- Duration 15-18 Days
- Difficulty 3/5
- Group Size 12
23 October to 8 November, 2018
Madagascar, often called the eighth continent is unlike anywhere else on earth. This bizarre world is home to ‘dancing’ lemurs, fossa, tenrecs, couas, mesites, vangas, chameleons and truly bizarre plants such as the baobabs (Madagascar has six species while the rest of Africa has one!). We will explore the entire country interacting with the fabulous locals from a host of different tribes. Madagascar’s incredible endemism includes 5 entire bird families, more than 10,000 plant species, more than 50 endemic lemur species and 99% of its frogs! We will also do night walks searching for the bizarre aye-aye, woolly lemurs and tomato frogs. Madagascar is one of the most fascinating countries for on-the-road, eye-level contact with day-to-day life. We chose these dates to coincide with baby lemurs and peak bird nesting season. The expedition has two components, the first of 15 days for those with limited time. The four-day extension however is highly recommended to complete the Madagascar experience. Having led dozens of trips to this weird and wonderful island Pete and Reneé look forward to sharing their knowledge with you.
15-day itinerary – per person sharing: USD $9,900
15-day itinerary – single supplement: USD USD $9,900 + $800 (Total $10,700)
Full 18-day itinerary – per person sharing: USD $12,875
Full 18-day itinerary – single supplement: USD $10,700 + $2,975 + $350 (Total $14,025)
Arrival: Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Departure: Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Arrival Time: 23rd October, 2018
- Lodging at all hotels during the expedition.
- Meals and filtered water.
- All ground transportation and airport transfers.
- All internal Madagascar flights.
- Local English-speaking guide on entire trip.
- Additional local guides in parks.
- Two Pete Oxford Expeditions trip leaders.
- All gratuities throughout the expedition.
- Round trip international airfare to Madagascar.
- Entry visa for Madagascar.
- Travel insurance – highly recommended and can be booked via the website.
- Early or late check-in at Hotel Colbert, Antananarivo.
- Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, internet and alcoholic beverages.
A Day 1, October 23rd: Arrive to Antananarivo
Antananarivo – Fly into Antananarivo (from Paris on Air France, from Johannesburg on South African Airways, or from Nairobi on Kenya Airways), the capital of Madagascar, known as “Tana” for short. From the airport, we will be driven to the venerable Hotel Colbert located in the upper town and in continuous operation since colonial times. Overnight and dinner at the Hotel Colbert.
B Day 2, October 24th: Antananarivo to Andasibe
After breakfast we head off on the well-maintained Route Nationale 2 through the verdant Imerina countryside until we reach the World Heritage site of ‘ala atsinanana’, the eastern rainforest, about 3 hours from the capital. All the while we will pass amazing and unique scenery and witness the highly photogenic locals going about their daily business. After lunch at Andasibe Hotel, we check into our bungalows at Vakôna Forest Lodge. In the evening, we explore the Mitsinjo forest on a night walk searching for tomato frogs, tenrecs and nocturnal lemurs. Dinner and overnight at Vakôna Forest Lodge.
C Day 3 October 25th: Analamazaotra Reserve
Rise early to hike into the forest of Analamazaotra to see and hear the totally unforgettable indri lemurs as they wail vociferously proclaiming their territory. Expert local guides will help us find a host of other strange Madagascan mammals, birds and reptiles. After lunch at the hotel, enjoy a visit to ‘lemur island’ on the premises of the hotel for direct interaction with some of its inhabitants. Dinner and overnight Vakôna Forest Lodge.
D Days 4 – 6, October 26th-28th: Andasibe / Akani’ni nofy / Palmarium
Today we drive down the escarpment of the eastern mountain chain towards the coast, continuing along the same Route Nationale 2 (with a box lunch). About three hours out of Andasibe, we reach the colonial town of Brickaville on the coastal plain, where a 10-km track leads to the Pangalanes Canal, a waterway that runs parallel to the coast from the harbor town of Tomasaina almost all the way down to the southern tip of the island. A boat will be waiting at the canal port of Ambila-Lemaitso to take us to Ampitabe Lake about 60km to the north, home to the Palmarium private reserve. All the way the journey will be fascinating while accompanied by continuous greetings of ‘Salud Vaza!’. We will stop many times to interact with and photograph the endearing locals and their environment in this beautiful rural landscape. Two full days to enjoy the reserve and the lake (including a snorkel from the beach). The coastal forest that is the setting for the reserve boasts a wide variety of Madagascan palms, including Dypsis, Ravenea, Orania, Voanioala, Lemurophoenix and of course Ravinala – the ‘traveler’s palm’ -, many orchids and a host of different fauna species. During our night walks to find aye-aye, black and white ruffed lemurs, crowned lemurs, indi, sifakas and woolly lemurs, (not forgetting chameleons, bizarre lizards, insects and new tenrecs – hedgehog-like animals) we will be kept very busy photographing, exploring on our own, interacting with local fishermen on the beach or simply communing with the lemurs – most of which are totally habituated to humans. Overnight at Palmarium.
A Day 7, October 29th: Palmarium to Antananarivo
After breakfast, we retrace our steps back by boat to Ambila-Lemaitso then by road back up to the capital with a stop for lunch at Moramanga, another fascinating look at Madagascar from the ground perspective with time to stop and enjoy the spectacle. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Colbert.
E Day 8, October 30th: Antananarivo to Miandrivazo
Setting out early today, we head south on Route Nationale 7 through the central-highlands landscape of terraced rice paddies until reaching Antsirabe, the ‘little Switzerland’ of Madagascar. After lunch at one of the numerous restaurants in Antsirabe, we continue west to the town of Miandrivazo at the western edge of the central highlands. Here we break our journey for dinner and overnight at Princesse Tsiribihina (named after one of Madagascar’s largest rivers, that runs through Miandrivazo).
