The Living Eden: Madagascar’s Unique Flora and Fauna

8 Oct – 30 Oct 2018

  • Region:
    • Africa
    • Madagascar
  • Status: open
  • Code: 21834
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Overview

Tour Highlights

  • With Paul Urquhart explore Madagascar’s rich and unique wildlife habitats, venturing into exquisite national parks and reserves ranging from semi-tropical rainforests, succulent and spiny thicket, rocky landscapes of the central west and the spectacular mineral forest (karst spires) of the Tsingy de Bemaraha.
  • Learn about Madagascar’s fascinating blend of Austronesian and East African cultures.
  • View the spectacular Avenue of the Baobabs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Get up close with Madagascar’s unique lemur and hear the call of the Indri across the Andasibe rainforest.
  • Enjoy invigorating walks in Andasibe-Mantadia, Ranomafana and Isalo National Parks, while searching for lemurs, chameleons and strange insects in the forest.
  • Make an excursion to Masoala National Park and the island reserve of Nosy Mangabe home to the White-Fronted Brown Lemurs and Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs, Leaf-Tailed Geckos and several species of chameleons.

23-day Flora & Fauna tour of Madagascar

Overnight Antananarivo (1 night) • Andasibe NP (3 nights) • Antsirabe (1 night) • Ranomafana NP (3 nights) • Isalo NP (2 nights) • Toliara (1 night) • Kirindy Forest Reserve (1 night) • Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve (3 nights) • Morondava (1 night) • Antananarivo (1 night) • Maroantsetra (1 night) • Masoala NP (3 nights) • Antananarivo (1 night)

Overview

Visit one of the world’s botanical and zoological hotspots with Paul Urquhart, an accomplished editor, author of several books on garden design and a passionate lover of tropical plants. Madagascar, the world’s fifth-largest island, has a higher percentage of endemic species than any comparable land mass; it has plant species, genera and even families that grow nowhere else on earth. Many natives have, however, made their way into gardens the world over. Among them is the magnificent Poinciana; we will see many more species of the outstanding genus of flowering plants, Delonix. Madagascar also has many unique native terrestrial mammal species, including such endearing creatures as lemurs. The exact number of species isn’t known, as new ones are regularly discovered or reclassified. However, 86 have been described, from the tiny Madam Berthe’s Mouse Lemur – the world’s smallest primate at about 30 grams – to the Indri, one of the largest living lemurs, that can weigh in at 9.5 kilograms. Chameleons can be as small as your little fingernail or as big as a kitten. Many do change colour, although not as dramatically as the cartoons would suggest. The Leaf-Tailed Gecko is possibly the world’s most perfectly camouflaged lizard – until it moves, you won’t believe it’s there. This is the land of the world’s largest moth, the Comet Moth, that can measure 20cm from antennae to tail; and who wouldn’t love a Tomato Toad or a Giraffe-Necked Weevil with a neck five times longer than its body? We see amazing scenery from the dry canyons and buttes of Isalo National Park, where John Wayne would have felt at home, to the pristine rainforests of Maroantsetra with its orchids and giant bamboos eaten by Madagascar’s equivalent to the Panda, the Bamboo Lemur. We also view the spectacular Avenue of the Baobabs (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the mineral forest (karst spires) of the Tsingy de Bemaraha, and the spiny forests of Ifaty. This land’s unique plants and animals are not its only charms. As the last major habitable land mass to be settled by humans, the history, culture and customs unique to the Malagasy people will fascinate all who experience it.

Itinerary

The following itinerary lists a range of sites which we plan to visit. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in flight schedules, road and weather conditions. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches (usually boxed lunches) and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch, and D=evening meal. The duration of walks described below are approximate only.

Discovering Lemurs
Lemurs belong to the suborder Strepsirhini, which also includes bushbabies, pottos and lorises. These groups are the most basal living primates. Ancestral prosimians, possibly resembling today’s Mouse Lemurs, are thought to have colonised Madagascar from mainland Africa 50-60 million years ago. In the absence of competition from other non-primate mammals, these species diversified to fill a wide range of unusual ecological niches. There are five distinct families of lemurs: Lemuridae, Indriidae, Megaladapidae, Cheirogaleidae and Daubentoniidae. The Lemuridae comprises 10 species, divided into two subfamilies: the Lemurinae (‘true’ lemurs) and the Hapalemurinae (Bamboo or Gentle Lemurs). All species of lemurs are endemic primates of Madagascar. They are the smallest primate in the world, from Ms Berthe Lemur which weighs 30 grams to the Indri, which can weigh up to 9.5 kg. Recently extinct species were much larger. In 2010, five families, 15 genera and 101 species and subspecies of lemurs were officially recognized. Between 2000 and 2008 39 new species were identified. During this tour we shall study several beautiful species including the Indri Indri, Sifaka and some interesting nocturnal species.

Guiding in Madagascar and visits to the National Parks
Entry to national parks and reserves in Madagascar requires that you be accompanied by a local guide. During visits to the national parks there will be at least two local guides as well as our English-speaking national guide from Wild Madagascar. This will enable us, if necessary, to sub-divide into small groups according to preference and ability levels. If you feel you cannot keep up with the rest of the group or feel tired, you may return to the entrance of the national park, shorten your visit or take a short-cut to meet the rest of the group at a different place.

Antananarivo - 1 night

Day 1: Monday 8 October, Arrive Antananarivo
  • Airport transfer for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight (from Mauritius MK288 1410-1505)
  • Orientation tour of Antananarivo
  • Welcome Evening Meal

We arrive in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital city, affectionately known as ‘Tana’. We proceed immediately from the airport for a short orientation tour of the city including stops at the former Prime Minister’s and Queen’s Palaces.

The city of Tana was built in three stages; the high city was the first area occupied during the royal period, and it is here that the old Manjakamiadana Rova (Queen’s Palace) is located. This royal palace complex (rova in Malagasy) served as a residence for the kings and queens of the Merina Kingdom during the 17th and 18th centuries and the rulers of the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. Its religious counterpart is the nearby fortified village of Ambohimanga, which served as the spiritual seat of the kingdom. Originally made of wood, in 1869 the palace was rebuilt in stone by order of Queen Ranavalona II. In 1995 a fire almost completely destroyed the palace sparing only the stone walls. From its high position the palace offers great panoramic views of the city and the Twelve Sacred Hills.

