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THE COMOROS & NORTHERN MADAGASCAR

Birdquest’s Comoros and Northern Madagascar birding tour explores two rarely-visited parts of the world. Our Comoros and Northern Madagascar tour is a comprehensive survey of the interesting Comoros endemics, plus a number of rarely-seen Madagascar specialities, including the critically endangered Madagascar Pochard, Sakalava Rail and Amber Mountain Rock Thrush.

Sunday 16th September — Tuesday 25th September 2018
(10 days)


Northern Madagascar Extension: Tuesday 25th September — Sunday 7th October (13 days)

Leader: János Oláh

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking for the most part, accommodations range from comfortable to basic

On this tour, which is a fantastic adventure through seldom travelled lands, we hope to find little-known rarities such as the superb Sakalava Rail (Pete Morris)

On this tour, which is a fantastic adventure through seldom travelled lands, we hope to find little-known rarities such as the superb Sakalava Rail (Pete Morris)

This exciting tour focuses on the seldom-seen endemics of the Comoro Islands and some equally rarely seen specialities of the northern part of Madagascar.

The Comoro Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands lying between Madagascar and Africa. Known by early seafaring Arabs as ‘The Islands of the Moon’, the Comoros are currently politically divided into two entities, the Union of Comoros (a sovereign state comprising Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli) and Mayotte (an ‘overseas collectivity’ of France).

Originally colonized by people of Malay-Polynesian origin, the islands were later colonized by waves of African, Arab and Shirazi (Persian) colonizers. Each of the islands has a very different character and there is a wonderful expression in the Comoros which says: “Mohéli sleeps, Anjouan works, Mayotte plays and Grande Comore complains!”

The Comoro Islands have been very much neglected by the ornithological world and very few birders have visited these islands in recent times, in spite of the fact that there are as many as 26 endemic bird species (or perhaps even more depending on the taxonomy followed). The islands underwent a period of political turmoil in the 1990s but have since recovered and are now political stable. This exciting tour is certainly one that should appeal to those with the spirit of adventure as seeing some of the planet’s least-known birds involves very simple camping and expedition-style conditions for a small part of the tour.

During our visit to the Comoros we will visit all four of the major islands and we have an excellent chance of finding the vast majority of their endemic birds, which include several globally threatened species. Among the endemics are Comoro Olive and Comoro Blue Pigeons, Comoro Cuckoo-Roller, four species of endemic scops owl (one on each island), Comoro Thrush, Humblot’s Flycatcher (a bird in its own genus), Comoro Blue Vanga and a series of brush-warblers, white-eyes, drongos and colourful sunbirds!

During the optional extension to Northern Madagascar we will first explore the Betsiboka River at Majunga and remote La Kinkony, a remote wetland to the southwest of Majunga where the Sakalava Rail was recently discovered. As well as this enigmatic species, we should also find Malagasy Sacred Ibis and Bernier’s Teal amongst a host of other interesting species.

Moving northwards, we will call in for a night at Ampijoroa (a location visited by our other Madagascar tours), where we will hope to find both Schlegel’s Asity and Van Dam’s Vanga during our short stay, before we explore a truly remote region where Madagascar Pochard was recently rediscovered and where other rarities such as Madagascar Red Owl, Meller’s Duck and Madagascar Harrier all still occur.

Finally, we will visit the isolated Montagne d’Ambre (Amber Mountain) massif where the endemic Amber Mountain Rock Thrush is to be found. All in all this is an unique and special journey in search of some of the least known birds in the Malagasy faunal region.

Birdquest has operated tours to the Comoros and the most remote parts of northern Madagascar since 2008.

Northern Madagascar-only Option: The Northern Madagascar extension can be taken as a stand-alone tour if preferrred.

Tsingy Wood Rail Extension Option: If there are enough participants interested, we can arrange an additional extension to western Madagascar to find the rare and localized endemic Tsingy Wood Rail. Please contact us if you are interested in participating in such an extension.

