Derek Schuurman
Derek Schuurman Product Manager Madagascar and Alternative Africa
"Madagascar always delivers for those keen on wildlife – seemingly around every corner and along each trail, wonderful surprises await."

Western Dry Forests Reviews

'To Derek

Thank you for an excellent experience. Wildlife was amazing, alln the guides were very friendly, polite and knowldedgeable. The accommodation you selected ticked the boxes and provided an excellent experience in each locaation for what we were looking to achieve. The specialist local guides had excellent knowledge and made wildlife viewing even more amazing. Sitting on the ground in Perinet NP watching indri lemurs eating 4 meters away, was truly stunning. Please thank all for an amazing travel experience!'

 

 

Ms Winn and Mr Trasler
November 24, 2017

'This [video of Daniel Austin's Wildlife Extravaganza October 2017 tour]  is brilliant! Many of the animals I thought I saw, but missing so much detail. And such spectacular scenery. And Daniel, thanks for your exhaustive list and very memorable group photos.

Thanks especially to all of you for the great company. I am now back in Paris, where the chill and short days of winter are setting in. Our trip in Madagascar already seems like an incredible dream, brightened by that amazing and authentic country.

My best to all,  Tony'

Mr Kleitz
November 10, 2017

'Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent. A gem of an itinerary and lots of luck. 

Camp Mantella at Marojejy had the best cooking of the trip and facilities are fine (for a Yorkshireman!): comfort and facilities good; service, locations and meals all excellent. 

Le Soleil des Tsingy: excellent comfort, location, service and facilities. Food good. Very opulant. 

Camp Amoureux: very comfortable furniture and friendly staff.

Andasibe Hotel:  excellent comfort, service and location. Meals and facilities good. Enormous rooms and luxury facilities. 

Daniel Austin was a patient tour leader with a leaning towards herps (reptiles and frogs) and Harry, the ground agent leader was excellent in enabling connections, checking bookings, monitoring our health as well as ensuring we had a chance for our favourite beasts through communication with the local guides. We were very lucky to see so many things but Harry's hard work may account for Mr Luck. As a 4th visit to Madagascar I can say it was a remarkable trip'

 

Mr Armitage
November 9, 2017

'Ankarafantsika was great and we saw all the main species including Van Dam's Vanga.... Sending you two photos (Aye aye and Fosa) which are self explanatory.

I have published a 33 minute presentation of photos and video on YouTube.

For those who have the time and inclination to watch it

David'

Mr Huntbatch
November 9, 2017

'I am missing the Malagasy forest walks already. It [Daniel Austin's Madagascar Wildlife Tour October 2017] was an amazing adventure for me...real discovery and conquering that have such exhilaration feeling. I enjoyed every day of the tour.

Thank you for organising all the logistics so well making it seemed effortlessly, and your deep knowledge making every encounter informative and interesting.

Yes I hope I can return one day.

All the best,

Van'

 

 

Ms Le
October 30, 2017

'Dear Helen,

Firstly,  we are indebted to you for all your help and advice in putting the itinerary together earlier in the year.   I am under no illusion that I must have been one of the more "difficult" customers to deal with,  constantly tweaking the arrangements and adding more and more!   Working together,  I felt you were definitely able to make recommendations based on your own local experience and that gave me confidence.   Also,  you listened to me re the sort of activities and experiences we hoped to indulge in and that resulted in an itinerary that provided the most amazing variety.   I can honestly say that every day was different and just when you thought you'd seen everything,  there would be something new,  be it wildlife,  scenery,  flora,  cultural aspects,  mode of transport,  activity etc.   It was definitely a trip of superlatives and for me,  the realisation of a childhood ambition after reading about the aye-aye in an encyclopaedia!   You can understand why it is proving so hard to settle back into routine life back here again.   With the health setback I had earlier in the year,  it has been a huge relief to have been able to embark on the trip and moreover,  complete all that was arranged.   It has been a major boost to my self confidence which had been rather dented.

