The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Africa (and its islands)

REMOTE MADAGASCAR – an adventure in search of rarely observed endemics

Wednesday 8th October – Saturday 18th October 2025

Leaders: Birdquest leader to be announced and local bird guides

11 Days Group Size Limit 7
Masoala Peninsula Extension

Friday 3rd October – Wednesday 8th October 2025

6 Days Group Size Limit 7


Birdquest’s Remote Madagascar birding tours first explore some infrequently visited parts of an endemic-rich island that is a key birding tour destination. During our travels through Madagascar, we will be birding in some remote parts of the island as we concentrate on a number of rarely-seen specialities, including the critically endangered Madagascar Pochard, Sakalava Rail, Slender-billed Flufftail, Red Owl, Madagascar Serpent Eagle, the awesome Helmet Vanga (at its best and easiest site) and Bernier’s Vanga. There is even an adventurous extension for the little-known Tsingy Wood Rail.

Our Remote Madagascar tour starts in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, but we soon move on to Majunga on the northwest coast.

Setting out from Majunga, we will first explore Lake Kinkony, a remote wetland to the southwest of Majunga where the Sakalava Rail was relatively recently discovered. A rich variety of other birds occur in this area, including many Madagascar endemics. Lemurs include both the beautiful Crowned Sifaka and Decken’s Sifaka.

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 regularly. There is also a real chance for the rare Slender-billed Flufftail here as well as the equally rare Madagascar Serpent Eagle.

In addition, for those who have not yet had the opportunity, there will be an optional opportunity to visit the exciting and remote Masoala Peninsula in northeastern Madagascar, home to the extraordinary Helmet Vanga and Bernier’s Vanga, as well as the beautiful Red-breasted Coua, the retiring Scaly Ground Roller, the unobtrusive Brown Mesite and the gorgeous Velvet Asity. We will also have another chance for the elusive and rare Madagascar Serpent Eagle, As well as these major specialities, we can expect to see a wide range of Madagascar endemic birds and other species of interest.

All in all, this is a real Madagascan birding adventure, travelling far away from the route followed by established Madagascar bird tours. We need to point out that in order to visit such remote areas during the main tour, there are five long and in parts bumpy road journeys.

Birdquest has operated Madagascar tours since 1987.

This tour can be taken together with the COMORO ISLANDS

Important: Flights between Antananarivo and Majunga/Mahajanga are nowadays less frequent than they used to be and even more importantly the flight timings change unpredictably (to a different day or to a radically different time of day!), so flying to the northwest and back is no longer a reliable option. There is too much risk of a disrupted itinerary, leaving our group with too little time in the field at one or both locations in the northwest. In consequence, we prefer the security of driving to and from the region.

Tsingy Wood Rail Extension: If there are two or more participants interested, we will arrange an extension to the remote Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in western Madagascar to find the very range-restricted endemic Tsingy Wood Rail. The species was only described in 2011. The extension will last for four days and will involve basic camping for three nights and two long and rough road journeys by 4×4 vehicle. The cost will depend on the number of participants. Please inform us at the time of booking if you are interested in participating in this extension, which would have to be in the period before the tour. This is definitely something for those who appreciate an adventure!

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good or medium standard. For three nights at the Madagascar Pochard site and for two nights at Lac Kinkony there will be quite comfortable camping with fairly large tents available for twin or single occupancy. Most tents are positioned under shelters. At the pochard site, there are flush toilets and showers, at Lac Kinkony an earth closet and a bucket-type shower. Road transport is by 4×4 vehicles and roads mostly range from fairly poor to bad. There are some long journeys on such roads in northwest Madagascar during the main tour.

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.