Helmet Vanga Extension Option: If there are enough participants interested, we can also arrange an additional extension to an area not too far from Antananarivo where there is a very high chance for the amazing Helmet Vanga and also Bernier’s Vanga. Please contact us if you are interested in participating in such an extension.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good or at least medium standard in most locations. On Anjouan and Moheli the hotels are fairly basic. For one night on Grande Comore, those who wish to look for Grand Comoro Scops Owl and Mount Karthala White-eye will have to camp out using camping mattresses and plastic sheeting to keep off any rain (the hotel rooms will be retained overnight). During the extension, for two nights at the Madagascar Pochard site, we will be staying in basic village accommodation with two or more people per room. For two nights at Lac Kinkony we will be staying in a relatively comfortable camp with two people per tent. Road transport is by 4x4 vehicles, minibuses (passenger vans) or cars and roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are several moderate grade walks on the Comoros. Those wishing to look for Grand Comoro Scops Owl and Mount Karthala White-eye will have to make a rather strenuous uphill hike in order to do so.

Climate: Rather variable. At this time of year the dry season is giving way to the rainy season. Many days at lower altitudes will be hot, dry and sunny, but it is regularly overcast and rainy. At higher altitudes the weather is similar but temperatures are cool to warm. It may be humid at times.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities range from worthwhile to fairly good.

Can be taken together with: ULTIMATE MADAGASCAR

These are provisional prices

Tour Price: £3390, €4240, $4750 Dzaoudzi/Moroni. Northern Madagascar Extension: £3750, €4690, $5250 (ending in Antsiranana).

Price includes all transportation (including all flights in the Comoros and the Moroni-Dzaoudzi-Majunga flights), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Single Room Supplement: £300, €375, $420. Extension: £210, €263, $294 (excluding Lac Kinkony and the Madagascar Pochard site).

Deposit: £400, €500, $550. Extension: £450, €550, $650.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

Of the endemics in the Comores, the Comoro Blue Pigeon is arguably one of the most spectacular. Around twenty two endemics are currently recognized, but plenty more are likely to be split. (Pete Morris)

Of the endemics in the Comores, the Comoro Blue Pigeon is arguably one of the most spectacular. Around twenty two endemics are currently recognized, but plenty more are likely to be split. (Pete Morris)

The magnificent Madagascar Red Owl is an excellent possibility on this tour (Pete Morris)

The magnificent Madagascar Red Owl is an excellent possibility on this tour (Pete Morris)

We will also go to see the recently re-discovered Madagascar Pochard, a species that we are helping to conserve (Pete Morris)

We will also go to see the recently re-discovered Madagascar Pochard, a species that we are helping to conserve (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Scaly Ground-Roller is likely to be one of the specials seen on the 'extension to the extension' to the Masoala (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Scaly Ground-Roller is likely to be one of the specials seen on the 'extension to the extension' to the Masoala (Pete Morris)

109 photos View Gallery Photos From THE COMOROS & NORTHERN MADAGASCAR
The endemics in the Comores include four scops owls, all of which were seen well in 2008. This inquisitive beast is a Mayotte Scops Owl (Pete Morris)

The endemics in the Comores include four scops owls, all of which were seen well in 2008. This inquisitive beast is a Mayotte Scops Owl (Pete Morris)

... and this, the poorly known Moheli Scops Owl, a species with an amazing voice (Pete Morris)

... and this, the poorly known Moheli Scops Owl, a species with an amazing voice (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Comoro Blue Vanga is a potential split (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Comoro Blue Vanga is a potential split (Pete Morris)

Other endemics include the colourful Mayotte Sunbird (Pete Morris)

Other endemics include the colourful Mayotte Sunbird (Pete Morris)

... Anjouan Sunbird (Pete Morris)

... Anjouan Sunbird (Pete Morris)

... Comoro Thrush (the three forms vary greatly and may actually be three species!) (Pete Morris)

... Comoro Thrush (the three forms vary greatly and may actually be three species!) (Pete Morris)

... the drab but rare Grand Comoro Drongo (Pete Morris)

... the drab but rare Grand Comoro Drongo (Pete Morris)

... and the more spectacular Mayotte Drongo (Pete Morris)

... and the more spectacular Mayotte Drongo (Pete Morris)

Other diverse wildlife in Madagascar includes the world's smallest chameleon (Pete Morris)

Other diverse wildlife in Madagascar includes the world's smallest chameleon (Pete Morris)

... and the splendid Crowned Sifaka, pictured here at Katsepy, south of Majunga (Pete Morris)

... and the splendid Crowned Sifaka, pictured here at Katsepy, south of Majunga (Pete Morris)

On the optional 'extension to the extension', we should find the amazing Helmet Vanga (Simon Harrap)

On the optional 'extension to the extension', we should find the amazing Helmet Vanga (Simon Harrap)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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