Explore Madagascar and its incredible wildlife

  • Cost: £2,500 per person for 15 days/14 nights (all inclusive from start point to end point).
  • Start Point: Antananarivo International Airport, Madagascar.
  • End Point: Antananarivo International Airport, Madagascar.
  • Dates: Monday September 3rd, 2018 to Monday September 17th, 2018. 
  • Group Size: 6–10. 
  • Bespoke Tour: Alternatively, if you do not wish to join a group tour, we can customise a private trip to fit your dates and suit your interests. Please email us for details and a quote. 

The vast island of Madagascar has some of the highest concentrations of unique plant and animal species found anywhere on Earth. The island’s varied topography ranges from soaring highlands to spectacular coastlines, supporting distinct climatic zones that range from steaming tropical rainforest habitats, unique spiny forest and arid desert plains. Up to 90 % of the wildlife of these habitats can be seen nowhere else.

This expedition offers you the chance to explore Madagascar’s best nature reserves. Doing so supports conservation efforts, and allows you to come face to face with Madagascar’s most emblematic wildlife.

Please note: we run two versions of our Wildlife of Madagascar Expedition, each with a slightly different itinerary. The Wildlife of Madagascar Spiny Forest Adventure focuses on exploring the unique spiny forest habitat (one of Madagascar’s most diverse, beautiful and interesting ecotypes), and is specifically designed to feature less driving time. Whereas the Wildlife of Madagascar Aye-Aye Adventure offers the chance to see the rare Aye-Aye (the most mysterious of the lemur family).

ONE OF OUR BEST EXPEDITIONS EVER!

Previous groups have left Madagascar completely spellbound! During past trips, we have encountered up to 18 species of lemur, 12 species of chameleon (including the world’s smallest, the Brookesia chameleon), 4 species of leaf tailed gecko, tenrecs, many amazing snakes, numerous mantids, hissing cockroaches, several owls and nightjars, crocodiles, day geckos, tortoises and giraffe beetles! The plant life was no less impressive; from carnivorous pitcher plants (Nepenthes madagascariensis), four species of ancient baobabs, Alluaudia (octopus trees) to Pachypodium, Euphorbia, and many orchids. We explore rainforest, dry spiny forest, gallery forest and semi-desert, with adventures to the incredible Tsingy rock tower pinnacles carved in red laterite and limestone.

Download the Brochure

Adventure Itinerary

Day 1: Pick up in Antananarivo, and we drive east to the Peyrieras Reptile Reserve (approx 4 hours) to see up close captive panther, island, stump-tail, Parsons and Brookesia chameleons, golden Mantella frogs, tomato frogs, Madagascar tree boas, leaf-nose snakes, cat-eyed snakes, numerous species of leaf tail geckos and tenrecs. The curators of the reserve usually take the animals out of their enclosures to allow close photographs. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 2: After breakfast, we visit Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and walk on trails to see many wild lemurs including diademed sifakas, woolly sifakas, common brown lemur and the famous Indri (the biggest lemur of all), as well as orchids and birds. Sightings are usually close up with the animals just a few metres above us in the trees. Visit “lemur island” (a small island in a river and lake system), where habituated common brown lemurs, grey bamboo lemurs and black-and-white ruffed lemurs live. The rangers feed these species along the track allowing close encounters and excellent photograph opportunities. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 3: An early start for breakfast, then drive to Antsirabe and on to Ambositra in the central eastern highlands. The four hour drive to Antsirabe passes through a landscape of mountains and rice fields. Antsirabe is a pretty town that is a blend of Malagasy culture and European architecture. We can tour local gemstone and crafts workshops to watch the cutting and polishing of gemstone, and artefacts made of zebu horns. After lunch, we continue for another 1.5 hours to reach Ambositra, relatively cool at 1500 metres. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 4: Early start to visit Zafimaniry woodcarving shops. This art, of the local Zafimaniry people has a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage classification. We continue further south to Ranomafana National Park, 42,000 hectares of rainforest and home to twelve lemur species. Many are easy to spot, including the golden bamboo, Eastern woolly, red-bellied, eastern grey bamboo, greater bamboo, red-fronted brown, small-toothed sportive and black-and-white ruffed lemurs and Milne-Edward’s sifaka. With luck we could also see the greater dwarf and brown mouse lemurs and perhaps even the very rare Aye-Aye. Other mammals present include seven species of tenrecs, eight bats, the Malagasy striped civet and several mongooses. Many species of chameleons are often seen, as well as diverse birdlife. Madagascan specials here include the huge Henst’s goshawk, the timid brown Mesite, Madagascar wood rail, couas (an endemic Madagascan cuckoo) and ground-rollers, a family unique to the island. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby. 