  • Experiencing the amazing ‘eighth continent’ with its completely unique fauna
  • Finding Madagascar’s unique bird families
  • Seeing the rare but friendly Sakalava Rail by boat in its remote swampy habitat
  • Seeing the recently rediscovered and critically endangered Madagascar Pochard
  • Having a great chance of finding the stunning Red Owl and a realistic chance of the rarely seen Madagascar Serpent Eagle
  • Watching Helmet Vangas, one of our world’s truly most remarkable avian inhabitants! An easy bird at the Masoala Peninsula, unlike elsewhere.
  • Finding stunning and highly-desired Scaly and Short-legged Ground Rollers
  • Seeking out many other rare and seldom seen species such as Madagascar Ibis, Slender-billed Flufftail, Red-breasted Coua and Bernier’s Vanga
  • Encountering an amazing variety of lemurs, including stunning Red Ruffed Lemur and rare Crowned and Decken’s Sifakas
  • An amazing variety of reptiles and amphibians, in particular some incredible chameleons and geckos and ‘painted’ frogs
  • Watching, and especially listening to, the bizarre Cuckoo-roller
  • Wondering why so many of Madagascar’s forest species seem to have acquired electric-blue eye-shadow!
  • A good chance to see all the realistical gettable Madagascar endemic bird species that are not possible on our Classic Madagascar tour


  • Day 1: Evening extension start at Antananarivo.
  • Day 2: Flight to Maroantsetra.
  • Days 3-5: Masoala Peninsula.
  • Day 6: Return to Antananarivo.
  • Day 1: Evening tour start at Antananarivo.
  • Day 2: Drive to Beamilaka area.
  • Day 3: By road and boat via Majunga and Katsepy to Lake Kinkony.
  • Day 4: Lake Kinkony.
  • Day 5: Lake Kinkony, then return to Majunga.
  • Day 6: Drive to Antsohihy.
  • Day 7: Drive to Bemanevika.
  • Days 8-9: Bemanevika.
  • Day 10: Return to Antsohihy.
  • Day 11: Return to Antananarivo for late evening tour end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers, boatmen and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include these flights:


Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

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

2025: provisional £3430, $4550, €4090, AUD6730. Antananarivo/Antananarivo.
Masoala Peninsula Extension: £1840, $2450, €2200, AUD3620. Antananarivo/Antananarivo.

Single Supplement: 2025: £280, $380, €340, AUD560.
Masoala Peninsula Extension: £210, $280, €250, AUD410.

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.

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: Day 1  Our tour begins this evening at Antananarivo. An airport transfer to our hotel will be provided.

Remote Madagascar: Day 2  Travel by road to Beamilaka in the Ampijoroa region for an overnight stay. Short birding stops en route, in particular for Madagascar Partridge.

[Note: Flights between Antananarivo and Majunga/Mahajanga are much less frequent than they used to be and the flight timings change unpredictability, so flying to the northwest and back is no longer a reliable option. There is far too much risk of a disrupted itinerary, so we prefer the security of driving to and from the region.]

Remote Madagascar: Day 3  Today we will drive to the city of Majunga (or Mahajanga) and 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 Malagasy Kestrel, White-fronted Plover, Madagascar Pratincole, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Malagasy Coucal, Olive (or Madagascar) Bee-eater, Madagascar Lark, Madagascar Wagtail, Crested Drongo, Madagascar Bulbul, Madagascar Magpie-Robin, Madagascar Cisticola, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Souimanga and Malagasy Green Sunbirds, Madagascar Mannikin, the colourful Sakalava Weaver and Red Fody. Dimorphic Egret and Madagascar Sandgrouse are also possible.

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

Remote Madagascar: Day 4  In 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 the Little Bittern, Humblot’s Heron, Madagascar Harrier-Hawk, Madagascar Buzzard, White-throated Rail, Madagascar Jacana, Madagascar Green Pigeon, Red-capped and Crested Couas, Torotoroka Scops Owl, Madagascar Nightjar, Malagasy Kingfisher, Madagascar Hoopoe, Greater and Lesser Vasa Parrots, Grey-headed Lovebird, the wonderful Sickle-billed Vanga, Chabert Vanga, Common Newtonia, the vocal Madagascar Swamp Warbler, Long-billed Bernieria and Common Jery. More uncommon species of interest include Malagasy Sacred Ibis, Malagasy Pond Heron and Giant Coua.

More widespread species we are likely to find at Lake Kinkony include Little Grebe, Reed (or Long-tailed) Cormorant, African Darter, Black-crowned Night Heron, Striated, Purple and Grey Herons, African Spoonbill, Knob-billed Duck, African Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Whiskered Tern. Less common species include White-backed Duck, African Pygmy Goose, Blue-billed (or Hottentot) Teal and Allen’s Gallinule.

Lemurs found in the area include the attractive Decken’s Sifaka, Grey Mouse Lemur and Mongoose Lemur.