The Andafiavaratra Palace, also known as the Prime Minister’s Palace, is located north of the Queen’s Palace. The original wooden palace was built under the supervision of Queen Ranavalona I. In 1872, it was rebuilt according to the plans of British architect William Pool. The 3-storey palace centres on a large reception hall lit up by a glass dome. Each of the four corner towers includes a bell tower. From 1864 to 1895 the palace was the residence of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, who married three queens and exercised ultimate power from here. After Madagascar became independent, the palace was used as army barracks, a court, school of fine arts, presidential palace and finally again as the prime minister’s office. In 1976 the palace burnt down. Following extensive restoration it now houses a museum displaying precious items which were saved from the fire of the Rova in 1995 including the red jacket of Radama I, the royal coral jewels, various royal portraits and the diadem of the last queen.

We next drive down to mid-city Tana, or the administrative district, ending at the Rainiharo tombs. While poorly maintained, the tomb designed by Jean Laborde in 1835 for the deceased prime minster is nevertheless a significant example of French colonial architecture and the first structure in Madagascar to use carved stone. A three-year stay in Bombay, shortly before Laborde’s fateful shipwreck on Madagascar, gave a decided Hindu air to his design for this mausoleum.

Finally we visit the low city which is the commercial area of the town with its magnificent Avenue de l’Independence and its imposing colonial buildings including the old railway station. In the late afternoon we transfer to our hotel located in the heart of the government district. This evening we gather for a welcome meal at La Varangue, one of the city’s top gourmet restaurants thanks to it’s chief Lalaina Ravelomana who is a kitchen maestro and chocolate specialist. (Overnight Antananarivo) LD

Andasibe National Park - 3 nights

Day 2: Tuesday 9 October, Antananarivo – Marozevo – Andasibe
  • Peyrieras Reptile Reserve (Mandraka Nature Farm), Marozevo
  • Physical Endurance: Our visit to the reserve may include an optional ten minutes hike to the top of a nearby hill where a family of Coquerel’s Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) and a group of Common Brown Lemurs (Eulemur fulvus) reside. The hillside is quite steep. Duration: 2hrs
  • Early evening walk in the VOI Community managed forest of the Reserve of Indri d’ Analamazaotra
  • Physical Endurance: The night walk starts at around 1800 from the entrance to the VOI preserve. The trail, winding in the understory of the forest, is reasonably flat. Duration: 1.5hrs

This morning we depart Antananarivo for Andasibe, a region of primary forests and lakes. En route we stop at the Peyrieras Reptile Reserve, founded by the French entomologist and naturalist André Peyriéras, for a close-up look at some of Madagascar’s numerous reptiles and amphibians, including several species of chameleons, snakes, geckos and frogs.

We arrive at our atmospheric lodge, set on the edge of the rainforest, in the late afternoon. In the early evening we make our first visit to the special Reserve of Indri d’Analamazaotra with a stroll through the VOI community managed forest. Here we search for a number of nocturnal species including various tree frogs, chameleons, the Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger), Furry-Eared Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogalus crossleyi) and Goodman’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus Lehilahitsara). (Overnight Andasibe) BLD

Day 3: Wednesday 10 October, Andasibe
  • Journey by 4WD
  • Birdwatching and nature tour of Mantadia National Park: The Tsakoka and Belakato Trails
  • Physical Endurance: Hiking trails in Mantadia can be steep and are often sandy/muddy. As our plan is to combine birdwatching and wildlife, lemurs in particular, we cannot limit walks to the lower elevation. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: 4-5hrs.
  • Time at leisure

The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a pristine primary growth rainforest reserve, separated into two sections, each home to plants and animals found only in that part. The two protected areas are referred to as the ‘special Reserve of Indri d’Analamazaotra’ (or Andasibe National Park) and Mantadia National Park. Mantadia National Park, located 21kms north of the Andasibe National Park, was created primarily to protect the Indri and also constitutes a habitat for the Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegat). A quiet, beautiful area with numerous waterfalls, it is undeveloped and less visited than its popular neighbour to the south.

We spend today exploring this section of the park, looking for lemurs, reptiles and rare endemic birds. The terrain at Mantadia is ranked from rough to very rough and searching for wildlife will be physically demanding. We will dedicate four to five hours to following a combination of the Tsakoka and Belakato trails. We intend to be back at our lodge around mid-afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Andasibe) BLD

Day 4: Thursday 11 October, Andasibe
  • Birdwatching and nature tour of the special Reserve of Indri d’Analamazaotra
  • Physical Endurance: Hiking trails in the reserve are steep in spots and can be sandy/muddy. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: 3-4hrs.
  • Lemur Island

This morning we explore the special Reserve of Indri d’Analamazaotra, world famous for its population of Indri whose unforgettable wail can be heard emanating from the misty forest throughout the day, most commonly in the early morning. There are about 60 resident family groups of two to five Indris each. In 2005 the Goodman’s Mouse Lemur was discovered here and identified as a distinct species. There are numerous other species to see as well, such as the Bamboo Lemur and the Brown Lemur, the Emerald-Green Parson’s Chameleon and a number of rainforest dependent birds.

In the middle of the afternoon, we visit Lemur Island, a tiny reserve owned by Vakona Lodge, home to three species of lemur including the Bamboo Lemur, the Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur and the Brown Lemur. Here we may obtain a close-up view of these endemic creatures. (Overnight Andasibe) BLD

Antsirabe - 1 night

Day 5: Friday 12 October, Andasibe – Ambatolampy – Antsirabe
  • Aluminium Pot Workshops, Ambatolampy
  • Evening orientation walk of Antsirabe (time-permitting)

We spend most of the day travelling from Andasibe to Antsirabe. Our journey will take approximately seven to eight hours. South of Tana we make a brief visit to the charming and very typical plateau town of Ambatolampy, famous for its aluminium pots. A visit to a local foundry will enable us to view the workers who, out of the blazing hot metal, create small artworks, cutlery and cooking pots. Their skilful technique is interesting to watch. The metal is smelted by one worker in a crucible until it is molten. In the mean time, another member of the team creates the inverted shape of the inside of the pot on the floor of the workshop using a very fine-grained mixture of sand, laterite and powdered charcoal. Once this shape has been completed, a wooden mould is lowered carefully over the foundry sand, and more sand is packed around it. Finally, the molten metal is poured into the cavity between the two to create the pot. The pot is then left to cool – which is a surprisingly quick process – before the mould is removed and the foundry sand is gently swept away to expose the new pot. It is then sanded and burnished to remove the rough edges and reveal the characteristic silvery white colour of the metal.

