Madagascar Reviews


'Trip was great - tiring, but that was expected. Daniel and Harry were great, and there were enough other people on the tour that were friendly to get by 'on my own' . Hotels were super; food a bit disappointing - mostly just too much of it and not 'local' enough.

The 'ordering' of hotels was largely fortuitous, but by having a really nice one after a more rustic it helped greatly in recovery, so would strongly recommend that. Having Relais de Plateau as a 'base' was extremely useful; maybe let people know that it is VERY useful to have a bag they can leave there and return to between trips, with just a smaller bag for each of the trips out. I had little enough luggage that i had planned to have it all with me (i.e. it was within weight limits) but rethought that and left my main bag at RdP all the time. Worked really well, but my backpack was just a wee bit small for the trips. Tell people they'll best leave their main luggage and to bring a bag big enough to sustain them for 4 - 5 day trips. It was really only the boots that took me 'over' the limit, and worked around that just fine.

I wimped out of going to the Grand Tsingy - just not really fit enough and getting hurt at the beginning was not in anyone's interest, but had a couple of great 'lower' walks and saw loads. Overall saw loads of animals, especially lemurs. Luckily Daniel and a few of the guides were interested in 'nonmammals' so pretty good on the bug and herp front as well. Most of the other tourists were pretty focussed on lemurs, esp babies, and photographing them. Which was grand, but i like a good bug as well!

Trip was a good complement to the first one, both together really worked well. Still sorry to have missed the Tsingy, would so have liked to at least seen it, but that wasn't possible; but that was entirely my fault/decision. Other people that were probably even less fit and agile than me went and were fine. However, i've seen a couple of their pictures and am pretty happy with my decision not to go!

Berenty was HOT!  But loads of great wildlife which more than compensated for me. But maybe be careful sending 'old or infirm' there in the hottest season. Weather overall was great - a few days of rain, but seldom enough to matter, we only lost one night walk adn by then were all so tired it was ok. And you really need it drizzly in the rainforest for atmosphere.

It was hard going - pretty full on and very tiring. But if it had been more relaxed that could have led to frustration as well. Very hard to get that balance right as an individual, and almost impossible for you to organise it for a mixed group. So overall probably about the right 'intensity'.

The second trip to Andasibe, Kirindy and Avenue des Baobabs was not a problem. Very depressing - lots of slash and burn going on; got some pics which i'm using to prepare some materials on Madagascar for EcoSchools here. Second trip provided loads more info for that - and loads of depressing mental images as well as pictures to make me feel even sorrier for the country and its people and problems. And worry greatly on how to solve them.

A bit of illness by a couple people on the trip made it unpleasant for them, but really no disabling illness or any injuries - not bad going for 10 people over 2 weeks, most in 'advanced years' in fairly rough terrain. I was actually pleasantly surprised there were no bigger problems.

That's about all i can think of at present. Not sure there's much there to help, but some thoughts anyway. Must get back to pictures.....'

Dr Christie
December 14, 2017

'It was a fabulous trip Derek, thank you.

Daniel was lovely, Harry Fantastic!   Best guide ever.  Local guides were all very good too, 

We were all moved by the poverty in such a beautiful country, and the cheerfulness of the people, and as for the wildlife ......... 

We all love Lemurs now!

Best wishes and Season's Greetings'.

Ms Evans
December 13, 2017

'Dear Derek,

For the last few weeks I have been meaning to email you to thank you for organising our holiday to Madagascar.  Finally I'm getting round to it!  We had a wonderful time, absolutely loved it.  It is without doubt the most incredible place I've ever been to - definitely worth the thirty-year wait.  There were too many highlights to mention them all, but we loved the rich variety of wildlife in Andasibe (watching the indri was magical), seeing the vivacious ring-tails in Isalo and Anja, and having Parson's and stump-tailed chameleons crawling up our arms.  My husband even managed to find a baby tenrec in Mantadia, which both the guide and I had walked straight past.  Aside from the fascinating wildlife, I never realised just how spectacular the scenery is.  I knew Isalo would be something special, but I had no idea that the surroundings at Anja and Ambalavao would be so breathtaking.  It was worth staying at La Varangue Betsileo for the beautiful views alone.  I'm itching to go back - although my husband has forbidden it for the time being, due to the cost! - and explore the north and west.  Hopefully it won't take another thirty years.

Thank you for all your help and for putting up with my many questions.  I was worrying about so many things beforehand but now I realise I really didn't need to!  The holiday was superbly organised and I would definitely recommend you to anyone wanting to visit Madagascar.  We've filled in the feedback form over the weekend, so you should receive that any day now.

Best wishes,

Victoria'

 

Mr and Mrs Hunt
November 28, 2017

'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

'Overall holiday satisfaction (22 October 2017 Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Small Group tour): 'Completely exceeded our expectations. 

Andasibe Lemurs Lodge: all brilliant apart from the mattress, as hard as a board, obviously brand new rubber mattresses.

Les Dunes Ifaty: Lovely place, perfect setting.

Varangue de Betsileo: Small, intimate, perfect. Excellent

Plumeria: excellent. 

The information itself was well detailed and wonderfully helpful, the holiday was well organised, incredibly interesting and far exceeded our expectations. Our guide Gersica was excellent, the hotels good and the food outstanding - apart from the dreaded bed at Andasibe Lemurs Lodge all was utterly perfect. - Thank you!'

Mrs Cox and Ms Cameron
November 22, 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

'Gersica is an absolute star - knowledge of everything from culture to flora and fauna and any Madagascar topic inbetween. Nothing was too much trouble for her; always a smile on her face. The best guide we have ever had the pleasure to have been led by on any tour we have ever been on. 

Overall holiday satisfaction (07 - 22 October 2017 Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Small group tour): Excellent

We appreciate that we signed up to a hectic schedule  but it would have been ideal to weave a little more free time into the programme. We recognise however that there were often great distances to cover, which makes this difficult. 

Overall, a very comprehensive tour of a fascinating island. We went expecting an adventure - and were not disappointed!

Thanks finally to Derek for the excellent support and advice; and to Gersica and her team for their hard work and their dedication to make such a memorable tour' 

Mr Riley and Ms Stokes
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

'Our overall guide Gersica was absolutely brilliant (Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Tour 07 - 22 October 2017 departure). Everything was well organised. Gersica ensured that everything ran smoothly and was extremely competent.

Overall holiday satisfaction: Excellent

Andasibe Lemurs Lodge: Comfort, service and location: Excellent. Meals and facilities: Good. 

Thermal Hotel Ranomafana: Comfort, service and location: Excellent. Meals and facilities: Good'

 

Mr and Mrs Fuller
October 27, 2017

'Hi Craig

Just a quick note, Want to tell you what an amazing trip we had.  (Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Tour: 07 - 22 October 2017 departure)  Not a holiday more an adventure!   All the things you said about the trip were true.  It is not a destination for everyone.  The journeys are long and tiring but necessary to see the different landscapes and wildlife.  We had a few issues with some of the accommodation but nothing we did not expect thanks to your accurate briefing before we booked.    We had a lovely group overall but a couple of them were struggling....   All in all everyone got something out of the trip....    We had absolutely no problems with it and indeed felt that we had a real adventure.    Our guide, Gersica was superb.  She was professional, charming, knowledgeable, helpful and patient throughout the trip'.

I am totally in love with Lemurs!!  See attached picture (one of thousands).

Thanks again for all your help

Very Best Regards

Mandy Upton'

 

Feedback report:

We had a fantastic time in Madagascar. It is a challenging country to visit in some ways. The infrastructure is a 'work in progress'. I think travellers should be encouraged to do some research before going there. It is a very special place and anyone who has an interest in wildlife and the natural world generally, should go there and soon. 

Our experience with Rainbow Tours was very good. Craig Kaufman gave us a very good briefing as to what to expect before we booked. It turned out to be very accurate on tour, so nothing disappointed us. 

The choice of itinerary turned out to be a perfect introduction to Madagascar. We saw a variety of landscapes and a good number of different species of fauna and flora. We saw 22 different lemurs, 10 different chameleons, many birds, lizards, frogs, insects, snakes, and a few other mammals including a Vontsira mena (ringtailed mongoose) and a Tenrec. 

Journeys were very long but interesting and necessary to cover the different habitats. 

Accommodation was better than expected in some places. Food was good but too many three-course meals with large portions. The tour guide Gersica was exceptional. She was always cheerful, patient, helpful and knowledgeable. On our walks through the reserves she was as good as spotting and identifying things as the local guides were. Her choice off local guides was excellent. They did everything they could to ensure we all had good views of anything they found. 

No complaints re: tour content; we had a great time and a real life experience!'

 

I am totally in love with Lemurs!!  See attached picture (one of thousands).

Thanks again for all your help

Very Best Regards

Mandy Upton'

Mr and Mrs Upton
October 25, 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

'Service from tour operator: excellent. (Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Tour 02 September 2017 departure)

Jessica was outstanding. Knowledgeable, charming, efficient. 

Les Dunes d'Ifaty: very comfortable, beautiful setting.

Relais la Reine: Excellent. Lovely gardens.

Aux Bouganivillees, Ambalavao: basic but clean, adequate and friendly

Thermal Hotel: comfort of room good. Meals excellent. Facilities and serivce average. No lounge or bar; no easy-chair in room.'

Ms Yate
October 4, 2017

'The (Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Small Group Tour, 02 September 2017 departure) was wonderful and lived up to expectations. The guide Gersica was fantastic - I can't praise her enough. She is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and very well organised. She even organised a birthday cake for me at our last dinner. Both bus drivers were excellent as were the local guides, in particular the guide at Ranomafana. He was also a photographer and kindly took excellent photos for everyone in the group.

I seem to have made a lot of comments about comfy chairs but when you're travelling alone its nice to have somwhere comfortable to sit either in the room or preferably in the lounge area rather than on a bed. Although Aux Bougainvillees was not as smart as all the other hotels, I enjoyed staying there for 1 night - its too easy to remain in a 'bubble' on thes tours. 

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this tour to anyone'. 

Ms Halsall
October 3, 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

'Dear Helen

Overall we had a great trip, absolutely memorable.

Our guide was called Vola (?) and she looked after us very well In Andasibe and Mantadia.  There with a local guide, we saw 6 species of Lemur; Indri, Common Brown, Sifuka, Red bellied Black & White, Bamboo and Easter Woolly.  Having IS binoculars helped a great deal and with a new camera we got some good photos of Lemurs 30m or 40m above us.  In fact we could see things the guide could not.  The night walks were less successful, but interesting all the same.  Orchids & birds were a tad disappointing due to the season.  The Orchid Park was devoid of any blossoms on any of its many orchids due to the season.  It must be wonderful when they bloom.

The Andaside Hotel was comfortable and the service good.  We experimented with Malagasy food with varying success.  Zebu steak was good; a chicken curry mostly bone!  Rice with every meal!  Vola took us through the village to see how the locals live and Di bought some small locally made Indri lemurs. 

The road transfers were most interesting seeing the paddy fields and brick making and the washing.  More alarming were the mountainsides cleared and planted with Eucalyptus for charcoal production – but that seems to be the main fuel.  We came across a 100 or so people singing and dancing with a body taking it for re-wrapping; later we saw a second just as we were leaving Ste Marie.    We also saw the freight train; pity it does not carry passengers.

The transfer to Ste Marie began slightly bizarrely.  It was a very early take-off, but we had been directed to a back entrance to the airport, where we sat in the car for almost an hour as the aircrew gradually arrived.  Eventually we were admitted and processing the 10 or so passengers was pretty quick. 

The arrival in Ste Marie is memorable as is the transfer to the Princess Bora in a wagon drawn by two Zebu.  We very much enjoyed our stay at the hotel which was outstanding in a number of ways, although we do have one or two adverse comments which I will come to later.  What was excellent was the staff service who were all extremely friendly and helpful.   Despite the restaurant having burnt down a few months ago, the food was wonderful.   For the evening meals, there was a choice of two for each of the three courses.  Often Di had one choice and I took the other as the quality and presentation was so good.  Breakfast was an extensive buffet with plenty of choice of fruit and pastries and a chef who was pleased to cook you eggs any  style.  We always ate breakfast outside the restaurant tent with our binoculars.  On many occasions we were able to see whales as we ate breakfast!  Not many hotels can offer that!

We liked our villa; it is wonderful to go to sleep with the sound of the waves on the beach.  You might note that they do provide separate beach towels, so we brought our own towels back unused.  Also while there was one ordinary bike available free (another under repair), but there is a charge for a mountain bike – 30,000 Ar. for a half day and 40,000 Ar. for a full day.  We hired for a morning to cycle to Ambodifotatra to get more of a feel for the local life.  We had previously been into the town by Tuc-Tuc, but they travel at such a speed you cannot see much.  We walked to the Pirates Cemetery which was most interesting.  The sign says you can go without a guide, but we were compelled to take one and he was thoroughly worth the money.

After a lecture one evening by a young American on whale research programme, we went out the next day and had plenty of sightings including mothers and their calves.  Again lots of photos and videos.  We then got absolutely soaked in a torrential downpour, but that’s life.... 

The swimming and snorkelling are rather oversold.  While it is a major diving centre, the sea between the beach and the reef is only about 3 feet deep, is pretty polluted with a lot of weed and sea urchins and almost no fish.  We did borrow snorkelling equipment (good quality) on two occasions.  Locally we were told that you had to swim out through the gap in the reef used by the boats, about a 100m.  I did this, but felt uncomfortable that with no safety boat and a long swim back.  Di did not attempt it.  We were advised to try on the Ile aux Nattes and at the southern end of Ste Marie near the crossing.  However, we found the same.  Despite looking ideal, it is not a swimming or snorkelling beach.... The pontoon has a swimming area, but that is also not very deep.  If the pontoon had reached beyond the reef, it would be much easier to snorkel.  Another thing for your information, they offer Wi-Fi in the library/lounge but it is pretty slow and intermittent.  They also have it in the reception area where it is much faster, so we usually went there before breakfast each day.

As you know, our return flight time was changed and we are very grateful that it was re-arranged that we stayed a further day at Princess Bora rather than waste two days in Tana.  The flight in the Bora 4 seater was also memorable as we flew quite low.

On the final day, Lionel took us to the Craft Market, which was rather overwhelming – the relentless sales pressure is not for the faint hearted, but there is a fantastic range of souvenirs.  We had in fact bought most things we wanted from roadside craftsmen and vendors In Ste Marie.  After lunch we had a walk round the high town and visited the Queen’s Palace, where again we had an extremely good guide, who was an Anglophile.  He showed us the George III cannons and the positive influence Britain had from Mauritius before the French invaded.  Rugby is their second national game and his heroes were Jonny Wilkinson and Lawrence Dellaglio; a bizarre conversation to have in Madagascar.

Many thanks for helping us have a memorable and enjoyable trip; we saw plenty of lemurs and whales.   We had excellent guides, but we also saw how local people live e.g. when we visited Andasibe village and when we walked across the middle of the Ile aux Nattes; how despite their poverty (by our standards) there are plenty of smiles around and many are colourfully dressed.

Best wishes

John

PS I am still going through photos; if I find any good ones I will copy them to you.'

Mr and Mrs Mathisen
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

'Hi Helen,

Thank you very much for your email, and even more for setting us up for such an amazing honeymoon.

We loved staying at Andasibe Hotel (and we really liked Maison Gallieni too).

The local guide in Madagascar, Dennis, was excellent, and so was the driver. We would thoroughly recommend them to anyone going there. Dennis is extremely knowledgeable, and provided us guidance on what we could have done in the park while leaving us time and space for us to make up our own mind on what would work best for us.

Unfortunately having only two full days to spend in the area meant that we could not visit the Mantadia park, also because the quickest road leading there has been badly damaged by the cyclone and access was very difficult. Going back in time we would probably like to spend another day there, but this is our fault... We loved the excursions in the Andasibe park both during the day and at night, and we got to see two Indri families and several Sifaka from a close distance.

Thank you for flagging up the tree planting activities organised by Mitsinjo: we felt it was a really worthwhile cause, and we think this should really be promoted among tourists going to Andasibe.