Day 5: We continue south, driving from the highlands to the semi-dry plains, stopping in Ambalavao, one of Madagascar’s cultural hubs, boasting architectural treasures such as its Gothic cathedral and quaint, veranda-lined houses, surrounded by boulder-like mountains. We visit the Anja Community Reserve, run by the local community, where ring-tailed lemurs abound, along with day geckos, girdled lizards and the bizarre Malagasy lantern bug. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 6: Today we drive south-west all the way to the west coast at Toliara, but en-route we spent much of the morning at the Isalo National Park, home to some of Madagascar’s most stunning scenery, with barren landscapes, twisted rock formations, waterfalls, canyons and natural swimming pools. The extraordinary plant life includes Bismarck palms, elephant’s feet (like a miniature bottle-tree) and endemic aloes. Day-time lemurs include Verreaux’s sifakas and red-fronted Lemurs, and endemic birds present include Madagascan ibis and Benson’s rock thrush. If we are very lucky, mouse lemurs may also be seen, though they are mostly nocturnal. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 7: An early morning visit to the remarkable Ifaty spiny forest to see the plants that make up this unique Madagascan ecoregion, including baobabs and the Madagascan ocotillo or octopus tree (Alluaudia procera), a spiny succulent belonging to a family unique to southern Madagascar, all adapted to extreme drought. In the spiny forest, we may see giant bottle-shaped baobabs and big-headed geckos, and near to the coast we may observe land hermit crabs scuttling across the ground, and the traditional square sailed boats of the Vazo fishermen. After lunch, we head back to Toliara for our flight to Fort Dauphin (also called Tolagnaro). We arrive at Fort Dauphin on the south-east coast in the early afternoon, and can undertake a drive (approx 30 mins) to the north to see vast populations of the endemic pitcher plant (Nepenthes madagascariensis) in a preserved wetland plus, with luck, some more ring-tailed lemurs. Incredible beaches and spectacular views surround Fort Dauphin. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 8: An early departure for a two hour drive inland to the Berenty Private Reserve, owned by locals and home to long-term biological research projects. The drive is fascinating, passing through more spiny forest (and we can make several stops). Berenty is home to six species of lemur and the south’s largest colony of Madagascan fruit bats. The ease with which one can observe sauntering ring-tailed lemurs and ‘dancing’ Verreaux’s sifakas has turned this small protected area into one of Madagascar’s prime destinations. Special birds include Madagascar paradise flycatchers and giant ground couas, scarce elsewhere. We can explore several trails and visit an arboretum and spiny forest preserve that is full of life: tortoises, sportive lemurs, Madagascar scop’s owls, hissing cockroaches, aloes and more bats. We can also visit an excellent ethnological museum that depicts the life of the local people, the Antandroy, and features a re-constructed Antandroy village. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 9: Depending upon the time of our flight, we will visit the Nahampoana Lemur Reserve this morning, in an old botanic garden close to Fort Dauphin. This park-like preserve harbours habituated ring-tailed, red-fronted brown and bamboo lemurs, as well as Verreaux’s sifakas. The well-kept gardens also show a good sample of Madagascar’s dry plants with their three-cornered palms, spiny Desiderata trees and stands of bamboo. Chameleons and tortoises are also present, along with many birds. In Antananarivo we can undertake a city tour in the late afternoon, or visit Lake Tsarasaotra, a 27 hectare site renowned for its birds, including endemic Meller’s duck and Madagascar grebe, plus the endangered Malagasy pond heron. Dinner in a local restaurant. We fly to Antananarivo. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 10: After breakfast, we catch a morning flight to Diego Suarez (also known as Antsiranana) in the far north, then drive to Ankarana National Park, a dramatic limestone landscape. This 60 year old reserve contains one of the highest density of primates of any forest in the world, including one of the largest and least disturbed populations of the following lemur species: crowned, Sanford’s brown, Perrier’s black, Northern sportive and dwarf. The park is also home to the ring-tailed mongoose, the fossa (the largest carnivore on Madagascar), tenrecs and the Madagascar striped civet. Almost 100 bird species, 50 reptiles (including some endemic and threatened snakes and geckos) and 10 frogs also cohabit the park. Inside the spectacular and huge labyrinth of caves there are 14 species of bats, local endemic blind shrimps and the world’s only known population of cave-dwelling crocodiles. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 11: We spend all of today in Ankarana National Park, and undertake walks through bizarre landscapes of limestone mixed with patches of dense tropical jungle, deciduous forest, deep caves and canyons and rushing rivers. With an annual rainfall of almost 2,000 mm, the underlying rocks undergo heavy erosion producing an amazing karst landscape of spires and towers (known as tingy). The park is one of the most visited in Madagascar for its spectacular scenery, including waterfalls and crater lakes, and large and diverse animal populations. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby. 