Depending on the traffic, we hope to arrive into Antsirabe in time for a short evening orientation stroll along the Avenue de l’Independence. Colonial Antsirabe’s broad tree-lined avenue, which stretches from its handsome railway station to the Hôtel des Thermes was intended to achieve the goals of defining the resort as European and of making it a symbol of French rationality and modernity with which to impress the Malagasy. (Overnight Antsirabe) BLD

Ranomafana National Park - 3 nights

Day 6: Saturday 13 October, Antsirabe – Ambositra – Ambatovaky – Ranomafana
  • Rickshaw ride: visit to the semi-precious stone workshops and handicraft sector of Antsirabe
  • Wood carving of Ambositra
  • Blacksmith village of Ambatovaky

Early this morning we begin with a short tour of Antsirabe, the third largest city in Madagascar. Located on a high plateau, at an altitude of approximately 1500m, it has a relatively cool climate. Its name, meaning “where there is salt”, honours the large number of hot springs whose curative qualities were appreciated by the local population when French colonists decided to locate a thermal bath here in the 19th century. It is also renowned for having hundreds of registered rickshaws (or pousse-pousses in French) and specialises in the cutting of semi-precious stones. In the town’s thriving handicrafts sector we may view a variety of products including jewellery made from zebu horn, toys crafted from old tin cans, wood carvings, polished minerals, embroidered tablecloths and clothing.

Mid-morning we depart Antsirabe and continue 90km south to the Betsileo town of Ambositra, whose close proximity to the forest has made it the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry.  Its name means “the place of the eunuchs” supposedly because the Merina tribe castrated all defeated warriors of the local tribe, the Zafimaniry. The cultural influence of this tribe can be found in the traditional motifs on the local houses with their intricately carved balconies, panels and shutters. We’ll encounter many specialized workshops in printmaking, wood carving and marquetry. Saturday is market day; raffia products are particularly plentiful.

The village of Ambatovaky, situated 24km from the entrance to Ranomafana National Park, consists of a small population of farmers and artisans. Here shall visit a local blacksmith before continuing to Ranomafana National Park in the mountainous highlands. (Overnight Setam Lodge, Ranomafana) BLD

Day 7 & 8: Sunday 14 October & Monday 15 October, Ranomafana National Park
  • Mornings: Birdwatching and nature walk along the Varibolamena Trails
  • Physical Endurance: One of the most difficult trails, it is taxing due to the rough terrain and humidity. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: 4 hrs.
  • Afternoon: Birdwatching and nature walk along the Vohiparara Trails
  • Physical Endurance: The Vohiparara Trail is flatter than the Varibolamena Tail. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: dependent on bird species spotted; approx 2hrs.

Particularly rich in wildlife, this hitherto unprotected fragment of mid-altitude rainforest and higher-altitude mountain cloud forest first came to the world’s attention with the discovery of the Golden Bamboo Lemur in 1986; formal protection followed in 1991. Today this exquisite upland cloud forest is one of Madagascar’s top wildlife hotspots. The 12 lemur species that live here include all three Bamboo Lemurs: Grey Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur griseus), Greater Bamboo Lemur  (Prolemur simus) and the Golden Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur aureus). The Bamboo or Gentle lemurs have grey-brown fur. Their muzzles are short and their ears are round and hairy. Lengths vary from 26 to 46 cm, with tails just as long or longer, and they weigh up to 2.5 kg. Bamboo Lemurs prefer damp forests where bamboo grows and as their name suggests they feed almost exclusively on bamboo. Completely dependent on this low-energy food source, the lemur must lead a very sedentary lifestyle and spend much of its time eating. As with many specialised species, this lemur is unable to adapt to its rapidly changing habitat. Widespread clearing of its rainforest habitat has caused populations to become isolated in the few remaining patches of forest capable of supporting the species. Other residents of the park include the striking Milne-Edward’s Sifaka and the robust Black and White-Ruffed Lemur. There are also scores of reptiles and beautiful chameleons

We shall spend two days in Ranomafana National Park exploring the network of paths through the forests and dense stands of giant bamboo. Expect to see various lemurs, such as Red-Fronted Brown Lemur (Eulemur rufus), Red-Bellied Lemur (Eulemur rubriventer) and the shy Grey Bamboo Lemur. For the tree lover we will see some of the species of Dombeya with their heads of pink or white flowers. Ranomafana is also superb for birdwatchers as many of the rainforest dwelling endemics occur in the park. There are Brown Mesite, Blue Coua and the Velvet Asity. Ranomafana is a herpetologist’s paradise, with a variety of chameleons, geckoes, skinks and frogs. The floral diversity is bewildering, with numerous species of palm, bamboo and orchid thriving here.

The Ranomafana National Park trail is considered to be one of the most difficult walks included on this tour due to the roughness of terrain and the permanent humidity. Difficulty will undoubtedly arise while tracking wildlife, in particular Golden Bamboo Lemurs and Milne’s Edward Sifaka, the former being very often met only off track – which can be a strenuous endeavour. The terrain where birds are usually encountered is more even. (Overnight Setam Lodge, Ranomafana) BLD

Isalo National Park - 2 nights

Day 9: Tuesday 16 October, Ranomafana – Anja – Isalo National Park
  • Ring-Tailed Lemurs of Anja Community Reserve
  • Physical Endurance: Relatively easy trail with only slight uphill slopes. The narrow trails follow open vegetation through dry-deciduous forest. Duration: 2hrs

Leaving the rainforest early after breakfast we drive across the desolate central southern interior to the community-run Anja Reserve. Known for its superb scenery, the reserve covers eight hectares and is home to about 300 Ring-Tail Lemurs (Lemur catta), instantly recognisable by their banded tail, and some intriguing plants adapted to the dry southern climate. The region is sacred to the Betsileo; their ancestors are buried here and it has always been fady (meaning taboo in the traditional culture of Madagascar) to hunt the lemurs. The caves here have provided a useful sanctuary in times of trouble and were inhabited up to a century or so ago. We spend a couple of hours in the Anja Reserve following a relatively easy trail through dry-deciduous forest to spot groups of Ring-Tailed Lemurs and various species of reptiles.