There is really very little negative feedback.   It was pretty much a perfect trip and any negatives really seem rather trivial and pale into insignificance.   The ground agents were spot on with all the arrangements and of course,  Harry (who,  poor chap was with us for 26 days on the trot) was excellent.   Not only was he very knowledgeable and clearly experienced,  but he and the driver were good fun and good company.   We kept coming up with things we either wanted to get photographs of or things we wanted to buy or do and Harry somehow made it happen all the time.   We asked about giraffe-necked weevils and he found them for us in Ranomafana and we challenged him to find an owl (any species would do) and he (and the local guides) found us a pair of roosting white-browed owls in Zombitse NP in broad daylight!!   We saw the aye-aye,  as hoped for,  at Le Palmarium and some fossas at Kirindy.   I could have watched them for hours more,  but the same goes for the lemurs,  birds,  reptiles and invertebrates.   You read about the biodiversity in Madagascar but nothing prepares you for the reality of it.   Even when it was all quiet in the heat of the day on the wildlife front,  just to be immersed in the different forest environments,  with all the varying sounds and smells,  was an experience in itself.   We were also intrigued by the ethnic and cultural diversity.   I think,  because of the length of the trip and the amount of ground covered,  we perhaps had more exposure to local communities than on previous trips.   It was sobering to see the degree of poverty and deprivation in some places but the cheerfulness with which it is all borne,  the clear importance of family and community and the friendly hospitality extended to us was very humbling and we,  in the west,  could learn a lot from the Malagasy.   Clearly,  we are worlds apart but I am always fascinated when one is able to communicate with sign language,  gestures and in this instance,  a smattering of French and about 5 Malagasy words,  as well as drawing in the sand!

Ile St Marie was a great place to start as you predicted.   We were very grateful that you had pre-booked the whale watching as I think we might have missed out on at least one of the trips otherwise due to demand.   We visited Ile aux Nattes and were driven up the coast to a bay for lunch and snorkelling on another day.   It was a very relaxing beginning and enabled us to recover from the journey....   

We loved the River trip on the Tsiribihina and I've described in the questionnaire how the crew did,  in fact,  provide a toilet tent at both camps and a shower tent at the 2nd camp,  so,  it was more like glamping!   We enjoyed the ever changing scenery,  the wildlife and the insights into local village life.   One query however was that on each full day,  the boat was flagged down by groups of armed young men on the river bank (axes and rifles).   The crew didn't appear to hesitate to stop and they handed over bowls of rice (? some form of toll for using the river).   On the first day,  we were asked for Paracetamol for "toothache".   We did give some away.   The local guide and Harry gave no indication that it wasn't a genuine request and there was no aggression from the men but,  we subsequently spoke to some Germans who did the same trip in another boat,  and they had a similar experience.   At Begidro village,  we noticed Paracetamol tablets for sale in the market and that made us think that the men wanted them for re-sale perhaps.   The cook on the boat also asked us for Paracetamol as he was "off colour".   We gave him a few.   He made a very quick recovery!   The Germans suggested that the armed men were some sort of local river patrol or militia??   I only mention it for your information.   It certainly didn't detract from the trip.

We also loved Masaola.   We were extremely lucky to see whales again in the Bay on the way to the Lodge.   This was,  by now,  a month after Ile St Marie and I assumed the whales would all have gone by that time.   The boat spent an hour staying close to the whales and we saw more surface activity in that time than in the whole of the 3 trips at Ile St Marie!!   We felt hugely privileged once again.   The primary forest at Masaola,  the remoteness,  the beach setting and some of the unique wildlife there made it special but I think you need at least 4 nights,  if not more.   Of course,  one gets greedy!   The itinerary was different from that we were expecting as they stopped off at Nosy Mangabe on the first day on the way to the Lodge,  rather than on the return boat trip as was described on the website.   However,  each day was full on and we did a night walk each night as well.   We would have opted to kayak and/or snorkel if we'd had an extra day but we certainly can't complain about our programme.   There was simply too much on offer.   As I've said in the questionnaire,  one evening was disrupted by drunken behaviour from some fellow (British) guests who were revelling into the early hours,  which kept us awake.   The Lodge have (had) an open bar policy and the guys made full use of the copious supplies of local rum.   I was surprised that the staff left them to it but the management were hugely embarassed the next morning and profusely apologised.   They said it had never happened before and that they would review their bar rules and also,  instruct the local staff to come and wake them up if it ever happened again.   I'm sure it was a one off and was only a minor irritation.   I was embarassed that the perpetrators were British - typical!   Essentially,  we got what we had gone for and the guys missed out the following day - nursing their hangovers!   As Nosy Mangabe was already done,  the flight out was earlier than expected and we got back to Tana before noon.   However,  Andry agreed to take us to the artisan market in Tana and that neatly catered for our free afternoon.

You were quite right that Anjajavy was the perfect place to round off the trip.   Again,  we loved it.   What a slick outfit.   The attention to detail with regards to service and facilities was amazing but the array of activities and the diversity of wildlife/forest were the icing on the cake.   It was like the whole of Madagascar encompassed in that small place.   We trekked,  swam,  kayaked,  snorkelled,  sailed,  cycled and went fishing and caving.   I feel silly now thinking that 7 days there would be too long!

You will no doubt ask what was our favourite part of the trip?   We have asked ourselves the same question and can honestly say that we loved every minute of it and cannot truly single out one part.   We are blown away by the overall diversity of wildlife and scenery and people.   We just hope that it can be preserved in the face of so many adverse pressures/influences.   We would not hesitate to return some day.   I want to adopt a "mora mora" approach to life back here!  