On the way back to Tana before taking the flight to Mauritius, Dennis also made sure that we could spend some time in a souvenir shop, so that we could get something for friends and relatives.

As for Mauritius, Trou aux Biches is fabulous, and thank you for recommending it to us! The beach is stunning, and so are the scenery and the food. The beach would be even better if they managed to move the motor boats away, as one local beach vendor told us they are already planning to do, as they are quite noisy and tend to run pretty close to the swimming area.

Overall, we are extremely happy with Rainbow Tours: it was the first time ever we were travelling with a travel agency, and we could not have hoped for a better experience. We have already recommended it to some friends, and we will keep doing so whenever the opportunity arises. Needless to say, we will get in touch when we plan our next long-distance trip.

Thank you again for your guidance and assistance.

Best wishes,

Roberto & Daniela'

 

Mr and Mrs Roccu
July 24, 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

'Dear Derek

We just wanted to thank you very must for your help and organisation of our holiday.

Our guide was Mike, he said he know you well. We found him excellent.

 

The tour company in Mauritius was very attentive and meet and guided us through to check in and departures.

We had a fantastic time in Madagascar and a very special stay in Mauritius.

 

Best regards

Timothy and Gaynor'

Mr and Mrs Faulks
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

‘28th October: 04h40 start for flight at 7:20am followed by a 4 hour drive.

29th October: 7:00am start, 5 hours drive to Camp Tattersali on very poor roads. There was no refrigeration at this camp. There was only one bucket shower working in one of the bungalows.

30th October: 8:00am start for 5hr drive to Iharana and then a further 5 hour drive to Sambava. There is no mention of the duration of this drive in the itinerary.

31 October: 7.00am start for the 2 hour drive [to Manantenina] followed by 3 hour walk to the Marojejy Park entrance, followed by a further 7km uphill walk/climb to camp Mantella, probably another 4 hours minimum in high humidity carrying litre of water, cameras and other personal items in back pack .

01 November: a further 2/3 hour steep climb to the second campsite where the arrangement of sheds, which is what they are, is over rocky ground'. 

P. Souter

P Souter
January 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

'Dear Derek

We chose Madagascar as a joint destination with ourselves and the Keens and it was Chrissy who did the research on which might be the best travel company to use. She found Rainbow Tours, and in fact they used the company some years ago for a trip in Africa.  To our minds her choice has been excellent and we finish the trip with a high regard for the company.  

All the arrangements have worked wonderfully well.  We have been very pleased indeed with our guides and drivers and the hotel accommodation has been right on the button with one exception.   More specific comments are below.  We have rated each hotel out of 10 and allocated the rating recognising the type of hotel we were in (e.g. Setam Lodge and Relais de la Reine are in different categories and marked accordingly)

Arrival and first night: The flight from Paris was fine and we were safely greeted by Vola and Mamy on arrival and installed with no trouble at the Relais des Plateaux - the ideal close to airport location. It provided exactly the service that was needed.  8/10

Day one and Couleur Cafe.  This is an excellent choice of hotel. Charming style and ambience, beautiful well maintained gardens and a high standard of service from the staff.  The decor was wonderfully amusing and the whole style of the place suited all four of us admirably.  We got our first taste of Ti Punch here and continued with them for a good part of the trip.  10/10

Days 2 - 4 Setam Lodge. The drive from Antananarivo through Antsirabe to Setam provided us with the most wonderful scenery despite the distressing poverty which is such a feature of Malagasy life. We were struck by people's industriousness as they went about the business of keeping body and soul together and by the smiles and friendliness we encountered.
Setam Lodge was good forest accommodation although the food was pretty unexciting. We suspect that it was probably the best available anywhere in the area, so no complaints from us. And they managed to put a comet moth just outside the dining room for us to admire and wonder at!  8/10


We enjoyed our first proper rainforest walks and were rewarded with some good lemur sightings.  The second of the two days was particularly enjoyable as there were very few other people in our area of the forest and so we were not fighting for viewing vantage points.  Chantal, the local guide, and her spotter did a great job of finding us some wonderful sights including a beautiful painted frog and the giraffe "bug". It was fascinating to observe how they listened and watched in order to show us the range of forest wildlife.

Day 5    Anja Park and Varangue de Betsileo.  Needless to say the ring tail lemurs of Anja Parc  stole our hearts, with lots of "Ooohs' and "Aaaahs" as they leapt around us.  With respect to the accommodation here we suspect you are in a bit of a bind with little else available within easy driving distance.  

To be honest while the location was very attractive and the rooms spacious and clean, our hosts were clearly doing everything on the cheap.    The only bedroom chairs masquerading as bedside tables, no water glasses (or water for that matter) and a measly bit of soap in the bathroom, two wire hangers, no curtains on the glass paned doors so that to have any privacy it was necessary to close the door and window shutters, leaving the room in the dark. In response to  the question "do you have a hairdryer?",  our hostess said that as she had short hair she did not see the need for one!  Dinner was a poor affair and the only wine available virtually undrinkable.  The final straw was that they charged for water at breakfast and left the offer of eggs until the last minute when we were rising from the table. We turned them down politely.

Recognising that there is probably not a lot of choice as to hotels, we wonder if Rainbow Tours were to have a discussion with them they might up their game.   Even if they were to charge 10 euros more a night that would be a reasonable trade off to get some of the amenities which ought to be standard. Rating 3/10


Days 6 - 10  Relais de la Reine.  Well,  what a wonderful contrast! A beautiful hotel, the most glorious gardens, charming staff, great food, Ti Punches some of the best.  The only thing to spoil it all was the news that Trump had won!!  Rating 10/10
Here too our walks were splendid and the Black Pool that we found at the top of the ravine was paradise. A great stay.   And then on to the Zombitse Transition Forest which too was wonderful.  The sifakas performed magnificently for us.  The Arboretum visit which followed was also very interesting and much enjoyed especially by the Keens who are much more plantsmen than we are.  

The overnight stop in Tulear was fine (Rating 8/10) and we were very sorry to say farewell to Vola and Mamy (sp?). They were a splendid team and really took trouble to make sure that we were well looked after.  Mamy drove superbly and at no time did we have the slightest sense that he was not in full control of our safety. It was also touching to see that he quite clearly looked out for Vola as well!  She demonstrated liveliness, humour, a strong sense of responsibility for our well-being and good knowledge in responding to our questions. In particular she was very good in controlling things on the occasions that we stopped and left the car, making sure the begging children did not crowd us and that each got his fair share of sweets or bread.  

Days 11 - 14 Vakhona Lodge After the somewhat hair-raising drive from Tana to Vakhona (one of us felt really quite uncomfortable with this) we actually had the most magnificent stay here. Our new guide Stephan and driver Nyna were again charming and the local guide we had here (Sacha?) was very knowledgeable indeed. We really enjoyed him and his little twists of gentle humour. They went to a great deal of trouble to make sure we were not in crowded spots and yet still managed to get some wonderful lemur, indri and bird sightings for us.  

The lodge itself was very well appointed, beautifully set in the forest, and the food was good - and of course the Ti Punches!  We left with great reluctance, but at least we had the up close and personal experience of the lemurs just before we left!  Rating 9/10

So finally on to the last week at the Ravintsara.  Once more a really wonderful hotel, charming staff whose only wish is to make sure we had a fully relaxed and comfortable stay.  The massage and spa treatments were of excellent quality, food was good and varied and the view from our bungalow over the channel was peaceful.  The gardens were absolutely beautiful. A perfect end to our stay  so we go back to London and France with great reluctance but feeling well set up for the winter.  Rating 10/10

Thank you for your help in arranging this trip for us.  We will remember it with pleasure for many years to come.

If you would like to contact us regarding any of these comments please don't hesitate to do so.  In the meantime our very good wishes to you

Hilary and Kazia' (part of Keen party)

 

Ms Smith and Ms Kantor (Keen party)
December 6, 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

'We undoubtedly feel we made the right choice of tour operator, paricularly in respect of accommodation, guides and logistics. Local knowledge shone through. Quality of all these factors added greatly to the enjoyment of the holiday. Very good to have included Tsimanampetsotsa National Park (also Herilala's favourite). We felt things got steadily better the further south-west we got. Where else do you offer good holidays? 

No question - we will definitely strongly recommend Rainbow Tours if anyone asks us about Madagascar. Thank you for being the very helpful and informative details and for the copy of the Bradt Guide'

Mr and Mrs Bush
December 5, 2016

'We enjoyed this holiday greatly. The itinerary was good but it was the local guide Mike who did a fantastic job on the ground to make the tour work seamlessly. Some of our fellow travellers were very experienced world travellers but we found their expectations to be very high to the point of being ridiculous eg complaining that beer was 'not cold enough'. Overall a fantastic holiday - Thanks!'

Mr Stevenson and Ms Dewberry
December 1, 2016

'The [Daniel Austin 2016 Madagascar Wildlife Discovery] Tour exceeded our expectations.

Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent. 

Both tour guides - Daniel Austin and Harry, were EXCELLENT. The walking took us close to our physical limits but was well worth the effort, given the range of wildlife which we saw. Accommodation in Marojejy is truly primitive but again, we felt that the discomfort was well worthwhile. This is a superb tour, but anyone looking for a restful holiday should look elsewhere!'

Mr and Mrs Bentley
November 29, 2016

'Hi Derek,

A short email just to say how delighted we were with our whole trip and how enjoyable Mickael and Lionel have made it. 

This country is mindblowing. Your planning of our trip has been amazing. We've loved everybit of it and couldn't have dreamt of a better honeymoon. 

Thank you to everyone at Rainbow Tours,  and you.

Clemence and Gabriel'.

Mr and Mrs Devaux
November 24, 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,

Ref; Madagascar Adventure 2016.

We returned home safely on Wednesday 16th November from our Madagascar adventure; our can we thank you for organising such a wonderful trip for us. From the start to finish we did not experience an issue with the itinerary you had organised for our needs. 

Our guide and driver were superb, throughout the trip, our guide La-la and driver Dude. Dudes driving was superb considering the condition of the roads at times, I will never complain again about the pot holes of the UK roads. Our driver was very careful never took his eyes off the road, and we never experienced a back jarring moment no matter what the condition on the road was in. Our guide was superb, and his knowledge of wild life was most helpful. On many occasions, I would borrow the wildlife books he had in his position to study the creatures we saw daily.  It was also a pleasure that La-la had an avid interest in insects as well has the larger creatures we would encounter. This pleased him, he told us most of his clients are only interested in seeing Lemurs, reptiles or birds. At times we would both be on our knees photographing the smallest creatures we could find. We would then cross references them in the text books for accurate ID. We could not fault the accommodation you had booked us apart from minor teething troubles, we were warned of before leaving,  missing  sink plugs dodgy electrics. It was quite a blessing to  be shut off from the outside world with hardly any Mobile or Internet connections at times.

Relais des Plateaux 1night and day room was most convenient for the airport. Staff helpful our rooms and the food in the restaurant were good.

Vakona Forest Lodge was a nice setting food plentiful and enjoyable a nice start for our incredible journey through Madagascar. Our lodge was elevated. Iit was nice to sit outside and admire the scenery and many birds and other creatures in the vicinity after our day's trip out in the National park. We also enjoyed the night walks at this location and the many strange nocturnal creatures we would encounter. Friday 4th November, it poured of rain all day and the only day we experienced rain on our trip. However, the rain did not stop us from getting out and seeing some amazing wildlife.

Couleur Café 1 night, what a stunning setting looking over the plains and mountains, in the distance, and too be able to relax in the swimming pool after our journey. The French couple who owns the hotel  are most helpful and try their best to make you welcome. The food is ok but limited, but this did not spoil our stay here. It was nice wondering around the grounds taking photos of the many different types of birds and butterflies around the grounds. The electricity here is limited for use only at evenings. The hot water is from Solar thermal and appears to fluctuate in temperature at times. However, we were not disappointed and enjoyed our one-night  stay.

Setam Lodge, 3 nights

The lodge is set in an elevated position looking out over the forest area with good views. All the staff here are more than helpful, and the food was good. Our guide seemed to know nearly everybody at each destination. He often became our translator with the non-English speaking staff. With his advice, we would most times try the local delicacies on the menu. At each national park or reserve we visited, our guide had handpicked and booked in advance his favourite park guide and scout. Not once were we disappointed with his choice their local knowledge and knowing exactly where to find each creature are amazing.

Varangue du Betsileo 1 night,

After many hours on the road, we arrived at our destination around 5pm. Our bungalow for the stay was huge and comfortable. Like most of the places we have stayed at the bathroom sink did not hold water, this fell into minor comparison with the way some of the Madagascar people have to live. Some of the conditions their people live are truly third world. We have been to many countries around the world in our time. However, some of the living conditions we encountered along the way were an eye-opening experience in its self. No one should have to live under these conditions in the 21st century. Madagascar as something so unique from the rest of the world it should be a top destination to visit. The country appears to have the wealth beneath its feet and not capitalising on it. We found most of the Madagascar people warm, friendly and helpful.

Relais de la Reine 2 nights,

What a delight it was to stay at this marvellous French owned hotel it was a dream, the accommodation is splendid, the food great. A nice place to relax for a couple of days after a long day’s journey. The view of the surrounding area from the lounge is magnificent. The hotel seems to be cut into the actual rock face. There were many steep steps, so a torch with you after dark was essential. The pre-dinner-free  bar snacks with your drinks was a nice touch. My only fault would be the steps down to the lower dining area are open with no hand rail. The lodge we stayed in was stunning and the ground surrounding the hotel with its own abundant wildlife was a delight. I and our guide ventured out for a night walk around the grounds with the intentions of spotting the Eastern Scopes Owl. We were not disappointed with the guide’s scopes owl call recording, within a short time, the Scopes owl swooped in within a few feet from us. An amazing experience the owl is so tiny even in comparison to the UK’s Little Owl.

Le Paradisier 2 nights,

We have arrived in heaven for 2 nights; Individual bungalows were lovely. You had your own veranda and own outdoor chairs and hammock overlooking the sea only a few meters away. We missed the sunset at Relais de la Reine due to cloudy weather conditions. Sitting on the veranda the first night watching the sun go down was truly stunning. Our bungalow was large and comfortable, although we did feel a little vulnerable to nature. No worries the bungalow was sprayed at evenings with insect iced and mosquito net also standard for the bed. Main area, including restaurant/reception/pool area all of high standard. Helpful staff, although English speaking limited. The restaurant and a terrace overlooking the sea were a delight it made you wish you'd like to stay on forever. Our guide recommended we depart for Zombitse National Park at 5am 12th November to avoid the heat during the day and other tourists. And the best opportunity to see as many birds has been possible before it got too hot. This turned out to be good advice we had a fantastic morning bird watching and seeing other creatures. By the time we returned to the hotel at around 10. 30am the temperature was getting unbearable. It was nice to relax for the rest of the day before we joined up with our driver and guide in the evening for a farewell dinner together.

Everything about this trip has been memorable from our visit to the destination show at Earls Court and visiting Rainbow Tours stand and speaking to your friendly helpful staff.

Having Derek Schuurman with is extensive knowledge of Madagascar organising our trip for us. The trip has been tiring at times trekking through the undergrowth and up the steep slopes. However, the rewards out way the disadvantages thousand times. I will be the rest of 2016 categorising the many different species of wildlife and fauna we encountered on our journey into Madagascar.

We cannot praise Rainbow Tours and all their staff at home and abroad that have truly made this a holiday of a lifetime, an experience we will never forget.

If you wish to use any part of this article, you have our permission to do so.

We look forward to travelling with Rainbow Tours again.

Kindest regards Steve & Pat Garten' 

Mr and Mrs Garten
November 21, 2016

'The Royal Palissandre Hotel was lovely.

Sahatandra River Hotel at Andasibe: pool was nice. Staff were friendly. Room comfortable. Dinners were nice.

Princesse Bora Lodge: excellent. So much to do, in a lovely place.