In the afternoon we continue our drive to Isalo’s remarkable landscapes, with eroded ‘ruiniforme’ sandstone outcrops, giving hints of silver and green reflections of sunlight, and interspersed with endless palm savanna of the endemic Bismarkia Palms (Bismarkia nobilis). (Overnight Hôtel Le Jardin du Roy, Ranohira, Isalo National Park) BLD

Day 10: Wednesday 17 October, Isalo National Park
  • Morning nature trail to the Natural Pool (Piscine Natural), Isalo National Park
  • Physical Endurance: The path to the natural pool climbs steeply and there is little shade along the way. The hiking time for the uphill climb is approximately 1-1.5 hours at a leisurely pace with stops. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: 2-3hrs.
  • Afternoon trail to the Piscine Noire et Bleu, Isalo National Park.
  • Physical Endurance: This 4km walk begins with easy walking, but becomes more difficult towards the end of the canyon due to stream crossings on flattened boulders, cliff ascents on carved steps, followed by a descent to the pools along narrow steps and stepping stones. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: 3hrs.

We explore Isalo National Park’s fascinating plant community, including some very localised species of palm, aloe and the squat ‘elephant’s foot’ pachypodiums, which flourish on the rock faces. With luck, we’ll see some Ring-Tail Lemurs or Verreaux’s Sifakas in dense vegetation lining the canyon streams. Isalo offers several options for hikes into rocky canyons and verdant oases, with opportunities to take a refreshing dip in naturally formed pools at the base of hidden waterfalls. We shall look for Ring-Tail Lemurs, Verreaux Sifakas and Red-Fronted Brown Lemurs that have adapted to life in this dry desert climate.

Our morning trail leads us to the ‘Natural Pool’, providing views of xerophytic and sclerophyllous vegetation as well as stunning sandstone runiforme scenery.

Our afternoon trail leads to the ‘Piscine Noire et Bleu’ (Black and Blue Pools), both fed by narrow waterfalls, located at the end of the Namazaha Canyon. This canyon features riparian (riverbank) vegetation and shelters a variety of birds including the Benson Rock Thrush (Monticola bensoni). We begin the trail in a dry deciduous pocket forest that is home to birds, reptiles and insects. At the centre of this forest we may see Ring-Tailed Lemurs, the Red-Fronted Brown Lemurs and a Verreaux Sifaka. (Overnight Hôtel Le Jardin du Roy, Ranohira, Isalo National Park) BLD

Toliara - 1 night

Day 11: Thursday 18 October, Isalo – Zombitse National Park – Toliara
  • The Succulent Thicket of Zombitse National Park
  • Physical Endurance: An easy walk along the Mandresy Trail; terrain includes loose sand. Duration: 2hrs
  • Arboretum d’Antsokay

We make a very early start to drive to Zombitse National Park which protects one of the most important remnants of dry deciduous forest of Madagascar. Madagascar Cuckoo Rollers displaying maniacally over the canopy is one of the highlights here. Males of this huge forest endemic engage in flapping displays and loops accompanied by shrieking whistles.

The forest is a very special transition zone between the southern flora and the western deciduous forest. Similar in appearance to the latter, it contains the baobab species of the former. Here we will find our first Angraecum orchids and see Rhopalocarpus, a large tree and a member of a family unique to Madagascar. We might also find the giant green Phelsuma standingi gecko, a roosting White-Browed Owl and perhaps even Oustalet’s Chameleon, the largest chameleon in the world! The large white Verreaux’s Sifakas bound from tree to tree and often allow close views.

The forest is also home to one of Madagascar’s rarest endemic birds, the Appert’s Tetraka or Appert’s Greenbul (Xanthomixis apperti). The species was first described as late as 1972, and has been the subject of considerable taxonomic confusion. It was initially placed in the Greenbul genus Phyllastrephus, and later with the Old World warblers in the genus Bernieria. Recent research indicates it is part of an endemic Malagasy radiation currently known as the Malagasy warblers.

This morning we visit the splendid Aboretum d’Antsokay, located 12km south-east of Toliara. Created in the early 80s on the initiative of a Swiss amateur botanist, Hermann Petignat, the arboretum is devoted to the conservation of plants from the south-western part of Madagascar. In close collaboration with many institutions including the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and WWF it presents a typical spiny thicket (also known as spiny forest) in a botanical garden preserving more than 900 species, of which 90% are endemic to the region and 80% have medicinal virtues. (Overnight Toliara/Ifaty) BLD

Kirindy Forest Reserve - 1 night

Day 12: Friday 19 October, Toliara – Morondava – Kirindy
  • Fly Toliara to Morondava (MD741 TLEMOQ 1335-1435)
  • Nocturnal guided visit of Kirindy Forest Reserve
  • Physical Endurance: Trails are broad and mostly flat, making walking easy. Duration: 2hrs

Today we fly from Toliara to Morondava, and then drive to the Kirindy Forest Reserve. This 10,000-hectare reserve is a rare remnant of Madagascar’s threatened dry tropical deciduous forest. The reserve contains such oddities as the endangered Giant Jumping Rat collected by Gerald Durrell and now resident at the Durrell Wildlife Foundation, the Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) – Madagascar’s largest predator and a member of the mongoose family, and seven species of nocturnal lemur including the Fork-Marked Lemur, Coquerel’s Dwarf Lemur and the smallest of all primates, the Pygmy Mouse Lemur. Also present is the hissing cockroach. Kirindy boasts the highest density of primates of virtually any forest in the world. Diurnal lemurs include the acrobatic Verreaix’s Sifaka and Red-Fronted Brown Lemur.

Kirindy is part of the Manabe forests, also noted for their diverse botany which includes three of the island’s seven endemic baobabs, including the Giant Baobab and the smallest, the Bottle Baobab. Birdwatching is excellent, and we should see the Madagascar Jacana, Coquerels and Crested Couas and Sicklebill Vangas to name but a few. You may also see iguanids and the Flat-Tailed Tortoise – known as Kapidolo (ghost turtle), currently one of the most threatened of all the world’s tortoises.

This evening, at approximately 1800hrs, we take a walk through the reserve to spot some of these nocturnal species including the Giant Jumping Rat (Hypogeomys antimena). Accommodation is provided at the recently opened (April 2017) Relais du Kirindy. Your impressive nocturnal wildlife walk should leave you feeling that our night in Kirindy Forest was well worthwhile. (Overnight Relais du Kirindy, Kirindy Forest Reserve) BLD

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve - 3 nights

Day 13: Saturday 20 October, Kirindy – Belo Tsiribihina – Tsingy de Bemaraha
  • Journey by 4WD to Bekopaka via the Tsirbihina River and Belo Tsiribihina

This morning we drive northwards to the shores of the Tsiribihina River where a barge will transport us across the river to the town of Belo Tsiribihina. The river crossing takes about 45 minutes.