Tsarabe and misaotra!

Kind regards,

Yvonne and John'

 

Mr and Mrs Wilson
October 10, 2017

'I have never met such helpful staff as the ones at Eden Lodge. Nothing was too much trouble. The waiter taught us Petanque and showed us his village. There were only 4 other guests there; felt very special! 

Relais des Plateaux: very handy for airport. But didn't experiency city centre

Camp Amoureux: Basic but fun! Wonderful lemurs. 

Soleil des Tsingy: food good, but no choice of evening meal.

Palissandre Cote Ouest, Morondava: lovely hotel, shame the beautiful beach had lots of human excrement.

Vakona Lodge: fantastic place, could not fault.

Eden Lodge: WOW, Paradise itself, could have stayed longer! 

Would thoroughly recommend Rainbow Tours'

Head family
September 13, 2017

' Had a great trip. Thank you to Helen at Rainbow and to Marc and Vola in Madagascar who were first rate and made the trip.

(Our guides were) absolutely marvellous. Couldn't do enough for us. Taking us shoppoing when Olivia's bag didn't arrive in Tana... One of the best local agencies we have ever been with.

Camp Amoureux: a good location in Kirindy. 

Soleil des Tsingy: excellent in all respects

Palissandre Cote Ouest: excellent. Shame we could only pay it a flying visit. 

Andasibe Hotel: comfort, service, location & meals excellent. Facilities good. 

 

Perchard Family
August 18, 2017

'Dear Derek 

We had a fabulous time in Madagascar, thank you. In summary everything worked perfectly (well jolly nearly and one cannot expect more in Madagascar) and we are delighted to have chosen Rainbow Tours to organise it for us and would not hesitate to use you again or to recommend you. 

 Madagascar as a country was an amazing place to go to visit. The wildlife was stunning and you did well in helping us to choose good and varied places to visit to get a wide cross section of things to see. With the help of amazing guides we managed to see a large proportion of what was available in each location. They also took the opportunity of time not walking to tell us more about the country, people and customs thus making us feel we had a better idea of life for the Malagasy. The degree of poverty and the difficulty of daily life for the Malagasy is eyeopening although we tried hard not to appear shocked by it. We will certainly look into the charities you suggest on your leaflet. On the subject of which our excellent guide (see below) mentioned Père Pedro and his work in Tana with the homeless, which I now see is mentioned in the Bradt Guide. Is it a charity you know anything of? By the careful avoidance of unsafe food and practice we largely remained free of illness and although we were obviously shielded from the realities of life in Madagascar for most people we hope we got a good feel for the way of life in the areas we visited. 

 We were very well taken care of.  Our main guide, Belaviv, was brilliant. After some changing of plans he ended up coming to Montagne d'Ambre on the flight with us and escorting us all the way to Ankify which we were very pleased about. He was efficient and dedicated in his arrangement of things, making sure we got the most out of every experience both in terms of enjoyment and what we saw. He arranged lunch stops in very good places and when he discovered Naomi was gluten free he rang ahead a couple of times to arrange suitable food. So when he collected packed breakfast for our early flight to Antsiranana he made sure there was a suitable one for her,  he rang Ankarana Lodge where we had lunch after our journey from Montagne d'Ambre on our way to Iharana Bush Camp and he informed the Bush camp before we got there. He was well informed about the wildlife in addition to the local guides and stopped to show us things during journeys. We had to detour to the office to get some paperwork in Antsiranana and he took the opportunity to take us to a view point for Sugar Loaf Island. He organised the breakfasts and dinners to get the most out of visits to the park in a very quiet but insistent manner to waste as little time as possible. He was also an absolute delight to be with, perfect for our family. He started out quietly and diffidently and opened up as the time went on. He was a pleasure to spend time with so we enjoyed any meals together and he took our request to  learn some Malagasy seriously. I hope you will feed that back as he is a young man who deserves to do very well in his career.... 

The drivers were all brilliant. Our first (Roy) took greatest care of us and never stopped cleaning the car every time we got out. He never left the car unattended with anything of ours in it which I felt very guilty for as he ate his meals in sight of it rather than with us. The 2 from Antsiranana were also very considerate and good humoured despite the road conditions in places. At no time at all did I ever feel in danger and I do have a reputation here for being a very nervous passenger after too many crashes in my Rally Navigation phase in my 20s.

There were always copious bottles of water available in the cars and the one in the north without the working starter motor was an excellent reminder that we had never taught out eldest to bump start a car, although usually it was just carefully parked on a slope to avoid any evidence that it didn't start in the conventional manner. This is an amusement not a complaint as it was good not to be in TOTAL luxury as that would have felt very wrong in Madagascar.

