The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Indian Ocean Islands


Thursday 30th September – Friday 8th October 2021
Leader: Birdquest leader to be announced
9 Days Group Size Limit 8

NOTE: We plan to expand this tour itinerary significantly. Watch this space!

Birdquest’s Remote Madagascar birding tour explores an endemic-rich island that is a key birding tour destination. During our travels through Madagascar we will be birding in some remote northern parts of the island as we concentrate on a number of rarely-seen specialities, including the critically endangered Madagascar Pochard, Sakalava Rail and Red Owl.

We will first explore Lake Kinkony, a remote wetland to the southwest of Majunga where the Sakalava Rail was relatively recently discovered.

Moving northwards, we will explore a truly remote region where Madagascar Pochard was recently rediscovered and where other rarities such as Red Owl, Meller’s Duck and Malagasy Harrier all still occur.

As well as these mega-specialities, we can expect to see a wide range of Madagascar endemic birds and other species of interest.

Birdquest has operated Madagascar birding tours to the most remote parts of the island since 2008.

In 2021 this tour can be taken together with: COMORO ISLANDS

Tsingy Wood Rail Extension Option: If there are enough participants interested, we can arrange an extension to western Madagascar to find the rare and localized endemic Tsingy Wood Rail. Please inform us at the time of booking 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 extension to an area not too far from Antananarivo where there is a high chance for the amazing Helmet Vanga. Please inform us at the time of booking 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. For two nights at the Madagascar Pochard site and for two nights at Lac Kinkony we will be staying in a comfortable camp with two people per tent. Road transport is by 4×4 vehicles, minibuses (passenger vans) or cars and roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort during our Remote Madagascar tour is mostly easy, sometimes moderate.

Climate: Rather variable. Many days will be hot, dry and sunny, but it is sometimes overcast and rainy. It may be humid at times.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities during our Remote Madagascar tour range from worthwhile to fairly good.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees. Our tour prices also include all tipping, including tips for local guides and drivers. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately €150.

Deposit: £340, $440, €380.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates and deposit amount)

2021: provisional £3150, $3990, €3480. Majunga/Majunga.

Single Supplement: 2021: £170, $220, €190.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

The single room supplement excludes the four nights at Lac Kinkony and the Madagascar Pochard site.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

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.


Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 1  The tour begins this evening at the city of Majunga (or Mahajanga) in northwestern Madagascar, where we will overnight.

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 2  This morning we will take the ferry across the broad mouth of the Betsiboka River to Katsepy. Once at Katsepy, we will board our four-wheel drive vehicles and make our way to Lac Kinkony. This is a truly remote area that can only be reached with four-wheel-drive vehicles and then a boat trip. It is also one of the most intact wetlands in western Madagascar and holds a number of rare and threatened species. We will arrive at our comfortable camp late in the afternoon for a two nights stay.

During the day we may well encounter such interesting birds as Dimorphic Egret, Madagascan Kestrel, White-fronted Plover, Madagascan Pratincole, Madagascan Sandgrouse, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Greater and Lesser Vasa Parrots, Grey-headed Lovebird, Madagascan Cuckoo, Madagascan Coucal, Olive (or Madagascan) Bee-eater, Madagascan Bush Lark, Madagascan Wagtail, Madagascan Bulbul, Sickle-billed and Chabert’s Vangas, Madagascan Magpie-Robin, Madagascan Cisticola, Common Jery, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Souimanga Sunbird, Malagasy Green Sunbird, Madagascan Mannikin, the colourful Sakalava Weaver, Red Fody and Crested Drongo. We may well also encounter a small group of the attractive Decken’s Sifaka.

Widespread species may well include Squacco and Black Herons, Western Cattle and Great Egret, African Openbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Glossy Ibis, White-faced Whistling Duck, Yellow-billed Kite, Namaqua Dove, African Palm Swift, Broad-billed Roller, the introduced Common Myna and Pied Crow.

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 3  During 2002 the poorly known Sakalava Rail was discovered in the remote wetlands around Lac Kinkony, south of Majunga, confirming that the species was still extant. This poorly-known species was only reliably recorded five times in the 20th century, and until very recently, had barely been seen by a western ornithologist. Today, we will explore the tall Phragmites-choked wetlands by pirogues (dug-out canoes), and as we pick our way through the numerous small channels, surrounded by tall reeds, we should soon find the furtive Sakalava Rail.