Following lunch in Belo Tsiribihina we make the four to five-hour drive to Bekopaka. Our journey takes us across savanna, a grassland home to the Madagascar Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides radiatus). One of the commonest raptors of Madagascar, this is a very large bird of prey. Aside from its size, it is unmistakable with its black and white stripes (called barring) on its underside, grey back, long bare yellow legs and bare pink or yellow skin patch around the eye.

A second barge will take our party across the river Manambolo to the village of Bekopaka; we shall spend the next three nights based at the Soleil des Tsingy. Located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tsingy de Bemaraha, the lodge is perched on the highest point in this region, offering spectacular views of the surrounding scenery. (Overnight Soleil des Tsingy, Bekopaka) BLD

Day 14: Sunday 21 October, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
  • The Gorge of the Manambolo River by pirogue
  • Physical Endurance: The excursion by pirogueon the Manambolo River is not suitable for anyone with bad knees. Further details are provided below. Duration: 2hrs
  • The Petite (Small) Tsingy
  • Physical Endurance: The walk includes a short ascent following a series of iron ladders and wooden walkways. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: 2-3hrs.

The spectacular mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha stands on the west coast of Madagascar. The area, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990, comprises 1575 square kilometres of canyons, gorges, undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps. The northern section is designated an Integral Reserve, and therefore off-limits to visitors, but we shall visit the southern section, declared a national park in 1998. This vast forest of rugged and eroded karst pinnacles supports about 90 species of birds, 8 species of reptiles and 11 species of lemurs. Scientists estimate that 86.7% of the flora and flora are endemic to Madagascar, and 47% are endemic to this region.

This morning we make an excursion by pirogue (wooden dug-out canoe) to the spectacular Manambolo Gorge, where the river has carved a deep channel through the limestone plateau. As we canoe past dry forest and sheer, vertical cliffs, craggy caves and overhangs, we shall view unusual vegetation, endemic water birds, and hear the shrill cries of black parrots resounding against the rock walls. Madagascar Fish Eagles can sometimes be seen perching in large trees edging the river. The park is generally divided into two parts – the Petit (Small) and the Grand (Big) Tsingy – a distinction based upon on area and also on the height of the pinnacles.

This afternoon we visit the Petit Tsingy. An easy walk through a dry deciduous forest (where you’ll get to see plenty of lemurs) takes us to the base of the karst formations. Here a short ascent – following a series of iron ladders and wooden walkways (designed by a French mountaineer) – takes us to the viewpoint that opens up to a vista of the surrounding Tsingy forest. (Overnight Soleil des Tsingy, Bekopaka) BLD

Day 15: Monday 22 October, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
  • Climbing The Grand Tsingy (Option 1: strenuous)
  • Physical Endurance: Option 1: Climbing the Grand Tsingy is long and strenuous and can be very hot during the middle of the day. It includes many steps, cables, walkways, caves, and a fair bit of rock scrambling. You need to be okay with heights. A climbing harness is provided for those undertaking the cables and rock scrambling section. Duration: 4hrs.
  • The Grand Tsingy: Adjacent Forest Walk (Option 2)
  • Physical Endurance: Option 2: A more leisurely forest walk. Duration: 2hrs
  • Afternoon at leisure

This morning we depart early for a one-hour drive to the Grand Tsingy. We may see lemurs and dozens of birds, orchids, aloes, pachypodium and baobabs. The endemic and medicinal plants make the flora of this park unique. Here there is the option to take an adventurous (and indeed strenuous) walk traversing the pinnacles either along a harnessed track or following the iron ladder way. A harness clipped to a steel cable is used for safety on the vertiginous and exposed scrambling sections amongst the rock. (Note: no technical climbing experience is necessary).

For those who do not wish to climb the Grand Tsingy, there is the option of exploring the adjacent forest for birds: Decken’s Sifaka (Propithecus deckeni), Randrianasolo’s Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur randrianasoli). At the entrance of the Tsingy we may also search for the Western Ring-Tailed Mongoose (Galidia elegans occidentalis). Note: the Grand Tsingy, the outskirts of which are characterised by xerophyte vegetation, may be viewed from below, from quite short distance without needing to climb.

After visiting the park we shall return to our hotel for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to relax. (Overnight Soleil des Tsingy, Bekopaka) BLD

Morondava - 1 night

Day 16: Tuesday 23 October, Tsingy de Bemaraha – Morondava
  • Return journey to Morondava by 4WD
  • Avenue des Baobabs

We return to Morondava by road, viewing the sunset in the Avenue des Baobabs. This cluster of towering Grandidier’s Baobabs (Adansonia grandidieri) is one of Madagascar’s most famous views. In 2007 the avenue (together with about 300 baobabs of three species in the surrounding one kilometre) became an officially protected natural monument. Andansonia grandidieri is the most majestic and famous of the baobab species and may reach 30m in height. The best-known specimens form the Boabab Avenue. These trees would once have been surrounded by dense forest, but today their isolated silhouettes can be seen for miles across the flat, featureless rice fields. There is now an active program to plant saplings amongst the existing trees. The project suffered a setback late in 2012 when a fire engulfed 11ha of the 320ha reserve, destroying 99 of the 2220 newly planted trees, but no mature baobabs were affected. We overnight in Morondava, a relaxed coastal town located on the Mozambique Channel. (Overnight Morondava) BLD

Antananarivo - 1 night

Day 17: Wednesday 24 October, Morondava – Antananarivo
  • Morning flight Morondava – Antananarivo (MD702 MOQTNR 0735-0835)
  • Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
  • Handicraft market of Antananarivo

This morning we take an early flight back to Antananarivo. We spend the remainder of the day exploring this city, including the UNESCO heritage listed Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, one of the most important spiritual and historic sites for the Malagasy people. Occupied since the 15th century, it was a fortified political capital, royal palace and royal burial ground. In the nineteenth century, the French colonial authorities made several attempts to undermine the significance and national symbolism of Ambohimanga, all of which proved unsuccessful. We shall also visit the wonderful craft market which has beautiful fossil specimens for sale and stalls selling baskets, woodcrafts and vanilla pods. (Overnight Antananarivo) BLD

Maroantsetra - 1 night

Day 18: Thursday 25 October, Antananarivo – Maroantsetra
  • Flight from Antananarivo to Maroantsetra (MD500/414 TNRWMN 0700-0915) or (MD318/415 0630-1130)
  • Orientation tour of Maroantsetra
  • The Tomato Frog, Dyscophus antongilii

Early this morning we fly to Maroantsetra. Located at the far end of the Bay of Antongil, near the mouth of the Antainambalana River, this charming town described as ‘Madagascar at its most authentic’, enjoys both river and ocean views.