Local guides all brilliant. Edwin in Andasibe very good at finding things, patient with our interest and had a very effective 'bush telegraph to let him know what was where. It took me a while to realise he was not just conducting social chit chat on his phone but finding things for us to see! 

Antonio for Montagne d'Ambre and Ankarana was also very knowledgable, friendly and sensitive enough to tell Belaviv to make sure we did not take valuables to Montagne d'Ambre without telling us why or making us concerned as he was the guide held up at gunpoint there in October 2015. He told us later in Ankarana. He had an amazing ability to find wildlife.

Hotels: no complaints at all. 

Relais: very conveniently close to the airport and, although service at dinner was desperately slow on the 2 occasions we were there to eat, the food was good. Clean, large sized rooms, helpful staff.

Vakona Lodge: I am delighted with my choice. Loved the bungalows, grounds beautiful. Breakfast good, evening meals also good. Used our last morning to go to the two reserves of the hotel (crocodile park and then lemur island). Managed to spend ages at the crocodile reserve looking at so many things the guide from there said 'You are interested in everything aren't you)! but there was so much to see even if that was our first Magpie Robin or Day Gecko! Lemur island was a lovely experience for all its slightly un PC-ness in the fact that it exists at all. We persuaded ourselves it was a rescue area and just enjoyed the time there. 

Litchi Tree: Splendid place. We loved it. Hervé excellent in all respects, rooms a delight, food excellent. With a night walk taking us out we felt we could easily have stayed another night and maybe headed to the Cap d'Ambre or other more northern area for the day of arrival and had a full day in the Montagne d'Ambre park in order to enjoy The Litchi tree even more (of course this wouldn't have fitted with flight schedules but one can dream...)

Iharana Bush Camp: I did briefly wonder why we were driving for 1.5 hours away from Ankarana Est only to return fairly early the next day, but when I arrived I knew why. This was a delightful place. Very comfortable, very exciting and excellent food and service. We loved it. Even the drive there was interesting passing all the houses and the views were amazing. Good birdlife too.

L'Heure Bleue: Splendid choice, thank you. The bungalows with legs in the sea (or whatever the website calls them were sheer luxury). The view at any time of day was breathtaking. The only downside was that that side of the bay is in shadow from before 4pm but the rest of the experience easily surmounts that small fact and one can always get up to watch the sunrise instead. Breakfasts and dinners good and eaten on the terrace overlooking the bay. My daughter liked it so much she declined Tanikele to stay at the hotel. (Snorkelling with company called 'Baleines Rand'eau' just down the beach from the hotel. Pleasant frenchman and 2 Malagasy assistants. 2 sites for snorkelling round Nosy Tanikely and a short land on the island and then excellent lunch at Sakatia and snorkelling with the Green turtles after, good trip although my mask didn't have a clip and was just put through the mask headband so kept kinking. He sorted it out for the second session and it was fine.) 

Anjajavy:

What can I say? Paradise. We had the two cabins at the very far end away from the main lodge and in my opinion the best despite the walk taking 4-5 minutes (you just needed to factor that in to timings) not sure if that was requested by you or just chance? It would not work to come here before other places in Madagascar as many of the things we worked so hard to find and were so excited to have a glimpse of were just sitting around waiting to be viewed. We had worked quite hard with early starts and evening walks so felt justified in a bit of a rest here although there was still so much to do that resting was rationed. The whole experience was fabulous: accommodation, trips, service, food, everything. 

We met people who were here for a week and had spent a week either at Ile St Marie or 4 days at Andasibe and 2 at Tana, both arranged by Audley Travel. In my opinion they were badly advised. They did not see as much of Madagascar as they could have done in the time and I think that showed in their experience of the country compared to ours. Your suggested itineraries undoubtedly swayed my suggestions as to what we would like to do and I am sure that your approach is right and leads to a much more fulfilling holiday. 

Air France, however you are also right about. Poor disinterested service, 2/5 TV sets did not work on journey home (despite requesting reset), very limited food service (there are help yourself snacks during the flight but no information that they exist. However for UK probably better to have the last leg so short as opposed to changing in Istanbul, but close call. And although they had Gluten free food for Naomi on the way out they did not on the way back, the flight attendant said we should have confirmed it 48 hrs before the flight. As you will know from Anjajavy and most of Madagascar that is not really likely to work. 

All in all a remarkable trip. I have already read your recent brochure from cover to cover to see where to go next...

Thank you again to all at Rainbow who made this trip not just possible but such an incredible experience for the whole family.

Kind Regards

Sonia  C'

 

Chavasse family
August 2, 2017

'Hello Derek,

Thanks for the welcome home and thanks so much for organizing our amazing trip! The trip surpassed anything we thought it would be! It was definitely the trip of a lifetime. 

