Wildlife Group Tour

Madagascar - Lemurs, Baobabs and Tsingy with New Scientist

Wildlife, geology and flora of Madagascar

15 days

from £4,995pp
  • Get a taste of Madagascar's colourful wildlife in Andasibe National Park
  • Meet Richard Lewis, from Durrell, and visit their Lake Bedo and Menabe forest projects.
  • Watch sunset over the spectacular Avenue of the Baobabs
  • In the company of a university geologist, explore the Tsingy limestone formations

Join a two-week wildlife, conservation and geology tour of Madagascar, exploring this richly diverse country – remarkable for its unique plants and animals. Gain behind-the-scenes access to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’s projects in the Kirindy Reserve and discover the fascinating Tsingy de Bemaraha – a limestone landscape like nowhere else.

Begin in one of Madagascar’s most accessible parks, Andasibe, where the rainforest is alive with lemurs, chameleons and birds. Led by an expert wildlife guide, explore this wet, green tranche of highland jungle, home to the largest of all lemurs, the indri. After dark, discover the forest’s nocturnal inhabitants, which include tenrecs, mouse lemurs and frogs.

From here, return to the capital, Antananarivo, before flying by private charter to the Kirindy Reserve, on Madagascar’s western coast. This hot, dry, lowland forest is in stark contrast to the damp, cooler climes of Andasibe.

Here, meet Richard Lewis, from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and spend time learning about the projects taking place within the Menabe forest. Join a ranger patrol, learn about dry forest conservation, meet the local community, explore the birdlife-rich Lake Bedo and hopefully trek in search of giant jumping rats. Finish with a visit to the iconic Avenue of the Baobabs at sunset – one of the country’s most remarkable sights.

From the western city of Morondava, fly north to the remote Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to a spectacular landscape, made up of spiky limestone pinnacles, deep gorges and cave systems. Explore this uniquely beautiful landscape in the company of a local geologist from Antananarivo University, as well as a guide. Follow walking trails through the dramatic stone forests of the Tsingy, venture into cave systems and canoe through a sheer-sided canyon.

WHAT KIND OF ACCOMMODATION?

Accommodation mainly consists of small, authentic camps, with an emphasis on comfort. All have private bathrooms. At Camp Amoureux facilities are more basic: two-man dome tents, with a private toilet and shower behind each one. However, there is no other option and the camp is chosen for its access to wildlife.

WHAT HAPPENS ON A TYPICAL DAY?

Early starts are guaranteed, as the wildlife is mostly active during the morning. However, the schedule of each day is dictated by the activities planned.

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?

September is the perfect time to go, as it is when the spring arrives, after the rains have ended. This is also when the lemurs have their babies and the birds start nesting. Furthermore, the rising temperatures cause reptiles to become more active.

DO I NEED TO BE FIT?

The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it. Whilst many of the walks are easy, the temperatures do warm up during the day. The final day’s walking in the Tsingy is by far the toughest, but it will be at an easy pace. The west coast in particular is hotter than the rest of the country, so you need to be comfortable walking in slightly warmer temperatures. We try to avoid the hottest part of the day.

WHAT WILDLIFE WILL I SEE?

In Andasibe, you can expect to see the indri (the largest lemur) and plenty of other lemurs. In Kirindy, the brown lemur is most prolific but the big draw here is the cat-like fosa, Madagascar’s only large carnivore. In the Tsingy, look out for Decken's sifakas and red-fronted brown lemurs.



Departing on:
  • 22nd September 2017

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
22nd Sep 2017 6th Oct 2017 £ 4,995 £ 800 £ 995 Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 12 breakfasts, lunches and dinners included
  • All excursions
  • All park fees
  • All transfers
  • An English-speaking guide throughout
  • Internal charter flights

what is excluded

  • Drinks
  • Gratuities
  • International flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Fly London to Istanbul

Day 2

Fly Istanbul to Antananarivo


Lunch and dinner included at the hotel.


You will be staying at Royal Palissandre

Day 3

Drive from Antananarivo to Andasibe


This morning after breakfast, you depart for Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. This 4 hour journey is an adventure in itself as the drive takes in spectacular mountain highlands and traditional merina villages, with rice paddies stretching away into the distance, arriving at the lodge around lunchtime.


