastern Woolly Lemur. On an optional night walk, Brown Mouse Lemur , Red-Forest Rat and Streaked Tenrec, and if the gods are really on our side, Diademed Sifaka and Black and White Ruffed Lemur are all possibilities. Several species of chameleons, frogs and snakes can be seen today. Overnight Vakona Forest Lodge

DAY 3: ANDASIBE – TANA
Another early morning walk in the Perinet Reserve and we return for breakfast mid-morning. After breakfast we start our drive back to Tana and stop at the Pereyras Nature farm. This park/centre provides the opportunity to see and photograph some of the island’s most extraordinary reptiles and invertebrates. From Pereyras, we continue our slow drive back Tana, the capital of Madagascar. We arrive late afternoon in Tana and check in at the Le Relais des Plateuax and prepare for dinner.

Day 4: TANA – FORT DAUPHIN
Mid-morning we board our plane at Ivato International Airport and fly to Fort Dauphin. On arrival we transfer to Berenty, Private Reserve, which lies about 80 km from Fort – Dauphin. We drive along the humid forests of the east; the landscape is dotted with square rice fields, green and luxuriant vegetation, waving palms and shady mangoes trees. En route to Berenty, we stop at the “Nepenthès” fields – an area where carnivorous plants, which attract insects by the scents of its liquid, occur. We drive past the towering Anosy Mountain chain to arrive in the so-called “transition zone”. This area is dominated by the Triangular Palm, “Neodypsis Decari”, an endemic palm to the Fort Dauphin area. From here the landscape is changing again, but this time into a drier habitat. We have our first glimpses of the Spiny Forest, with sisal plantations etched into the foreground. We arrive in Berenty and check in at Berenty Lodge for two nights

DAY 5: BERENTY
We visit the reserve with a specialist guide. Berenty is known as the kingdom of lemurs and chances are good that we can see the well-documented Ring-tailed Lemur, known as maki and the Dancing Lemur, known as sifaka. Other species that can be seen, include Brown Lemurs and the nocturnal Lepilemurs and Mouse Lemurs. As darkness falls, we explore the unknown nightlife of mammals, amphibians and reptiles in the reserve, on foot!

DAY 6: BERENTY – FORT DAUPHIN – TULEAR – IFATY
The adventurous guests, who want to see more birds, can join your guide at 06:00 for a pre-breakfast walk in Berenty National Park – 83 species are listed. Birds of prey are particularly prominent and 9 species are recorded with Madagascar Buzzard probably the more common raptor around. Other unique Madagascar species that can be seen include Hook-Billed Vanga and Crested- and Giant Coua. Six species of Vanga occurs here of which Lefresnaye’s Vanga is the most sought after Vanga. We return at 08:00 to the lodge, hopefully in time to see the Ring-Tailed Lemurs sunbathing in front of the restaurant, and then to enjoy breakfast. After breakfast we drive back to Fort Dauphin to be in time for our flight to Tuléar and then transfer to Ifaty to check in at Hotel Le Paradisier. Situated in the largest lagoon of the country, Ifaty is also protected by a large coral reef that makes it an ideal place for diving and snorkeling and if you are interested; your guide can arrange an excursion as an optional extra. Here you can also experience the Veto Fishermen’s life, and the area around the lodge is also a popular spot for birdwatchers with Lesser Vasa Parrot, Madagascar Lark, Madagascar Cisticola Green Capped-Coua, Sub- Desert Brush Warbler and the only endemic wader – Madagascar Plover, all good possibilities! Many excursions are possible like a visit to the Reserve Reniala, a communal reserve home to 2 kinds of baobabs and spiny bush as well as reptiles like the boa, chameleons and gecko’s. You may instead choose to take a boat to see the whales. From July to mid September, whales come to the cool sea of Madagascar to give birth. It is a very spectacular experience, as sometimes we see whales very close to the boat. The afternoon is spent at leisure.