Craig was very flexible in tailoring the holiday to suit our needs. The rest of the Raibow Tours team was very friendly and helpful when we called'

Mr Wilson and Ms Elliott
November 18, 2016

'Hi Derek

We had a great time in Madagascar [on the Daniel Austin 2016 Madagascar Wildlife Discovery Tour] and we did learn much about the country and enjoyed the people, wildlife (especially the lemurs), flora and landscape. Both Daniel and Harry were helpful at their different tasks. Harry could speak Malagasy and did everything to ensure that the tour ran smoothly and group were taken care of. He was pretty good at hearing distant lemur calls.

Daniel is very knowledgeable about his reptiles and the fauna in general and his perspective regarding the country, as a non-native, was appreciated. His temperament is well suited to the country, no displays of impatience etc. Harry always knew how to get things done. So the two made a good team. In summary, much appreciation and thanks to the two.

Eric runs a very efficient group of guides and cooks.

I do appreciate your quick responses to all my queries. Thank you.

Regards,

Pak'

 

 

Mr and Mrs Wong
November 16, 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

'Excellent holiday.  We had out own 4x4, guide and driver and all were excellent. There is mention in this form of car and guide but no mention of driver: our lives were in his hands for 10 days and he was excellent, both in driving, handling our luggage, always opening the doors for us. Drivers are an integral and important part of all holidays; please give them recognition. The holiday was excellent in all respects. The changes we made to the advertised tour because of our ages (79 and 70) worked out very well. Would recommend your company to anyone - and we saw loads of lemurs!!!'

 

 

Mr and Mrs Linwood
November 1, 2016

'Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent. Vakona Forest Lodge excellent in all respects; facilities good. Paradise Cove is a lovely place'. 

Mr Fitt and Ms Giglio
October 27, 2016

'Jessica was absolutely excellent. She always made sure everyone got the most out of the trip, according to their abilities. Setam Lodge had lovely food - the best on the trip! Another day in the park (Ranomafana) would have been good'. 

Mr and Mrs Brooks
October 26, 2016

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

'Gersica was superb and success of the holiday was all down to her. She is a treasure! Air Madagascar were for once very reliable. The pace of the tour and some distances travelled seemed unrelenting towards the end but we would not have missed any of it!.

We loved Les Dunes (Ifaty). Chilled out in bungalow overlooking beach. The Malagasy traditional meal at Setam Lodge was the food highlight of the tour. 

Gersica could not have been better organised, more considerate or more attentive. She is one of the best tour leaders we have experienced in over 30 years of travel on small group holidays'. 

Mr and Mrs Johnson
October 20, 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

'We loved the country and the people. This has been a fantastic trip. Our itinerary couldn't have been better. I really liked the pacing. Mora mora......  I wish that we could help this country protect their precious natural resources and improve the quality of life for the people. There is so much potential here.

Thank you again for making this a trip of a lifetime.

All my best,

LP'

Ms Parnell and Mr Blaise
October 18, 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

'We had a wonderful holiday - thank you. Our guide Gersica was fantastic - one of the best we have ever had and we have been travelling for years! She went out of her way to ensure each individual's needs were met and is so knowledgeable, too'. 

Ms Pearson & Ms Chippendale
October 12, 2016

'Thanks for arranging such a wonderful holiday. Lovely, friendly staff at Andasibe Hotel. Excellent in all respects. Princesse Bora Lodge is excellent in all respects. Very good lodge with excellent staff'.

Ms Holland and Ms Boers
October 10, 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

'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

'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

'We had a fantastic honeymoon. All the locals were so friendly. Wanting to do more of Madagascar now!. Our guide Rova was brilliant, had great knowledge of the area, answered every question and was very helpful. Would recommend him to anyone!

Relais des Plateaux was jusa used as a place lay down our heads and get a good nigts' sleep.

Princesse Bora Lodge: we had a fantastic stay and made good use of the facilities i.e kayaking, snorkelling, bicycles. The staff are so brilliant and accommodating; would recommend to anyone.

 

Mr & Mrs Hewitt
September 30, 2016

'Well organised tour and couldn't fault the care we were given by our guides and representatives in a very poor country in its infancy of tourism.

Combava Hotel: Good. Fine for overnight stops and very nice to have use of a room before late evening transfer to airport.

Andasibe Hotel: Good. Unprepared for how cold Andasibe-Mantadia National Park was in the evenings. Otherwise absolutely fine.  

Princesse Bora Lodge: excellent. Couldn't fault the hotel - wonderful'.

 

Mr and Mrs Reekie
September 20, 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

'Craig Kaufman was amazingly helpful. He organised our holiday to Madagascar and Mauritius at very very short notice. We thought Vakona Forest Lodge provided excellent accommodation. Having stayed in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest with accommodation provided by local tribes we are very aware that there are different standards in a rainforest to a conventional hotel. We werevery comfortable and happy there. The trips were wonderful and we saw many varieties of lemur. If people went there and expected luxury lodges they may have been disappointed. We expected exactly what we got which was excellent for a rainforest and I would imagine the very best in the area. Some people have unrealistic expectations. 

Best wishes and thank you Craig for organising a wonderful trip.  

Karen and Martin Perrett

Mr and Mrs Perrett
June 10, 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

'We loved all the forest lodges on our itinerary but as it turned out Saha was the nicest surprise. We didn't mind that the room was relatively simple since the main area was beautiful (design, setting, forest view), the food was fantastic (creative, authentic, delicious) and above all the people were very friendly and genuine. It was the place where we felt most strongly connected to the community. This was in no small part because Harry from Za was the perfect translator/mediator between us and the local staff and guides. Very satisfying, interesting and enjoyable. Our meeting with Fanamby was excellent, too'..

Ms Gregg and Mr Pope
January 18, 2016

'Fiona put together an incredible trip with short notice and we will remember this once in a lifetime experience forever. 

Relais des Plateaux: good for an overnight stay.

Vakona Forest Lodge: food outstanding. We had bungalow at end which was quite damp. Didn't hinder our experience at Vakona.

Eden Lodge: a little piece of paradise. 

Our experience with Rainbow Tours has been exemplary having both travelled extensively together and apart. We were anxious about booking a 'package'; we needn't be. Fiona listened to our requirements and organised the perfect combination of active and relaxation in a country that was more than we could ever dreamed of. We would both like to thank Fiona and Rainbow Tours for the honeymoon we thought we weren't going to get' 

Mr Finnie and Ms Scott
January 15, 2016

'We really enjoyed the trip.  Madagascar certainly lived up to expectations, we saw most everything we wanted to (and in many cases, much more).  I would say we were very well looked after.  Hard to pick a highlight, but I might go with Marojejy.  Thanks for a great experience!'

Dr and Mrs Nunnally
January 4, 2016

'The Madagascar trip (Daniel Austin's 2015 Wildlife Discovery Tour) was, in a word, AMAZING.  What a fascinating country.  Actually seeing the city of Antananarivo and the faded grandeur of the old homes, situated next to wooden shacks or brick "melt-downs" and all set among the rice paddies was astonishing.  Those old buildings must have been very elegant in their day.  What stories they could tell!  I had never considered that Madagascar was a prosperous and populated country.  We don't usually hear of such things, or appreciate the changes in fortune that cause civilizations or countries to rise and/or fail.

The wildlife walks with guides were amazingl.  How the local guides were able to see so many insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and (of course) lemurs, was beyond my comprehension.  And they were enthusiastic about showing us those treasures!   Those people could see a stick insect on a branch 40 ft. away from a moving car!  They're superhuman!

Daniel and Harry were exemplary.   Pleasant travel companions, yet so much more!  Harry is an extraordinary problem-solver / ramrod (that's the term for the "fix-it" guy on cattle drives.) Hang on to that man!  He will get your clients through any eventuality!  Daniel's thoughtfulness toward his flock and his generosity in sharing his wealth of knowledge was impressive and appreciated. 

The itinerary was really ambitious.  I didn't realize that... looking at it in print.  The realities of moving around Madagascar present challenges that could never have crossed my mind.  I know that NOW.  The itinerary packed in a very nearly punishing schedule of getting from one far-flung location to another.   The destinations were merely abstract points on a rudimentary map and the reality of getting from one point to another is lost in the black and white print on a page where we are warned that travel times may vary according to road conditions.  I had to see it to believe it. 

It was wonderful to watch how Daniel and Harry dealt with the momentary "glitch" with Air Madagascar.  I know Daniel was on the phone to you, you were on the phone to Air Madagascar (so that's what you do with your days!) and Harry was on the phone to someone... maybe Za Tours... and there was quite a bit of uncertainty for a little while. It was interesting watching the mutiny going on, on board the aircraft as we watched our luggage being carted back into the terminal...  local people shouting, people wondering what to do... and we were all looking at Daniel to find out how we were expected to react.....  Talk about pressure...  I'm sure Daniel could have used a Xanex at that point.  It all worked out in the end, and the decision to get us to Sambava and worry about the luggage later was a stroke of genius.  Za Tours (Harry and Mark) worked diligently to reunite us with our luggage  I understand that in the rush to get Mark on the airplane with our luggage, his own luggage got left behind, with no chance of getting it back for five or more days.  He was gracious about it... seeming to just be glad to have us comfortable.  He needed a bigger tip! 

Later, it was impressive to see the level of personal service we received from Air Madagascar in the airports after that little situation. 

The way Orchidea Beach hotel managed to accommodate us at the last minute was impressive.  Lovely property.  Very comfortable and friendly.  The food was excellent.  Staff went out of their way to make us comfortable.  I was assigned a very pleasant room at the back.. very private and comfortable.

Our driver to Daraina was skilled and professional.  What a grueling stretch of road!  And the drivers did it all without a wince!  At one point, we were faced with a lorrie in one section of what amounted to a dry riverbed, and a zebu cart in another section, with a narrow swath down the middle, with a tangle of brush in the center of it.  Our driver got out and went to the zebu cart, consulted with the driver, extracted machete from the cart, and he chopped out a section of brush to create a lane to drive through...  problem solved.

Camp Tattersali must be a "work in progress" since their recent move.  They may need a little guidance and help with their sanitation practices.  A basic latrine would be an improvement.  But I can't fault my tent (with the hole in the roof.)  I slept with the rain fly open so I could open my eyes in the night to see the dazzling spectacle of stars.  What a treat! 

And I SWEAR I DID see an aye aye...  on our night walk, in the dark, with nothing to prove it...  Harry had us all turn off our infernal headlamps and torches and wait quietly near the aye aye nests and I'm quite sure I saw the silhouette of the creature as it leapt from one thicket to another, outlined against the night sky, before the sound of its passing prompted everyone to turn on torches and headlamps and frighten it back into the darkness.

Baie d'Iharana was a delight.  Kind of a "period piece."  And the food there was also exceptional.  I don't think anyone expected that the water and electricity would be turned off at night and not back on until 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning.  Some folks had planned to shower in the morning and were surprised to discover that was not possible. 

Do you remember that I asked you just how rugged the "walk" up to Mantella and Marojejy might be?  I'll answer that myself now...  It was pretty darned rugged.  Perhaps I had an over-inflated sense of my own fitness level, since I can usually run circles around many of my acquaintances who are half my age....   But that was a serious hike.  I would not have made it without the help of the porters and guides who were ever ready with an outstretched hand.  They were a tremendous help!  Even with their help, I was occasionally reduced to crab crawling on my bottom over some of the rough spots. 

 We were fortunate that the rain didn't start until we were actually down off the mountain.  I shudder to think what it might have been like with the trail slippery and muddy with rain.  

That said, Marojejy was an extraordinary experience.  The park is a treasure and worth every bump and scrape and twisted ankle it took to get up to the camps (and back down.)   And all gratitude to Moses and Jean-Louis, the guide/porters, who hauled my sorry behind over the rough spots.

Did I mention that the food up in the camps was exceptional?  Who can manage to cook such delicious, intricate meals in a camp setting??  That was startlingly wonderful. 

Flavien's Farm was a welcome respite after the 10+ km hike down the mountain.  My knees and ankles were absolutely spent and to be treated to refreshment and rest at that lovely little outpost was delightful. 

Then again a very happy return to Orchidea in Sambava... Again, the staff made every effort to make us comfortable and welcome. On this second visit, I was assigned to one of the beach bungalows with the surf pounding.  That's a lullaby for me.  It was wonderful.  Later, I awoke to the sound of rain on the roof.   It was delicious!  I might have sat up all night to listen to it had I not been so tired from the Marojejy adventure.  That is such a very nice property and the staff and management were extraordinarily kind and responsive.

Too soon, we were back on the move and off to Tana and Le Colbert.  The drive through Tana to reach the hotel was fascinating. We might have been better situated at Relais de Plateaux for the drive to the airport the next morning, but I have to admit that Le Colbert was a very pleasing and comfortable place to stay.  

Off again the next morning to get to the airport and the flight to Tulear.  WE thought our VIP status had the flight on time and moving efficiently, especially with our dedicated escort of Air Madagascar representatives moving us through the airport.  Little did we know that there was a REAL VIP on board the flight.  Certainly the crowds of celebratory locals at Tulear airport, with their bands and banners, were not for us.  Quite a treat to see how the locals welcome their dignitaries!

The arboretum for lunch was lovely, and then there was the dash to get to Zombitse in time for some wildlife spotting before it got dark.  Again, those abstract points on the map aren't a match for the reality of the distances involved...  But we DID get to see some outstanding birds and lemurs at Zombitse before the big flies chased us out of the forest.

Relais de la Reine is the type of place that I, for one, might have benefitted from a half-day of "down time" to enjoy their lovely views, well-kept grounds, and reportedly extensive facilities.  There is more to that property than we had time to explore.  I don't know for sure, since we got in late, got up early and out for wildlife viewing elsewhere, and back in time for dinner and repack to get on the road early the next morning.   Their laundry service was outstanding.

Since I am an early riser, the late evenings were a bit challenging for me, but I did get some respectable hoopoe photos from the patio outside my room early in the morning before our outing for more adventures.  And that was a prolific day of wildlife!  The stick insects, ring-tailed lemurs, paradise flycatchers, white-throated rail, snakes, and the "camp robbers" (red front lemurs?) with their silly little piggy grunts and greedy, gregarious behavior.  I skipped the second climb up to the pools in order to relax and regroup at the picnic area, so I missed the long-eared owl and probably any number of other wonders...  but I just can't do everything all the time and the time to relax at the picnic area and watch the ring-tailed lemurs and the red front lemurs was pleasant.

OK...  so you didn't really expect an essay, did you?  But it was really an exceptional experience!  How can I distill it down into Yes/No answers??  

Back to the last day at Relais de la Reine... I forgot to mention that we stopped at a school on our way out to the hike and Kate organized us into a performing group to sing "The Wheels on the Bus" to and with the children.  What a large classroom full of little people!  The teacher(s) must have their hands full working with so many little ones.  There were a few of the children who were bright-eyed and eager to welcome us, and assertive enough to stand up and speak to us.  Others were quite shy.  And most of them seemed to enjoy joining in for the singing.

After performing, hiking, playing with the wildlife, we dropped off a sub-group who wanted to scale yet another massif to a scenic overview and the rest of us toodled on back to Relais de la Reine.  That was such a lovely property!  Eileen, Maureen and I had scheduled massage sessions at the spa for 6:00 p.m. and the sunset cocktails and entertainment were scheduled to begin at 5:00 or 5:30.  The secondary hiking troupe was a smidge late returning...  that seemed to be a theme of the trip...  just expect to be a bit behind schedule. 

Some of the staff arrived in costume and performed traditional dances for us.  They hadn't finished by 6:00 and I went scurrying out to my massage appointment.  Daniel advised that I could stay longer, the massage therapist would wait for me... I just can't get my head around that concept.  In any event, the massage was just what I needed and I stumbled out of  the spa an hour later, feeling like a noodle. 

At dinner, Harry announced our itinerary for the next day...  Must be on the road by 5:30 a.m. to catch the boat to Anakao.  Since the hotel's kitchen didn't open that early, the hotel sent breakfasts to our rooms that night for the following morning.  The hot water for my tea didn't fare too well overnight, but tepid tea beats no tea, and the hotel staff were doing an admirable job of taking care of us.  Some of us had sent in laundry, which showed up in our rooms by 6:00 p.m., clean, and so neatly pressed and folded that when I popped mine in my duffle, there was all kinds of room left that I hadn't had before!

