Madagascar Wildlife Exploration Tour
November 5 - November 25£776 – £4031
Madagascar Wildlife Exploration Tour
Visit a varied array of ecosystems and protected areas on this unique Madagascar wildlife holiday. This tour is a specialist watching holiday of this wonderful island, full of endemics and rarities such as Aye-ayes, Fossa and Indri are all highly targeted on this specialist wildlife safari holiday of Madagascar.
This tour starts at the wonderful central capital city of Antananarivo (Tana) and explores west and east of this city; firstly visiting Kirindy National Reserve which is well known for a couple of very special species, the largest predator on the island the fossa and the smallest primate in the world, Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur. Along with these two species we will target various other animals in this dry scrub forest reserve, before heading to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and exploring the incredible limestone karst formations and caves here looking for more rare and highly localised species. From these very dry and rocky areas you will head back east and to the wetter and more forested reserves of Ranomafana, Anja, Andasibe and Palmarium which host a wealth of species including the iconic Indri, Bamboo lemurs, Ring-tailed lemurs and of course the Aye-aye. This is the first and only dedicated mammal focused tour of Madagascar and aims to see most of the island’s most iconic and rarest species.
Top Animals on Tour
On your arrival into Antananarivo (Tana) airport you will be collected and taken into the city and your hotel for the night. Depending on your time of arrival you may explore some of the city or just rest and prepare for the departure across the country tomorrow.
Kirindy Forest Reserve
This morning you will leave the hotel and travel to the domestic airport and catch the flight westwards to the coastal town of Morondava, from here you will meet your new driver and guide and be taken south to Kirindy Forest Reserve (~2-3 hours drive). Once you arrive in Kirindy you will be taken to your accommodation and after lunch you will visit the park. The forest full of life here, however you will probably be arriving in the evening and in time for a spotlighting walk around.
You may arrive early enough to see one of the resident fossas (in recent years a small number have taken to living around the restaurant and small camp in the park and are very easy to see.
Then after dark a local guide from the park will take you for a night walk in the forest. There are many nocturnal animals around here including gray mouse lemur, western fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Coquerel’s giant mouse lemur, red-tailed sportive lemur and the world’s smallest primate the adorable and tiny Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur. Some of these species are common and easily seen, other take more time and require a little luck and patience.
Along the way to Kirindy today you will pass the famous avenue de Baobabs and can stop here for pictures of these stunning trees that line the road completely naturally.
Kirindy Forest Reserve
These two days will be spent in the forests of Kirindy, you will enter in the morning and afternoon (extra night walks are possible and payable direct to the local guide – if you wish; your driver / guide will be able to make these arrangements for you). Kirindy is a dry deciduous forest and by far the best place in the whole island to observe fossa, especially during the mating time between October and December.
It also home to seven species of lemur. The most common diurnal species are the common brown lemurs and the Verreaux’s sifakas. These long-legged 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.
There are also many reptiles around and some dry forest specialist species of birds, including hook-billed vanga and white-fronted mesia.
On one of these days you will be taken to the stunning and iconic Avenue of Baobabs to try and capture that iconic sunset shot. Also if you wish (and this can be discussed and arranged with the local guide, you can go for sunrise one morning.
Today is a travelling day, after breakfast you will depart from Kirindy and head towards Bekopaka which is the closest town to your next wildlife destination (Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park). You will first head up the Avenue of Baobabs and then continue to Belo sur Tsirbinhina which is the cultural capital of the Sakalava tribe. This is a very dry and poor part of Madagascar and the road (if you can call it a road) is very poor. It can be bumpy but the scenery is nice as you pass by arid forest and scrub land in the red sandy lands of western Madagascar.
At the Belo sur Tsirbinhina you will catch a local pontoon ferry and cross the river, from the other side of the river you will continue in a convoy to Bekopaka.
On arrival you will be given a little briefing about what time you have to be ready tomorrow and you are free to relax in the evening. If you wish to organise a night walk around the forests surrounding the villages, this can sometimes be arranged (although not all of the time) and your driver / guide can help you make these arrangements.
Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
Over the course of these two full days you will explore one of the most incredible and unique ecosystems in the world. The tsingy is the name given to the incredibly sharp and narrow network of limestone rock structures which dominate the area. There is a rich forest here too, full of wildlife, of which many species are endemic to this habitat and some to the park itself. You be lucky enough to see some, such as Bemaraha sportive lemur and the very rare western red forest rat. More commonly seen species include Decken’s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemurs and ring-tailed mongooses. There are also may species of bats that roost in the various caves in the tsingy.
The tsingy itself (and your two days here) are split into two sections, the big tsingy and the little tsingy. One being obviously larger than the other.