Afternoon Visit to the Park
After lunch, venture into Andasibe National Park for the first time. Home to the largest lemur, the indri, the park is one of the best places to spot them. Their eerie calls often give up their location, hidden in the forest canopy. Also look out for other lemur species, as well as chameleons and numerous types of birds.

Easily accessible from the capital, Antananarivo, Andasibe is one of Madagascar's most popular wildlife parks and offers great opportunities to see some of the country's exceptional wildlife including the unique indri. Its popularity is reflected in the high quality accommodation and guiding available.


You will be staying at Vakona Forest Lodge

Day 4

Full Day in Andasibe National Park in Search of Lemurs
Heading out at first light as the calls of the indris ring out across the forest is a thrilling introduction to Andasibe. Whilst the country's largest lemurs are the star attraction, the diversity of wildlife found here, ensures there is enough to keep you busy for days. Lemurs abound during day walks and wandering the forest trails is great fun as leaf-tailed geckos camouflage themselves on trees where tiny nose-horned chameleons hide under leaves and comet moths dry their wings in the sun. Head out after dark and as tiny tenrecs rustle in the leaves and mouse lemurs sit wide-eyed in the torchlight with the chorus of frogs providing the night-time soundtrack.


Nocturnal Walk
This afternoon is flexible, depending on arrival times, but there will be an opportunity to head out into the forest on a nocturnal walk in the Mitsinjo Reserve to spot chameleons and lemurs by torchlight.


You will be staying at Vakona Forest Lodge

Day 5

Return to Antananarivo


After a more leisurely breakfast this morning, you then retrace your steps back to Antananarivo and after checking in to your hotel, the remainder of the day is at leisure to relax. Should you wish to explore Antananarivo, please discuss this with your guide who will be happy to run through the options with you.


Antananarivo is literally translated as "City of a Thousand" in reference to the 1,000 Merina Tribe warriors, used by the king as protection of his city, but is also familiarly known as 'Tana'. Split into two regions (upper and lower towns), the city itself is a maze of bustling streets and alleyways, full of colourful markets, interspersed with ancient stone steps and historical sites.


You will be staying at Relais Des Plateaux

Day 6

Travel from Antananarivo to Morondava (Air Transfer Journey)


Sitting on the island's west coast, the laid-back coastal resort of Morondava was once the centre of the ancient Sakalava Kingdom and the surrounding area still contains hiden tombs decorated with erotic carvings, for which the Sakalava people were most famous. Whilst the town itself is small, a leisurely walk along the main street past faded traditional buildings and the chance to get lost in the huge covered market is a fun way to spend a few hours.

Drive from Morondava to Kirindy


A journey of around two hours.


Steppes clients who have made the effort to come here, consider this one of the most rewarding wildlife habitats in Madagascar, but remains overlooked by many visitors. Located midway along the western coast, this dry, deciduous forest reserve remains one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the elusive fossa, a carnivorous cat-like mammal that is endemic to the island. It is also home to a number of endemic dry forest species such as the giant jumping rat (not as bad as it sounds), narrow-striped mongoose and pygmy mouse lemur, along with over 70 species of bird found here. Plenty of lemurs allow for some wonderfully close up shots and as many of the lemurs here are nocturnal, occurring in exceptionally high numbers (as do the chameleons) night walks are particularly rewarding.


Evening Walk
On arrival at the camp, you will be met and after lunch, you can then explore the forest, famous for its brown lemurs and birding.


You will be staying at Camp Amoureux

Day 7

Day Spent Visiting Durrell's Menabe Forest Projects
Begin with an introduction to the forest and the projects here, led by Richard Lewis, Director of the Madagascar Programme for Durrell. Learn about the efforts underway to conserve this dry forest ecosystem.

Later, join a patrol with the local community rangers, whose job it is to protect this threatened environment. Be accompanied throughout by Anselme, the manager of the Menabe project. This is the perfect time to ask questions about how the Durrell team are implementing conservation strategies on the ground, as well as learning about the challenges they face.

Afterwards, as darkness falls, there may be the chance to look for giant jumping rats. This is dependent on the moon phase at the time, so is not guaranteed.