So, a bunch of sleepy-headed travelers met at the bus by 5:30 a.m. (and I didn't hear the drivers/guides complaining.)  Off to Tulear, with a couple of brief "pull-overs" on the way to allow us to photograph some magnificent trees.  The guides wouldn't let us out of the bus because the children along that stretch tended to be rather aggressive in their quest for treats.

The rest of the way to the boat is a bit of a blur, but the boat ride across the bay was glorious.  The weather was perfect, the fishing folk out in their boats made for a scenic crossing.  We stopped at Nosy Ve to get a look at the red tailed tropic birds and to allow those who wanted to swim a chance to do so.  Some of us just napped in the shade, because we were sleepy and it was really hot!  Harry and Daniel were everywhere at once, checking on everyone's welfare and comfort, leading bird-seekers in the thickets, watching out for the snorklers and nappers and traipsers. 

Eventually, we waded out to the boat again and arrived at Anakao to be assigned rooms and served lunch.  Daniel and Harry had the duty of explaining to the waiter about the vegetarians among us. Not the easiest task. 

The next day, Daniel and Harry had organized a lorrie (The Beast) to take most of us to Lake Tsimanampetsotsa.  The serious birders of the bunch were birding up a storm on the way and at the park the weather was perfect and the iguanas were making a spectacle of themselves.  The Vasa parrots at the banyan grove were also making a spectacle of themselves, noisily mating in the tree above us, while a pair of harrier hawks rode the air currents.  I got a few shots of the parrots in action, but they are partially obscured by a branch that was between me and the amorous pair.  One of the harriers graciously posed on a treetop (just for us, no doubt.)

The baobobs were impressive, a radiated tortoise made an appearance, and the spiny trees and plants provided a completely different side of Madagascar's character.

My personal big score on that excursion came when I decided not to hike up to the lookout point, but rather to stay with the lorrie.  Joshua, the guide from the Anakao Lodge, pointed out a magpie robin on guard near a tree with a knot-hole.  We watched for a bit and then saw the female magpie robin come streaking out of the knot hole, off on an errand.   Joshua and the lorrie driver tried to pile up enough junk for me to climb up high enough to look into the knot hole, but I'm just too short, and they were too short on junk...  so Joshua took my camera up and got several photographs of the four perfect little blue eggs with dark speckles.

We retreated back to the lorrie and the female came back to the nest, while the male remained on guard, looking just a bit indignant.

That excursion also provided shore-birds, flamingos, lots of bee-eaters, the blind fish in the cave (I assume that cave is connected to the ones around the Lake where they have recently discovered the fossils of many of Madagascar's extinct species of large lemurs, pygmy hippos and other animals.)  Inchworms, praying mantis....  what else?  Daniel was naming and cataloging species of bugs, bushes, birds and trees as we went along.  The man is an encyclopedia!

On the drive back to the lodge, Mark finally got to see the lovebirds he had requested, and Dave spotted a little tortoise on the side of the road and we halted for more photographs.

Maureen and Martin, Maxine and Eileen had chosen to stay at the lodge and relax for the day and they all looked more rested and refreshed when we returned.

A rare storm rolled in that night, with thunder and lightning.  My FAVORITE!!  There's nothing quite like the sound of rain on the roof to put me into a happy slumber...  until the sound of rain coming in THROUGH the roof woke me up.  Nothing serious.  Just one little leak producing a steady drip onto the table and chair by the front window.  It wasn't dripping on the bed, so I just enjoyed it and went back to sleep.

The next morning, we had to take our leave of Anakao.  It was still just misting a bit of rain on and off, so the fact that Daniel and Harry had arranged for the covered boat was some pretty fine footwork on their part!   The Italian group leaving at the same time had to take the open boat.  I'm sure they didn't get very wet.  It wasn't raining much.

Back in Tulear, Harry parked us at the Victory Hotel while he took our luggage on to the airport and arranged for our boarding passes.  We didn't have to lift a finger.  Daniel ran through the list of species we had encountered to date while we waited, and we all relaxed with tea, beers, soda... whatever.  Victory Hotel is a very pretty oasis. 

Presently, Harry phoned Daniel to say the bus was on the way to pick us up and Air Madagascar wanted to take off early.  We were shuttled off to the airport and Harry handed out our passports, boarding passes and some boxed lunches the Victory Hotel had prepared.  The plane was boarding almost immediately.  At that point Security personnel didn't want to let us through with the lunches.  Harry wasn't having any of that.  A few pointed sentences in Malagasy and the two Security Officers stepped aside and motioned us through, lunch boxes and all. 

So, here we come to the part where I "eat some crow."  THAT was the flight that I had complained to you was a "bad seat." 

My apologies. 

I couldn't imagine that Business Class was any part of the tour, or that Business Class could be in the rear of the plane.  Those of us in Business Class (Maureen and Martin, Gillian and Hugh, and I think David and Maxine) were treated by a most solicitous flight attendant with lunch, snacks and chocolates.   And the views out the window were stunning.

That's it for me for tonight.   Tomorrow, I'll try to wrap up (yeah...  you've heard that "I'll wrap up..." statement before, haven't you?) with Le Colbert (OMIGOSH, you should have seen my face when I stepped into Room 801 and realized it was a suite!   Just how many bathrooms does one traveler need?) and the exquisite dinner at La Varangue (did I spell that right?) at which Serge and Patricia came to speak to us...  and then the visit to the Rova at Ambohimanga and the drive to Andasibe and the adventures there.

I'm afraid there's no way to be brief after such an extraordinary experience that the tour turned out to be!

Let's see...  Return from Tulear to Antananarivo... Let me see if I can wrap this up in a few thousand words or less...  NOT!!

Our last arrival into Antananarivo was seamless.  Off the plane, into the baggage area, grab baggage...  Harry marshalled a team of porters to cart our luggage...  Some of us scurried over to the main terminal area to the post office and the shops and rejoined the parade carrying our luggage as it made its way to the bus.

Once again, the traffic in Tana was surprising...  The crawl from the airport to Le Colbert gave an opportunity to gawk at the different styles and eras of buildings, and the crumbling infrastructure of the drainage system.  And stare at all the different types of "traffic" -- cars, busses, lorries, zebu carts, man-pulled carts, pedestrians crossing streets willy-nilly.  When we were approximately 2-3 blocks from Le Colbert, Harry or Daniel, I forget who, said we would get to the hotel more quickly if we walked, so we all climbed out of the bus and walked to the hotel.  I'm guessing it took the driver another half hour or more to get to the parking area with our luggage.

Efficient check in, an admonition to meet for dinner later...  and here is where I open the door to my room to find a suite!  I didn't know what to do first...  bathe, shower, have a cup of tea....  so I picked two of the above and had a bath and a cup of tea.  There was no bottled water in the room, so I treated some tap water with my Steri-Pen and brewed a cup of tea, then called Reception, which sent up a large bottle of water and some extra tea bags with a very nice bellman who stopped to explain that there was some Malagasy tea in the mix.  The Malagasy tea was already on my list as a favorite.

An hour or so to relax, check out BBC on the television in the sitting room, sip some tea, photograph the sunset from the 8th floor, and then it was time to meet the group to walk around the corner to La Varangue.

What an absolute treat!  I could spend hours in there looking at all the antiquities, artifacts, brass lamps, sextants, telephones, cameras, musical instruments....  and we didn't even see half of the décor that was packed into that wonderful place!

There was a small army of serving staff looking after us.  Very attentive...  and then Serge and Patricia arrived to talk with us.  Serge brought us the gift of the lemur identification pamphlets.  The one I brought home is my most treasured souvenir from Madagascar!    What a special surprise! 

It was interesting hearing from them about some of the challenges they are facing in the country, and their optimism for positive changes.  Patricia had another obligation and had to leave, but Serge graciously stayed for a good while, talking to us, answering our questions, and providing an overview of what their NGO is working with. 

And then the "starters" began to appear in front of us!  I don't even remember what all those little tasties were, but they were delicious, and I ate everything they put in front of me!  Some kind of fruit salad "tartare", some fois gras on toast, scewers of zebu steak...  other lovely stuff that I didn't write down and can't remember.  I really didn't save sufficient room for the main or dessert, but I showed my gluttony and ate that, too...  it was all so delicious and beautifully presented.

What a very exceptional evening!  And Harry's nightly announcement of the next day's itinerary left us not needing to be at breakfast until the obscenely late hour of 7:45 a.m.!

Slept in until 5:00 a.m., then a leisurely repacking, with lots of Malagasy tea to fuel me along, and down to breakfast early.  Le Colbert provides a very nice breakfast selection.  Lots of delicious little pastries, fruit, cereals, broiled tomatoes (LOVE those broiled tomatoes)...  cheese and ham and sausages... and an omelet bar.  I didn't sample everything, but it all looked good.

As we were leaving the hotel, a street vendor who had sold me a map of Madagascar on our previous visit was hawking a copy of The Bradt Guide to Madagascar!  I didn't have the presence of mind to ask him how much he  was asking for it, but he was apparently quite proud to have it on offer!

Off to Ambohimanga and our tour of the Royal Quarters.  I'm so very pleased that Ambohimanga was added to the itinerary.  I love to see historic places and get a sense of how people occupied their space in a time gone by.  Especially interesting were the separate pools outside for the king's and queen's "annual bath."  The "sun room/conference room" in the queen's quarters must have seen some high intrigue in its day!  Our guide for the tour of the grounds gave a very interesting account of what life was like for the King and Queen in their time.  I'm so pleased to have had the opportunity to see that landmark.

And then it was off again, on the way to Banana Rova for lunch at the arboretum, while enjoying the garden and grounds and the music and dance.

And then it was off for the drive to Andasibe.  It really doesn't look so far on the map, does it?   The countryside was continuously surprising, with cities and towns, rice paddies, churches (I noted Latter Day Saints, 7th Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, an odd Lutheran, and lots of Catholic churches), and then I started seeing actual dairy cattle...  a Holstein here and there, a Guernsey or Jersey tucked into a quiet meadow... more Holsteins...  less and less Zebu... more and more European dairy types. I couldn't help but think that was a good sign for those of our party who preferred milk for their tea and coffee!

Andasibe!  FINALLY Andasibe!  We drove in as dusk was upon us and there were parties of "night walkers" out with their headlamps and torches.  We knew we were getting close!

The room I was assigned was at the very end of the complex. Room 21. I could not have had a more perfectly situated room!  With a view out the front to the water, a view out the side to a pleasant little meadow.  The room was beautiful, with lots of wood, lots of space, airy, clean and very comfortable.  Step up to a vanity room, toilet closet and a huge shower room, where the hot water could get absolutely volcanic!  I could have roller skated in the bedroom, it was so spacious! 

Up early the next morning and the hot pot in my room didn't work.  I took it to Reception and traded it for one that allegedly would work.  After all this time in Madagascar, how is it possible that it never crossed my mind that electricity might be the issue?  If there is a pill to cure "stupid" maybe I can get Eileen to write a prescription for me...

So, the "new" hot pot didn't work and I went about getting ready for the day... when the hot pot suddenly started hissing and within minutes I had tea.

We were off to the forest by 8:00 a.m., with our local guides, Patrice and Mari.  You must have spared no expense to obtain the most effective guides available.  Spot a flea on the rump of a beetle under a leaf on the opposite side of the road?  No Problem...  Patrice and Mari have telescopic vision!  They must have lasers for eyes!

And even when they had found a treasure for us, I often found myself looking beyond it, or around it, or just not seeing it.  Mari was formidable.  She's the Mother who will absolutely make sure her children see and understand... and we were her children.  "Madame!  Come HERE...  Stand HERE!"   and in some cases, taking my shoulders to position me properly to see what was there...   OH!!  THERE it is!!!   I can see it NOW!  She was amazing and absolutely committed to helping her clients see what we were there to see.... even if some of us (OK, that would be me) didn't have the eyes to see the wonders hiding in plain sight in the forest!

They showed us the brown lemurs, black and white ruffed lemurs, short legged roller, the nesting Paradise flycatcher...  countless birds and beetles and tumblebugs... and then...  Diadem lemurs!  Diadem lemurs all over the place!   At first, I couldn't see them.  Mari got me pointed in the right direction...  Once my eyes were primed, the creatures were visible ALL OVER THE PLACE!  And Mari was calling, "Madame!  Come here!!" and I found myself crashing through the underbrush with seeds in my teeth and twigs in my hair....  "No Madame!  HERE!!  COME HERE!!!" and I'm crashing through the forest undergrowth with not a trail in sight, and more twigs in my teeth and seeds in my hair....

It was hilarious....  it was exhilarating...  it was marvelous.

And then, crashing through the forest after yet another cry of "MADAME!  (or was that "Madman?") COME HERE!!"  I put my foot on a slippery rock hopping across a steam and would have landed on my butt in the water, but Daniel was right behind me and grabbed my arm in time  to tilt me up onto the opposite shore and save me from a drenching and a sore tailbone.  (I haven't mentioned lately that Daniel and Harry were just everywhere at once.  I don't know how they had the stamina!)

So, after we had been out there for hours, Patrice and Mari decided to wait until morning to go after the Indri Indri.  We were all pretty much exhausted and it was getting late.  Patrice said there would be a better chance to find the Indri in the morning.  

Late lunch in the forest, and then we were taken to Lemur Island.

As much as most of us hate to see animals in captivity...  these little creatures had The Life!   I understand that circumstances have rendered them unable to fend for themselves in the wild, and they are still in a natural habitat, but protected... and to have these beautiful little animals hopping on our shoulders, heads, backs... I'm sure you've seen photos of all the sappy grins while we got to touch them and see them so close and unafraid.

Now I forget the sequence of events...  was it the night walk first and then dinner?  or was it dinner and then the night walk?  They divided us into two groups. The more athletic went with Patrice. We "lighter" hikers followed Mari.  HAH!  Mari after dark is no less focused than Mari in the daytime!  More twigs in my hair and seeds in my ears...  Mouse lemurs under every leaf! Chameleons on every twig!  After awhile, part of our group followed Mari into the thicket and were rewarded with a dwarf lemur.

By the time we got back to the hotel, I had decided that I was finished.  I knew that there as an excellent chance of seeing the Indri the next morning, and it didn't matter.  I had seen so much already. And we did glimpse a couple of Indri, high up in the tree tops after seeing the Diadem lemurs.  I wanted to spend a leisurely morning repacking and taking a long deep breath.  I told Daniel and Harry not to expect me for breakfast and slept in until 7:00 a.m.

Hot pot didn't work again, so I wandered down to Reception and asked for some tea and a croissant.  Harry must have given them their marching orders ahead of me...  Staff showed up with a fruit cup, bread, tea, juice, an offer of eggs (no... no eggs this morning) and I sat on the deck and relaxed.  Later, I wandered the hotel grounds and watched staff repairing, maintaining, clearing paths, tidying up.

Repacked and relaxed, I asked for my luggage to be transferred to Reception and presently the group returned with wonderful photos and tales of the very special Indri encounter.  Everyone was so enchanted by that experience! That must have been absolutely incredible!  One little voice in my head says I was a dunce for skipping that forest walk.  Another voice tells me I had gone as far as I needed to go and the time for solitude and reflection at the Andasibe Hotel was right for me.

Off again for the long drive back to Tana. It REALLY doesn't look that far on the map!!  But it is.

Again, watching the landscape going past, the towns, the traffic... the really big lorrie loaded with bananas was a spectacle... as was the fellow on the bicycle hitching a tow from a lorrie going up the hills...  it was all very special and beautiful!  It is the stuff that will visit my very best dreams.

Back to Tana and again at the very welcoming Relais de Plateaux, we had a couple of hours to relax and reflect before we were off to a nice dinner and farewell speeches, and then off to the airport.

Derek...  an adventure in a new and different country never turns out to be exactly what we expect it to be.  Invariably, it is always far more special than we could ever have imagined.  Thank you so much for helping to steer me toward this tour.  It was amazing.

Thank you.

I'm done. (Maybe... until I remember something else..)

