top of page

Madagascar: Special

Visit a new wilderness area where the incomparable Aye-aye is near-guaranteed, then work south towards the Critically Endangered Madagascar Pochard and stunning Red Owl via several other exciting lemurs. We also target the unique Fosa at the best site for this strange carnivore, and we hope to enjoy several species not usually seen on the classic Madagascar routes. These could include Slender-billed Flufftail, Madagascar Flufftail, Madagascar Snipe, and Madagascar Partridge.

Next Dates

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

8

Deposit: $

TBD

Masoala Extension

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

8

Deposit: $

TBD

Accommodation:

A wide range, from very nice lodges (Kirindy, Akiba), more standard but still comfortable lodges (Masoala) to pleasant tented safari camps (Dariana), remote camping (Pochard), and otherwise comfortable hotels in towns and cities.

Walking difficulty:

Generally easy walking and roadside birding, with a few slightly longer forest trails.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: After meeting at Antananarivo International Airport (TNR), we will take a short flight to Morondava on the west coast and jump in our waiting 4WDs for the transit to Kirindy Lodge. We should arrive with plenty of time to explore this afternoon. Night at Kirindy Lodge.


Day 2: This excellent reserve and lodge is famous for hosting some particularly tame Fosa, Madagascar’s largest carnivore. There are several other exciting mammals here, including Verrreaux’s Sifaka, Red-fronted Brown Lemur, Pale Fork-marked Lemur, Coquerel's Giant Mouse Lemur, Red-tailed Sportive Lemur, Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur, and the diminutive Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur. With luck, some extra spotlighting could produce the weird Giant Jumping Rat or Western Big-footed Mouse, along with Oustalet's Chameleon and Fish-scaled Gecko. Many of Madagascar’s endemic dry forest birds occur here, including Coquerel’s, Crested, and Giant Coua, Cuckoo-roller, White-breasted Mesite, Sickle-billed Vanga, and more. Night at Kirindy Lodge.


Day 3: Today, we will return to Morondava after a last morning around the lodge, probably visiting the famous Baobab Avenue and exploring some nearby forest patches this afternoon. Night in Morondava.


Day 4: This morning, we’ll take a flight back to Antananarivo for an overnight stay near the airport.


Day 5: Flying onwards to Antsiranana, at the northernmost tip of the island, we will drive to Akiba Lodge for overnight. Night at Akiba Lodge.


Day 6: The protected forest here hosts one of the world’s 25 rarest primates, the Critically Endangered Perrier’s Sifaka, which our local guides should have staked out for us. Daraina Sportive Lemur, Ankarana Sportive Lemur, and the lovely Crowned Lemur can also be found here, while some spotlighting may produce Northern Rufous Mouse Lemur, Madagascar Velvet Gecko, Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Gecko, and several species of chameleon. Night at Akiba Lodge.


Day 7: After some time in the morning around the lodge, we’ll continue towards Daraina. Arriving before dusk, we will cross our fingers that the local guides have already found an Aye-aye nest, and we hope to be treated to outstanding views as this bizarre mammal emerges and meticulously grooms in preparation for the night ahead. The largest nocturnal primates on Earth, Aye-ayes are truly weird-looking animals, combining a gremlin-like face, a large cat-like tail, rodent-like teeth that perpetually grow, bat-like ears, and, of course, their magical elongated finger. Sadly, they also make the list as one of the 25 rarest primates in the world. Night in Daraina.


Day 8: Our full day around Daraina will be highlighted by the beautiful but Critically Endangered Golden-crowned Sifaka, which we should be able to find near our safari camp. After some general birding and mammal watching, we have a second spotlighting night for more Aye-aye encounters, along with other specialties like Daraina Sportive Lemur and Daraina Fork-marked Lemur. Night in Daraina.


Day 9: Departing this morning, it will be a long driving day to Antsohihy.


Day 10: Jumping in 4WDs, we will be transferred to the remote area where Critically Endangered Madagascar Pochard was rediscovered in 2006. The species is hanging on thanks to successful conservation and ecotourism, so we stand an excellent chance of seeing one of the world’s rarest birds. We will be staying in tents for the next three nights, attended to by an excellent local team!


Day 11-12: With two days to explore this fascinating area, we will be on the lookout for several species rarely observed anywhere else in Madagascar. A day roost of the stunning Red Owl is usually known to the local guides, and additionally, the almost entirely unknown Madagascar Serpent Eagle is recorded here with some regularity. In some excellent areas of swampy grassland, we will spend time trying to coax out the rare endemic Slender-billed Flufftail, while the more common Madagascar Flufftail and Madagascar Snipe should appear as bonuses. Meller’s Duck and Madagascar Grebe share the pochard lakes, while the elusive Madagascar Owl is present at night. We will also keep our eyes peeled at the edges of open ground for Madagascar Buttonquail, Madagascar Partridge, and Madagascar Rail.


