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Northern Madagascar

Tour Code: MDG05

A 16-day natural history holiday to the forests and mountains of northern Madagascar in search of lemurs, birds, reptiles and a wealth of other endemic wildlife.

16 days from £5995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £5095 SRS: £750


Madagascar’s 165 million years of isolation has created an island full of the weird and the wonderful. Even amongst such oddities as the primates that sing like whales (Indris), the birds that nest in burrows (Ground Rollers) and the trees that appear to grow upside down (Baobabs), one creature that stands out above the rest, the bizarre Aye-aye. This scruffy-looking lemur with its trademark skeletal middle finger, staring eyes and bat-like ears is one of our key goals on this exciting holiday. Our quest will take us to the northern reserves of Masoala, Ankarana and Montagne de Ambre National Parks. Aye-ayes are nocturnal, so we will spend the daylight hours looking for a wealth of other exciting wildlife including birds such as the amazing Helmet Vanga, such mammals as Red-ruffed Lemur and a host of fascinating chameleons and geckos.

  • Unique and endemic wildlife found nowhere else on Earth
  • Encounters with lemurs – hopefully including the Aye-aye
  • Pristine Rainforest of Masoala National Park
  • Beautiful Perrier's Sifakas at Andrafiamena
  • Limestone tsingy of Ankarana National Park
  • Leaf-tailed Geckos and tiny Brookesia Chameleons
  • Endemic birds including Helmet Vanga and Amber Mountain Rock Thrush
  • Small group size of only 12 people, plus expert guides and British leader

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Simple, but comfortable, hotels and lodges with a mix of private and shared facilities.

Aye-Aye by Paul Winser

Aye-Aye by Paul Winser

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Tana and overnight

Day 2/4 Montagne d'Ambre National Park

Day 5 Andrafiamena

Day 6/8 Ankarana Special Reserve

Day 9 Tana

Day 10 Maroantsetra National Park

Day 11/14 Masoala National Park

Day 15 Fly Tana

Day 16 Depart Tana and arrive London

Day 15 Depart Tana at midnight

Day 16 Arrive London

Leaf-tailed Gecko (Jonas Christiansen)

One hundred and sixty-five million years ago the island of Madagascar was cast adrift. As the huge super-continent of Gondwanaland split apart, this large chunk of Africa started its slow, inexorable drift out into the Indian Ocean. And so began a unique experiment in evolution. Isolated from the rest of the natural world, the Malagasy fauna and flora took their own distinctive paths. Today over 80% of all life here is endemic, occurring nowhere else on Earth. The island is the last refuge of the lemurs and such endemic bird families as the vangas, ground-rollers and sunbird-asitys. It also supports an exceptional diversity of striking reptile species and many unique habitats such as the strange ‘Spiny Forest’. This is truly a land of the weird and the wonderful. No creature, however, epitomises Madagascar more than the bizarre nocturnal Aye-aye, the scruffy looking lemur with its trademark skeletal middle finger, undoubtedly one of the most elusive and sought-after animals on the island and one of the key goals on this exciting holiday.

Our tour begins with a flight to Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo (Tana). From here we take a short flight to Antsiranana, and we continue by road to the green oasis of the Montagne d’Ambre (Amber Mountain) National Park, located on Madagascar’s northernmost tip. Here we will stay in a comfortable wildlife lodge, from which we will explore this lush patch of montane rainforest in search of species including Sanford’s Brown Lemur, Mountain Fork-marked Lemur, Crowned Lemur and perhaps even the elusive Fosa, the largest carnivore on the island. The birdlife here is especially abundant and includes the endemic Amber Mountain Rock-thrush, as well as Madagascar Ibis, Souimanga Sunbird, Pitta-like Ground-roller, White-throated Oxylabes and Hook-billed Vanga.

Next we move south and, after a couple of hours, we turn off the road onto dirt tracks which lead to the local reserve of Andrafiamena. Here, a large patch of dry forest has been set up as a local nature reserve to protect a small population of the localised and rare Perrier’s Sifaka. We’ll go out before lunch, and again in the late afternoon and evening, to maximise our chances of finding these beautiful animals. The birdlife here is superb, and we’ll be looking in particular for such species as Madagascar Harrier-hawk, Long-billed Green Sunbird, Blue Vanga, Grey-headed Lovebird and Madagascar Buttonquail.