DAY 7: IFATY
After an early breakfast we depart for the community maintained / operated / organized Reserve Reniala – a spiny forest reserve where we might see such birds as the White- Headed-, Hook-Billed- & La Fresney’s Vanga, Long-Tailed Ground Roller, Archbold’s Newtonia and if we are really lucky, the Sub-Desert Mesite. This excursion also gives us the opportunity to see reptiles like Boa, Geckos, Lizards and Parson’s Chameleon – the biggest Chameleon in Madagascar. Another highlight of this reserve is the opportunity to admire and photograph the strange looking Baobab Trees of Madagascar. We return to our hotel at mid-day, in time for lunch. The rest of the day is spent at leisure.

DAY 8: IFATY – ISALO
After breakfast, we pack our bags and board our vehicle. We drive back to Tuléar and visit the Arboretum d’ Antsokay Botanical Garden. This fantastic garden records all the succulent plants of the south and it is also possible to see the Running Coua here! After our visit to Antsokay, we drive towards Isalo. Habitat change en route is dramatic – the dry forest of the west is also known as the “spiny desert of the south”. As we travel further north, we pass through Zombitse National Park, a newly proclaimed reserve which is also a sanctuary of birds. Rufous- & Blue Vanga, Madagascar- & Paradise Flycatchers, Giant Coua, Greater- & Lesser Vasa Parrot, Long-Billed Greenbuls, and then, the ‘local special’ – Appert’s Greenbul are the bird-attractions of the reserve – time permitting. We also drive through the Baobab forest and finally Ilakaka, the sapphire mining town before we arrive in Ranohira. We check in at Le Jardin du Roi late afternoon. Just before sunset, we board the vehicles for a spectacular sunset at Fenêtre de l’Isalo, a natural rock-formation having the shape of the window.

DAY 9: ISALO
After breakfast we visit Isalo National Park. Covering a massive 81 540ha the Isalo Massif rises from the flat surrounding grassy plains. The scenery cunningly reminds us of the Fish River Canyon in Namibia or the Grand Canyon in the USA. After reaching the top of the mountain a fantastic panoramic view of the eroded mountain unfolds with different colors ranging from yellow to red and sometimes grey. The sandstone has been eroded into strange shapes and is cut through by impressive gorges and canyons. Vegetation is concentrated in the canyon floors where streams flow. These wooded areas are dominated by the fire-resistant Tapia Tree, on which a Malagasy endemic silkworm feeds. On the cliffs and rocks are several endemic succulents including the elephant’s foot and the localized endemic Isalo aloe. This is also a place where the Bara Tribe store their dead, whilst they save sufficient money to buy silver coffins and put the bodies in a safe place! After the visiting the natural swimming pool, we continue on foot to reach the “Canyons des Singes”. We “rediscover” the original Ranohira village in the middle of the canyon. Many years ago, there was a river called Ranohira, meaning “water of lemurs”. This river was the bathing place of the king Legends has it that one morning he saw a number of lemurs playing in the river and subsequently named the river Ranohira. Since that day the king refused to bath in the river again! On our walk we might see nocturnal as well as day active lemurs and chameleons. Isalo is a place of beauty but not a place with high numbers of birds. Benson’s Rock-Thrush, a sub-species of the Forest Rock-Thrush, breeds in nearby Relais de la Reine hotel. Other birds that might be encountered include Lesser Vasa Parrot, White-Throated Rail, Madagascar Coucal, Madagascar Wagtail and Madagascar Kestrel. Late afternoon we re-visit Fenêtre de l’Isalo, if the previous day’s sunset excursion was not successful.