Most of the other species in this area are easily seen on classic Madagascar routes, but we will still take time to enjoy Red-fronted Coua, Blue Coua, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Rainforest Scops Owl, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, Common Sunbird-Asity, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Cuckoo-roller, Tylas, Red-tailed, Hook-billed, and Blue Vangas, Rand’s Warbler, Stripe-throated Jery, Green Jery, Madagascar Starling, Forest Fody, Grey-crowned Tetraka, Spectacled Tetraka, Crossley’s Babbler, Grey Emutail, Malagasy Brush Warbler, Dark Newtonia, and Nelicourvi Weaver. Nights camping.


Day 13: This morning, we make the return journey to Antsohihy for an overnight stay.


Day 14: We conclude the main tour with a flight back to Antananarivo International Airport (TNR), where the main tour ends after lunch. Those continuing on the extension will stay overnight near the airport.



MASOALA EXTENSION


Day 1: Evening tour start in Antananarivo at a hotel near the airport.


Day 2: Today, we take a morning flight to Maroantsetra and then travel by speedboat to our ecolodge on the remote Masoala Peninsula, where we will stay on the coast surrounded by pristine tropical rainforest. For many years now there has only been one flight per week to Maroantsetra. Since chartering is prohibitively expensive, it is best that anyone wishing to enjoy this wonderful reserve stays for a full week!


Day 3-4-5-6-7-8: This beautiful untouched forest (probably the best on the island) has amazing birdwatching, and a very high density of what is probably the most exceptional bird species to have evolved here. Few could argue that Helmet Vanga, with its stunning black and orange plumage, combined with that huge turquoise bill, is certainly one of the world’s most unique and evocative birds! Additionally, the forest-floor specialist Scaly Ground Roller and arboreal puffbird-like Short-legged Ground Roller are common here, along with the range-restricted Bernier’s Vanga, sneaky Brown Mesite, plus both the attractive Red-breasted Coua and Red-fronted Coua. More widespread endemics include the forest-dwelling Madagascar Ibis, France’s Sparrowhawk, Madagascar Wood Rail, Rainforest Scops Owl, Madagascar Spinetail, Velvet Asity, White-headed Vanga, the fabulous Crossley’s Vanga, Long-billed Bernieria, and White-throated Oxylabes. We may also see one or two of the scarcer species like Madagascar Sparrowhawk, Banded Kestrel, or, if we are exceptionally lucky, the Endangered and cryptic Madagascar Serpent Eagle. 


With so much time to enjoy this wonderful area, there will be plenty of time for photography, and also searching out non-avian inhabitants! Many lemurs are possible, with the most exciting being the Critically Endangered endemic Red Ruffed Lemur, along with White-fronted Brown Lemur, Scott’s Sportive Lemur, Moore’s Avahi,  Masoala Fork-marked Lemur, Northern Bamboo Lemur, Greater Dwarf Lemur, and the cute "Masoala" Rufous Mouse Lemur. This is also one of the best areas in the country to find some of Madagascar's rarely-seen carnivores, including Spotted Fanaloka, Eastern Falanuoc, Ring-tailed Vontsira, Brown-tailed Vontsira, and of course the bizarre earthworm-eating Lowland Streaked Tenrec. We expect to have already seen Aye-aye of course, but there are another two excellent places to look for it on the peninsula if required, and we will have plenty of time to add it in. 


Your leader will be working his best to find reptiles like Madagascar Tree Boa, Flat-tailed Gecko, Panther Chameleon, Malthe's Green-eared Chameleon, Andasibe Nosed Chameleon, Brown Leaf Chameleon, and the astounding Peyrieras's Pygmy Chameleon (the genus has recently been split up, but this diminuitive animal is one of the smallest vertebrates in the world). There are also some interesting frogs like Boettger's Grainy Frog (scientific name horridus!), Webb's Madagascar Frog, and the poisonous Climbing Mantella.


Day 9: This morning, we will return early to Maroantsetra before flying back to Antananarivo International Airport (TNR). 


NOTE: We can also arrange a short extension to the far south-east, searching for the highly range-restricted Red-tailed Newtonia and Collared Brown Lemur. This could also include Berenty, where astoundingly unafraid Verreaux’s Sifakas and Ring-tailed Lemurs are filmed for documentaries. There is a good chance here for several dry forest birds that are sometimes missed on the classic Madagascar tours, including Giant Coua, White-browed Hawk-Owl, Torotoroka Scops Owl, Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk, Madagascar Sparrowhawk, and Madagascar Sandgrouse.

bottom of page