F Day 9, October 31st: Miandrivazo to Marofandilia
We continue the road trip to the Mozambique Channel arriving at the coastal town of Morondava in the early afternoon. After a late lunch we visit the world-famous Baobab Alley before arriving to the edge of the forest at Marofandilia. Overnight at Camp Amoureux.
G Day 10, November 1st: Marofandillia to Kirindy
The village of Marofandilia is at the edge of Kirindy forest, where the Madagascan NGO Fanamby built its first locally owned and operated rustic lodging, “Camp Amoureux”. Your villager hosts are also the custodians of the forest, and the camp is their most important source of revenue – therefore an important incentive to preserve the area. We enjoy our first foray into the forest this morning with a knowledgeable local as our guide. For the afternoon we will visit Kirindy research station with dinner at the visitors’ center, and particular emphasis on seeing Madagascar’s top carnivore, the strange fossa. After our meal we will go on a night walk to spot the many nocturnal lemurs and other unique denizens of the west. Overnight at Camp Amoureux.
A Day 11, November 2nd: Morondava to Antananarivo
Today we return to the capital visiting the imposing Baobab Alley once again but this time for a completely different perspective at sunrise. We continue to Morondava airport to catch our return flight to Tana. If time permits we can either visit the royal hill of Analamanga or soak up the atmosphere of downtown before dinner and overnight at the Hotel Colbert.
A Day 12-13, November 3rd-4th: Antananarivo to Fort Dauphin & Berenty
After breakfast we transfer to the airport to fly South to Ft. Dauphin (a.k.a.Tolagnaro), where we will be met and driven to the private reserve of Berenty, about 3 hours away, situated at the point where the spiny dry-forest meets the lazy Mandrare river. This is home to one of Madagascar’s most iconic species, the ring-tailed lemur. We have a very busy, full day to enjoy Berenty. From dawn we will begin exploring the grounds and interacting directly with the ring-tailed lemurs which will seem to be everywhere. As it warms up Verreaux’s sifakas will become active and a highlight will be to watch them ‘dance’ across the open ground as they move between feeding trees. We will see brown lemurs, sportive lemurs and a host of birds including giant couas, Madagascar scops owls, vangas and cuckoo rollers. With luck we may even spot a radiated tortoise or two. After dinner we will head to the spiny forest of Dideraceae in search of miniscule, nocturnal, mouse lemurs. Meals and overnight in Berenty.
A Day 14, November 5th: Berenty to Antananarivo
After breakfast and more photography we drive back to Ft. Dauphin to catch our return flight to Tana. Overnight at the Hotel Colbert.
We have decided to split the expedition into two parts for those who may not be able to stay away more than the two weeks described above. The following four days however are very special and put us in contact with a host of new Madagascan species. This is not simply an ‘add-on’ but the rounding out of our Madagascan overview. It is highly recommended to do both sections.
I Day 15-17, November 6th-7th: Antananarivo to Ampijoroa
While some guests may be departing today, those remaining will continue to the north west of the island and the stunning reserve of Ampijoroa. The journey is on one of Madagascar’s best roads which takes us across the red center of the Haut Plateaux. Two full days are spent in the reserve and immediate area. The park is a bird watcher’s paradise with 129 recorded species, 75 of them endemic to Madagascar, including the bizarre sickle-billed and Van Dam’s vangas, the extremely rare Madagascar fish eagle as well as the white-breasted mesite. Eight species of lemur are also present including the charming Coquerel’s sifaka, mongoose lemurs and western woolly lemurs. We aim to see many other species including bats, lizards, boas and crocodiles. Additionally the park is home to a breeding center for rare and endangered tortoises including the strange ploughshare tortoise. Full board at Blue Vanga Lodge.
A Day 18, November 8th: Ampijoroa to Majunga & Antananarivo
This morning we take the beautiful drive to the sea port city of Majunga, famous for a giant baobab in the city center and the many traditional sailing vessels (dhows) that ply the coast. We take a flight from Majunga’s international airport back to the capital, Tana, for dinner and our last overnight or a day room near the airport for those leaving on the late-night flight to Paris.
Discover the world with experienced travelers
Photographer | Owner | Trip Leader
Over the decades we have spent many, many months in Madagascar, criss-crossing the island both as tour leaders and professional wildlife photographers. Our travels have taken us to some of the islands most remote outposts where we have been stuck many times in our 4×4, usually to be rescued by oxen pulling out the vehicle. We have spent way too many hours in ox-drawn carts with zero suspension on terrible tracks, but in so doing became the first photographers to photograph all the sifaka species in the wild. In a very rewarding personal coup, we were also the first to successfully document wild fossa, Madagascar’s largest carnivore. In designing the itinerary, we have included what we consider the highlights that Madagascar has to offer. If you possess a true spirit of adventure, we invite you to join us on this incredible expedition.
Logistics | Owner | Trip Leader
Apart from the incredible wildlife, we both just love interacting with the local people who are a real joy to be with. Madagascar is special. The moment I leave I want to go back! Ingrained memories of this island country include walking a gravel bed strewn with pieces of eggshell from the recently extinct giant elephant bird, interacting one-on-one with lemurs in the forest, finding my first leaf-tailed gecko and making a collection of the myriad different straw hats from all the tribes. I remember once, while traveling on our own, our vehicle had broken down and we had sent our driver to the city for spares, when a cyclist laden with freshly caught king prawns appeared. We bought them, took them to a nearby dwelling, cooked them all up and shared them with the family to kill time.