On arrival we make a short tour of the town which often smells of vanilla and cloves; looking around we may see tables of drying vanilla beans on colourful blankets or cloves drying on mats and plastic bags.

Vanilla is a major export from Madagascar’s east coast. The only fruit-producing orchid, it is one of the most labour-intensive crops in the world, taking as long as five years from planting the vine to producing aged extract. Production involves the entire family, who pollinate the vanilla by hand when it flowers after two years, and then collect, cure and dry the pods. World vanilla prices experienced a massive spike after a 2000 cyclone devastated much of the East Asia crop. The sudden drop in supply pushed vanilla prices to nearly $500 per kg. However, by 2010 prices had dropped to as low as $25 per kg. Today, vanilla prices are surging again due to drought, fungal attacks and low prices driving many producers out of the market. Vanilla now sells for $80-$120 per kg. Despite the establishment of a financial cooperative which allows farmers to access credit during the lean season that lasts for most of the year (vanilla is sold only between June and October), very few people are still interested in caring for their plantations. Many have moved away from vanilla to other cultivations. Seeing drying vanilla pods is therefore very much dependent on the year and whether vanilla plantations are still tended.

There is also an abundant market featuring food such as large jumping shrimp, rice, greens, coconuts and a variety of cooked dishes, housewares, clothing and jewellery. Among the local crafts are lovely handmade raffia hats and bags which are primarily used by the local women. Women with stately postures may be seen balancing raffia totes and baskets piled high with fruit, vegetables and other goods on their heads.

While in Maroantsetra we may also visit an area dedicated to the breeding habitat of the Tomato Frog, Dyscophus antongilii, a conspicuous red-orange frog belonging to the Microhylidae family. Currently listed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it is present in eastern and north eastern Madagascar, with two main nuclei, one around and within the town of Maroantsetra, and the other in the surroundings of Antara, close to the town of Toamasina. In the afternoon we continue to our hotel Manga Beach facing the river Anjahanambo. (Overnight Maroantsetra) BLD

Masoala National Park - 3 nights

Day 19: Friday 26 October, Maroantsetra – Nosy Mangabe – Masoala National Park
  • Réserve de Nosy Mangabe
  • Physical Endurance: Hiking trails can be steep and are often sandy/muddy. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. Duration: 2 hrs

Early this morning we travel by boat to the Masoala Peninsula. En route we make an excursion to the island nature reserve of Nosy Mangabe, a small island (520ha), located in Antongil Bay two kilometres offshore from Maroantsetra, and covered in humid dark-green thick forest.

The boat takes around 40 minutes before we wade ashore. The island is home to White-Fronted Brown Lemurs and Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs, Leaf-Tailed Geckos (Uroplatus fimbriatus), several species of chameleons, frogs and snakes, including the Madagascar Tree Boa (Sanzinia madagasciensis), some of which can usually be spotted easily on the forest trails during a day visit. There is also the nocturnal Aye-Aye Lemur, which in the past could be seen if one stayed overnight on the island. However, the Aye-Aye on Nosy Mangabe are now more elusive and night walks are no longer permitted on the island.

In the early afternoon we continue by boat to the Masoala Peninsula. Here we spend three nights based at the Masoala Dounia Forest Lodge offering accommodation in rustic, but quite adequate, thatched huts. (Overnight Masoala Dounia Forest Lodge) BLD

Day 20: Saturday 27 October & Day 21: Sunday 28 October, Masoala National Park
  • The Western Coastal Trail, Lohatrozona
  • Physical Endurance: Hiking trails can be steep and are often sandy/muddy. Group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels.
  • The Tampolo Marine Reserve
  • Nocturnal Forest Walks

The Masoala Peninsula is truly exceptional: two percent of all of planet earth’s animal and plant species are to be found here. Some species like Aye-Aye, Red-Ruffed Lemur, Madagascar Red Owl and the extremely rare Serpent Eagle are endemic to the peninsula.

Encompassing 2,300 square kilometres of rainforest and 100 square kilometres of marine parks, Masoala is Madagascar’s largest protected area. The park was established in 1997 to preserve this unique ecosystem comprising coastal rainforest, flooded forests, marsh and mangroves from the serious threat of encroachment by local communities that depend on the area for agricultural land and firewood, and from international logging companies harvesting timber. The park forests, which abound with chameleons, geckos, frogs as well as several species of butterflies, tumble down to the edge of a pristine, unspoiled shore peppered with unexplored golden beaches.

The three marine parks protect over 10,000 ha of coral reefs, marine plants and mangroves around the peninsula. Presently, more than 3,001 fish species have been inventoried in the marine parks. Antongil Bay is also used as a shelter by humpback whales that gather here during the summer breeding season, when Antongil’s waters literally froth with cetaceans.

The region also supports one of the most diverse groups of palm species in the world. The park is home to a total of 102 species of birds, more than 60% of which are endemic. During our stay we shall be looking for, among others, the rare and localised Helmet and Bernierʼs Vangas, Madagascar Long-Eared Owl, Red-Breasted Coua and both Short-Legged and Scaly Ground-Rollers. There are also several rare species of lemur (Red-Ruffed, White-Fronted Brown, Fork-Marked) and chameleon. Among the carnivores, Masoala is the only locality where the Mongoose Salanoia Concolor or Brown-Tailed Mongooses have been observed since 1970. This species is the least known of the Malagasy carnivores.