Day 12: Today we drive to Joffreville, close to Montagne dâ Ambre National Park (Amber Mountain), but the roads are slow. Along the way, we visit the famous Tsingy Rouge, an alien landscape of red sandstone carved into intricate spires and towers. We will spend time exploring a trail amongst the spectacular formations. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 13: We spend the morning visiting the Amber Mountain National Park. The park is home to diverse tropical forest, many beautiful waterfalls and volcanic lakes. With a guide, we search for the Madagascan dwarf chameleons (Brookesia spp.), that are the smallest chameleons in the world (less than 25 mm in length when mature). We also see several species of leaf-tail geckos and look for the ring-tailed mongoose, the fossa, and as many as eight different lemurs species (Sanford’s brown, crowned, lesser bamboo and five species of nocturnal lemurs)! The forests are home to 75 bird species, 25 mammals and 60 reptiles. With luck, we may find the stump-tailed chameleon, snakes and some of the 35 frogs and more than 40 butterflies known from the park. Later in the day we fly back to Antananarivo. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 14: We spend today visiting the Anjozorobe reserve to see the day-active Indri and diademed sifakas. Dinner in a local restaurant. Accommodation at a resort or hotel nearby.

Day 15: After breakfast, we transfer to the Antananarivo airport for departing flights. Those with additional time leaving this evening can undertake walks around Antananarivo city to visit local markets, take in some of the local sights and sounds, visit the historic buildings and museums.

 

Download the Brochure

 

Getting there

Regular flights are available to Antananarivo from Cape Town, Johannesburg, the Seychelles, Paris (and other destinations in Europe), the Middle East, Singapore and other Asian cities. Some find it most economical to fly to Johannesburg to catch low cost flights with South African Airways to/from Antananarivo.

Adventure Rating: Relaxing

No strenuous trekking is required for this adventure or, if present, such treks are minimal and can be substituted for alternate activities.

Participants must be capable of walking on uneven ground and carrying a day pack with water, camera and appropriate weather protection.

Possible extensions


Visits to the beautiful avenue of the baobabs, luxuary beach-resort stays at Antsanitia, extra trips to nature reserves, or an adventurous three day climb up Mount Marojejy through rainforest to spectacular summit vegetation to see the unique silky sifaka and the endemic sundew Drosera humbertii. To get a quote for any extensions, simply mention which extension(s) you are interested in when you apply to Join this Adventure!

To get a quote for any extensions, simply mention which extension(s) you are interested in when you apply to Join this Adventure!

Simplified Map of Spiny Forest Madagascar Adventure

What's Included

All transport during the itinerary
Professional guide
Porters for group logistics
Accommodation (on a twin/double basis)
All main meals during the itinerary

Note: single room upgrade is available at extra cost

What's Not

International flights
Souvenirs
Personal porters (if requested)
Alcohol