You will be staying at Camp Amoureux

Day 8

Lake Bedo Trip and Community Visit with Durrell
In the morning, visit Lake Bedo and the surrounding mangroves, accompanied by Richard Lewis. This wetland area is an important site for waterbirds, including storks, ibis, spoonbills, flamingos and herons.

Later, join Anselme and Richard for a visit to meet the local community. Conservation work in this region is heavily reliant on community involvement, and this is the perfect opportunity to understand their lives and learn more about the Malagasy culture.

Drive back to Morondava via the Avenue of the Baobabs at Sunset


A journey of around two hours, stopping en route to visit the Avenue of the Baobabs. This spectacular group of giant trees straddles the dirt road and, at sunset, they are beautifully silhouetted against the pinkening skies.


You will be staying at Palissandre Cote Ouest Hotel

Day 9

Travel from Morondava to Tsingy (Air Transfer Journey)


Tsingy de Bemaraha is a grey forest of limestone caves and razor-sharp pinnacles (tsingy), understandably considered one of Madagascar's most dramatic parks. Remote and inaccessible, visitors can discover this untouched wilderness through a network of trails, river caves, canopy walkways and well-maintained canyon bridges.


Afternoon at Leisure
After lunch, have the afternoon at leisure. Have a chance to meet and chat with the local geologist - from Antananarivo University - who will be joining you for your time in the Tsingy.


You will be staying at Grand Hotel du Tsingy

Day 10

Canoe Trip through Manambolo Gorge
Visit the Manambolo Gorge - a beautiful, wide canyon. Explore the canyon by canoe, accompanied by the guide and the geologist. Best admired from the water the gorge's spectacular red limestone walls rise up to 80 metres above the river. This area is remarkable for its varying types of vegetation, which include subhumid dense forest, sparse xerophytic vegetation and semi-deciduous dense dry forest.

Afterwards, take a short walk into the nearby caves, which are home to magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations. Then hike back up to the top of the cliffs, for wonderful views of the Tsingy. Also visit a renowned family tomb here, belonging to the Vazimba tribe.


You will be staying at Grand Hotel du Tsingy

Day 11

Andamozavaky Circuit
Today, set out on the spectacular Andamozavaky Circuit. This walking tour explores the Tsingy, focussing on the area where the karst formations meet Madagascar's forests. This area is one of the most impressive in the park, with some of the most dramatic formations. Walk through the remarkable limestone forest, crossing over several hanging bridges.

The walking is not technically difficult, lasting just over four hours, but is not recommended for those with a fear of heights, as the views down from the bridges are as unnerving as they are dramatic.


You will be staying at Grand Hotel du Tsingy

Day 12

Oliha Circuit
Set out on a full day tour of the Tsingy, following the Oliha Circuit, again accompanied by the guide and geologist. This is one of the more strenuous hikes in the park, lasting for around eight hours.

However, the effort is more that worth it, with the route exploring a maze of limestone pinnacles, as well as natural swimming pools. Despite the challenging terrain, there is also wildlife here. Look out for Decken's sifakas and red-fronted brown lemurs. This circuit also visits the tombs of the Vazimba and a section of the Manambolo Gorge.


You will be staying at Grand Hotel du Tsingy

Day 13

Travel from Tsingy to Antananarivo (Air Transfer Journey)


You will be staying at Relais Des Plateaux

Day 14

Only breakfast included on the final day.

Fly Antananarivo to Istanbul

Day 15

Fly Istanbul to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Vakona Forest Lodge

Vakona Forest Lodge

One of the most established lodges in the area, Vakona Forest Lodge sits in its own private reserve, so you get extra wildlife for your money along with plenty of rainforest....

View Accommodation

Relais Des Plateaux

Relais Des Plateaux

Relais Des Plateaux is in a residential area, just 10 minutes from the airport and an hour from the city centre....

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Camp Amoureux

Camp Amoureux

Named after the two entwined baobabs in front of the bar, this is by far the best place to stay in an area of very limited choices, but that doesn't change the fact this is a great, and surprisingly comfortable camp....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Madagascar

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Illona Cross, Travel Expert

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"Excellent personal service; well-informed local knowledge; dependable outcome; quality of experience."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 4 / Max 10

Departure Date (S):

  • 22nd September 2017

This tour may involve longer hikes and will require a good level of fitness. The itinerary may involve long days travelling to destinations.


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