Quite an eyeopener into the life of these poor people. They have so little yet they work so hard and keep smiling.....such a contrast to we privileged North Americans who have so much, take so much for granted and often to not appreciate what we have nor each other. As I tackle my laundry from the trip, I will never again complain about having to do numerous loads in my washing machine!

We were incredibly well taken care of, though I often felt guilty being in such beautiful accommodations with incredible meals. The only thing that eased my guilt was knowing that our tourism creates many jobs to help the people. All hotels were great. Would have liked to have stayed longer than 10 hours at Royal Palissandre (sort of a tease of a visit because we arrived and left in the dark yet could hear the ocean and saw how beautiful the place was), however, I don't think we would have wanted any less time anywhere else. Probably needed another day or two!

Soleil des Tsingy was probably the best, though Princess Bora was fantastic and probably would have been the best had the unfortunate incident of their restaurant not happened. They were working very quickly on the temporary and original restaurant, so let your clients know they don't need to worry. We are very glad that we didn't choose to go to a different hotel. We had a beautiful villa right on the beach.

Le Camp Amoureux was a unique experience, with friendly staff, clean accommodations and good food. Relais des Plateaux was also very good - two basic rooms (the night we arrived and as our day room) and one beautiful spacious room on our longer stay. 

Our guides were wonderful. We had Too (not correct spelling of his name but can't remember how it's spelt) for the first week, Michael at Andasibe, as well as Andry in Tana. They were all great. 

Our drivers Justin and Marc were also amazing and we felt totally safe with them behind the wheel. I certainly wouldn't want to drive there!

Whale-watching in Isle Saint Marie was probably Mike's highlight - we went three times on the boat as well as spotting them from the beach. Whale-watching probably ties with finding lemurs for me. The whole experience (even that road to get to Soleil des Tsingy with its ferries!) was fantastic!

No complaints about anything...everything was amazing! 

Thanks so much!

Janet and Mike'

 

 

 

 

Mr and Mrs Stooke
July 20, 2017

'We had a wonderful time.  Highlights were of course the lemurs!

Mitch also loved the diving (particularly the floor diving) and I absolutely loved the horse-riding.

Food was great too, at Sakatia but we do eat a lot and I think impressed them with our abilities.  Also great massages.

 Loved the wildlife! Wish more could be preserved.'

Dr Carbone and Mr Watsky
June 27, 2017

'Everything worked like a dream. There were no hiccups. Jessica was very informative and eager to go the extra mile to ensure that we were able to do everything we wanted to. Michael was also an excellent guide, showing great concern for our well-being. He told us lots about the politics and cultural life of Madagascar. 

The Litchi Tree: beautigul gardens, Herve was charming.

Iharana Bush Camp: arriving after dark, the accommodation was so poorly lit it was difficult to unpack. Shaving in the bathroom with loits of baby frogs was unnerving initially but in the daylight we got to enjoy their company. 

Sakatia Lodge: it was a tropical island paradise. The family were very friendly and tried hard to ensure we had a good time.

Andasibe Hotel: the lighting was poor. 

Considering our brief of lemurs, baobabs and some beach time we feel you did us proud. It all worked out very well and we had a really fantastic holiday which we will have fond memories of for a long time.  The guides made it for us. Jessica even told us a traditional Malagasy story about the drongo and the fruit bat. '

Mr and Mrs Zacal
June 26, 2017

Hi Helen

Overall we had an absolute fantastic trip! Everything went off seamlessly! It was both of our first experiences hiring a company like Rainbow tours on our own and I must say it’s been a pleasant experience from beginning to end: You were timely with responses, you listened to what we wanted and it was all in there in the itinerary. 

Rija was our favorite guide and Loren our favorite driver. They were so much fun and agreeable about stopping, pointing out all the wildlife and surroundings. Rija did all that she could to obtain information and provide us with the best info possible on our hikes.  

The accommodations were all very comfortable and the staff was always very nice and accommodating. Our first stop at Litchi Tree, the owner, Herve, was always polite and accommodating to Michelle and I. 

Bush Camp was amazing, staff attentive and friendly and they had frogs in the toilet! We personally love frogs in the toilet and our own toilets at home are now a huge disappointment :) Eden Lodge also amazing with fantastic staff. And super bonus that we were the ONLY ones there! It really was like having our own private beach. Vakona lodge also great. The rooms were underwhelming after Litchi, Bush and Eden but there was nothing wrong with them. In fact our room had a cat on the porch and that was a welcome bonus. Again staff and was great. The physical surroundings of Vakona were just beautiful and Lemur Island was definitely a huge highlight. Just icing on the cake! 