On one of the days (usually the first – but this will be explained to you by your driver / guide) is spent exploring the large (grande) tsingy. This huge limestone massive is full of caves and cliffs to explore. You will have a harness and a local guide who will help you explore the cave systems and climb up to the top of the tsingy. Please be prepared for a very long (6-10 hours – depending on things seen) hard day spent climbing up and down the steep tsingy, across rope bridges and getting deep inside some very impressive caves. You will have lunch (a packed lunch you will have to bring with you from the lodge) in the park. This is a highlight of Madagascar and the best part about this place is that very few people visit the grande tsingy. So it can often feel like you have the place to yourself a lot of the time.
On the other day you will have a river cruise to see some other bat caves and bird species as well as (rare) Nile crocodiles can be found, and then in the afternoon you will visit the small (petite) tsingy. This is literally a miniature version of the grand tsingy, but it is still worth while exploring, lemurs, parrots and other animals can be seen and there are also some nice view points. There are also some species of bats including endemic species roosting in little nooks and crannies as you walk around, it is worth having a torch ready to have a look for these bats.
On both days you will return to the lodge for your dinner in the evenings.
This morning you will leave Bekopaka after breakfast and start the long journey back towards Kirindy, once again using the pontoon ferry and through the dry landscape. You will pass Kirindy and carry on to the coast and the city of Morondava.
En route you can stop at the ‘baobab amoureux’ which is a natural twisted baobab 5 km from the main road. Baobabs are distinctive trees adapted to thrive in harsh conditions. Six of the nine species of baobabs are found only in Madagascar so it’s no surprise that this is the national tree. You may have a second opportunity for photographing the Allée des Baobabs before arriving at your base for the night.
Today is another day on the road as you head back east across the island (7-8 hours) stopping for lunch en-route before you arrive at Antsirabe again and overnight here.
Ranomafana National Park
Today you set off on your journey southwards and to the National Park of Ranomafana. This park protects a large tract of rainforest in the east of the island. It is also one of the best places in the Madagascar to see a wealth of wildlife, including many species of lemur.
The park is also home to the very rare golden bamboo lemur, which is often seen here in the mornings. Rano is Malagasy for water; mafana is Malagasy for hot; around a hundred years ago a Malagasy discovered hot springs down in the valley, and the French created a spa around them. This has now become the town of Ranomafana and where you will be staying.
This evening (depending on the time of your arrival this could be after getting to the accommodation and settling in, or on the way to the accommodation), we will do a night walk in search of brown mouse lemurs, greater dwarf lemurs and many species of chameleons which can be seen along the roads here after dark.
Ranomafana National Park
For the next two days you will explore the wonderful forested hills of Ranomafana in search of many species, including three species of bamboo lemur (golden bamboo lemur, greater bamboo lemur and eastern grey bamboo lemur), red bellied lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur, Milne-Edward’s sifaka and small-toothed sportive lemur, which are all seen during the day and then after dark (if you want to arrange more than one (included yesterday) night walk – which can you arrange with your driver / guide direct) eastern woolly lemurs, brown mouse lemurs, hairy-eared dwarf lemur, greater dwarf lemurs and very possibly (although incredibly rare) aye-ayes. There are also leaf-tailed geckos, chameleons and frogs present here as well as many species of birds.
It is also possible to arrange a visit in the day to the nearby botanical garden which is a good place to see chameleons up close and during the day, learning about the various plant species of the island and sometimes tenrecs.
Today you make an early start for the drive to the south (approximately 3 hours drive) in the direction of Ambalavao and a special reserve, run and managed by the local community of Anja. Here you should be able to spot troupes of ring-tailed lemurs in their natural habitat. This is the closest naturally occurring population of ring-tailed lemurs still around to the centre of the island.
You will spend some time with the lemurs and also exploring the rocky escarpment here with local guides and then afterwards head back north to vvernight at Ialatasara forest camp where we will also be able to do another night walk for more mouse lemurs. Ialatsara forest camp has got basic but clean bungalows with balconies and bucket showers in a camp setting.
Another long drive of 7 hours and would be better to start early in the morning and then have lunch in Antsirabe and when arriving in Antananarivo and if time allow, if time allows and you wish you can visit a small lemur park which situated at 22km north west of Tana (at an extra cost – admission fee). If not, just relax this afternoon.
You can discuss whether you wish to do this or not with your driver guide, it is a good place for close up pictures of lemurs, but they are not wild and you will have the chance to get close up pictures of semi-wild lemurs when in Palmarium reserve at the end of the trip.
This morning you will leave the capital and travel towards Andasibe Reserve passing through highland scenery and rice paddies.