Remote Madagascar: Day 5  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 (or we may do this on the outbound journey to Kinkony). Depending on the tides, we may be able to look for the rare Bernier’s (or Madagascar) Teal.

Remote Madagascar: Day 6  From Majunga we head off inland towards the extremely remote Bemanevika 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 African Pygmy Goose and perhaps White-backed Duck and Allen’s Gallinule.

Remote Madagascar: Day 7  From Antsohihy we will drive into the remote Bemanevika area, the place where the Madagascar Pochard was rediscovered, for a three nights stay at the edge of a nice area of forest

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 Blue-billed (or Hottentot) Teal, the declining Malagasy Harrier, Brown-throated Martin, Madagascar Cisticola, Madagascar Mannikin and, with luck, Baillon’s Crake.

Remote Madagascar: Days 8-9  The amazing rediscovery of this thought-to-be-extinct species has to be one of the most exciting ornithological moments of recent times. A quirk of nature left the Madagascar Pochards’ remote lake with no apparent commercial value (there are no fish and it is too steep for rice growing). However, since Birdquest helped to establish the local conservation body, the lake now has 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. The population has now increased to 50 or more.

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

The surrounding forest also holds some very special endemic species, foremost of which is the amazing Red Owl, which can often be seen at its daytime roost. (If not, we will go out at night to find one.) The rather elusive Madagascar Owl occurs in the same area and there is even a real chance for the rare Madagascar Serpent Eagle!

Other birds of particular note present in the forest and adjacent open areas include Malagasy Harrier, Madagascar 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, Forest Rock Thrush, Madagascar Starling and the declining Forest Fody.

Other species found in the area include Frances’s Sparrowhawk, Madagascar Cuckoo, Rainforest Scops Owl, Alpine and Malagasy Black Swifts, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Cuckoo-roller, Broad-billed Roller, Mascarene and Brown-throated Martins, Madagascar Cuckooshrike, Spectacled Tetraka, Red-tailed, Hook-billed, White-headed, Blue and Crossley’s Vangas, Madagascar Stonechat, White-throated Oxylabes, Grey Emutail, Malagasy Brush Warbler, Dark Newtonia, Madagascar Cisticola, Madagascar White-eye and Nelicourvi Weaver.

Whilst travelling to and from the lake we may well see Madagascar Buttonquail and perhaps even the scarce Madagascar Partridge, whilst a foray into one of the marshes at Bemanevika could well yield views of the furtive Madagascar Flufftail and Madagascar Rail, as well as Madagascar Snipe. With persistence and a bit of luck we will come across the rare Slender-billed Flufftail.

Remote Madagascar: Day 10  Today we will return to Antsohihy for an overnight stay, making a few short birding stops en route.

Remote Madagascar: Day 11  Today we will return to Antananarivo by road for an evening tour end after dinner at our hotel near the airport. This will be a long travel day.

Hotel rooms will be provided for group members and you are welcome to stay until the following morning if you are not leaving Antananarivo during the night. Airport transfers are included.

(Most international flights out of Antananarivo depart after midnight.).



Remote Madagascar (Masoala): Day 1  The extension begins this evening at Antananarivo. An airport transfer to our hotel will be provided.

Remote Madagascar (Masoala): Day 2  This morning we will take a flight to Maroantsetra, a small town situated on the northeast coast of Madagascar. As we will most likely not arrive until midday or later, we will not be able to cross safely by boat to the Masoala today and so we will overnight at Maroantsetra.

We should

have time for some birding around Maroantsetra where possibilities include Dimorphic Egret, Red Fody, Madagascar Mannikin and Madagascar Wagtail as well as widespread species such as Black-crowned Night Heron, Striated, Squacco, Purple and Black Herons, Western Cattle and Great Egrets, Yellow-billed Kite, Reed Cormorant, Grey (or Black-bellied) Plover, Common Ringed Plovers, Eurasian Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Common and Curlew Sandpipers, Greater Crested, Lesser Crested and perhaps Roseate and Common Terns, African Palm Swift, Pied Crow and the ubiquitous introduced Common Myna.

Remote Madagascar (Masoala): Day 3  Early this morning we will board our boat for the journey across the Bay of Antongila to the remote Masoala Peninsula for a three nights stay.