The place by the airport, Relais des Plateau (?), was okay. Our last stay there which was the afternoon/evening before we left they put us in room 5. Directly behind room 5 is where they burn the rubbish. It was quite an unpleasant smell. We discussed going to the front desk but decided since we weren’t staying the night… But I do regret not saying something. But I suggest for future bookings, tell them no room 5. 

Highlights for me are the Tsingy and ALL the lemurs. It was amazing to have lemurs on your shoulder but they were spectacular to behold on in the wild as well. I enjoy seeing as many animals as possible in the wild and we saw a LOT!

Our guide, Stefan, and driver - whose name I can’t recall! - were good. It was a different experience after being with Rija but still good. Stefan didn’t eat with us and we weren’t sure if it was because we are women, or just technically they are off the clock and eating with us is purely a personal choice. But he was great and loved taking pictures for us which was super helpful during Lemur Island. 

Thank you so much! We plan to be back to book with you! 

I’ll get some pictures together.

Molly 

 

Ms Gras-Usry and Ms Norsen
May 24, 2017

'Hi Derek.

Thanks for making post tour contact.

We had an absolutely brilliant time in Madagascar [on the Madagascar Wildlife Extravaganza Small Group tour]  thanks to Rainbow Tour's tour itinerary & bookings, as well is to the expertise of both Lucienne & local guide Gerscia.
We enjoyed the company of our other tour members as well as the fellowship of both Lucienne & Gerscia.

I will consider other tours provided by Rainbow Tours and will highly recommend Rainbow Tours for its expertise in this location.

Kind regards,
Rick Lowen'

 

Dr and Mrs Lowen
December 8, 2016

'We felt Anjajavy was just amazing. Staff were superb; animal viewing excellent. The balance of travel; the walks, down time was just right for us. Other people did more excursions but we were vedry happy to relax and digest the sites. The whole Anjajavy experience was one of the best we have had anywhere. The ethos of service/ balance with environment/ comittment to local people/ wildlife/ luxury excursions (private picnic on beach etc) was outstanding. We expected a Relais & Chateaux to be mainly French influenced but the majority of the guests were Anglophone. Cedric was an exceptional manager and was available to talk often. 

NB travelling Premium Economy was worth every penny as it gets you through immigration in Tana quite quickly  - if you are at the back of the plane it is very different'

 

Mr and Rev Thomas
December 8, 2016

'This (Madagascar Wildlife Extravaganza small group tour) is the best holiday/expedition we have had in a long time. Congratulations to Rainbow Tours. 

Our guyides deserve a big accolade. Gersica is a gem you need to treasure - always smiling and cheerful with seamless organisational abilities - and Lucienne is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic - they made a perfect partnership which contributed greatly to the success of this holiday. 

The quality of the food we had in Madagascar was excellent and way above expectations'. 

 

Mr and Mrs Bennett
December 7, 2016

'Thanks to Fiona for all organisation. Njeeva was fantastic; he was with us for the whole trip except for Nosy Saba. Please advise the local agency of his conduct and empathy.

Litchi Tree is a brillaint place.

Nosy Saba is totally superb; great staff. Would love to go back'. 

 

Mr Pope and Ms Pyman
December 6, 2016

'Vakona Forest Lodge, Andasibe: lovely location.

Allamanda Hotel, Antsiranana: the food was very good.

Litchi Tree, Montagne d'Ambre: Friendly and characterful.

Iharana Bush Camp, Ankarana: accommodation a bit too basic; got bitten in bed

Eden Lodge: Lovely place'

Mr Foster and Ms Anderson
November 22, 2016

'Hi Derek 

We're all now safely back from Madagascar and just wanted to send our thanks for all you did to organise such an amazing adventure.  The lodges, guides and Marc  were all outstanding. As you warned us, we were affected quite a bit by Air Madagascar's unreliability but Marc and the office staff worked hard to make the changes as smooth and as comfortable as possible.

I do so hope that Air Madagascar sorts out its unreliable schedules before they manage to kill of the majority of tourism. 

We will definitely recommend Madagascar to all our travelling friends and will do all we can to help the great conservation work and tourism industry there.  It's an extraordinary country with the most wonderful wildlife and people.  We were made to feel very welcome and given the very best service people could offer. 

 Best wishes,

 JP'

 

 

Prowse Private Group
November 7, 2016

'Overall holiday satisfaction excellent.

Iharana Bush Camp excellent all round, 3 nights here would have been better.

Sakatia Lodge excellent, relaxed, plenty to do and enjoy.' 

Campbell party
October 19, 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.
(Basic)

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

'Herilala was a SUPERB guide - he even went to Berenty with us!. Excellent holiday. Met all our expectations and exceeded on wildlife spotting. Very satisfied with Relais des Plateaux. Food was surprisingly good at Andasibe Hotel. Berenty is stunning for wildlife. La Croix du Sud had the best decorated bedroom and bathroom outside of Anjajavy: the photo in the itinerary does not do it justice.

