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

Kirindy Forest Reviews

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

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

My best to all,  Tony'

Mr Kleitz
November 10, 2017

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

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

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

Camp Amoureux: very comfortable furniture and friendly staff.

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

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

 

Mr Armitage
November 9, 2017

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

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

For those who have the time and inclination to watch it

David'

Mr Huntbatch
November 9, 2017

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

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

Yes I hope I can return one day.

All the best,

Van'

 

 

Ms Le
October 30, 2017

'Dear Helen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tsarabe and misaotra!

Kind regards,

Yvonne and John'

 

Mr and Mrs Wilson
October 10, 2017

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

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

Camp Amoureux: Basic but fun! Wonderful lemurs. 

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

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

Vakona Lodge: fantastic place, could not fault.

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

Would thoroughly recommend Rainbow Tours'

Head family
September 13, 2017

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

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

Camp Amoureux: a good location in Kirindy. 

Soleil des Tsingy: excellent in all respects

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

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

 

Perchard Family
August 18, 2017

'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

'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

'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


'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

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
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