Continuing south, we next stop to explore the dry forests of the Ankarana Special Reserve. The Ankarana massif is a limestone plateau which rises abruptly from the surrounding grassy plains. It has been eroded over the aeons into a dramatic landscape of jagged limestone pinnacles, known as tsingy, and numerous caves and other caste landforms, all edged by a dry deciduous forest. Wildlife here includes Crowned Lemur, Sanford’s Brown Lemur and birds such as Crested Coua, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher and the localised White-breasted Mesite.

Next we will fly back to Tana and overnight there before an onward flight to Maroantsetra, gateway to the lush rainforests of the Masoala Peninsula. The Masoala National Park is the island’s largest rainforest reserve and a strikingly beautiful place dominated by huge trees draped in climbers, mosses and other epiphytes. It is thought to be the richest area in the country for wildlife and, with much of this enormous biodiversity still largely unknown to science, who knows what we may find! We will certainly be on the look-out, however, for a wide variety of the more familiar lemurs — including both Red-ruffed and White-fronted Brown Lemur — and birds such as Red-breasted Coua, Short-legged Ground-roller, the bizarre Helmet Vanga, the rare Madagascar Serpent Eagle, and Bernier’s Vanga. During our time here we will also organise an excursion to look for the bizarre and elusive Aye-aye. The best spot to search for this much-maligned creature can change from year to year: in some years it has been the small island of Nosy Mangabe where we may choose to camp for the night; in other years a small reserve along the river from Maroantsetra has proved fruitful. Being strictly nocturnal, however, we will be searching for them — and such other denizens of the night as Brown Mouse Lemur and the wonderfully camouflaged leaf-tailed geckos — only after dark!

For the botanist, Masoala contains an exceptional palm flora, including some of the rarest and most unusual palms on the island. This is also a wonderful place for reptiles such as Panther Chameleon and two species of intricately camouflaged Uroplatus leaf-tailed geckos, as well as amphibians including frogs such as the Tomato Frog and Green-backed Mantella. For many, our time at Masoala will be the unrivalled highlight of the holiday. It will then be time to leave this extraordinary ‘evolutionary experiment’ of an island, and transfer to Tana for our flights home.

 

 

 

Tsingy, Ankarana (Stephen Woodham)Crowned Lemurs, Ankarana (Andy Smith)Crowned Lemur, Ankarana (Stephen Woodham)Panther Chameleon (Stephen Woodham)Ankarana Sportive Lemurs, Ankarana (Stephen Woodham)Paradise Flycatcher (Stephen Woodham)Giant Day Gecko, Montagne d'Ambre (Stephen Woodham)Uroplatus giganteus, Montagne d'Ambre (Stephen Woodham)Perrier's Sifakas, Analamenara (Stephen Woodham)Perrier's Sifaka, Analamerana (Stephen Woodham)Lowland Streaked Tenrec, Maroantsetra (Stephen Woodham)Aye-aye (Paul Winser)Aye-aye (Paul Winser)Masoala (Stephen Woodham)Helmet Vanga (Stephen Woodham)Red-ruffed Lemur, Masoala (Stephen Woodham)Panther Chameleon (Stephen Woodham)Uroplatus sikorae, Montagne d'Ambre (Stephen Woodham)Madagascar Scops Owl (Stephen Woodham)Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher (David Tattersfield)Blue-nosed Chameleon, Montange d'AmbreBlue Vanga (Ankarana)Furcifer petteri (Stephen Woodham)Ankarana Sportive Lemurs, Ankarana (Stephen Woodham)
Mr & Mrs P.
Essex
The Masoala Park was everything we hoped it would be. Pristine virgin forest with fantastic flora nd fauna. The nocturnal fauna was very rewarding.
S.J.
Middlesex
Overall definitely the holiday of a lifetime - brilliant
Mr & Mrs B.
Berkshire
I would like to express my sincere thanks and admiration for Roy Taylor who was an excellent tour leader. All the people on the tri[ with their diverse interests felt welcome and accommodated.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Tue 23rd October 2018 - Wed 7th November 2018

YES

£5995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £5095 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Madagascar

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Kerrie Porteous
Operations Manager

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01962 733051

Tour Focus

Mammals

Tour Reviews

The Masoala Park was everything we hoped it would be. Pristine virgin forest with fantastic flora nd fauna. The nocturnal fauna was very rewarding.
Mr & Mrs P., Essex