Fiona Herring
Fiona Herring Travel Specialist
"I loved seeing the scenery change as we travelled along the RN7. Ranomafana National Park is a real highlight as is the bizarre Ifaty Spiny Forest."

Ifaty Reviews

Hi Derek

Some feedback for you....

First of all, another fabulous trip for so many different reasons....

The flight out - what a lovely surprise to travel Premium Economy, what a difference that made, not just in the comfort and service aspects but ultimately getting through Tana airport in 30 minutes rather than over 2 hours - thank you so much.

The Relais des Plateau is such a refreshing first and last stop with no worries about getting to and from the airport and so comfortable.

All accommodation was great - hard to choose a favourite, very good choices.

To our delight plenty of lemurs and birds and absolutely fascinating travelling through such varied landscapes, villages and townships. Thought provoking to compare their world to ours, humbling to see how they manage their lives, always with a smile on their face. It has left us with much to think about.

The itinerary was great and the whole trip went very smoothly. we are always singing your praises to our friends and family and I am sure we will have other trips with Rainbow Tours.

So once again, thank you very much for a great experience.

Chris & June




Ms Elgar and Ms Lawrence
October 24, 2016

'Overall satisfaction: Excellent. Relais des Plateaux is a very good hotel.

Gite d'Ampijoroa (Ankarafantsika National Park) has excellent location, good service, food and facilities; average comfort.

Royal Palissandre Hotel & Spa excellent food and service. Too posh for us.

Vakona Forest Lodge: excellent location, meals and facilities. Lovely setting but felt a bit damp and cold.

Thermal Hotel Ranomafana: excellent comfort, good service, location and meals. Beautiful hotel but electricity kept running out.

La Varangue de Betsileo: excellent in all respects. Very nice people, looked after us very well.

Relais la Reine: Very nice, lovely area.

La Mira: excellent in all respects. Very nice and relaxing.

The guides were excellent especially Bel-Aviv and his driver Doudou, who were with us for most of the trip. All were very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly'.

Mr and Mrs Smeaton
October 13, 2016

'We had a great holiday - your itinerary was super - thanks!.Highlights: Relais de la Reine Hotel + Isalo National Park. Sheer variety of terrain and habitats. Quality of the guides, in particular Djato and the driver Barry. Exceptional passion and dedication. Local guides at Andasibe-Mantadia, Isalo and the Ifaty Spiny Forest'

Mr and Mrs Lacey
October 6, 2016

'We had such an amazing time in Madagascar. We were in awe of the beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. We found the people to be friendly and welcoming.

Maison Gallieni: we had a wonderful first night here. Lovely dinner.

Couleur Cafe: excellent comfort, service, location and facilites. The evening meal was goog, breakfast buffet was not as good.

Setam Lodge: Service, location, meals and faciliities excellent. Comfortable rooms, could do with an update/ renovation but pleased that they were dry and not damp. It was also cold in Ranomafana and they had a heater which was useful.

Relais la Reine d'Isalo: It was a special hotel set in a beautiful landscape. The lady owner of the hotel was very friendly and appreciative.

Anakao Ocean Lodge: surpassed our expectations. Beautiful lodge on a very secluded beach. Wonderful meals created from whatever fish/seafood was caught fresh each day - we really liked this ethos especially as it helps the local fishermen in the nearby village. The speedboat transfers there/back added to the experience.

Vakona Forest Lodge: main building was lovely. A great setting for breakfast and dinner. It was a disappointment that the rooms were not of the same stanard and that the staff could not understand why why we were not happy with a damp room.

We really appeciated Derek getting in touch with us and our guide Njiva when we were having difficulties with or internal flights and for checking that we were OK and that we were still happy with the service from our guide. We were also grateful to Njiva fror staying in Tulear another night and making sure we were on the flight back to Antananarivo the next day. He was wonderful at the airport and and organised everything for us there so that we did not have to worry. We could not have asked for better service from our guide at the airport. We feel that we may not have made it onto the flight from Tulear if it were not for him! '



Mr and Mrs Cunningham
October 3, 2016

'Njiva was a fantastic guide - thoroughly recommend him. Driver, Dodo, was also very good. Overall holiday satisfaction (Classic Madagascar overland: the RN7 route): excellent. 