Best regards,

Carol

 

Ms Carol Snyder
December 10, 2015


'Holiday of a lifetime! Michel in Tana and Ernest at Manafiafy were excellent ambassadors for Madagascar - well educated, informative, personable.

Luxury Camping Safari: Excellent in all respects. Couldn't have been better looked after; very comfortable. Enjoyable camping experience.

Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge: excellent. Elene is an excellent hostess and superb manager. The lodge runs like clockwork; her staff are well trained, enthusiastic and polite. She and they deserve continued success'

Mr & Mrs McClelland
December 10, 2015

'Service from tour operator: Excellent. Overall holiday satisfaction: Excellent. Mandrare River Camp: Excellent in all respects. Same for Manafiafy and Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina. Maison Gallieni (Antananarivo): comfort, service and meals excellent; location and faciltities good.

We had the most AMAZING tme. Thank you for all your help - it was a very, very special trip'.

Mr & Mrs Parsloe
December 9, 2015

'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

'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

'The trip was great, an adventure! We saw all of the wildlife that we expected to see and enjoyed watching the lemurs and indri up close. The walk to Camp 1 was harder than I thought because we had to do it in the dark, but it was unavoidable due to Air Madagascar. We knew what we wanteed to see was in some of the remote places and access was going to take time and be difficult. Not sure some of the group anticipated this so much, as they were visiting Madagascar for the first time. Harry and Marc were fantastic. I can't praise them enough. They were efficient and kind and went the extra mile always'.

Mr and Mrs Taplin
December 7, 2015

'Overall holiday satisfaction: Excellent.  Local guides and representatives: Excellent, particularly Harry and Mark. This holiday was really made by Harry. We were really impressed by his knowledge of different languages, (including Latin!) and of the wildlilfe, not to mention the ease at which he sorted out different problems. Camp Mantella (Marojejy): 'comfort, service, location and meals good. Facilities unsatisfactory'. Camp Marojejia: 'Everything first class: comfort, service, location and meals excellent. Facilities: unsatisfactory'. Relais la Reine d'Isalo: Excellent in all respects. Anakao Ocean Lodge: good location, meals and faciltiies. Could do with more outdoor shaded areas. Andasibe Hotel excellent in all respects; comfort good'.

Mr and Mrs Cowen
December 7, 2015

'Rainbow Tours did a great job. We had a great time. We saw all of our target species. In Marojejy we had wonderful sightings of Silky sifakas and we saw nesting Helmet vangas twice - one pair was really close to the trail. We saw Aye ayes at Palmarium - that is definitely an excursion worth doing, its a fun place. Saha Forest Camp was really wonderful - we saw tons of chameleons and leaf-tailed geckoes which my sister really liked. Terrific guides there, you should definitely send more tourists there. Its easy to reach despite the last few miles of roads being horrendous. The down side is the burning going on everywhere. At Anjozorobe the burning of forests is so close you see the haze. In the north-east, on the way to Sambava by charter and also on the way to Maroantsetra, the burning was very bad this year. The charter planes can fly low so you can actually see the flames. We definitely want to go back again, to see the South'.

Ms Grose and Ms Hebert
December 4, 2015

'The overall organisation from both Rainbow Tours and Za Tours was really excellent - in particular we would like to commend Harry Rakotosalama on his boundless enthusiasm, organisational ability and patience (a lot needed in looking after our party!).

It was also a real pleasure travelling Madagascar with Daniel, learning not just about the wildlife, but also additionally all about the different issues facing Madagascar and the Malagasy people.

Finally, a big 'thank you' to you Derek, for steerin the tour from home base in London. Thank you once again to Rainbow Tours for this really magnificent holiday'  

Mr and Mrs Ingleby
December 1, 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

'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

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

'We had a wonderful time in Madagascar and the great majority of things worked out very well. The diving, transfers, food and lodging on the trip to Sakatia was very good, went off without hitch and we really enjoyed the lodge there, and the people. In fact we got our advanced diver certificates.

There were a few hitches and cancelled flights with the aptly named Air Mad.... 

Some of the lodges we not of a great standard, notably the one in Kirindy which was very dirty ( full of litter which they  mostly cleaned up once we pointed it out). Also showers were cold.  We do not mind roughing it but these place advertise warm showers which were absent. Food was really good every where especially chips!!

All in all we enjoyed the trip a great deal and we pleased with the guides from Za tours, no cancellations there and they were very willing and able to reschedule our trips and destinations.

Thanks to you and Rainbow tours

Anne and Jon Bander'

Mr and Mrs Bander
November 11, 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

'Thank you for an excellent holiday. Fiona Herring has been very helpful all the way through - thank you Fiona! We would certainly recommend Rainbow Tours to other people thinking of a holiday in Madagascar'

Mr and Mrs Monckford
October 30, 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

'I have just returned from your (26 September 2015 Small Group Wildlife/Discovery) tour to Madagascar and I am writing to express my satisfaction with how the tour was organised and run.... I cannot speak too highly of Gersica for the care and enthusiasm she manifested. She also has a fantastic knowledge of the area and animals together with telescopic vision!!'

David Cooper
October 23, 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

"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


'We were very impressed that Rainbow Tours ensureed we had tickets on a private charter from Ile Sainte Marie when the Air Madagascar flight looked like it was going to be cancelled. This could have ruined the end of our holiday but it just goes to prove that Rainbow Tours are exceptional at what they do. We'd happily travel with Rainbow Tours in the future'

Ms Clements & Mr Stephenson
September 25, 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

"Hi Derek, just a note to say thank you to yourself and Rainbow Tours for a great trip. June and I got back home at about 7:30pm last night after an amazing time on this beautiful island. It surpassed all expectations and so difficult to pick one highlight, but to list a few:

* Great support by Za Tours

* Excellent guides and drivers

* Lovely accommodation

* Lovely food

* Lovely, friendly people

* Driving through Tana - an experience not to be missed!

* drivng through villages, getting a glimpse of life - very humbling

* Rainforests were lovely

* Sainte Marie island - beautiful

* Performing Humpback whales - how lucky were we?!

* Wildlife, flowers, birds

* And of course...lemurs. FABULOUS!! Saw 10 different types (including aye ayes at the zoo).

I could go on but had better stop. Would highly recommend this trip. Will definitely return. Thank you to all the team. "

Ms Elgar
September 14, 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

We thought you would enjoy these two photos which hopefully express how much fun we had in Ambodiforaha, blowing soap bubbles with the children, and touring Sainte Marie!

Ambodiforaha

Sainte Marie

Nicole Fraser and family
March 16, 2015

Our Guide for the main tour from Toliara to Tana was very good, knowledgeable and helpful with good English; the driver did a good job also and the local guides for the reserves were mostly excellent (one accent was hard to understand). We enjoyed the holiday.

R James
February 11, 2015
Review items: Madagascar    

There was only one thing we changed on our itinerary whilst in Madagascar and that was on our last afternoon in Tana where we were scheduled to visit the zoo to see the aye ayes. Neither of us particularly likes Zoos and being interested in wildlife, especially birds, our guide, Harry, suggested an afternoon visit to the Parc de Tsarasaotra lakes. This had to be arranged in advance and was absolutely fantastic as we managed to see Malagasy Pond Heron and Mellors Duck – two great ticks for the end of our trip. We highly recommend this reserve for anyone interested in wildlife.

Harry was an outstanding guide throughout with an excellent knowledge of birds and other wildlife. Our driver for the trip, Dudu, was very safe and careful. We have over 2000 photos to edit now - many great experiences and happy memories.

A & J Parker
February 9, 2015
Review items: Madagascar    

A wonderful holiday: well presented, and above all, accurate in its execution. I am 82 and my wife is 71. We were treated like personal friends, even royalty, by the guide and driver.

Mr. Mudd
February 2, 2015
Review items: Madagascar    

I just wanted to write you a quick note on the trip as I really appreciate all of your help setting it up. We had a great time and had a chance to see a lot of really interesting stuff and some terrific wildlife. Your recommendations were very helpful! The guides were also terrific and really went out of the way to make sure we had a good time and got to see specific things we were interested in. Thank you very much for all of your time and help setting up our fantastic vacation.

A. Bloch
January 19, 2015
Review items: Madagascar    

Well what can we say? We had the most amazing holiday in Madagascar! I was a bit apprehensive about going (you might have picked that up!), but everything went so smoothly. The arrivals hall at Tana was an experience, but then we were met by our guide Malala and from then on everything was taken care of.

The guides and drivers were without exception, first class. The Za tour guides Malala in Andasibe and Tua in Isalo, the drivers Neri and Omi and the local guides Tina in Andasibe and Roland in Isalo. We saw more wild life than I ever thought possible, and with the excellent English and knowledge of our guides we learnt so much about the local customs, flora and fauna. 

Although all the people we met were so friendly and helpful, we would like to single out Tua (hope I've spelt that right).  We covered such a range of topics with him on our drives to and from Tulear and learnt so much about his country, the problems they face and the possible solutions. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble and his companionship definitely enhanced our time in Madagascar.

The hotels we stayed in were again all excellent. We have never stayed anywhere like Le Jardin du Roy, and as for the Anakao Ocean Lodge, well we thought we'd died and gone to heaven!

We could not fault the organisation from both Rainbow and Za tours. We were always met when we were expecting to be, no details had been overlooked, and as previously mentioned we saw so much more than we had ever anticipated.

We would certainly recommend Rainbow Tours to anyone interested in going to Madagascar. So thank you from both of us for a holiday to remember.

T. and C. Laughton
December 10, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

We just got back from Madagascar on Friday and I wanted to give you some feedback straight away. We had a wonderful time, the tour was great, our guide Rija from ZaTours was excellent and all things went ahead as planned. The tour was nice and varied, camping was fun and the hotels were good.

The camping was very basic - a tent with roll mat and we were fine with that, we especially enjoyed eating off the upturned canoe and bathing in the river....

Of course we want to go to Madagascar again! So thank you for organising the tour.

S.Dawson and D. Gale
November 30, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Toni & I just wanted to THANK YOU for the wonderful trip you arranged for us.
We have one more day at Princesse Bora Lodge and then will be homeward bound.
Our stay at this wonderful resort was the icing on the cake….

J Sandor & T Kimble
November 19, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

(October Small Group Tour)

Gersica was formidable! Absolutely fantastic and very knowledgeable. Overall tour satisfaction: excellent. The Eulophiella Lodge has a sublime location and fantastic setting – much preferred to Vakona Lodge which we visited for the loo. Moringa Hotel in Tulear is a fantastic place to stay. Les Dunes D’Ifaty was disappointing – it did not live up to expectation and is badly managed. Isalo Rock Lodge is absolute luxury – I loved it! I cannot fault our guide, Gersica. Her attention to detail was over and above.

S Elliot
October 31, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Gersica was enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and extremely efficient. Cannot praise her enough. She was one very special guide. Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent.

K and L Gowrie
October 29, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Service from tour operator: excellent. Expertise and helpfulness of local guides: excellent. Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent.

A and P Marsh
October 29, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

I cannot thank you enough for arranging such a memorable trip for us. Despite my extensive Africa travel experience, I agree with you that for Madagascar (and travelling with children) it was better to have travel agent support. And we could not have had a more competent support than Derek!

N Sangster
October 27, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

The main reason for choosing Madagascar was to see the wildlife, and we certainly were not disappointed. The guides at both Mandrare and Manafiafy were very knowledgeable and skilled in finding the wildlife, as well as teaching us about the  local customs and culture. Having never been ‘Glamping’ before we were surprised at the level of comfort at Mandrare; also the food was excellent. Tom the site manager was exceptionally helpful in organising the trips  we  thought would be of interest.

We would describe Manafiafy as paradise, with the views over the bay from the lodges  and again excellent food enjoyed  on the beach. We found Danielle the manager very professional.

The presentation pack we received from Rainbow was extremely informative and left us with no illusions especially on the road conditions;  it covered all details. Other tourists saw the information which Rainbow included in our pack  and wished their company had covered as much details.

Please pass our thanks on to Derek for the return flights – after the Air France pilots decided to strike it must have been a nightmare to organise alternative flights. We thought SA were excellent and enjoyed Johannesburg airport. Many thanks to all at Rainbow!

H & G Dack
October 27, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Lalaina was fantastic around Tana and at Vakona, ensuring everything was well organised and that we were taken care of in every way. He was a mine of information on so many aspects of Madagascar – history, people, wildlife, plants…

Jhon -  the local guide at Vakona - was absolutely superb on finding and identifying wildlife and vegetation.

The transfers were organised and on time, the drivers in Tana were excellent, particularly Ntsoa on our visit to and around Vakona.

J & I Tulloch
October 27, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

The overall holiday experience was unbelievably good. All the arrangements such as pick ups, transfers and guided tours ran like clockwork. We felt secure in the knowledge that we were in capable hands.

We would like to make a special mention of Njato, our Malagasy guide. He was excellent from the moment he met us at the airport till he saw us through to departure.  He demonstrated his in-depths knowledge of the culture and wildlife of Madagascar in a friendly, engaging way. He recruited the services of a superb local guide, Barry, a t Andasibe and together they made our experience in the rainforest an unforgettable one. Please pass on our high commendation of these two people to the manager in Tana. The driver was excellent too.

Paradise Cove was the ideal place for a restful time. The beautiful setting and exceptional services of the staff ensured our every need was met.

Thank you so much Rainbow Tours and especially Chania Hemsley-Smith for making  this such an exceptional holiday.

L & D Bacon
October 27, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Service from tour operator: excellent. Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent. Anjajavy was paradise!

T Harrison & J Bawden
October 26, 2014

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

(September Northern Discovery Highlights Small Group Tour)

Overall tour satisfaction: excellent. Transfers, local guides’ expertise, knowledge and level of English were excellent. A highlight of the holiday was the canoe ride round the lake at Iharaha Bush Camp. But note there are no facilities for charging batteries, no electric sockets and no comfortable seating in the rooms. Eden Lodge: excellent. We would definitely recommend it to friends and family. Eden Lodge has good snorkeling, a beautiful garden, good massage, and Lemurs!. Food and service are also very good

P and J Lee
October 12, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Service from tour operator: excellent. Overall holiday satisfaction: excellent. Fantastic holiday, lots of great memories!

S & J Martin
October 1, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

(August 2014, Kayaking adventure): Rainbow Tours delivered everything as promised. The only thing we would say you need to be aware of is that the kayaking trip is not a gentle paddle viewing wildlife but a full-on trip that requires quite a bit of experience. (Very strong winds in that area made paddling very hard work). Everything else was perfect. Thank you very much…this was the holiday of a lifetime. Madagascar is an amazing, diverse and remote place and we will never forget our trip. The highlight had to be viewing the Humpback whale migration at Manafiafy – absolutely incredible, made all the more enjoyable by the obvious delight of the local guides who were with us….Thank you for everything

T & S Bisson
September 24, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

We had the most fantastic time in Madagascar, loved every minute, even Air Madagascar with its terrible reputation were superb. In fact, I know a few European airlines who could learn something about punctuality from Air Madagascar. All the accommodation was great, the guides excellent and everyone was at the right time at the right place.

G Wills
September 4, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Quick response and practical knowledge offered by staff. Expertise of local guides: excellent. The power at Le Palmarium went off after 10h30pm but this added to the charm. Sakamanga Hotel has really bizarre and strange room décor – very interesting!

T Henn
August 27, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

It will be hard to beat this holiday! It was the best we have been on - loved it! 

Madagascar is an amazing place, and is difficult to describe due to the curious mix of the old and the new. Seeing the lemurs in their natural habitat was a great experience.

All guides were either there waiting, or always on time; they were also very helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiatic.

Ms Jayne Elliott
August 7, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

Madagascar is a beautiful country with very friendly people and the food was unexpectedly very good. Hotels were excellent, and the itinerary was great.

We have passed this on to our colleagues at the British High Commission and I am sure that some of them will visit in the not-too-distant future.

Thank you for all your guidance and for creating such special memories. 

