Daniel has led small groups of wildlife enthusiasts around Madagascar with us for several years, and if his 2016, 2017 and the 2018 tour which he co-led with Hilary Bradt are anything to go by, next year’s adventures promise to be wonderful experience.
The tour begins with a domestic flight to the west coast town of Morondava, from where you travel about 2 hours north to Kirindy and Marofandilia forests. These seasonally dry deciduous forests receive some protection in the Menabe Antimena Protected Area. Visitors come here from all over the world to look for an extraordinary assemblage of mammals, including Fosa (Fossa), the island's largest carnivore; the Endangered Giant jumping rat and various lemurs, notably our tiniest relative, Madame Berthe's mouse lemur. To reach Kirindy, you pass through the 'baobab alley', a group of Grandidier's baobabs standing like sentinels presiding over a landscape converted for pasture. Guided day and night walks are scheduled in this extraordinary area. Additionally, you will have the chance - as our previous groups have - to plant an endangered, endemic Baobab at the habitat restoration site managed by the NGO FANAMBY, which will be visited.
A quick flight from Morondava will have you back in Antananarivo, which acts as a centrally located 'hub' for those who wish to experience the country's incomparably varied ecotypes.
You then fly up to the far northern coastal town Diego Suarez, near where you walk the (easy) Baobab Trail at Montagne des Francais Reserve. There you can see two of the endemic Baobabs of the northern region. Continue just an hour southwards to Montagne d'Ambre National Park for a 2-night stay. This delightful forest block is mostly to seek its impressive nocturnal herpetofauna which includes various species of Uroplatus (Leaf-tailed geckos); chameleons and some nocturnal lemurs.
Next up in the 'northern parks loop' is a visit to Andrafiamena Andavakoera, which makes this trip that much more special: this relatively new protected dry forest corridor has been much enjoyed by our guests to date, including Daniel's October 2018 tour group. Its tropical deciduous dry forest is home to one of the world's 25 rarest primates, the Critically Endangered Perrier's black sifaka. Visitors have the chance to see up to three of the family groups during a day walk here - a truly memorable experience, not least considering there are less than 400 of these enigmatic lemurs remaining globally.
From Andrafiamena, travel to Ankarana - the 'Lost World Within a Lost World' - for a two night stay. Your time here will enable for you to explore sunken deciduous forests, caves and marvel at the otherworldly scenery created by the 'tsingy' limestone pinnacle formations. After having experienced Ankarana, travel through Sambirano country by road and then by speedboat over to balmy Nosy Be, where you visit the Nosy Tanikely Marine Reserve, praised for its psychedelic underwater world.
Having completed the really varied northern circuit, fly back to Antananarivo for an overnight stay. The following day, travel down the eastern escarpment, to Palmarium Private Reserve in the eastern lowlands, where the main objective is to see wild Aye ayes. These nocturnal, cat-sized lemurs epitomise all that is bizarre about Malagasy life forms. Because most of the wildlife in the privately protected tract of east coast littoral forest at Palmarium is so well habituated, the site is a wildlife photographer's dream.
Many first-time visitors to Madagascar, might think we've left the best for last: from Palmarium, journey upcountry to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park ('Perinet'), which surely is Madagascar's number 1 must see protected eastern rainforest, for its iconic and Critically Endangered Indri, Diademed sifaka and many other flagship species unique to the island's rainforest band. During the time in Andasibe-Mantadia there will be wonderful guided wildlife walks by day and by night.
From Andasibe, an easy 4hour drive in 4-wheel drive vehicles, will have you back in Antananarivo for a farewell dinner and for those who are flying back home, a transfer to the airport for your onward flights after a most wonderful wildlife experience!
As ever, Daniel will be accompanied on this tour by ace Malagasy wildife tour guide, Harry (Hery) Rakotosalama.
Minimum group size: 6 Maximum Group size: 8