We are also likely to encounter such interesting birds as the Madagascar subspecies of Little Bittern, Dimorphic Egret, Humblot’s Heron, Madagascan Harrier-Hawk, White-throated Rail, Madagascan Jacana, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Red-capped and Crested Couas, Torotoroka Scops Owl, Madagascan Nightjar, Madagascan Kingfisher, Madagascan Hoopoe, the vocal Madagascan Swamp Warbler and Common Newtonia.

More widespread species we are likely to find at Lake Kinkony include Little Grebe, Reed (or Long-tailed Cormorant), African Darter, Black-crowned Night, Malagasy Pond, Striated, Purple and Grey Herons, African Spoonbill, Comb Duck, Red-billed Teal, African Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Whiskered Tern,

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 4  After a final morning at Lac Kinkony we will make our way back to Majunga for an overnight stay. En route, we will make a small detour to Katsepy lighthouse to see the delightful Crowned Sifaka.

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 5  From Majunga we head off inland towards the extremely remote Madagascan Pochard area, but we will break our journey for a night at Antsohihy for an overnight stay.

Along the way we will stop at a wetland where we are likely to find come African Pygmy Goose and perhaps White-backed Duck and Allen’s Gallinule.

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 6  From Antsohihy we will drive into the remote area where the Madagascar Pochards were rediscovered for a two nights stay. It is quite an adventure to reach the site as the roads are pretty rough and almost non-existent in places. We will make a few stops at wetlands on the way where we are likely to find a few new species such as Hottentot Teal, the declining Malagasy Harrier, Brown-throated Sand Martin, Madagascan Cisticola, the sneaky Grey Emu-tail, Madagascan Mannikin and, with luck, a Baillon’s Crake. We should reach our camp, in a small and very friendly village in the afternoon, in time for some initial exploration.

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 7  The amazing rediscovery of this thought-to-be-extinct species has to be one of the most exciting ornithological moments of recent years. A quirk of nature has left the Madagascan Pochard’s lake with no apparent commercial value (there are no fish and it is too steep for rice growing). However, now that Birdquest have helped to establish the local conservation body, the lake has a value as an ecotourism resource, and hopefully will be kept pristine. We should have little difficulty seeing this critically endangered species, and at this time of year, they may well have broods of small young.

Whilst looking for the pochard, we should also find the increasingly rare Meller’s Duck and Madagascan Grebe, as well as Red-knobbed Coot.

The surrounding forest also holds some special species, foremost of which is the amazing Red Owl, which can often be seen at its daytime roost. The elusive Madagascan Owl occurs in the same area, and other goodies present in the forest include Madagascan Blue Pigeon, the splendid Red-fronted Coua, the arboreal Blue Coua, the hyper-active Common Sunbird-Asity, the trunk-loving Grey-crowned Tetraka, Tylas Vanga (which may actually be an oriole), Rand’s Warbler and Stripe-throated Jery (the two often singing from adjacent song-posts!), Green Jery, Madagascan Starling and the declining Forest Fody.

Other species in this area include Madagascan Buzzard, Rainforest Scops Owl, Alpine and Madagascan Swifts, Madagascan Pygmy Kingfisher, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Cuckoo-Roller, Mascarene and Brown-throated Martins, Ashy Cuckooshrike, Spectacled Tetraka, Red-tailed, Hook-billed and Blue Vangas, Madagascan Stonechat, White-throated Oxylabes, Crossley’s Babbler, Grey Emutail, Malagasy Brush Warbler, Dark Newtonia, Madagascan White-eye and Nelicourvi Weaver.

Whilst travelling to and from the lake we may well see Madagascan Buttonquails and Common Quail, and perhaps Madagascan Partridge, whilst a foray into one of the marshes will, with a bit of luck, yield views of the furtive Madagascan Flufftail and Madagascan Rail, as well as Madagascan Snipe. If we are very lucky we will find the rare Slender-billed Flufftail.

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 8  After a final morning in the Madagascan Pochard area we will return to Antsohihy for an overnight stay.

Remote Madagascar Tour: Day 9  Today we will return to Majunga, where the tour will end this afternoon. (There are flights from Majunga to Antananarivo for those wanting to exit Madagascar via its capital, or you can fly to Dzaoudzi and take an onward flight to Nairobi and thence Europe or North America.


by János Oláh

View Report


by Dani López-Velasco

View Report

Other Indian Ocean Islands birding tours by Birdquest include:


Indian Ocean Islands



Indian Ocean Islands



Indian Ocean Islands