Mr Stephen Devlin
August 7, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

We did have a really amazing holiday (despite the delays). The visits to the rain forest were fantastic and we saw lots of wildlife including seven different types of lemur. The local guides were really knowledgeable and couldn’t do enough for us. Our personal guide who stayed with us for the first part of the holiday was great – we learnt so much about the Malagasy people and culture. He also took us on a really fascinating tour around Antananarivo.

The second week was completely different. The islands off Nosy Be really are tropical paradises . The accommodation, service and food at Sakatia Lodge were first rate. However I think it’s only fair to tell future clients that the main activity at Sakatia Lodge is scuba diving and they are not really set up for much else. Almost all the other clients had come specifically for this activity. The reefs around the island are fantastic for scuba diving but they are not really suitable for snorkelling. The waters closer to the beach are too cloudy to see much. So to do anything else you really need to go on lots of day trips which can work out to be very expensive. We did take a wonderful day trip to Nosy Tanikely which is a marine reserve about an hour or so by boat from Sakatia. The snorkelling here was fantastic with the reef starting close to the beach and crystal clear water – we saw lots of colourful marine life and got the chance to  swim with sea turtles. The trip included a delicious beach lunch. All in all our view was that Sakatia was incredibly beautiful and very relaxing but we were there for too long. Also, as the resorts around Nosy Be are generally not run by locals, there is a lot less opportunity to interact with Malagasy people. These are just our observations and didn’t detract at all from a wonderful holiday.

Thank you for arranging all this for us and being so efficient about rescheduling our journey home.

Ron Keefe
August 4, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

From the very beginnings of our contact with Rainbow Tours we have been impressed with your service and prompt replies to our queries. The holiday itself was an astonishing mix of history, natural history, culture shock and relaxation – just as we had hoped. Our guides (Fan, in particular) and drivers were mines of information, charming and helpful. Barry in Andasibe had an incredible knowledge and ability to find lemurs, chameleons and birds – without him we would never have seen them.

M Hall & W Bayne
June 10, 2014

You arranged the great trip we had to Madagascar last year (to Kirindy, Allee des Baobabs, Ankarana and Andasibe).  You guys did a fantastic job and we really enjoyed our time in Madagascar.

Hooman Shahidi and Lynn Mahony
January 13, 2014
Review items: Madagascar    

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

As promised, here is my email confirmation of what a wonderful time we had on the trip you organised for us. Everything worked perfectly. The guides and cars always turned up early. The drivers were safe and gave us confidence .The guides friendly and knowledgeable.

The hotels were  very comfortable, welcoming and with good food. We really enjoyed: the home-stay at Chez Haga, where Michelle, the manager, is a very well educated author who had spent 30 years in France and took us on an unscheduled walk around the walls and terraces of Ambohimanga and gave us delicious local food; the furnishings, food and view from the Lokanga Hotel, the crazy juxtaposition of the sophisticated Litchi Tree and the adjoining 'town'? of Joffreville; the simple accommodation and friendly service at  Ankanara Lodge, and the comfort at Andisbe Lodge.

The itinerary was fascinating and varied. We saw stacks of lemurs, mongeese - mongooses?, chameleon, gekos, lizards, frogs, spiders, snakes, various birds….And yes, the treks were sometimes quite challenging. The scenery and vegetation in the parks was varied and lush /stunning by turn.

We trekked in rain forests and deciduous forests and swam in the most beautiful warm sea watching turtles and fish.

Eden Lodge was a dream - keeping up to its name. It seems to be truly eco with almost exclusive renewable energy sources, a real engagement and support with and of the adjoining villages, on-site sources of food, well thought-out refuse procedure and careful architecture that makes it pretty invisible until very close to the shore. The swimming was fantastic and to see turtles while snorkelling before breakfast each day was rather special! The staff too were friendly and fun - played petanque with us and taught us how to play a sort of local draughts. The hotel guide, Philipe, took us around the hotel vegetable garden and spice plantation and to find the lemurs and birds that frequent the grounds. He also took us on an afternoon walk through the villages and up into the hills behind the hotel explaining about the villages, the hotel ethos, religion, local agriculture and pretty much everything else!

You and / or your local agents seamless dealt with the misunderstanding of the size of our bike boxes, the delayed flight and our last-minute request to get out of Nairobi airport for a few hours during our stop-over on the way home.

You really did us proud! We would be happy to recommend you and the places we went to to any prospective travellers and would speak to them on the phone if they wished.

Many, many thanks and wishing you and Rainbow Tours all the best for the future.

Richard & Ros Barnett
November 26, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

I am happy to tell you we have returned from a very successful trip to Madagascar with no major problems and great wildlife/nature experiences thanks to excellent guiding.

Charles Wilkinson
November 25, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Very very happy, breath taking life experience. You have done a very good job. Thank you very much. We are considering coming back one day or exploring South America with your help

P Nesvitailova
November 18, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Many thanks for your assistance with the Madagascar trip. Had a wonderful time.

Russell Haresign & Mpho Mawayi
November 17, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

A small fridge in the room would have been useful. Otherwise could not fault it. Superb

J Downing
November 11, 2013

The perfect way to end a tiring trip. Just heaven away from the busy Nosy Be. Everything to hand. Great food with great staff. Well organised and according to Ron a really top class dive school. The canoe trip round the island and beach lunch in the local village enabled us to support the locals and at the same time have a really great experience. 

D Fisher
November 10, 2013
Review items: Sakatia Lodge    

Rachel, thanks for putting together such a good trip for us to Madagascar.  We were well cared for, the accommodations were lovely and we really appreciated those bulkhead seats on the Air France flight to and from Madagascar!  Well done!

We loved seeing the lemurs, but what really struck me was how different it is from what we are used to.  It blew my mind, and I think that's a good thing to happen from time to time. 

I don't think I realised just how spoiled we were till we got to Vakona and had to deal with so many people searching out the wildlife at night and on the trails.  At the other 2 places it was just us.

Madagascar is such a complicated place, and it is still sinking in even as I write this.

I hope this finds you well, and thanks again for a very memorable adventure!

Denise Layten
October 30, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Very much enjoyed this but in retrospect would have appreciated a comment on the walking as at 72 and 77 found it challenging and had to opt out at Ranomafana rainforest. Wouldn’t have stopped us going though as we saw so much of the country as well as the flora and fauna. Would recommend this tour to anyone.

Mr and Mrs Roberts
October 30, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

The dive centre at Sakatia Lodge is undoubtedly the best we have ever experienced. Jacques is the very best operator and can show (you) creatures never seen before. He was very helpful as we are older divers. The dive boat is very good and easy to use. All equipment is well maintained and was carried for us. We have not doubt this is the very best, top notch diving. Jacques uses the tides and his considerable knowledge (for) using the most appropriate sites. We saw better coral and sea life than anywhere we have been before (which covers many parts of the Indian Ocean – Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, etc). The hotel made us feel very special and we were treated to a dinner on the sands under the stars. This has been without a doubt one of our best holidays. We are grateful for Rachel’s superb organisation and knowledge. Please encourage clients to use Sakatia Lodge Dive Centre. We talked to some very experienced divers who used a different company and they saw much less than we did’

Mr and Mrs Nettell
October 25, 2013
Review items: Sakatia Lodge    

The dive centre at Sakatia Lodge is undoubtedly the best we have ever experienced. Jacques is the very best operator and can show (you) creatures never seen before. He was very helpful as we are older divers. The dive boat is very good and easy to use. All equipment is well maintained and was carried for us. We have not doubt this is the very best, top notch diving. Jacques uses the tides and his considerable knowledge (for) using the most appropriate sites. We saw better coral and sea life than anywhere we have been before (which covers many parts of the Indian Ocean – Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, etc). The hotel made us feel very special and we were treated to a dinner on the sands under the stars. This has been without a doubt one of our best holidays. We are grateful for Rachel’s superb organisation and knowledge. Please encourage clients to use Sakatia Lodge Dive Centre. We talked to some very experienced divers who used a different company and they saw much less than we did’

Mr and Mrs Nettell
October 25, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Wonderful, strange, welcoming, beautiful. Meals fantastic 

Y Campbell
October 20, 2013
Review items: Berenty Lodge    

A great holiday, an interesting destination not like Sub-Sahara Africa but still eventually Africa. Even though the elections were on while we were there we always felt safe. Local people very friendly! And guides really good

Y Campbell
October 20, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Rachel has been fantastic, organised, patient, at all my questions, just brilliant. We had a fantastic time and loved Madagascar I have written to Rachel but to reiterate, it certainly lived up to our expectations and beyond! The guide, Eric, was very knowledgeable and he found an excellent forest guide for us too. We saw 10 types of lemur, endless bird’s, chameleons and of course the turtles at Eden Lodge. Absolutely brilliant. I would not hesitate to recommend Rainbow Tours to anyone thinking of going to Madagascar, in fact I have already done so! 

K Killner
October 20, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

The staff were exceptional and really looked after us. Beautiful location and so peaceful

K Killner
October 20, 2013
Review items: Eden Lodge    

In the words of my nephew, ‘Awesome’!

Highlights:

  • Lemur island – to be close to them was historic
  • Seeing / hearing the Indri
  • Zoo of Ste Marie: I don’t think many people get to go there as they had probably gone to the rainforests before hand. My nephew and I were in hysterics the whole time we were there. I have never been to a zoo where I have been invited into the cages or the reptile/snake pits before….I can’t imagine London zoo doing this – it was a laugh.
  • Being upgraded to an executive villa at Princesse Bora
  • Vanilla rum!

Thank you so much for arranging this trip. It was the holiday of a lifetime.

Ms Man and Mr Ritchie
October 16, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Derek....I just wanted to let you know that we had a great trip to Madagascar! Many thanks for putting together such a good tour for us. Everything worked out well and we were impressed with the service provided, the guides, and of course such a wonderful country and people....just wanted to let you know we were delighted with our trip and Rainbow Tours!

Hilary Duggua
October 14, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

We had a wonderful trip to Madagascar. Your professional organising was evident every step of the way. All the representatives….from our guides, to our drivers were really knowledgeable and reliable.

The Lokanga Boutique Hotel was very 'quirky'. David and I both enjoyed it, in spite of our room being up a very steep set of stairs (glad we didn't have to carry our cases up them!)? The beds were really comfortable, the food was delicious - really wasn't expecting that! Also, the staff were very friendly and of course, the views were amazing!

Princess Bora Lodge was super and the Whale watching was very good - definitely to be recommended.

Vakona Lodge accommodation was good, although we didn't find the staff as friendly and helpful as everywhere else. Aside from that, our rainforest guide was super; goodness knows how he spotted some of the creatures we saw, which included a tanric - quite amazing. We were fortunate with the sunny weather during the day, so that we saw and 'heard' the Indri ( & many other lemurs)  without too much trouble.

Our one night in the Relais des Plateaux was very good all round and certainly convenient for the airport, although we never heard an aircraft while we were there; it was very peaceful.

As for Ajajavy - it was all you said and more. Quite fabulous, from the flights with MTA to L'Hotel itself, the gorgeous lemurs everywhere and the beauty of the area. Cedric is an excellent manager and host. As you probably know he is keen to have Ajajavy declared a UNESCO protected area, so when he found out Catherine's qualifications and background, he asked her to do some surveying of the reefs in the area if she can find the time over the next year. I think she has to put some proposals together and email him.

The House of Waine in Nairobi was also lovely in every way, as well as being very convenient for visiting the elephant orphanage, if not for the airport. Our drivers were very good and coped with the Nairobi traffic admirably, not to mention the 'kamikaze' pedestrians charging across four lanes of fast moving vehicles!

Linda Head
September 23, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

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

H Fuller
September 16, 2013

Perfect place to stay after a busy couple of weeks. The staff were exceptional

H Fuller
September 16, 2013
Review items: Eden Lodge    

Excellent – very convenient to the airport for a first night – one of the best breakfasts of the holiday.

S Melville
September 13, 2013

Wow – what a view! Sadly, I couldn’t bring myself to use the enormous bath – it would have wasted too much water! Amazing food

S Melville
September 13, 2013

The only place we ever would go back too. And we never go back! Wonderful

N Hudson
September 5, 2013

Derek...we are back from a FANTASTIC trip to Madagascar, we absolutely loved it. The whole trip ran smoothly from start to finish with lovely accommodation and great guides.

Highlights - the three beautiful different suites in Lokanga with stunning views ..... We didnt venture out for dinner because the little restaurant was so nice. On the last night we had a private guided night tour of the Aye Aye which was incredible.

Vakona - our guides bent over backwards to find all the species of lemur, such good fun and loved lemur island.

Princess Bora - stunning. Whale watching was awesome and the hotel really spoilt us when they found out it was our silver wedding anniversary ..... Beach candlelight dinner and special cake.

You put together such a perfect itinery for us so thank you. Already thinking about going back and exploring the East side next! Our guide spoke very fondly of you ....

Karen and Alistair Lawson
September 3, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

A very good holiday which went perfectly. We would highly recommend Rainbow Tours and all the facilities we used in Madagascar. Hopefully we will return and visit other parts of the island.

Chris Rogers
August 30, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

A wonderful introduction to Madagascar –the guides and drivers were all very good indeed.

Mr and Mrs James
August 30, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

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

V Timperley
August 30, 2013

Overall a wonderful holiday. I will be recommending both Rainbow Tours and Madagascar to friends and family

V Timperley
August 30, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

We had an amazing holiday and saw some amazing things. The accommodation was good throughout but Isola Rock Lodge, Couleur Cafe and Les Dunes surpassed expectation. Setam Lodge was spacious and now has mosquito nets ; Vakona Lodge was lovely with the roaring log fires despite the non stop rain! The service everywhere we stayed from local people was very good indeed and the food was good throughout.

The arrangements made by our guides were spot on and completely reliable and we couldn't praise our driver highly enough. Given the condition of some of the roads and the ascents and descents we felt safe at all times.  As you know we are widely travelled and have had some hair raising experiences in other parts of the world. Our guide was a young, enthusiastic man who wanted to please. He was very knowledgable but the sheer volume of information was, at times, a little overwhelming. Had we read nothing and gone to Madagascar unprepared it would probably have been entirely appropriate so maybe finding out what the traveller knows would be helpful. Having said that he communicated very well and helped us out in a number of situations - and with English as his third language he did a good job.

We had some superb wildlife and bird watching in Perinet with the Indri, sun birds, paradise flycatchers, two of the vangas, snakes, geckos and excellent chameleons. The hightlights for a birder was a pair of Madagascan nightjars and a close encounter with a great grey owl! Lemur island at Vakona brought us our first sighting of a bamboo lemur as well as being mobbed by brown lemurs!!!! Great fun with a supply of bananas!

Our stop en route to Isola to see ring tailed lemurs was wonderful, we had them to ourselves for half an hour or more - we have many photos and video clips of those delightful creatures - completely indifferent to our presence and carrying on with lemur life as normal!

Zombitse National Park was amazing - we saw the Verreaux lemurs - beautiful! The greenbul was out for us as we're a number of new birds  - a really productive area.

Whilst at Ifaty the spiny forest trip where we saw some very good birds, mesite, crested coua, great coua and hoopoes and some very impressive baobabs.

Overall an excellent trip, well organised thanks to your efforts and genuinely fascinating. The changing landscape driving south will stay with us as will the amazing wildlife. The state of the country economically and politically is a great concern as is the conservation of such uniqueness.

Liz Talmadge
August 29, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Overall an excellent service from Rainbow Tours, Rachel in particular. Princesse Bora Lodge provided an excellent base for whale watching. The meals were exceptional...

Tsarabanjina time just stood still on this Robinson Cruesoe Island. Complete relaxation, we loved it. Compliments to the team, all 99 of them! 

Thank you!

Lindley
August 19, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Best chef, should be regarded as Michelin star restaurant, what a surprise!!

S Lindley
August 19, 2013

Fantastic country, wonderful wildlife, lovely people, incredible locations, fascinating culture - something to remember for a lifetime. … The roads are bad and some of the journeys were gruelling, but boy was it worth it when you got there. Everyday we saw beautiful, weird and wonderful wildlife often at very close quarters guided and explained by dedicated, knowledgeable, local people. The food throughout was great and prepared with imagination and wonderful fresh local and seasonal ingredients. 