During our 2-day program here, there are options for both full day or half day walks. On the Western coastal trail, Lohatrozona is a paradise for ornithologists, while the marine reserve of Tampolo offers superb corals and nice, clean beaches for a swim. We may also explore the forest for wildlife in the vicinity of our lodge. Kayaking is also possible for the more energetic! (Overnight Masoala Dounia Forest Lodge) BLD

Antananarivo - 1 night

Day 22: Monday 29 October, Masoala – Maroantsetra – Antananarivo
  • Morning Charter Flight from Maroantsetra to Antananarivo (times to be confirmed)
  • Farewell Evening Meal at Villa Vanille

We travel this morning by boat to Moroantsetra where we connect with our charter flight back to Antananarivo. The afternoon is at leisure. This evening we enjoy a farewell meal at Villa Vanille, a charming restaurant housed in an old colonial villa. (Overnight Antananarivo) BLD

Day 23: Tuesday 30 October, Antananarivo TOUR ENDS
  • Airport transfer for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight (MK289 1655-1940)

Following some time at leisure in the morning we transfer to the Antananarivo airport in order to check-in for our late afternoon flight for Australia (via Mauritius) B

Accommodation

23 days in Madagascar

Hotel reservations are currently under preparation. The following should be used as a guide only. Wi-Fi is not available in a number of the locations we will be visiting.

  • Antananarivo (1 night): 4-star Hôtel & Spa Palissandre – a charming hotel, located in downtown Antananarivo, with panoramic views over the city. The hotel offers 50 rooms equipped with en-suite bathroom. Facilities: outdoor swimming pool, spa, fitness centre, restaurant & free Wi-Fi. hotel-restaurant-palissandre.com
  • Andasibe (3 nights): 3-star Andasibe Hotel – comprising 20 bungalows scattered in a planted garden of palm trees, overlooking a private forest. The air-conditioned bungalows have a terrace with a small living room and are equipped with a bathroom and toilet, safe, minibar and satellite TV. Facilities: swimming pool & restaurant. www.andasibehotel-resto.com
  • Antsirabe (1 night): Hotel Le Royal Palace – a modern hotel with 40 guest rooms equipped with en-suite bathroom. Facilities: outdoor swimming pool, restaurant & free Wi-Fi. leroyalpalace.mg
  • Ranomafana (3 nights): Setam Lodge – set above the forested river valley on the edge of the park. The lodge offers 20 chalet-style rooms overlooking the river and the spectacular rainforest below. Rooms are simply-furnished and equipped with bathroom and toilet, fans and electricity. Facilities: large restaurant and bar area offering staggering views. www.setam-lodge.mg
  • Isalo (2 nights): 3-star Hôtel Le Jardin du Roy – a luxury lodge located on the southern boundary of Isalo National Park. Built from granite to blend in with the landscape, the lodge offers 40 air-conditioned rooms with en-suite bathroom housed in eight thatched bungalows. Facilities: outdoor swimming pool, free Wi-Fi & restaurant. www.lejardinduroy.com (French only)
  • Toliara (1 night): 3-star Les Dunes d’Ifaty  located 27kms north of Toliara, overlooking the Mozambique Channel, near the fishing village of Mangily. The hotel, set in a tropical park, provides sea view villas with en-suite bathroom. Facilities: outdoor swimming pool, Wi-Fi, bar & restaurant. www.lesdunesdifaty.co  OR 3-star Moringa Hotel – located in the city centre, offering 27 spacious room equipped with en-suite bathroom. Facilities: restaurant & Wi-Fi. www.moringa-tulear.mg
  • Kirindy Forest Reserve (1 night): Relais du Kirindy – opened in April 2017, this new hotel, located in the forest reserve, offers accommodation in 20 bungalows. Facilities: outdoor swimming pool, bar & restaurant. www.relaisdukirindy.com (currently under development), see www.facebook.com/kirindyforest/
  • Tsingy de Bemaraha (3 nights): Soleil des Tsingy – the lodge, located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, offers spectacular views of the surrounding scenery. Accommodation is provided in 17 bungalows equipped with en-suite bathroom and fans (no air-conditioning). Facilities: restaurant, bar and infinity swimming pool overlooking the forested valley below. Wi-Fi is not available. www.soleildestsingy.com
  • Morondava (1 night): 4-star Hôtel Palissandre Côte Ouest – located at Nosy Kely on the beach of Morondava, 30 minutes drive from the Avenue of Baobabs. The hotel offers 30 spacious air-conditioned bungalows, all with a private terrace and sea view, and equipped with en-suite bathroom, minibar, satellite TV and safe. Facilities: bar, restaurant and swimming pool and free Wi-Fi. www.hotel-restaurant-palissandrecoteouest.com
  • Antananarivo (1 night): 4-star Hôtel & Spa Palissandre  – a charming hotel, located in downtown Antananarivo, with panoramic views over the city. The hotel offers 50 rooms equipped with en-suite bathroom. Facilities: outdoor swimming pool, spa, fitness centre, restaurant & free Wi-Fi. hotel-restaurant-palissandre.com
  • Maroantsetra (1 night): 3-star Hotel Manga Beach  Facing the River Anjahanambo, this new boutique hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with private terrace. Each room is equipped with orthopedic bed, en-suite (with shower and toilet), satellite TV and safe. Facilities: restaurant and free Wi-Fi. mangabeach-madagascar.com
  • Masoala (3 nights): Dounia Forest Lodge – Accessible only by foot or by sea, the lodge provides complete exclusivity in a remote corner of Masoala National Park. This small, intimate lodge has great access to some of the rare and endemic species of Madagascar. The lodge offer 12 bungalows set on a gentle sea-facing slope at Lohatrozona on the west side of Masoala National Park. Each bungalow has a veranda from where guests can enjoy panoramic views of the rainforest and of Antongil Bay. Built out of traditional materials, the bungalows are charming and comfortable with en-suite bathrooms, an open shower, hot water, and lounge space. The lodge has its own generator: power is on from 13h00 – 15h00 and from 18h00 – 22h00. www.facebook.com/douniaforestlodge/ See also YouTube Dounia Forest Lodge
  • Antananarivo (1 night): 4-star Hôtel & Spa Palissandre – a charming hotel, located in downtown Antananarivo, with panoramic views over the city. The hotel offers 50 rooms equipped with en-suite bathroom. Facilities: outdoor swimming pool, spa, fitness centre, restaurant & free Wi-Fi. hotel-restaurant-palissandre.com

NoteHotels are subject to change. In this instance a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Single Room Accommodation

Single rooms will be apportioned to those who book first. We cannot offer you a single room throughout the tour. This definitely applies to the Dounia Forest Lodge and may also apply to Setam Lodge Ranomafana where accommodation is extremely limited. Approximately one month prior to departure, rooming lists will be confirmed. If you have booked a single supplement but must forego a single room in some places the single supplement for those hotels will be refunded to you.

How to book

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published

ASA INTENTION TO TRAVEL APPLICATION FORM

Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD$100.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD$400.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of $500.00 AUD is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.

