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BEST OF MADAGASCAR

Birdquest’s Best of Madagascar birding tour is a fabulous way to explore this classic birdwatching and wildlife destination. You can expect to see all of the endemic Malagasy bird families plus a diverse selection of lemurs ranging from the diminutive and nocturnal mouse lemurs to the fabulous Indri. Our tour will take us to the eastern rainforest with its wealth of vangas (including the extraordinary Helmet Vanga) and Malagasy warblers, Cuckoo Roller, Scaly and Short-legged Ground Rollers and beautiful and mysterious Collared Nightjar, then to the dry forest and lakes of the northwest where Madagascan Fish Eagle, White-breasted Mesite and Schlegel’s Asity reside, and finally to the remarkable ‘spiny forest’ of the southwest with its Subdesert Mesites and Long-tailed Ground Rollers.

Monday 30th October — Saturday 11th November 2017
(13 days)


Leaders: Chris Kehoe and local bird guides

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly comfortable accommodations

The wealth of endemic birds on Madagascar is quite incredible. This pair of cryptically-coloured Collared Nightjars are sitting on the forest floor in siamese-twin fashion, hoping to avoid detection by predators. For a selection of other shots from Madagascar, please look at the 2008 Madagascar and the 2008 Comoros & Northern Madagascar tour (Pete Morris)

The wealth of endemic birds on Madagascar is quite incredible. This pair of cryptically-coloured Collared Nightjars are sitting on the forest floor in siamese-twin fashion, hoping to avoid detection by predators. For a selection of other shots from Madagascar, please look at the 2008 Madagascar and the 2008 Comoros & Northern Madagascar tour (Pete Morris)

Madagascar – an island continent that broke free from Africa about 100 million years ago, a world where plants and animals have been frozen in time. Seven families of mammals, six (or, depending on taxonomic interpretation, seven) families of birds and six families of plants are unique to this huge island, ninety percent of its forest species are endemic, yet today this wonderful heritage is sorely endangered by a burgeoning human population and unfettered exploitation.

Intense international interest has been generated by Madagascar’s problems and some action is now being taken to safeguard its natural treasure house, not least by the Malagasy themselves, so that there is some hope that this unique evolutionary experiment will not be lost forever. Over 1600km from north to south, Madagascar encompasses a whole range of environments. The massive escarpments of the eastern slope rise to over 2800m and, exposed to the moist trade winds from the Indian Ocean, experience high rainfall. Here are situated what remains of Madagascar’s immensely rich rainforests. These same escarpments create a vast rain shadow across the rest of the island. From the grasslands of the interior plateau the land drops slowly away to the dry deciduous woodland of the west coast and the unique spiny Didierea forest of the semi-desert south.

For the traveller it is Madagascar’s strange mixture of Asian and African cultures that most appeals. Amongst naturalists the island is best known for its fabulous lemurs, man’s most distant cousins, ranging in size from tiny mouse-lemurs to the great Indri, and these are certainly a prime attraction, but for birdwatchers more than 120 endemic species of birds, including six or seven endemic families, including the mesites, the ground rollers, the cuckoo rollers, the asities (or false sunbirds), the vangas, the newly-recognized Malagasy warblers (Bernieridae) and sometimes the couas, are of equal interest.

During this exciting tour we shall sample all of Madagascar’s principal habitats and we can expect to see the majority of Madagascar’s fascinating endemic birds, including almost all of the most spectacular species, as well as some fabulous lemurs.

From the capital Antananarivo, situated on the high plateau, we travel first to the lush eastern rainforest at Perinet where we will search for the beautiful Scaly, Short-legged and Pitta-like Ground Rollers, Madagascan Ibis, the amazing Collared Nightjar and two species of asity, as well as many other forest endemics and a superb selection of lemurs, including the famous Indri.

While we are based at Perinet there will also be an exciting opportunity to visit the remote Antavolobe Reserve, home of the extraordinary Helmet Vanga and the uncommon Bernier’s Vanga.

From Perinet we return to Antananarivo and then travel to the dry deciduous forests and lakes of Ankarafantsika in the northwest of the island. Here we will explore the haunts of Madagascar Fish Eagle, White-breasted Mesite, Red-capped and Coquerel’s Couas, Schlegel’s Asity and Van Dam’s Vanga amongst many others.

Finally we head far to the south, to Tulear on the southwestern coast of Madagascar, deep in the arid zone where the landscapes are a world away from the rainforests of the eastern part of the country. Here we shall explore the spiny Didierea forest, lagoons, coastal reefs and mudflats. Amongst the spiny forest we should enjoy close encounters with Subdesert Mesite and Long-tailed Ground Roller, two of Madagascar’s most sought-after specialities, and we will also find a host of other great birds before we take our leave of the magical ‘Grand Isle’.