Vakona Forest Lodge is a lovely place but they wanted us to leave the bar/seating area by around 9pm. 

Setam Lodge: good in all respects. Location excellent.

La Varangue de Betsileo: Service and comfort: excellent. Location, meals and facilities all good. 

Relais la Reine d'Isalo: excellent.

Moringa Hotel: good in all respects; excellent meals.

Princesse Bora Lodge: Comfort, meals and facilities good; service and location excellent.'


Ms Godfrey and Mr Naylor
January 25, 2016

'Gersica was very helpful (on the 15 October 2015 Madagascar Discovery Tour) and gave everybody lots of attention. All tours were well organised and guided by her. Overall holiday satisfaction: Excellent. Great experience to see all these animals. Excellent accommodation, delicuous food and perfectly guided.

Eulophiella Lodge is beautifully lotedwit all he plants and flowers.

Berenty Lodge: excellent in all respects. Nice to see all these animals up close.

Les Dunes d'Ifaty: well located at the coast. Beautiful room and excellent service. Nice pool.

Isalo Rock Lodge: beautiful bungalows well located in the area.

The tour was great. We enjoyed every day. Every day and every walk was really special. Thanks (to) Gersica we got a perfect impression and a good experience of Madagascar'.

Mr and Mrs Mears
December 9, 2015

'Our guide Gersica was excellent throughout. (15 October 2015 Rainbow Tours Small Group Madagascar Wildlife & Discovery Tour) She was efficient, very knowledgeable, and was particularly helpful in overcoming individual difficulties whether needing to re-arrange accommodation, transport etc or medical needs. Without her energy and constant attention to detail, the holiday would not have gone as well as it did. Gersica was an excellent guide who went the extra mile to make the trip enjoyable for everyone'

Mr and Mrs Yates
November 23, 2015

'Wonderful holiday in fantastic country. Most hotels/lodges far better than expected and food very good. Accommodation everywhere was clean and comfortable and could not fault service provided throughout the trip.

Gersica, our main guide throughout the trp was excellent. Extremely knowledgeable, very good English and managed the group efficiently. There were a few problems with people feeling unwell but Gersica was extremely helpful and supportive. She accommodated any requests made by individuals and was attentive to our needs as a group at all times. I was particularly impressed by how well organised Gersica wasdujrin transfers at airports and her efficency in checking in bags and processing documentation. Could not have asked for a more experienced and professional tour leader. She is an excellent representative for Rainbow Tours'   (15 October 2015 Madagascar Small Group Wildlife Discovery Small Group Tour).

Ms McBrien
November 9, 2015

'Overall holiday satisfaction: Excellent.  (26 September 2015 Madagascar Wildlife Small Group set departure).  Vegetarian food was excellent everywhere. This is partly due to Gersica's diligence in ringing ahead to each hotel. Thanks again for a most memorable trip'


Mr Jackson and Mr Bates
October 29, 2015

"Our impression is very positive. We hit most target species of bird and saw plenty of lemurs and a few frogs and snakes and even a swimming bat! Literally, a mass of photos. Perhaps the biggest shock is the loss of local habitat to the rapidly growing population. An enormous amount of work for the government to do on conservation before it is too late. The country would lose a vital incentive for tourism and much-needed income. It is worthy to note that the overall adventure was successful and we thank you for drawing up the itinerary. One is very much dependent on a good guide in Madagascar. There is no doubt that our guides Lala and Fen, 'knew their stuff'. Above all they were good company. Its a nice touch despite the early flight departure times, the guides waited until we cleared departures. They have been well selected. The best local guide was the last guide called Stephan who knew Ranomafana like the back of his hand. He explained that he helped Ian Sinclair with the habitat detail for the current bird guide on Madagascar and its surrounding islands. So, quite an adventure for all of us. Many thanks."

Cowlrick Birding Party
October 12, 2015

Dear Derek

More than six weeks later but we still wanted to let you know we had a beautiful birding tour through Madagascar. Of course it was not the best time of the year (August) but I estimate we still saw 80%+ of the endemic birds we could have expected to see in Sep/Nov. The people from Za Tours were wonderful; (the guide) Mia was very nice, interesting and cheerful guy. We had a great holiday.