P Wright
August 18, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Wonderful Lodge set in the heart of the rainforest. Excellent menu really enjoyed the lemur island and crocodile park. 

P Wright
August 18, 2013

What a special place! Real Luxury and service in the middle of nowhere. Fantastic food served beautifully on the beach/river bank. Really good birthday cake – what a place to celebrate an 18th birthday. 

P Wright
August 18, 2013

The guide book was very useful. Both the Za Tours guide and driver and the local guide were amazing. Tana Zoo opening so that we could see the Aye ayes was fab! We had a great time, thanks! Complementary honeymoon massage at Princesse Bora Lodge was fab. The executive beach villa there was amazing. Overall we had an amazing time. We have been very well looked after by our hotels and the guides were superb. If we were to book a holiday of this type again we would definitely come back to Rainbow Tours and have already recommended you to others.

C Dickinson and J Peacock
August 15, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

We most certainly did have a wonderful trip – Thank you for your help and expertise 

L & D Head
August 12, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Every part of this trip worked exactly as planned – the arrangements were well – planned, we were met as promised, and our guides were flexible and listened to what we wanted to do, making any adjustments to the schedule as needed. Our short trip made me realise how much of the country we weren’t able to see! 

D Muller
August 10, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Fantastic place and people. Very lucky with weather. Recommend upgrade to executive villa, they are beautiful

M Schunke
August 9, 2013

We were all delighted with the trip. The locations were well chosen and we were amazed that we saw so much wildlife. Our guide was incredible at finding creatures. It is a lot of travelling in 12 days but so worth it. Thank you for excellent organisation and knowledge of the country. Madagascar is such a stunning and varied island. We want to return to see more. Incredible. We will definitely be returning to Rainbow Tours!

Roberts
August 5, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

We had a superb holiday in Madagascar...brilliant place to which we must return.

Pamela Mansell
August 3, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

I am so pleased that we made the effort to go to Dariana, I think it was one of the most rewarding parts of the holiday for me. So my following thoughts are stating the facts and my thoughts about the visit, I was totally happy with all the arrangements by Rainbow Tours and locally.... [Our guide] was an excellent guide and we had a careful and considerate driver, who clearly knew how to drive the local roads. The people we met were great and welcoming,  the basic bungalows were as you said, ‘basic’ but ironically we got the best night’s sleep of the holiday there. The food was plentiful and tasty.  I went there wanting to see the Golden Crowned Sifakas and I left there passionate to do something to help them and the other creatures trying to live in the reserve amongst the chaotic and devastating excavations.

Sarah Dawson & David Gale
July 29, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Fantastic time on the reefs and rainforests tour as a family of four with two teenage children. A little bit anxious before we left but there was no reason to be. We were well looked after at every stage….with a high emphasis on safety. Travel arrangements went smoothly, food was great and there was a nice mix of relaxation and interesting things to do (lemurs, whales etc). Madagascar is more turned to tourism than some websites lead you to believe. The dry season only means it is less wet than the wet season – you still need an anorak and won’t have any need for shorts in the rainforest. Really glad we chose Madagascar with Rainbow Tours.

Harrell
July 29, 2013

Fantastic time on the reefs and rainforests tour as a family of four with two teenage children. A little bit anxious before we left but there was no reason to be. We were well looked after at every stage….with a high emphasis on safety. Travel arrangements went smoothly, food was great and there was a nice mix of relaxation and interesting things to do (lemurs, whales etc). Madagascar is more turned to tourism than some websites lead you to believe. The dry season only means it is less wet than the wet season – you still need an anorak and won’t have any need for shorts in the rainforest. Really glad we chose Madagascar with Rainbow Tours.

Harrell
July 29, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Overall we have had an amazing time. We have been very well looked after….The guides were superb. If we were to book a holiday of this type again we would certainly come back to Rainbow Tours and we have already recommended you to others. Thank you!

Dickinson
July 27, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

The accommodation at the Litchi Tree in Joffreville was really comfortable and the food good, Ankarana Lodge was pretty much as we expected (i.e. basic), Iharana Lodge was really a pleasant surprise and we loved its setting and eco-friendly approach, the accommodation at Eden Lodge was excellent and the locally caught seafood was superb, Lokanga Hotel was quirky and comfortable (we really enjoyed our night there) and Vakona Forest Lodge exceeded our expectations.  From our earlier correspondence we remembered your comment that it is "the best in the area" and weren't expecting too much, but the food was fine and the accommodation was pretty comfortable (especially the open fire in the dining room) - in short, it was much better than expected.

The itinerary for the tour worked really well, our guide for the first part was knowledgeable and a good spotter of wildlife… The rest days at Eden Lodge worked perfectly and we enjoyed relaxing before heading off to Andasibe.  We can understand why some people might prefer the beach at the end of their holiday, but for us it worked well having it in the the middle.  Our guide for the final few days was excellent and really went out of his way to ensure we enjoyed our time in "Tana" and then Andasibe, he also did his best to keep us informed with information about our flight back to Johannesburg and waited with us until after we had checked-in.  

As it turned out we were very pleased to have visited Vakona Forest Lodge at the end of our trip, simply because had we gone there first and had our close-up encounters with the lemurs on Lemur Island (we enjoyed it so much that we went twice), plus the excellent sightings of sifaka and indri indri (plus chameleons, frogs, snakes etc.) in Andasibe/Mantadia forests, then the more distant and scarcer wildlife sightings in the north would probably have seemed a little disappointing in comparison.  All in all it was an excellent, varied and well organised trip.

Amanda & Ken Haley
July 24, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Just had to write and say a big thank you for arranging our trip to Madagascar to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. All arrangements were spot on and all hotels chosen were as described in your literature.

The first week spent on St. Marie Island was a really good start to vacation. The guides at Antananarivo were excellent and were a wealth of knowledge. The views from the Lokanga hotel are amazing.

Our second week at Anjajavy was the icing on the cake and everything from the staff, food, accommodation, and guides were first class. We left having made many friends with the staff.

Once again many thanks, and we will definitely be going back for a second visit.

John & Wendy Green
July 17, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Couldn’t have wished for a better end to our trip. One of the best places we have ever stayed in all our travels 

R Doig
June 16, 2013

This is the best hotel we have ever stayed in the location, staff, food and service you would find hard to bet

R & W Green
June 9, 2013

What a fantastic way to spend our 30th wedding anniversary. The long distance and travelling was worth the trouble to get to this destination. All the hotels were excellent but our stay at Anjajavy was the icing on the cake. Thanks for arranging this trip. Looking forward to booking with you again to another far away destination

R & W Green
June 9, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Awesome – wish we could have stayed longer. The food was outstanding – otherwise everywhere else would have got 5 stars – but nowhere else was as good

Dr Hobson
June 3, 2013

We are so glad we went with Rainbow Tours. Fantastic organisation, great advice and peace of mind – especially when Air Madagascar changed the flights schedules close to our date of departure. It could have really impacted our trip, but Rainbow Tours were able to rearrange all our transport and accommodation so it wasn’t an issue. Thank you Rachel, for organising such a fantastic honeymoon. We would highly recommend Rainbow Tours for the perfect holiday in Madagascar. 

Durnford
May 7, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

Derek provided us with a fantastic itinerary based on our interests. It was perfect. The local guides were brilliant - excellent ecological knowledge and enthusiasm....Rainbow Tours succeeded in making this a holiday of a lifetime.

Smith
March 30, 2013
Review items: Madagascar    

We really just wanted to say thank you for the perfect holiday combination.

Our guides - Clement and driver Sian for the tour and Marisol at Eden Lodge were all fantastic and so incredibly knowledgeable - just adding to the rich experience we had. We are keen to start planning our second leg of the south.

While we were travelling we bumped into a lady who holidays there frequently and she was shocked to hear that we had not included a tour of the Red Tsingy - apparently a new discovery and very remote but an absolute must. I'm not sure if this is some thing that is unknown by the UK office or not well published, so if not - is definitely should be promoted. In talking to our guide he also confirmed this as an amazing sight and a must on any tour of the north.

But honestly, I can't tell you enough what an amazing time we had. Often not seeing anyone else for two days at a time, allowing us total solitude in exploring the forests, caves and lakes. I'm really pleased too that we did not stay on the Island of Nosy Be - Eden Lodge is something very special and the island is noisy and busy by comparison so it is definitely worth the extra money to stay is such private and tranquil surroundings. In fact you absolutely nailed all the lodges to perfection for our holiday and suited us down to the ground. As is was also low season - we were at a couple places on our own for a night or two too.

I understand that Lokanga Lodge is new to the listings too - what a brilliant little spot and the sundowners from the deck with wine and home made duck pate was a treat after the heat of the city that day. We were also lucky with a magic sunset to end our holiday.

So again, thank you for a wonderful holiday.

Kersten Catella
December 6, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Our guides - Clement and driver Sian for the tour and Marisol at Eden Lodge were all fantastic and so incredibly knowledgeable - just adding to the rich experience we had. 

I'm really pleased too that we did not stay on the Island of Nosy Be - Eden Lodge is something very special and the island is noisy and busy by comparison so it is definitely worth the extra money to stay is such private and tranquil surroundings. In fact you absolutely nailed all the lodges to perfection for our holiday and suited us down to the ground. As is was also low season - we were at a couple places on our own for a night or two too.

Kersten Catella
December 6, 2012
Review items: Eden Lodge    

It was a great trip and everything went like clockwork.

Sean & Rachel O'Neill
December 1, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

We returned from Madagascar early this week & just writing to say what a marvellous trip!
 
We saw all the wildlife we wanted ,the service provided by your ground handler was exemplary & the hotels were very good indeed. Particularly worthy of note was the quality of the local guides both on the tour & in the national parks. Our main guide,Bella, was absolutely terrific & highly recommended.
 
Looking forward to our next adventure!!

Michael & Kassandra Reeve
November 23, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Just a short email to thank you for arranging such a memorable trip to Madagascar for us. Everything went off absolutely as we would have wished: the accommodation, catering and service in all three places – Andasibe, Antananarivo and Ste Marie – was excellent (especial thanks for finding the Lokanga Boutique Hotel which was just stunning), the balance between the wildlife in the forests and lazing on the beach exactly what we wanted and the travel almost all went to plan. I’d like to commend especially our guide and driver for the forests section – Michel and Daniel – and, in particular our forest guide Dibo (or Diba – never did get the spelling) who was knowledgeable, hawk-eyed and indefatigable. A truly great holiday. We loved Madagascar and its courteous, gentle, friendly people.

Richard Davison
November 7, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Madagascar is an extraordinary place and we had such a fantastic holiday. Vaokna Lodge was perfect and the excursions were very good. Our local guide Zac was excellent. Anjajvay Hotel exceeded all our expectations and was a perfectway to end our holiday. 

Rainbow Tours provided an excellent service from advice at the start of planning our holiday right through to the documentation and completion of the holiday. We would certainly consider using Rainbow Tours in the future. 
Chris Spray
October 30, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Our thanks to you for the hard work you put into arranging what was a fantastic holiday. The arrangements all worked very well, the hotels were excellent and the guides brilliant. We saw everything we expected to see and more and marvelled at the variety of landscape, flora and fauna, and the lovely friendly smiley people.

We do not envy you having to struggle with the vagaries of Air Madagascar and have one suggestion to make which would add to the pleasure of visiting the country. Maybe the 4x4 and buses could carry flasks of coffee for the longer journeys.

Charles Cardiff
October 30, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Thank you we have had a wonderful, exciting, interesting trip, competent, well informed guides, helping us with the understanding of the flora, fauna, countryside and it's people. Unique places to stay, interesting roads, not to be hurried over! We had a good time and exceeded our expectations.

Hilary & Richard Gibbins
October 25, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Derek Schuurman of Rainbow Tours did a fine job of planning our trip to Madagascar. The excursions and hotels were great. Special highlights included Petit Masoala on the Masoala Peninsula and Iharana in Ankarana. Would definitely stay in these lodges again. 

Mr Rhett Butler
October 23, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Just a short e-mail from me personally to say how overwhelmingly wonderful my Madagascar experience was - of course I was privileged to have my sister as "tour organiser", determined that I should see as much as possible and share with her a passion for this amazing country.  I have found it impossible to answer the question "What was it like?" from friends and family - I find no adequate words - sorry everyone, you´ll have to go yourselves!!
 
I have to say, I enjoyed the company of Lin, Silvia and Kevin - they made me feel very much at home in the group. The ground agents, tour guides and drivers were fantastic, endlessly patient, informative with wonderful English. 

Thank you Rainbow Tours.

Pamela Jordan
October 3, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Rainbow tours are exceptionally good. Just came back from a two week trip to Madagascar organised by Rainbow and it was really well planned and executed. Every logistics item worked perfectly and given that we are a family with four children that was asking a lot. The people at Rainbow are great; Derek had the patience of a saint in answering my idiotic questions often multiple time, while Rachel was really helpful with advice having stayed in the country. You will be in good hands with Rainbow.

Julian Tanner
October 3, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Manafiafy Lodge was our favorite! Ed Tucker made us feel so welcome, and the setting was so breathtakingly beautiful.

Nancy Bell
October 1, 2012

...what a wonderful time we had. It really was a unique experience and the perfect mix between beautiful nature and stunning beaches.

Mr & Mrs Pull
September 30, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

I just wanted to thank you for the fantastic private tour of Madagascar that you arranged for our family.

We were thrilled with all aspects of it - the accommodations, the food, the itinerary, particularly the guides, who really went out of their way, all three of them - Harry, Tsu and Mialy. While all the accommodations were unique and comfortable, the Manafiafy Lodge was our favorite - Ed Tucker made us feel so welcome, and the setting was so breathtakingly beautiful.

We were even able to tour the sapphire mine, which we understand could be difficult to arrange. My only regret was that the trip was so short relative to everything we wanted to see and do. What an intriguing destination! This was the absolute right way to see Madagascar.

I am hoping to use you and your company again next year. I am interested in taking my four children and their families to South Africa or Tanzania - and a private tour would be my first choice.

Thank you again for handling all the details and for making this such a memorable trip!

Nancy Bell
September 28, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

Dear Derek, on behalf of the four of us, we would like to compliment you on your organisation of our tour… (based on the Lemurs of Madagasacar itinerary). We were especially impressed by your representatives in country who were always there regardless of the idiosyncrasies of the Air Madagascar timetable! We would recommend you as the only way to go!

Mike, Jo, Phil and Helen
July 16, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

We had an absolutely fabulous time in Madagascar. Toky (our guide) certainly is the best of the best. He has such a great sense of humor and was so knowledgable and patient… Thank you, Rachel, again for everything. The poverty in the south is mindblowing and so sad but the lemurs seemed happy and I fulfilled my lifelong dream.

S Swallow
May 31, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

We were bowled over by the landscapes, people and wildlife, and the itinerary that you arranged for us allowed for an amazing variety in a relatively short space of time. We were particularly impressed with [our local team’s] handling of the Southern part of the trip. Our guide - Diary was his name - was quite exceptional. He gave us copious amounts of background information, cracked the whip so that we made full use of the time, co-ordinated park guides perfectly and always made sure that things worked well at hotels. He consistently worked above and beyond expectations, and was supported well by our driver. We were surprised by the amount of walking involved (in a good way - we loved it and the guides responded by taking us a fair distance each day). It's possible that a day less at Isalo could have become one day more in Ifaty (we needed a rest by then!) but the whole expedition through the South was quite wonderful.

N Hamshaw
February 5, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

We had a wonderful time [in Madagascar]. The organisation was great, and I would definitely recommend doing the RN7 route from south to north – it was so nice to get some beach and boating (as well as Spiny Forest) to relax and recover from the long journey out. The sailing canoes were a particular unexpected bonus as we are both keen on sailing! It was also good to be going straight from nice hotel to international airport on the last day, rather than having to take an internal flight. We were extremely well looked after by our guide and driver... We also had very good local guides which meant we could go at our own paces on the walks (I like to go slowly and take lots of photos!) All of the hotels were good, the first two excellent. Of course the star of the show is Madagascar itself, with its variety of scenery, flora, fauna and people. Thank you so much for organising such a good trip.