Birdquest has operated tours to Madagascar since 1987.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are mostly of good standard. The lodge at Ampijoroa is fairly simple, although pleasant and comfortable. Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are now much improved and often good.

Walking: The walking effort is easy for the most part, but there will be a few optional harder walks.

Climate: Many days at lower altitudes will be hot, dry and sunny, but it is sometimes overcast. At higher altitudes the weather is similar but temperatures are cool to warm. It will be rather humid, especially in the east, but there is only a low chance of rain at this time of year.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities are good.

Tour Price: £4080, €4810, $5340 Antananarivo/Antananarivo.

Price includes all transportation (including the Antananarivo-Tulear-Antananarivo 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: £420, €496, $551.

Single rooms may not be available at Ampijoroa for all those requesting them, as the lodge only has a small number of rooms. Anyone having to share unexpectedly will be given an appropriate refund.

Deposit: £450, €550, $600.

Base prices for this tour are in Euros. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = €1.180 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

We generally see a very good selection of lemurs on our tours, including the amazing dancing sifakas. Lemur taxonomy has taken off in recent years, and the number of species recognized has more than tripled in recent years! (Pete Morris)

We generally see a very good selection of lemurs on our tours, including the amazing dancing sifakas. Lemur taxonomy has taken off in recent years, and the number of species recognized has more than tripled in recent years! (Pete Morris)

The recently discovered Red-shouldered Vanga is just one member of this diverse endemic family (Pete Morris)

The recently discovered Red-shouldered Vanga is just one member of this diverse endemic family (Pete Morris)

The 'best of the bunch' is surely the amazing Helmet Vanga, which we can now see in a much more accessible area (Simon Harrap)

The 'best of the bunch' is surely the amazing Helmet Vanga, which we can now see in a much more accessible area (Simon Harrap)

Sickle-billed Vanga, another member of an unfeasibly diverse bird family (Pete Morris)

Sickle-billed Vanga, another member of an unfeasibly diverse bird family (Pete Morris)

Short-legged Ground-Roller, one of the five members of this spectacular endemic family (Pete Morris)

Short-legged Ground-Roller, one of the five members of this spectacular endemic family (Pete Morris)

We will be looking for Scaly Ground Roller in the Perinet/Mantadia area (Pete Morris)

We will be looking for Scaly Ground Roller in the Perinet/Mantadia area (Pete Morris)

A Long-tailed Ground Roller peers through a haze of thorns. We will spend some time in Ifaty's spiny Forest trying to get good views of this unique and beautiful bird (Pete Morris)

A Long-tailed Ground Roller peers through a haze of thorns. We will spend some time in Ifaty's spiny Forest trying to get good views of this unique and beautiful bird (Pete Morris)

The Subdesert Mesite looks just as bizarre as its name suggests and is another special inhabitant of the spiny forest (Pete Morris)

The Subdesert Mesite looks just as bizarre as its name suggests and is another special inhabitant of the spiny forest (Pete Morris)

The superb Common Sunbird-Asity, now thought to be closely related to Broadbills! (Pete Morris)

The superb Common Sunbird-Asity, now thought to be closely related to Broadbills! (Pete Morris)

A fantastic array of reptiles and amphibians can be found in Madagascar (Pete Morris)

A fantastic array of reptiles and amphibians can be found in Madagascar (Pete Morris)

The amazing Indri, the largest of the extant lemurs (Pete Morris)

The amazing Indri, the largest of the extant lemurs (Pete Morris)

Verreaux's Sifaka is one of the lovliest of this amazing group of lemurs (Pete Morris)

Verreaux's Sifaka is one of the lovliest of this amazing group of lemurs (Pete Morris)

The endangered Appert's Greenbul is only known from two forest blocks, one at Zombitsy Forest! (Pete Morris)

The endangered Appert's Greenbul is only known from two forest blocks, one at Zombitsy Forest! (Pete Morris)

The extraordinary vegetation of Ifaty's spiny forest is just as spectacular as its special inhabitants (Pete Morris)

The extraordinary vegetation of Ifaty's spiny forest is just as spectacular as its special inhabitants (Pete Morris)

A sedate Banded Kestrel surveys the spiny forest (Pete Morris)

A sedate Banded Kestrel surveys the spiny forest (Pete Morris)

The unusual-looking Madagascar Crested Ibis usually shows rather well (Pete Morris)

The unusual-looking Madagascar Crested Ibis usually shows rather well (Pete Morris)

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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