Regards, Edial & Fransje, Amsterdam

Mr Dekker and Ms Haakman
September 28, 2015

'Thanks for a really great holiday. (20 August 2015 Small Group Wildlife Discovery Tour). We covered a lot of ground but saw just a glimpse of the diversity that is Madagascar. The coach driver (for most of our time) was really outstanding with his concentration and sympathetic driving. But the Silver Challenge Cup must go to Gersica, whose knowledge, patience, sensitivity, sense of humour and capacity for hard work knows no bounds. She is tops!'

Mr and Mrs West
September 23, 2015

Thank you for some excellent itinerary planning.  We had a fantastic time – amazing landscapes, unique flora and fauna, great guides and drivers and lovely Malagasy people.

Our guide, Stefan, for the Andasibe/Perinet trip knew his birds and pointed out a Hammerkop in flight on the road out from Tana.  Saw a lovely pair of Collared nightjar in Mantadia with the local guide, Jack. 

Had some laughs with guide Michel on the way to Camp Amoureux. Michel didn’t know the western birds, our driver didn’t know the birds and we had no knowledge whatsoever of the birds, so we stopped in the middle of the road with a whole flock of weavers in front of the vehicle and had no idea what we were looking at. 


By the time we’d left Camp Amoureux though, with the help of the Sinclair field guide, we’d identified several couas, the hoopoe (knew that one already) and a few other species that were confirmed for us later.  We’re having the Sinclair and Langrand book sent to Michel.  He was a lot of fun anyway and the local guides mostly filled in any missing gaps for him.

And we saw our Fosa – yay!  She was hunting Verreaux’s sifakas in the trees in Kirindy Forest. Tony had remained behind on the track to photograph some interesting bark and the fosa ran up a nearby tree chasing the sifakas we’d just left.  Peter took a few pics on the run.  We were sooo excited!


Isalo NP was breathtaking and Isalo Rock Lodge quite luxurious accommodation in a simply stunning location.

Spiny forests in the south-west were fascinating and Elior ensured that our local guide found us the most sought-after birds in Reniala and Ifaty NP’s.  It was almost as exciting finding the Long-tailed ground-roller as it was seeing the fosa.  A pair was nesting and we have pics of the nest hollow.  We were fortunate also to see the Sub-desert mesite in Reniala and the Madagascar plover in the saltpans.

Although we prefer to see wildlife in its natural habitat, it was just magic feeling the tiny velvety hands of the lemurs at Lemur Island and experiencing the lightness with which they land (not like our possums – they’re elephants by comparison!).  We didn’t wish to see the caged fosas, so remained on the front section of the island with the lemurs.

Lemurs on Peter & Tony

There was a beautiful view of the city from Lokanga and the hotel has been lovingly maintained, but it’s probably not as suitable for a family as Relais des Plateaux.  The stairs are definitely a challenge for someone with dicky knees, which Jim has (not your fault – we didn’t think to mention it).

We found the extent of the poverty throughout the country both confronting and heartbreaking, but are planning to directly sponsor two little boys from Soavimbahoaka orphanage.

Africa is on our bucket list and we’ll incorporate another visit to Madagascar with that one when we get around to it.

J & I Whyte family party
October 14, 2014

Our trip to Madagascar quickly evolved from a birding/wildlife trip to so much more, thanks to Rija. I couldn't ask for a better guide. His knowledge of  and, more important, love of Madagascar culture and wildlife enriched our trip so much. He is just an excellent ambassador for his country. He was also extremely sensitive and responsive to our needs and occasional changes in itinerary and schedules. Andy, our driver, was also extremely competent and continually cheerful. All other connections and arrangements through Za tours went perfectly without any hitches. It was a very moving journey,  which I am still processing. I have just finished editing our 2600 photos (after a major mishap with the first 40 hours of editing) and will post them soon through my facebook page. We learned so much, and I've been inspired to read and learn even more since coming home. I have also been considering opportunities here for supporting conservation efforts in Madagascar. One possibility might be working with NGOs or California government to promote carbon projects for Madagascar, an area I was doing a little work on before I retired. Thanks to you, Rija and the ground operators for a very special trip.

Cathy Bleier
December 15, 2013
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