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Madagascar Birding and Wildlife (15 days)

Photo by Fabiene Raphoz Madagascar! Our world’s fourth-largest island is, quite simply, unique. Five bird families (made up of an astonishing 120 bird species) and five mammal families are endemic to this massive island,

and half the world’s chameleons, weird and wonderful endemic plant families and tons of other wildlife can be found here.


Departure Dates & Costs


2018 Departure: October 17 to 31, 2018
with pre-tour option to the Masoala Peninsula (Oct 11-17)


Main tour cost:
5,678 Euros per person based on twin share 
Single Supplement: 852 Euros

Pre-tour option: 2,299 Euros per person based on twin share
Group size 6 - 8 persons


ITINERARY

Masoala Peninsula Pre-tour: Oct. 11 to 17
The Masoala Peninsula extension can generate the unbelievable Helmet Vanga, Brown Mesite, and Short-legged Ground Roller, as well as the largest – and most bizarre – nocturnal lemur, the aye-aye, and a stack more. All domestic flights are included in the price.

OCT 11: Arrival in Tana
You can arrive in Madagascar’s capital at any time today. Overnight.

OCT 12:  Travel to Masoala National Park
We fly to Maroantsetra and take a boat trip across Antongil Bay, Madagascar’s largest bay. We travel past the island of Nosy Mangabe and eventually reach the Masoala Peninsula, which contains Madagascar’s largest tract of lowland rainforest and also its largest national park in the form of Masoala National Park.
Overnight: a new lodge at Masoala

OCT 13 & 14:  Birding Masoala National Park
We bird the incredible forests and remote tropical beaches of Masoala National Park for some of Madagascar’s most awesome birds, including Madagascan Pratincole, Crested Coua, Blue Coua, Helmet Vanga, Short-legged Ground Roller, Brown Mesite, and many other sought-after birds. There are also some incredible lemurs here, including red ruffed lemur and red-fronted lemur.
Overnight: a new lodge at Masoala, or Ecolodge Chez Arol

OCT 15:  Birding the mainland near the Masoala Peninsula
We spend a night back on the mainland near the Masoala Peninsula, looking for all kinds of goodies such as White-throated Rail, Grey-headed Lovebird, and many others. We also do an evening walk that could generate aye-aye, Sambavatomato frog, lowland streaked tenrec, and others.
Overnight: Relais du Masoala, Maroantsetra

OCT 16:  Return to Tana
Return to Tana. Overnight: Relais des Plateaux, Antananarivo


MAIN TOUR

OCT 17:  Arrival in Antananarivo
Your international flight arrives in Antananarivo (shortened to “Tana” by most people. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight: Relais des Plateaux, Antananarivo

OCT 18:  Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
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 Perinet Indri Reserve and Mantadia National Park. We find this lemur 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. Overnight: Andasibe Hotel or similar, Andasibe (3 nights)

OCT 19 & 20:  Andasibe
We spend two more nights in Andasibe, birding the beautiful primary and secondary forests of the area. 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.

OCT 21 – 24:  Transfer to and Birding at Ranomafana National Park
We embark on a long and scenic ro
ad 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. 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. Reaching Ranomafana, 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. Overnight: Couleur Café, Antsirabe, or similar, on Oct. 21   Overnight: Setam Lodge, Ranomafana, or similar, on Oct. 22, 23, & 24

OCT 25:  Isalo National Park
After some final birding at Ranomafana while hoping to clean up there, we begin another scenic road trip across the island with possibly a short stop at Anja Community Reserve. 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. Overnight: Relais de la Reine, Isalo

OCT 26:  Transfer westwards to Ifaty, birding en route
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, as well as a detour that includes a boat trip. Continuing our drive westwards towards the spiny forests, we stop at a unique dry deciduous forest 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 (2 nights)

OCT 27:  Birding the spiny forests near 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.

OCT 28:
 Drive from Ifaty to La Table near Toliara
Today we will explore, on our drive to Toliara, 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. Overnight: Hotel Victory, Toliara (2 nights)

OCT 29:  Boat trip to Nosy Ve and Anakao Village
Today we do a boat trip to the island of Nosy Ve, where we look at breeding Red-tailed Tropicbird. We also visit our site for Littoral Rock Thrush. We should also see various other new trip birds as well. 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. Overnight: Victory Hotel, Tulear

OCT 30:  Flight to Tana, birding the city
We fly back to Tana and bird sites around the fascinating capital city for Sooty Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, Malagasy Pond Heron, and many other birds. Overnight: Relais des Plateaux, Antananarivo

OCT 31:  Departure
After some final birding in the city before your international flight leaves Tana.