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ULTIMATE MADAGASCAR

Birdquest's Ultimate Madagascar birding tour is the most comprehensive itinerary available in this very popular birdwatching and lemur-watching venue. Our Ultimate Madagascar tour records not only an extraordinarily high proportion of the island's endemic birds but also a wonderful variety of lemurs.

Tuesday 9th October — Friday 26th October 2018
(18 days)


Southeastern Madagascar Extension: Friday 26th October — Tuesday 30th October (5 days)

Leaders: Chris Kehoe and local bird guides

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable to fairly simple 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 wide 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, which richly deserves the ‘ultimate’ epithet, being the most comprehensive bird tour of Madagascar available, we shall sample all of the island’s principal habitats.

From the capital Antananarivo, situated on the high plateau, we travel first to the lush eastern rainforest at Ranomafana where we will search for the beautiful Pitta-like and Rufous-headed Ground Rollers, the enigmatic Brown Mesite and three species of asity, as well as many other forest endemics and a superb selection of lemurs.

From Ranomafana we continue southwards through the heart of the island, a memorable journey that will take us to the remote Isalo Massif and finally the southwestern coast at Tulear (or Toliara), picking up some localized endemics such as Giant Coua, Appert’s Tetraka and Benson’s Rock Thrush as we go, not to mention our first Ring-tailed Lemurs and Verreaux's Sifakas.

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.

Subsequently we shall visit the eastern rainforest at Perinet, famous as the home of the Indri but also a place that harbours many endemic birds, including Madagascan Ibis, the lovely Scaly Ground Roller and the amazing Collared Nightjar.

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.

Finally, before we take our leave of the magical ‘Grand Isle’, we shall explore the dry deciduous forests, lakes and rivers of the Majunga (or Mahajanga) region in the northwest, the haunts of Malagasy Sacred Ibis, Bernier’s Teal, Madagascan Fish Eagle, White-breasted Mesite and Van Dam’s Vanga amongst others.

During the optional extension we will explore the far southeast of Madagascar around Fort Dauphin (or Tolanaro). Here we will visit the famous lemur reserve at Berenty, enjoying the unique experience of watching lemurs (including Ring-tailed and Red-fronted Brown Lemurs, and Verreaux’s Sifakas) at ultra-close quarters and seeing some fine endemic birds, including White-browed Owl and quite possibly Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk. We will also visit a remote area where we should find the seldom-seen Red-tailed Newtonia.

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 variable in quality (although mostly much improved on the past). There are some long drives.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are some harder walks.

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 will be rather humid, especially in the east.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities are good.

Can be taken together with: THE COMOROS & NORTHERN MADAGASCAR, or just the NORTHERN MADAGASCAR section of that tour

Tour Price: £5490, €6480, $7190 Antananarivo/Antananarivo. Single Room Supplement: £578, €682, $757. Deposit: £650, €780, $850.

Southeastern Madagascar Extension: £1490, €1760, $1950. Single Room Supplement: £136, €160, $178. Deposit: £200, €240, $260.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes these flights: Tulear (Toliaro)-Antananarivo, Antananarivo-Fort Dauphin (Tolarno)-Antananarivo.

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.

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 Verreaux's Sifakas of Berenty. 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 Verreaux's Sifakas of Berenty. Lemur taxonomy has taken off in recent years, and the number of species recognized has more than tripled in recent years! (Pete Morris)

The gorgeous Ring-tailed Lemur, another of Madagascar's must-see special creatures (Pete Morris)

The gorgeous Ring-tailed Lemur, another of Madagascar's must-see special creatures (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 can now be seen in a much more accessible area (Simon Harrap)

The 'best of the bunch' is surely the amazing Helmet Vanga, which can now be seen 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)

Red-fronted Brown Lemur (Pete Morris)

Red-fronted Brown Lemur (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)

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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