J Longworth
January 12, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    
We had a wonderful time and everything was well organised and ran to schedule. Thank you. We were particularly impressed by our guide Jessica who made all the difference to our trip with her pleasant manner, helpfulness and informative guiding.
D Bamford
January 5, 2012
Review items: Madagascar    

The Food at Ishalo Lodge was quite amazing the Michelin star type! Rooms are incredible. 

Malcomson
November 20, 2011

Sakatia Lodge is a lovely quiet spot on the island with clean beach and a pleasant village nearby, friendly management & Lovely Staff

Malcomson
November 20, 2011
Review items: Sakatia Lodge    
We saw lots and lots of wildlife - 27 types of lemur for example - and our enthusiasm for Madagascar is undimmed. Since our last visit in 2007 there has been a coup of course and one senses a lot of frustration amongst Malagasies but one hopes that a new government might be able to stop the slide. There are some definite improvements for visitors since 2007 too.
D & M Lewis
November 19, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

This was the best trip to Madagascar of our three - but it won't be the last. We had a great time; the itinerary was largely just what we would have wanted and well paced. [Our ground handler] again provided a really good service and we were fortunate to have one of their best people with us for the bulk of our trip.

D & M Lewis
November 19, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

I would recommend a visit to Ambohimanga to people interested in Malagasy history and culture; it's a World Heritage Site and, while there is little on site interpretation, Miahy gave us a very knowledgeable tour. The views across the highland plateau to Tana are stunning too.

D & M Lewis
November 11, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Your knowledge of Madagascar was fantastic and the local guides were all fantastic, very friendly and knowledgeable especially Claudia. Princess Bora is a fantastic Hotel and would recommend to anyone.

Hamilton
November 2, 2011

Tamboho's evening meals were excellent.

 

Harding
November 1, 2011
Review items: Tamboho Hotel    

Our Transfer driver was superb and such a lovely guy and enjoyed the diversity of the trip e.g. History, Culture, wild life and just how much was packed in.

Bell
November 1, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

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

Constance Lodge Nosy Tsarabanjina was amazing!

Anderson
October 28, 2011

Heure Bleue Nosy Be is modern & cool place, well designed Bungalows and good food. We had a wonderful time, saw some great wildlife and spectacular scenery

Atkinson
October 28, 2011
Review items: L'Heure Bleue    

The Tsara Guest House Fianara was a beautiful quiet oasis in the middle of a busy city, highly recommended.

Rutherford
October 22, 2011
Review items: Tsara Komba    

The Anjajavy Hotel was outstanding. 

Snell
October 17, 2011

Great Holiday in Madagascar

Marks
October 14, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Thanks so much for organising such a fabulous trip – we saw and experienced all that we had hoped for and a bit more. The two local tour companies, in Rwanda and Madagascar were magnificent. Most went according to plan and the guides and drivers were exemplary. I would like to make special mention of Aimable (our guide) in Rwanda. He is a thoroughly nice man, extremely knowledgeable and very accommodating. Similarly our guides and driver made our trip to Mantadia National Park in Madagascar forever memorable. Marc and Charles, guide and driver respectively, are such good company and we laughed our way around. Maurice, the local guide there, really did know his stuff.

K & S Humphries
October 8, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Our Transfer driver was excellent, very careful, patient & hard working. Our guide was very conscientious, hard working, intelligent & aware, quickly picked up on what we were like.

Locke
October 6, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

An excellent holiday, full of interest and enjoyment, this is our second holiday with Rainbow Tours and the service is just as good as it was in 1999!

Thorpe
September 18, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Vakona Forest Lodge was our favorite for all round excellence.

B Thorpe
September 18, 2011

The service from Rainbow tours was great - a fantastic holiday.  [Our consultant’s] assistance was invaluable and the car hire went smoothly. Our guides were excellent they were helpful and provided superb expertise. I’ll be sure to recommend Rainbow Tours to all my friends. 

S. Dawson
September 15, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Amazing meals with brilliant comfort, service and facilities all found in a superb location.

S Dawson
September 15, 2011
Review items: L'Heure Bleue    

Nothing but excellence.

S Dawson
September 15, 2011
Review items: Tsara Komba    

A wonderful experience we would recommend to others. The Princess Bora is close to perfection! Superb staff & food, the resort and spa were beautifully done. 

Everitt
September 9, 2011

Vakona Forest Lodge has a good location, nice food and pleasant landscaping. getting a honeymoon present at the Nature Lodge was a lovely touch. 

Everitt
September 9, 2011

We certainly ended our honeymoon on a high at Eden Lodge, everything was again close to perfection and the staff were so welcoming. an outstanding resort.

Everitt
September 9, 2011
Review items: Eden Lodge    

Obviously we were bowled over by the landscapes, people and wildlife, and the itinerary that you arranged for us allowed for an amazing variety in a relatively short space of time. We were particularly impressed with [our local team’s] handling of the Sounthern part of the trip. Our guide - 'Diary' was his name - was quite exceptional. He gave us copious amounts of background information, cracked the whip so that we made full use of the time, co-ordinated park guides perfectly and always made sure that things worked well at hotels. He consistently worked above and beyond expectations, and was supported well by our driver. We were surprised by the amount of walking involved (in a good way - we loved it and the guides responded by taking us a fair distance each day). It's possible that a day less at Isalo could have become one day more in Ifaty (we needed a rest by then!), but the whole expedition through the South was quite wonderful.

N Hamshaw
August 16, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Sainte Marie was bliss, and very exciting for the whale watching (it's also worth noting that we went twice and Princesse Bora gave us an automatic discount for the second round).

: N Hamshaw
August 16, 2011

Beautiful bungalows on the beach and very attentive staff.

M Pullan
July 31, 2011
Just back and had a wonderful trip - thank you! Everything went like clockwork, much to our amazement-we heard stories of breakdowns and air problems but ours was all fine. So we saw dancing lemurs, heard indri and had a great time at the beach-thanks so much.
M Pullan
July 30, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Meals here were excellent, but more expensive than the previous lodges  we stayed at. Our local guide was excellent. 

M Cowley
July 30, 2011

Rainbow tours were very responsive, great communications, all arrangements (worked) like clockwork. The documentation was very informative, clear documents. Air Travel went very well, and the itinerary easily accommodated the occasional slight delay. Can’t wait to do it all over again. Thank you so much for putting together an excellent trip.

MacMillan
July 23, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

All the guides at Anjajavy were excellent. The food at Anjajvy rates a special mention.

M MacMillan
July 23, 2011
Our Rainbow Tours consultants were amazing. They were prompt, informative and very willing to work with us. [Our ground handler] was excellent. Our first guide, Kenny Andriamaronjaka, was superb. He was kind, informative, truly wonderful. Along the way we had 3 guides, 1 forest guide, and 3 drivers. All were terrific.
M Wimer
July 22, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

I just wanted to let you know that we had a fantastic three weeks. The country certainly lived up to all my expectations, and indeed surpassed them. The service we received from [the Rainbow Tours ground handlers] was exceptional and we were particularly impressed with our guide and driver who gave us such a good insight into the country. I think that we were particularly lucky with our wildlife spotting, which kept me very happy and we were fascinated with learning the language which [we] grasped with annoying ease, and delighted all on whom we tried it out! … thank you very much for putting together such a wonderful itinerary which ran without a hitch. I shall definitely be recommending Rainbow Tours and indeed Madagascar to all my friends.

A & P Kish
July 9, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    
We returned from our Madagascar holiday … and I would just like to say what an absolutely fantastic time we had. The experiences were totally amazing and it is going to be one of those holidays we will never forget. [The Rainbow Tours team in Madagascar] were extremely efficient. We were so well looked after every minute of the way, eg helping us check in to the hotels, making sure we had a table by the fire and even as far as making sure we got through the check in desk ok through the airport. Their attention was superb, as was the guides’ knowledge, we learnt an awful lot about every aspect of Madagascar. We had Fabrice on the main part of our holiday in Vakona. We had a different guide for the last day after Anjajavy… I the guides and drivers and also the Forest guide, Julian were so friendly and made the holiday for us.
G Cobb
July 7, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

The holiday surpassed our expectations and everything went like clockwork; which we really did not expect in Madagascar.  [The Rainbow Tours representatives] were superb as well and we had 3 guides who were all excellent. All transfers were fantastic we were always met as advised.  Rainbow was excellent with all documentation arriving in good time and very accurate. 

M Pullan
July 7, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

Anjajavy is fantastic and also such a warm welcome and the guided walks were also fantastic and with knowledgeable guides. The drivers too were extremely friendly. I could really go on and on about how fantastic it was… Thank you so much for your help and advice throughout, I shall definitely be recommending Rainbow Tours to friends and we shall not hesitate to use you again in the future.

G Cobb
July 7, 2011

A well thought out tour – we visited 3 very different reserves.  The tour guides Harry and Stephen were excellent, they ensured we had the best available accommodation at each stop, answered all our questions, were knowledgeable about the wildlife, and were pleasant company.  They often stopped en-route to allow us to take photos or just to walk about.  Despite out late arrival at Antananarivo, Harry was there to welcome us – a very welcome sight! 

M Cowley
July 1, 2011
Review items: Madagascar    

This was our favourite lodge overall. Terrific room, great food, excellent hiking close by. The two parks that we visited near here were beautiful. We also visited a small zoo and Lemur Island and had lemurs sit on us. That was unexpected and totally awesome.

M Wimer
July 1, 2011

Accommodation was lovely – very convenient to the parks.

M Garrod
June 29, 2011

Fantastic accommodation at Eden Lodge– every was perfect, service and facilities were exceptional !

M Garrod
June 29, 2011
Review items: Eden Lodge    

Well organised walks. Beautiful setting, extraordinary wildlife and informative guides.

L Love
May 30, 2011

The team there are excellent.

A Prophet
April 29, 2011

The lodge is in an excellent location with good services and facilities. There is a nice swimming pool.

R & H Craig
October 30, 2010

Fantastic service, nothing was too much trouble. It was good not to have to pay for extras. Always well cleaned everywhere. The lodge is in an excellent location and facilities and the meals were good.

R & H Craig
October 30, 2010

Great Stay! Service was excellent and villas very nice. The pool was lovely.

Author: M & G Payne
October 30, 2010

We loved Constance Lodge, Tsarabanjina, location beautiful, staff very friendly and welcoming. Drinks are expensive for Madagascar, but not too bad. (The wine is pricy) We were sad to leave!

M & G Payne
October 29, 2010

The meals and facilities were top class. Excellent beach resort. Hotel trips are a little expensive but the free snorkeling and cycling were very good. 

C Hopperton
October 10, 2010

Brilliant services. The lodge is very well managed, spotlessly clean. Very helpful staff.

D Kraft
September 30, 2010

We loved the hotel’s investment in whale research and conservation. Staff lovely… I would particularly like to mention how fantastic the local agents were in everyway.

C Hiu
September 30, 2010

A lovely old house converted into a ‘quirky’ boutique hotel –dinner and service excellent.

D Barraclough
September 30, 2010
Review items: La Varangue    

Wow! All excellent here. Loved every minute and the whale watching trip was exhilarating!

S & C James
September 29, 2010

Full marks. Very relaxing way to complete the trip. Great whale watching.

Author: M Wilkins
September 29, 2010

We were very happy with this beautiful hotel. The meal choices we were given initially were limited but improved dramatically when your itinerary was issued!

Author: S & C James
September 29, 2010

Location of Setam Lodge excellent, good services, facilities and meals. Clean and comfortable.

M Wilkins
September 29, 2010
Review items: Setam Lodge    

All the guides were excellent and certainly knew their stuff! Out trip wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good without them.

A Reisengher
September 10, 2010
Review items: Madagascar    

Top marks for comfort, service, meals, location and facilities.

Hunter
August 31, 2010
Review items: L'Heure Bleue    

Excellent for comfort, service, meals, location and facilities!

Hunter
August 31, 2010

Everything was excellent at Princesse Bora Lodge. A corner of paradise!

A Spain
July 30, 2010

The Vakona Forest Lodge is comfortable, with good meals and facilities. Service and location are excellent.

A Spain
July 30, 2010

Full marks for comfort, service, meals, location and facilities! Very attentive staff.

Reeve
April 29, 2010

Excellent. Anjajavy Hotel was simply amazing. The location, wildlife, service, food, nothing really to complain even the least about. It was the perfect start to a honeymoon.

P Thillainathan & L Pert
October 6, 2009

Just to let you know we had a wonderful time in Madagascar and my arrangements all went very smoothly. Anjajavy Hotel was wonderful , the staff incredibly welcoming, the accommodation was great but most of all the hotel and grounds were superb. It was so beautiful and the fauna and fauna quite simply breathtaking. Loved the fishing expedition - we caught 3 20 pound fish in 25 mins and the tea in the Oasis garden at 5pm and swimming at sunset in the infinity pool....... It really was paradise.

F Neale
June 30, 2009

A brilliant place to stay!

Mr Christie

Marvellous, environmentally friendly, luxury hotel.

Mr Christie
Review items: Eden Lodge    

Fantastic trip!

Mr Christie

Hello Derek,

It has been a month now since we got back from Madagascar and I can't stop thinking about the trip. Madagascar is now embedded in my heart. There is only one other country that has done that to me - Cuba.

What a beautiful country and thank you so much for organising the trip for us. Everything about it was perfect, even the bumpy roads!

Favourite places? Isalo. The landscape and the trekking there was fantastic.  The lodge was more upmarket than we are used to but we could live with that.

And Kirindy. We were the only tourists in the forest camp, in a tent with only the forest noises. The people there were awesome too. So helpful and friendly. Loved it.

All the guides we had everywhere were so interesting and very knowledgeable. Most of them, I swear, had bionic eyes.

Also loved lemur island where we got to have all the lemurs climbing on us.

Ranomafana, we got to see around the research centre and meet Patricia Wright, buy her book in which she kindly wrote a personal message for Erin. I am currently reading another book about Madagascar which we sourced there as well as one you have co written.

We got to see pretty much everything we asked to see.  It was like magic.  We would just mention a species, and next thing, our forest guide was finding it despite not being very optimistic about it. FANTASTIC.

We are so in love with Madagascar now and hope that we get an opportunity to return again one day maybe to the north next time. The poverty was worse than we expected and it was so hard not to just hand out money everywhere we went, especially in Tana. I hope our contribution to the schools will go a small way for improvement.

All the best,

Helen and Erin from Kiwi land

Ms Macartney
Review items: Madagascar    

Having just returned home from our 2 week stay in Madagascar with a short stop in South Africa on the way home, we felt compelled to write to let you know how impressed we were with your company. We booked through Rainbow Tours and you truly exceeded all expectations.

The main focus of the trip was to photograph wildlife and this we did in abundance with the help of your guides and the local field guides. We visited Ankarafantsika with Stephane who was knowledgable and made sure we didn't have a wasted moment. Then we went to the rain forest and Berenty with Toky - what an incredible guide he is. His knowledge of wildlife, the local area, its people and customs are second to none. His ability to spot the wildlife and then take the time to ensure that Mark had the best position for photographs, as well as packing the 600mm lens everywhere, was remarkable.

He was also indispensable dealing with Air Madagascar as our flight was changed, and then changed again and again while we were trying to get to Fort Dauphin. He did his absolute best to ensure that our time for viewing wildlife once we finally got there was maximized. The local guides, especially Ettienne in the rainforest were also outstanding. Everyone went out of their way to ensure we had the best time possible. They took time to understand what was important to us and make the best opportunities possible.

We must not forget the drivers either - they all gave their undivided attention to their job and we felt very safe. Also Malala who welcomed us and made sure we were safely departed was great. I am sure that these guides are backed up by a very responsive administration team, who have to continually make reservation changes due to Air Madagascar challenges.

Anyway - we will confidently recommend you to anyone who is thinking of a trip to Madagascar as you are truly a very professional organization and your guides (especially Toky) are a great asset to your organization

Thank you,

Ruth & (Robert) Mark Williams

P.S. the hotels/lodges are all great too, especially Lokanga

Mrs Williams
Review items: Madagascar    
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