You will likely stop for lunch at a roadside café before having an afternoon walk through the reserve in search of the lemurs and other wildlife. The major highlight here is the largest extant species of lemur, the wonderful and very vocal (you are likely to hear them before you see them) indri. Also found here are red-bellied lemur, common brown lemur, lesser bamboo lemur, brown mouse lemur, greater dwarf lemur, eastern woolly lemur and aye ayes (although they are incredibly hard to see). Then in the evening you will have a night walk to observe the nocturnal species.
These two days are to explore Andasibe Analamazaotra – Mantadia reserve with your local wildlife guide. This area is a montane forest park offering the chance to spot a variety of lemurs, reptiles and birds.
Including the most famous inhabitants; the Indri. But also known from here are the wonderfully coloured diademed sifaka and a range of other diurnal species. You can also arrange extra night walks with your driver / guide if you wish. There are leaf-tailed geckos, many chameleons and if you are very keen eyed the tiny brookesia chameleons can be found here.
Mantadia is a little different from Andasibe and is more humid forest covered with lians, moss, fern tress and more than hundred orchids species blooming between September and January. It is a good way to compare the subtle differences between the two forested habitats.
This morning you set off east towards the Pangalanes Canals on the east coast (4-5 hours). Once you get to the coast you will have lunch and then take a boat trip along the lagoons and network of waterways until you arrive at the private reserve of Palmarium.
The rest of the day is yours at leisure to relax and enjoy the lemurs that live (semi-wild) in the trees around the lodge (the lodge has various introduced species) or maybe pop down to the lake for a refreshing dip! At 17:30 (if we arrive in time) you can book on a tour to the nearby island where there is a small population of reintroduced aye ayes (additional cost to the lodge – not very much). You can also arrange another aye-aye excursion for tomorrow if you wish – or if you arrive too late to make this evening’s departure.
The island the aye-ayes live is called Ankanin’ny Nofy and is around 1 hour boat ride from the lodge. The history of the aye-ayes here is that a number of years ago local people found 2 aye-ayes living in the forests around their village (where the island now is) and they mentioned it to the reserve. As aye-ayes are killed for superstitious reasons by many local people in Madagascar the reserve wanted to protect them. So the reserve bought the forest that the aye-ayes were living in and cut the forest off from the rest of the mainland. The island was made with a small channel (around 2-3m wide and 1-2m deep) to that local people left them alone. Since them more and more aye-ayes were found and captured from certain deaths and brought here. They had so far rescued 4 aye-ayes in addition to the two which were here originally. This population has been living free and wild since then in their own private forest. They have bred and there is now a 7th aye-aye on the island.
For tourism the aye-ayes are fed every day in the evening, coconuts and bananas (a small amount and not the total amount of food needed for them to survive) is provided so that people can see these incredible animals up close for around 1 hour before the island is deserted by all people.
Today is a full day around the reserve with the semi tame lemurs, there are also chameleons, birds and snakes that live wild here and you are free to explore. You can also book a second visit to the aye-ayes this evening if you wish.
This morning you will leave Palmarium and then get the boat back to the vehicle and from there begin your drive back to the capital (7-8 hours driving). You will be taken to the hotel for the afternoon / evening so you can repack for the flight and freshen up. Then around 11pm you will be taken to the airport to catch your early morning flight back home.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in Madagascar during October – November is usually very hot and very dry, however on the east coast and around the rainforests there may be rainstorms and cooler weather. This is the very end of the dry season and so early rains can be possible on the east coast. But in general the weather will be hot and dry for the majority of the trip.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including all breakfasts and an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide for transfers when needed.
All our excursions including guided walks, boat trips (one night walk per reserve or national park) and park entrance fees are included; we also include all fees for our driver including fuel, accommodation, tolls and food etc.
Internal flights mentioned in the itinerary are also included – in economy class.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars in addition to your camera as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as very warm weather clothes, such as light weight, quick-wicking shirts, shorts or trousers. As well as walking clothing such as walking socks, backpack, sun hat, scarf (for dust) etc. Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. We have also provided thermal imaging scope (if available) so you can monitor the area after dark.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), as only breakfasts (excluding breakfasts in Antananarivo) are the only meals included any other food or drinks outside of these breakfasts is extra. As are any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM or Air France as a good airlines for flights to Antananarivo. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Madagascar. These are usually available on arrival at the airport for a fee and on completion of a form. We recommend consulting your local Madagascar embassy or consulate to obtain accurate information for your nationality.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Madagascar, but it is recommended to be protected against Yellow Fever, polio, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, influenza, rabies, MMR and hepatitis A & B. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Madagascar as soon as you have decided on this trip.
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