MADAGASCAR PHOTO TOUR
Of all of the photo tours that we offer, this is one of the least bird-oriented. This isn’t because there aren’t abundant opportunities to photograph birds… we will go after the bounty of endemic species on offer, and you are sure to end up with magnificent photos of vangas, ground-rollers, mesites, and many others. What makes this a less bird-oriented tour is the astounding variety of other subjects also on offer. Night walks are a major part of this tour, so flashes are recommended.
Day 1: Arrival in Tana
Day 2: Tana to Fort Dauphin to Berenty
Days 3-4: Berenty. Our time in Berenty offers incredible photographic opportunities for two of Madagascar’s most photogenic and famous lemurs: the cute Ring-tailed Lemur and the famous ‘dancing’ Verreaux’s Sifakas. The gallery forest here also supports Giant Coua and day-time roosting White-browed Owl and White-footed Sportive Lemur. This open dry forest is also a wonderful place to start enjoying and photographing a range of other Malagasy birds, mammals, and reptiles.
Day 5: Berenty to Fort Dauphin. After a final morning of photography, we drive about three hours to the charming coastal town of Fort Dauphin, where we’ll spend the night.
Day 6: Fort Dauphin to Tana. A domestic flight brings us back to Tana.
Days 7-10: Andasibe-Mantadia NP (Perinet). The most diverse biome on the island are the lush rainforests of eastern Madagascar. Two twin parks here, Mantadia and Perinet, offer the best of Madagascar’s fauna. Many of the island’s most spectacular endemic birds are restricted to this rainforest, where we seek out photo opportunities with species including Pitta-like and Scaly Ground-Rollers, Red-breasted Coua, Madagascar Flufftail, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, and Madagascar Paradise-Flycatcher. The experience of rambling in Perinet would not be complete without being serenaded by the planet’s largest lemur, the Indri. The spine-chilling howls of this creature will stick in your memory for the rest of your life, and these large prosimians also make for wonderful photo subjects. With luck, we might encounter one of Madagascar’s evolutionary masterpieces, the bizarre Lowland Streaked Tenrec. After dark we will search for some of the creatures of the night, and should find Eastern Woolly, Crossley’s Dwarf, and Rufous Mouse-Lemurs. The area’s reptile and amphibian fauna are equally dramatic; among the myriad of colorful and photogenic frogs, chameleons, and geckos we may encounter are the giant Parson’s Chameleon, dapper frogs, glowing green day-geckos, and two species of incredibly camoflauged leaf-tailed gecko.
Day 11: Andasibe-Mantadia NP to Tana. After a final morning in the rainforest, possibly spent in a reptile park that is superb for macro photography, we will head back up the eastern escarpment to the capital of Tana, where we’ll enjoy our final dinner together.
Day 12: Tana to Ankarafantsika. A long day’s drive brings us out off of the High Plateau and into the western lowlands, where we spend the new two nights at a simple eco-lodge.
Day 13: Ankarafantsika. We have a full day in the dry forest and wetlands of Ankarafantsika National Park. The abundance of lemurs and birds, and the open nature of the forest here makes this one of the island’s premier sites for wildlife photography. Troops of handsome Cockerel’s Sifakas often hang around the park headquarters, along with birds like Madagascar Hoopoe, Sickle-billed Vanga, and Crested Drongo. A nearby lake is teaming with herons, egrets, and other waterbirds, and we may take a short boat trip there if conditions allow. Night walks here are especially productive. We’ll seek out the Golden-brown Mouse Lemur, which is endemic to this park, plus Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur, Mongoose Lemur, and several species of geckos and chameleons.
Day 14: Ankarafantsika to Mahanjunga. After a final morning in the park, we drive a couple of hours to the regional center of Mahajunga, where we’ll enjoy fine food, air conditioning, and wifi!
Day 15: Mahanjunga to Tana. A short domestic flight brings us back to Tana.
Day 16: Departure from Tana.
Kirindy Extension (5 days)
Day 1: Tana to Kirindy (this is the departure day of the main tour). A short domestic flight brings us out of the highlands and to the coastal town or Morandava, the gateway to Kirindy, which is a couple hours’ drive away.
Days 2-4: Kirindy. The first leg of the trip heads to the far west, where the western deciduous forest hold a diverse and easily photographable suite of lemurs, birds, and reptiles, plus Madagascar’s largest predator: the fosa. On the way to and from Kirindy, we pass through Madagascar’s most photogenic landscape, the iconic “Alee des Baobabs”. This is the best place in Madagascar to photograph the island’s most impressive species of baobab: the immense Grandidier’s Baobab. Kirindy is a lemur paradise and we ought to catch up with lanky Verreaux’s Sifaka and big-eyed Red-tailed Sportive Lemurs amongst eight possible species. This is also a good area for snakes, and there is no nervous tension as none of Madagascar’s snakes are venomous. We will also seek out the giant Oustalet’s Chameleon and the spiky Cuvier’s Iguanid. We’ll consider ourselves lucky if we manage photos of the shy White-breasted Mesite. Kirindy holds good numbers of many widespread Malagasy species, including a diverse range of couas and vangas. The open nature of the forests here mean that these species are easier to photograph here than elsewhere, making Kirindy an excellent way to start a phototour of the island.
Day 5: Kirindy to Tana. If the domestic flight time allows, we’ll have a final morning of photography in Kirindy, then catch our flight back to Tana, where we’ll spend the night in a comfortable hotel, resting up for our first taste of the Malagasy rainforest on the next day.
CLIMATE: The eastern rainforest sites are cool, with rain possible. The climate at Ifaty and in the northwest are very hot and dry.
DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate. The eastern rainforest sites require long days on forest trails; those at Ranomafana are steep. All other sites have mostly easy trails. The roads are surprisingly good. The warm temperatures in the west can be challenging for some people.
ACCOMMODATION: Basic to moderate in the northwest. Good to very good elsewhere.
PHOTO PHILOSOPHY: There will be a lot of walking, but subjects are abundant right around our lodges, especially at Kirindy. We will seek out birds, plus lemurs, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and landscapes. This is one of our most diverse photo tours.
GEAR: A macro lens and flash are essential. Birds and lemurs are often very approachable, so it’s good to have both a big lens and a smaller zoom OR an intermediate lens like a 300mm. There is lots of light in the western forest at Kirindy, but it is fairly dark inside the eastern rainforest.
6 - 21 October
€5990, single supplement: €740
21 - 25 October
€2600, single supplement: €300
Length: 15 days (19 with extension)
Starting city: Antananarivo
Ending city: Antananarivo
Pace: relaxed to moderate
Physical difficulty: moderate
Focus: wildlife photography
Max group size: 6 + 1 leader + local guides
A special departure of our Madagascar tour that seriously focuses on photography of the birds, mammals, chameleons and other spectacular wildlife that Madagascar has to offer.
There is one scheduled extension, a 5 day extension to Kirindy. We may also be able to arrange a custom extension on request. Popular additional destinations include the spiny forest of the southwest (Tulear and Ifaty), the dry forest of the northwest (Ankarafantsika), and the rainforest of the Masoala Peninsula.