DAY 10: ISALO – AMBALAVO
After breakfast its time to pack our bags and board our vehicle for our journey to Ambalavao We drive through the huge “Plateaux de Horombe “ with its space-like red soil, which reminds us of “the no man’s land”. We drive through Ihosy, which is the capital of the Bara tribe and whom are the shepherds of Zebu throughout the mountain ranges of Andringitra. This blue line of spectacular granite peaks on the horizon serves as a transition between the dry south and the green highlands. Your guide will point out the famous “3 hillocks” and the huge “archbishop’s cape”. One of the most spectacular views is probably the huge granite dome with twin rock towers called “the gate of the south”. The other most imposing one is the “Bishop’s hat” which is a sacred place for the local people as it is a place where their ancestors preferred to make a collective suicide rather than to render to the Merina tribes! Before entering the town of Ambalavao we visit of the private park of Anja, well known for its Ring-Tailed Lemurs, caves and reptiles. After the visit we board our vehicle for the last time today to drive to Hotel Bougainvilliees and check in. Later the afternoon we visit the “Antaimoro Paper “ factory. This is a place where the paper making tradition, left by the Arabian people who settled in this area in the fifteenth century, is maintained.

DAY 11: AMBALAVO – RANOMAFANA
We leave for Ranomafana via Fianarantsoa – the intellectual centre of the country. As we leave Ambalavao, we visit the Soavita Vineyard for an “eccentric wine tasting experience”! Although the climate is not ideal for wine, vineyards are a tradition left by the monks, whom occupied this area. After our memorable early morning wine tasting experience, we enter Fianarantsoa – meaning “the city where we learn good things”. It is the first Malagasy city where European education and schooling were introduced – and even up to today, the best universities in Madagascar are to be found here. Fianarantsoa has a strong catholic influence and as we drive through town, we will see many statues of “Santa Madonna”. Fianarantsoa is the second biggest city in Madagascar and also the capital of the Betsileo tribe. The Betsileo people are reputed by their excellence in flourishing rice plantations – especially their ability to grow rice on hillsides. The economy of Fianarantsoa is predominantly dependant on the rice plantations of the area. Before driving to Ranomafana , we visit a tea plantation on the outskirts of the city. The landscape is still dominated by rice fields, commercial pine- and eucalyptus forests and rocky mountains. After a couple of kilometers, we stop at a little pond where we have a quick scan for the Malagasy King Fisher and Crested Drongo and continue our drive towards Ranomafana National Park. Taking its name from the village, once popular for its thermal baths, this 40,000 ha National Park encompasses one of the last remaining great expanses of eastern rainforest. Ranomafana was only proclaimed as recently as 1991 for the protection of the rare Golden Bamboo Lemur which was discovered here in the late 1980s! The area is dominated by the Namorona river which, fed by many streams flowing from the hills, plunges from the eastern escarpment close to the park entrance. The steep slopes are covered with a mixture of primary and secondary forest: much of the secondary growth is dominated by dense stands of introduced Chinese guava and clumps of giant bamboo. On our arrival in Ranomafana mid- afternoon, we check in at Setam Lodge and prepare for our “night expedition” into the forest!

DAY 12: RANOMAFANA
Ranomafana is the island’s richest rainforest park in birds and mammals. For the early birds, a morning expedition in the park for bird watching in search of Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, Madagascar Crested Ibis, Madagascar Long-Eared Owl”, Henst’s Goshawk, Brown Mesite, Velvet Asity, Common- and Yellow-Bellied Sunbird-Asitys, Pollen’s- and Red-tailed Vanga, Yellow-Browed Oxylabes, Gray– Crowned Greenbul”, Forest Rock- Thrush” and Cryptic Warbler. The beautiful Ground-Rollers of Madagascar are well represented here, with all four rainforest-dependent species breeding residents. It is probably one of the best places to see Rufous-Headed- and Short-Legged Ground-Roller, along with the Pitta-Like Ground-Roller also pretty common. The tiny endemic Jeries (Common and Green especially) and Newtonias (Common and Dark) are also often seen. Even Madagascar Serpent Eagle and the Yellow-Bellied Sunbird-Asity could be seen in Ranomafana. After breakfast, we continue our walk to see a different part of the park. Ranomafana’s highlight, the recently discovered Golden Bamboo Lemurs, may be on the cards and we would hope to see them on our walk, eating their favorite food – bamboo leaves. If luck is really on our side, we can also see the extremely rare Greater Bamboo Lemurs and the striking Milne-Edwards Diadem Sifaka Lemur. The rare and “difficult to spot” Pollen’s Vanga can also be seen in this area. Bird-wise, the forest does not record a high rate, however we might spot Madagascar Yellow- Brows, White-Throated Oxylabes and a resident pair of Brown Mesite. Back to Ranomafana late afternoon and for those who wish, you can partake in another night walk inside the park. The trails are quite steep and individuals should have a certain level of fitness. Possibilities include the tiny Rufous Mouse Lemurs, Red-Bellied and Red-fronted Brown Lemurs. The Madagascar Striped Civet (Fanalaoka) can also be a highlight on the night walk. We return to the hotel and prepare for dinner.