As we approach the eastern shore of the bay, heavily forested hills stretch as far as the eye can see, and in many places, the forest extends right down to the beach, for settlements are few and far between in this area. Eventually, we will reach our lodge, situated just 200 metres (roughly 600 ft) from the beach and right at the edge of the forest. We will be able to spend much of the day exploring the wonderful Masoala Peninsula.

Remote Madagascar (Masoala): Days 4-5  The Masoala Peninsula has only relatively recently been gazetted as a national park and holds some of the finest remaining rainforests in Madagascar. Huge buttress-rooted trees cloaked in epiphytic orchids and ferns provide cool shade for a relatively open forest floor and there are numerous clear streams and rivers. This is most definitely a beautiful and remote part of the island, indeed its forests have been saved by that very isolation from the Madagascan mainstream. Birding here feels like a privilege.

The star avian attraction of the Masoala is, without doubt, the improbable and spectacular Helmet Vanga with its stunning combination of black and tan feathering topped off with a huge, almost fluorescent, turquoise-blue bill. We have a very good chance of seeing this striking bird multiple times during our visit as it is fairly common on the Masoala and often associates with mixed flocks of vangas. Helmet Vangas can often be seen quite close to our lodge and here there is no need for the long hike that is required from those who want to look for this special bird in the Andasibe region of eastern Madagascar during our standard Madagascar tour.

Another major speciality we should also come across is the smart Bernier’s Vanga, a species confined to the rainforests of northeastern Madagascar which is reasonably easy to encounter here but hard to see around Andasibe. Perhaps we will come across a jet-black male hacking away at an epiphyte or a tiger-striped female stripping bark from a bough.

In addition, Red-breasted Coua is particularly common and easy to see at the Masoala as compared with elsewhere in Madagascar. We should be able to lure one into view, its blue orbital skin shining ‘electrically’ in the gloomy undergrowth, whilst its breast glows like burning coals.

We will also have excellent chances to find the stunning Scaly Ground Roller, another forest floor specialist, and the more arboreal, puffbird-like Short-legged Ground Roller.

Madagascar Serpent Eagle, a species that had not been recorded for over half a century, was re-found in very small numbers during long-term studies in the Masoala. We have sometimes recorded this shy forest raptor in the Masoala but it is elusive and so we will be hoping for good fortune.

Among the many other endemics or regional endemics that we may well see at this wonderful location are Malagasy Sacred Ibis, the attractive Madagascar Ibis, Madagascar Harrier-Hawk, Frances’s Sparrowhawk, Madagascar Buzzard, Brown Mesite, Madagascar Wood Rail, White-throated Rail, Madagascar Pratincole, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Madagascar Green Pigeon, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Malagasy Coucal, Crestd and Blue Couas, Madagascar Cuckoo, Madagascar Cuckoo-Roller, Rainforest Scops Owl, Madagascar Spinetail, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Malagasy Kingfisher, Greater and Lesser Vasa Parrots, Red-tailed, Hook-billed, White-headed, Chabert, Blue, Rufous and Tylas Vangas, the fabulous Crossley’s Vanga, Common Newtonia, Madagascar Cuckooshrike, Crested Drongo, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Malagasy Bulbul, Mascarene Martin, Long-billed Bernieria, Spectacled Tetraka, Green Jery, Common Jery, Malagasy White-eye, Madagascar Starling, Madagascar Magpuie-Robin, Souimanga and Malagasy Green Sunbirds and Nelicourvi Weaver. We may also see one or two of the scarcer species such as Madagascar Sparrowhawk or Banded Kestrel.

More widespread species may include Red-billed Teal, White-fronted Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Bridled Tern, Broad-billed Roller and Olive Bee-eater.

On the mammal front, we will surely hear the raucous cries of the fabulous Red Ruffed Lemur and we will have a very good chance of seeing this impressive species, as well as Greater Dwarf Lemur, White-fronted Brown Lemur, Eastern Avahi, Eastern Grey Bamboo Lemur and perhaps Brown Mouse Lemur, Scott’s (or Masoala) Sportive Lemur or Moore’s Avahi.

Remote Madagascar (Masoala): Day 6  We will return to Maroantsetra this morning and from there take a flight to Antananarivo where the extension ends this afternoon.


by Mark Van Beirs

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