Mantadia was excellent and order was reversed, which was the right thing to do because of the poor state of the road to the park and the long drive back to Tana.

The road to Berenty was very picturesque but 'deteriorating road' does not describe it......the driver was excellent and managed the jouney in 3 hours thanks to some superb rally driving!'

Mr Alderman and Ms Frost
October 6, 2016


Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent. We enjoyed the whole holiday with the exception of our stay at Iharana Bush Camp.

Vakona Forest Lodge: we particlarly liked th central building with the open fire which we needed as it was cool and damp.

Litchi Tree: Excellent +++ (food especially). The food was delicious. This is a very special place.

Ankarana Lodge: Good service, comfortable, good food and facilities. Location excellent. I liked the swimming pool. Very handily located for Ankarana.

Iharana Bush Camp: the service was indifferent. The lodge wasn't cleaned all the while we were there.

Anjajavy Le Lodge: excellent +++ Not just a very luxurious resort, but the whole area hd so much interest, with the paleontology, archaeology, as well as the wildlife. A fantastic stay'

Mason family
September 14, 2016

'Great holiday, thanks! Overall satisfaction: excellent'. 

Mr and Mrs Russell
July 13, 2016

'Transfers were very functional and helpful. The local guide at Andasibe (Dizzy) was outstanding. He put in a lot of extra effort to ensure we saw as much as we could. Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent. Anjajavy was a truly wonderful way to spend our last week. Only one small comment: drinks are expensive BUT everything else was fantastic'

Mr and Mrs Greg
December 8, 2015

'Your brochure offered us a suitable trip with option to customise sample tour. We had a wonderful trip. Food at Litchi Tree and location at Iharana Bush Camp wonderful. Sakatia Lodge is very friendly. We enjoyed snorkelling especially with Whale sharks!! As we are not divers, a magical experience. Very lucky to be there at right time of year to see Whale sharks'

Mr and Mrs Thompson
November 26, 2015

The quality of all our guides was first rate and really made the holiday as they told us about traditions and beliefs, had a good sense of humour - got us singing and dancing! They also had expert knowledge about the wildlife, history and religion. They could not do enough to help taking photos, helping us climbing up rocks, fending off beggars, translating in shops....

Overall satisfaction: excellent.

Petite Relais Masoala: excellent service and location. Probably didn't need the extra guide with us as the park guide was excellent.

Iharana Bush Camp: stunning location.

Eden Lodge: excellent staff across the board. A great place to relax but four nights was too many...we just got a little bored.

Mr and Mrs Holmes
November 20, 2015


'The trip met with all our expectations throughout. Aside from the cancellation of the flight from Tana to Morondava, all our other flights were on time. A highlight for us was the Kirindy Forest. We enjoyed the setting and the variety of the more unusual wildlife sightings, e.g. the Fossa on the trails around the lodge and also the Giant Jumping Rat, which was fascinating to watch.

A bonus was to spend another night in the area at Camp Amoreux on the return from Bemaraha. All praise to our guide Lova and our driver Fily who took us between camps to maximise our wildlife viewings.

Ankarana: here we visited the Bat Cave and also went on a morning visit to the Crocodile Cave (where we walked through from the entrance to the sunken forest on the other end), seeing a single crocodile in each, as well as many bats in the former. The many stalagmites, stalactites and other weird and wonderful calcareous formations at the crocodile cave were intriguing. Not surprisingly we were the only tourists at the Crocodile Cave due to it being somewhat  remote from the other attractions.

Perinet and Mantadia: (Andasibe). Because of the greater flexibility of independent travel, at Perinet our guide arranged visits to two lesser visited reserves within the park area: Parc Villageos Reserve and Parc Mitsinjo. There we enjoyed closer wildlife viewing with no other tourists in the vicinity, although there was a BBC wildlife team filming at Mitsinjo. Mantadia was  rewarding (and far away from th annoying crowds) and where the guide found a Scaly ground-roller for us after we specifically mentioned our interest in seeing one of the Madagascan Ground-rollers.

We thoroughly enjoyed Bemaraha, paticularly the Grand Tsingy which added a bit of interest to the walking. This was in part due to having to use harnesses in order to scale the pinnacles.  We are used to scrambling about in rocks as this is something that one encounters when walking some of the bigger mountains of North wales or the Lake District, particularly if one deviates off the main tourist routes.  However it will not be to everyone's taste and we did encounter people who had to turn back on the 'classic' route as they were unable to cope with the heights / exposure.  Also the ,rope bridge caused others to falter/turn round. 