DAY 13: RANOMAFANA – AMBOSITRA – ANTSIRABE
After breakfast we continue onto Antsirabe. En route we drive through Ambositra – the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry. The architecture of the area is stunning and will take your breath away as all houses express ornately carved wooden balconies and colorful shutters! We drive through this beautiful town and leaving the impressive artworks behind us to pass the “le col de tapia”, a type of tree resistant to fire. We arrive in Antsirabe mid-afternoon. Antsirabe is an elegant city and is branded as the centre of Madagascar’s beer industry – smell the brewing at Star Brewery as we enter the town! Antsirabe, literally means “The Place of Minerals” and was founded by the Norwegians in 1872. It is the only place in Madagascar where you will get a “European Familiarity”. Antsirabe has a temperate climate and all fruit and vegetables that grow in a cold climate are to be found here! We check in at Hotel Des Thermes and spend some time at leisure before dinner!

DAY 14: ANTSIRABE – TANA
After breakfast we drive back to Tana. The route we are traveling takes us across the “highland landscape” with impressive rice-fields and spectacular eroded hills called “lavaka”. The landscape remind us of the Far East with its rice fields and green landscapes covered with vegetables and fruit plantations. Along the way we will have the chance to view Merina tombs – squat, boxy constructions of bricks and stone, usually painted white and often decorated with colorful paintings, wood carvings and the skulls and horns of zebu cattle. The Merina – the ruling tribe – practice famadihana (turning of the bones) ceremonies that include exhumation of the bodies to bring the people close to their ancestors! Before entering the capital, we pay a brief visit to Ambatolampy – a massive agricultural city and also known as a source of aluminium. We arrive in Tana and check in at Le Relais des Plateuax and prepare for lunch. A city tour of the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, is available to interested guests. Other optional extra activities can be discussed with your guide.

DAY 15: TANA – PARIS/JHB
We visit the market in town for souvenirs in the morning. Depending on your time of departure, you will be dropped off at the airport in time for your departure flight.


Tour Cost

Total Tour Costs : *on request*

Included in the quoted price:

  • En-Suite Accommodation
  • Vehicle
  • Fuel
  • Local Malagasy Nature Guide & Driver
  • All excursions as per itinerary
  • All entrance fees
  • Meals : Half Board
  • 1½ Litre Mineral Water per day
  • Tea & Coffe at meals
  • Limited Snacks/Fruit in Vehicle

Excluded from quoted price:

  • Return Flight costs to and from Madagascar
  • All beverages/drinks and snacks
  • Domestic Flights (Day 4 & 6)

Notes:
a) For European Union, North American and South African citizens: A visa is bought upon arrival at the airport, upon presentation of a passport valid 6 months after date of departure from Madgascar and return ticket.
b) The local currency is Ariary. 2600 Ariary = approximately EUR 1
c) Anti malaria medication is recommended.
d) International flights to and from Madagascar are excluded from the quote. Current return flight costs, JHB – TANA – JHB is in the region of Five Thousand Five Hundred South African Rands.
e) The costs for the tour are based on a minimum of four (4) PAX.
f) Accommodation is not confirmed as yet at establishment as per suggested itinerary. SafariWise reserves the right to make use of alternative accommodation if necessary.
g) Quoted price is subject to availability & fuel/gas price- and exchange rate fluctuations.
h) Terms & Conditions

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