Or

  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD$100.00 per person deposit, less a $33.00 service fee (including GST).
Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1 km every 15 – 20minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication.
Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Single Supplement

Single rooms will be apportioned to those who book first. We cannot offer you a single room throughout the tour. This definitely applies to the Dounia Forest Lodge and may also apply to Setam Lodge Ranomafana where accommodation is extremely limited. Approximately one month prior to departure, rooming lists will be confirmed. If you have booked a single supplement but must forego a single room in some places the single supplement for those hotels will be refunded to you.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 23-day tour is definitely for the more adventurous of our ASA travellers and involves:
  • Walks which can be steep and strenuous, on uneven, muddy/sandy terrain; distances covered depend on wildlife sought and group’s ability.
  • Vehicle transfers up to eight hours; the route to Tsingy de Bemeraha is along an extremely dusty, potholed track.
  • Regular early morning starts at 7.00 or 7.30am; a number of nocturnal walks.
Other considerations:
  • 12 accommodation changes
  • 4 internal flights: Toliara to Morondava (Day 12); Morondava to Antananarivo (Day 17); Antananarivo to Maroantsetra (Day 18); Maroantsetra – Antananarivo Charter Flight (Day 22)
  • Excursions by boat (Nosy Mangabe, Masoala Peninsula) and canoe (Manambolo River)
  • Transportation by 21-seater Toyota Coaster (or Nissan Civilian or Korean Hyundai); 4WD’s used for the Morondava – Bekopaka track and Mantadia National park
  • Meals include a number of boxed lunches
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage
  • Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

During visits to the national parks the group may be divided into smaller groups based on ability levels. It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. However, during visits to the national parks there will be at least two guides to escort us. We shall also be accompanied by our English-speaking tour guide from Wild Madagascar. This effectively means we have 3 guides escorting us during our visits to the national parks which will enable us, if necessary, to sub-divide into small groups according to preference and ability levels. Whoever cannot catch up with the rest of the group or feels tired, may either return to the entrance of the national park, shorten their visit or take a short-cut to meet the rest of the group at a different place. If you have any doubts about your ability to manage on this program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you. Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the Terms and Conditions section.

Transportation

The majority of this tour will be conducted in an air-conditioned 21-seater coach, with luggage stored on the roof-rack. Models used in Madagascar include the Toyota Coaster, Nissan Civilian or the South Korean Hyundai. Larger coaches (eg 30-seaters) are not available in Madagascar. 4WD vehicles will be used to travel along the Morondava-Bekopaka track and in Mantadia National Park. These vehicles are mainly station wagons (Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol). While capable of seating 7-9 people, for the sake of comfort, we shall travel with a maximum of 4 people per vehicle. The track to Bekopaka from Belo Tsiribihina is pot-holed and dusty which limits the average speed to a maximum of 20km per hour.

Practical Information and What to Bring

We have elected to run this tour in October – November as the weather is usually fine but not too hot. October is one of the best times to see baby lemurs, when they are happily clinging to their mother and starting to explore their surroundings. This is also the time when chameleons are starting to come out of their winter hibernation. The western side of the island is always quite dry (eg spiny forest areas) while the eastern side of the island is wetter (rainforest areas). Average midday temperatures in the dry season are approximately 25° C in the highlands and 30° C on the coast. The central mountainous spine area can get cold at night throughout the year.

  • Malaria is a problem in many parts of Madagascar, especially the wetter rainforest areas. Be prepared and take a good anti-malarial prophylactic (we recommend you avoid using LARIUM which may cause side effects)
  • Mosquito repellent is essential
  • Good walking boots are a must
  • Head torch
  • Trekking day-pack
  • Light runners can be useful for evenings and travel days
  • A small pair of binoculars or field glasses is a must for enthusiastic birdwatchers
  • A good personal first aid kit
  • Walking poles
  • Sun hat & suntan lotion
  • Sunglasses
  • A small collapsible umbrella for extra shade
  • Light clothing for day-time activities
  • Pullovers are recommended for the evenings in the central high plateau and in the mountains
  • A windbreaker or raincoat is recommended for any trip to Madagascar regardless of the destination and the season.

Prior to departure, tour members will receive detailed practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers see: www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.dfat.gov.au/geo/madagascar/

Visa Requirements Madagascar

All foreign visitors to the Republic of Madagascar require entry visas. For short visits (90 days or less), every visitor, regardless of nationality, can obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport in Antananarivo, provided the visitor’s passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the last day of the intended stay in Madagascar, and provided the visitor carries an airline-issued ticket or passenger receipt confirming the visitor’s intention to leave Madagascar within 90 days.

Luggage

This tour requires that you take a minimum of luggage and that your suitcase is suitable for rough conditions. Please consider:

  • Excursions are undertaken using 21-seater coaches or 4WD vehicles where your luggage will be carried in racks on top of the vehicle.
  • Strict luggage allowance applies to the domestic flights included in this tour.
Mobile Phones

International mobile roaming is available throughout Madagascar, but is expensive. The best option is to purchase is to use a local simcard available through Telecom Malagasy, Airtel and Orange.

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $TBA Land Content Only – Early-bird Special: book before 31 September 2017
AUD $TBA Land Content Only
AUD $TBA Double (as single) Supplement**

** This is the maximum payable by guests reserving a single room. This amount would be reduced if twin-share is required in the Dounia Forest Lodge and Setam Lodge Ranomafana.

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities including 5-star hotels (Antananarivo), eco-lodges, bungalow-style accommodation and thatched tree-houses.
  • Meals, indicated in the itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals include water only.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach and 4WD vehicles
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at airports and hotels (where available)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees to national parks and other sites as outlined in the itinerary
  • Excursions by boat (Nosy Mangabe, Masoala Peninsula) and canoe (Manambolo River, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park)
  • 4 internal flights: Toliara to Morondava (Day 12); Morondava to Antananarivo (Day 17); Antananarivo to Maroantsetra (Day 18); Maroantsetra – Antananarivo Charter Flight (Day 22)
  • Bottled water during all excursions
  • Tour Reference Book
  • Tips for the coach driver, driver’s assistant, Malagasy national guide, local national park guides and restaurants for included meals.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include
  • Airfare: Australia – Antananarivo, Antananarivo – Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa for Madagascar.
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply. We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA. ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies. ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider. ASA reserves the sole discretion to canel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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