By contrast the Tsingy at Ankarana seemed somewhat tame (not so jagged at the part where we went to) but it made up for it with it's size.  However we only had about 2 hours there as we had been to the Crocodile Cave in the morning which linited the time available to us at the Grand tsingy in the afternoon.  (We met some people whose guide had taken them on an 8 hour circuit at Ankarana, which was inappropriate for their fitness levels). 

What we saw of the Petit Tsingy at Bemaraha was a bit tame by comparison, although there was wildlife to be seen (sifakas), which was not the case with the Grand Tsingy on our visit.  We arrived there about 20 minutes before closing time after driving from Kirindy, but our guide managed to arrange for a guide to take us round a small circuit for about 45 minutes. 

In the evening it was good to be able to return to the lodge (Solei des Tsyingy) which was up-market, comfortable and had good views.  The only minor thing about the hotel was the need to order one's evening meal in advance, which is OK except that on arrival on the first day there may not be very much choice avialable for the evening meal, unless one were to arrive earlier in the afternoon in order to place one's order.  Only a minor niggle though.  (There were not many people staying there whilst we were there).

The route to Bemahara via the ferry at Belo-sur-Tsirbihina was enjoyable despite the state of the roads.  Now that the local govenor has some influence in the central government funds have been made available to improve the section of the road north of Belo with new culverts /small bridges being built as well as some straightening out and re-alignment in some sections.  No tarmacing or anything like that but an useful improvements nevertheless. 

Travelling the road north of Kirindy makes one realise the extent of the deforestaion, with areas the size of medium English towns turned into black smouldering landscapes that look like the something out of the Somme.  They seem to clear the land both sides of the road leaving a thin strip of vegetation either side of the road which serves to hide the reality from the traveller.  Quite depressing to see.  

Despite the difficulties facing the guides in Madagascar, we found them to be dedicatedand enthusastic at all times'.

Mr & Mrs Mellor
November 12, 2015


'Having only got back yesterday we wanted to say a huge thank you to you for organising such a truly wonderful holiday which we thoroughly enjoyed'

Mr and Mrs Emerson
October 20, 2015

' Dear Derek

We wanted to thank you very much for all your help with our honeymoon (in July 2015) to Madagascar. We had the most amazing time in a country we'd wanted to visit for many years and it didn't disappoint! The itinerary you arranged for us was fantastic, and we loved the lemurs at Andasibe/Mantadia and the whales in Ile Sainte Marie and the sea turtles at Eden Lodge. Our highlight was the magical tsingy at Ankarana. This completely alien but incredible landscape will live in our memories for years to come. However, the asspect we most appreciated was the extra mile you went to to keep rearranging and re-planning and reassuring each time Air Madagascar changed our plans. We really appreciated all your effort and phone calls - it ended up seamless (from our end!) and some of the 'extras', particularly Anjozorobe, were highlights of the whole trip. We can't wait to go back to Madagascar! '

Mr and Mrs Warland
October 12, 2015

'Vakona Forest Lodge has nice grounds. Easy walk to Lemur Island if we had not already been driven there. Food better than average. Litchi Tree excellent. Seemed willing to consider any limitations on diet (we had none). Menu at Iharana Bush Camp limited but well prepared. Effort to provide individual and friendly service. Didn't mind the wildlife in the room.

Overall planning for a two-week tour was excellent an was tailored to our abilities anthe season. We wanted a more generalised tour than, for example, a birding trip, an got it. I am also interested in loca life an the guides were able to point ou and explain what we observed and something of the overall status of Madagascar. We commend all the drivers who hd to deal with the chaotic traffic on the decrepit roads. The vehicles provided were all comfortable. Recommend to add Tsingy Rouges to the itinerary'

Mr and Mrs Ehrlich
June 22, 2015


' Our tour guide Miahy and driver Ony were fantastic. It was as if we had been friends for a long time. All questions were answered and we were advised on what was happening the next day and reminded if we wanted to change this, it was no problem. The local guide used for the first few days (Barry Rabaninjahary) was fantastic and spoke very good English. Recommend very highly Miahy, Ony and Barry. Rija was our last guide. She was very friendly and knowledgeable. Would like to meet her again'.

Ms Brooks & Ms Vaughan
June 1, 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. 

Weaver

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!

Fosa

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

Great place to stay in spectacular setting. Resident frogs made us jump! 

H Fuller
September 16, 2013

This place was the most charming and unusual, with stunning views and keen-to-please staff

V Timperley
August 30, 2013

Inharana Bush Camp is a really good place, the set up and design suited the area perfectly, plenty of space for relaxing. 

Atkinson
October 28, 2011
Calling from one of the countries below?
If so use the toll-free number listed.
USA611 3001 4894
Australia184 4332 5169
New Zealand184 4332 5137