Madagascar: The Eighth Continent

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    Destinations: South and Southeast Asia
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Tour Description

A must for nature-lovers, Madagascar adventure travel is ripe with botanicals, birds, and land animals, including the island’s icon—lemurs. The island’s isolation and size (it’s the world’s fourth-largest island) has made for striking biodiversity: 90 percent of all forest flora is endemic and more than half of the 250-plus bird species are found nowhere else. Our special Madagascar expedition takes you where few others have ventured before, and rewards your curiosity with exotic plants and animals, from pygmy stump-tailed chameleons to 1,000 varieties of orchid. As we journey from mountain highlands to the shores of the Indian Ocean, we’ll also meet the lovely Malagasy people, at whose warmth and friendliness you’ll marvel.

Madagascar Adventure Travel Highlights:

  • Meet the “world’s gaudiest reptile,” the male panther chameleon, found during our cruise through the private forest reserve of Andrifotra.
  • Ten species of lemur, mongoose, the Madagascar red owl, the serpent eagle, and more on the Masoala Peninsula.
  • Some of the best birding on any Madagascar tour, in Périnet Reserve, where you’ll glimpse the Madagascar paradise-flycatcher and the brilliant blue vanga.
  • Overland tour to Ankarana Special Reserve with its dramatic cave system and vast network of underground rivers.
  • Time for a Johannesburg tour at beginning and end of our Madagascar expedition; relax at the hotel or shop at the local artisans’ market.

What to Expect:

Madagascar adventure travel requires a relatively moderate level of exertion; we’ve included walks and nature hikes, sometimes over uneven terrain, including some hilly areas. While the temperatures will vary quite a bit depending on our exact location, we can expect 70°sF to low 80°sF during the day, dipping into the 60°sF in the early morning and evenings. We will send a list of recommended clothing, essentials to bring, and a suggested reading list approximately five months prior to your departure for your Madagascar expedition. Travel with flexibility and a spirit of adventure and you’ll gain much from this tour.

Itinerary

Day 1

USA / Johannesburg, South Africa

Depart the USA on your independent overnight flight to Johannesburg.

Day 2

Johannesburg

Arrive at Johannesburg International Airport and transfer to the nearby Southern Sun O.R. Tambo Hotel. Your afternoon is at leisure before gathering at our hotel for a welcome briefing followed by dinner.

Day 3

Johannesburg / Antananarivo (Tana), Madagascar

After breakfast return to the airport for your flight to Tana. Upon arrival we transfer to the Hotel Colbert for dinner and overnight.

Day 4

Tana / Maroantsetra

We depart for our flight to Maroantsetra and check in at the Relais du Masoala, our hotel for the next two nights. An early boat ride takes us across Antongil Bay to the island of Nosy Mangabe. Bring your camera for some exciting opportunities to photograph leaf-tailed geckos, tree frogs, or perhaps even a Madagascar ground boa. We also hunt for the world’s smallest vertebrate, the thumbnail-sized chameleon, Brookesia minimi. An evening excursion offers our best chance to see aye-aye, the world’s largest nocturnal primate. We return to Maroantsetra for dinner.

Day 5

Maroantsetra / Masoala Peninsula

Today we set out with our local guide on a speedboat ride across the Antongil Bay to the Masoala Peninsula. The peninsula encompasses primary, rain, and coastal forests, as well as protected marine areas. Ten species of lemurs are found here, as well as the tenrec, mongoose, serpent eagle, and Madagascar red owl. Dinner and overnight at Relais du Masoala.

Day 6

Maroantsetra / Tana / Périnet Reserve

After breakfast we board our flight to Tana, where we embark on a scenic drive to the Périnet Reserve. En route we stop at La Mandraka Nature Farm and enjoy a picnic lunch. This afternoon we check in to the Vakona Forest Lodge where we spend the next three nights. After we settle in, we visit Lemur Island, located on the grounds of the lodge. This evening join an exhilarating spotlighting excursion.

Day 7

Périnet Reserve

Our day begins at dawn as we await the morning call of the indri, the largest of all lemurs. Each animal sings in its own voice; the echoes tell each group where every indri is located on the hill. Other species we may find include brown lemurs, small-toothed lepilemurs, short-horned chameleons, and iridescent Madagascar tree boas. Birding is equally spectacular with endemics such as the Madagascar paradise-flycatcher and the brilliant blue vanga.

Day 8

Mantadia National Park

Today we visit Mantadia National Park. Home to lemurs seldom encountered around Périnet, such as the rare and spectacular diademed sifaka. The area also offers excellent sighting opportunities of the red-bellied lemur and gray bamboo lemur. In the evening we enjoy another nocturnal wildlife walk to look for the brown mouse lemur, greater dwarf lemur, and the larger eastern avahi (or wooly lemur). We return to the Vakona Forest Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 9

Périnet Reserve / Tana

This morning we return to Tana and check in to the Hotel Colbert. We explore the museum which contains collections of tribal carvings and natural history exhibits. This evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 10

Tana / Diego Suarez

After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for our flight to Diego Suarez. Upon arrival we set out to explore Montagne d’Ambre National Park, a mountain paradise replete with waterfalls, pristine forest, endemic birds, and close encounters with lemurs. We return to Diego Suarez for dinner at the Grand Hotel where we spend the next two nights.

Day 11

Diego Suarez / Ankarana

We depart overland for the Ankarana Special Reserve this morning, renowned for its dramatic landscapes including a cave system and a vast network of underground rivers. Wildlife is profuse in this park and we have excellent opportunities to encounter crowned, Sanford’s brown, and northern sportive lemurs, as well as the white-breasted mesite and the Torotoroka scops-owl. We return to Diego Suarez for dinner.

Day 12

Diego Suarez / Tana

This morning we visit Montagne d’Francais to view the impressive, red-barked Suarez baobab. We are also on the lookout for gray-headed lovebirds and the sickle-billed vanga. This afternoon fly to Tana and check in to the Hotel Colbert for dinner and overnight.

Day 13-14

Tana / Fort Dauphin / Berenty Reserve

Transfer to the airport after breakfast for our flight to Fort Dauphin. From here we drive to Berenty, where ring-tailed lemurs, Verreaux’s sifakas, Madagascar sandgrouse, white-browed owls, and giant couas are plentiful. Spend the next day exploring the reserve including an evening walk. Dinners and overnights at the Berenty Lodge.

Day 15

Berenty Reserve / Fort Dauphin

After an early breakfast we spend the morning in the reserve before we return to Fort Dauphin. After lunch we visit Reserve du Nahampoana where we hope to spot more Verreaux’s sifakas, brown lemurs, and ring-tailed lemurs frolicking through the lush vegetation. Dinner and overnight at the Croix du Sud Hotel.

Day 16

Fort Dauphin / Tana

After an early breakfast transfer to the airport for our flight to Tana. An afternoon excursion takes us to Lemur Park where nine species of lemurs wander freely through a lovely botanical garden. This evening attend a special farewell dinner at a local restaurant and return to the Hotel Colbert for overnight.

Day 17

Tana / Johannesburg, South Africa

This morning we visit Lac Alarobia, a private sanctuary which protects large numbers of breeding herons and egrets. We also look for such endemics as the Madagascar wagtail and white-eye. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before your flight to Johannesburg and your independent flight to the USA.

Day 18

USA

Connect with your homeward flight.

Departures

Pricing Information

Land-based Accommodations

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.