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24 Days North-West Birding Safari in Madagascar

Hotel Chalet des Roses, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar

Ornithological Safari in Madagascar

Join NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar for a birding and wildlife tour of this otherworldly land! This tour is designated for those who really are keen on birds and adventures. The North-West is good for serious birders who may have already done the basics of Madagascar. The standard Madagascar trips that most birding companies do allow one to see perhaps 80% of the endemics given almost a month, but visits to more remote sites are needed to see the other species.

Key information

  • Minimum group size: 2 persons
  • Maximum group size: 12 persons
  • Starting point and ending point: Antananarivo
  • Children policy: Minimum age allowed for participation is 12 years old and all participating children need to be supervised
  • Languages: English, French, and Russian
  • Park fees are included

Meet the guides

Solofo
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Highlights

  • 22 days of exciting trips and game drives
  • Entrance parks and reserves fees and the services of a local ornithological guide
  • Sights of various species of birds, lemurs, Madagascar reptiles, butterflies, and more
  • Wildlife viewing in Mahavavy-Kinkony Complex and Bemanevika Special Reserve
  • Delicious and hearty meals throughout the tour
  • Use of a 4x4 vehicle, boats, and all transfers
  • Complimentary airport transfers
  • 23 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


23 activity days in English
The organizer also speaks: French, Russian
Group size: 2-12 participants
Airport transfer included: Ivato International Airport
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Accommodation

You will stay in various accommodations provided by NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar that consist of only the best accommodation options. Although NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar uses a variety of properties, their preference is for small, characterful, owner-managed properties which are crucially located close to the best wildlife sites. It helps to keep travel to a minimum and ensure you are in the right place at the right time, although it does mean, on occasion, location is a higher priority than comfort.

Depending on what is available locally, NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar can arrange everything from top-end accommodation with all the associated comforts, to simple mid-range camps, lodges, and hotels. Even if your preference is for luxury, it may be worth suffering some minor discomfort for a few nights to get the very best bird sightings - as long as you can then return to comfortable accommodation.

Accommodations for this safari are in standard hotels / bungalows (similar to European three-star hotels) on a bed and breakfast basis. Please note that this trip cannot be adjusted for luxury hotel options in some places. Additionally, hotels can be replaced by similar ones. You will be provided with the following accommodation options, as follows:

  • Day 1, 23: Tana - Hotel Chalet des Roses: The hotel Chalet des Roses is located in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, specifically in the quarter of Antsahavola. The hotel is centrally located in the heart of the city - surrounded by the American, French, and Swiss embassies, and numerous international banks - ensuring a safe and vibrant environment. The Chalet des Roses offers the comforts of a modern hotel and classic charm, decorated in classic Italian tastes, with the aromas of Italian cuisine in its restaurant.
  • Day 2-3: Anjozorobe - Angavo Protected Area - Saha Forest Camp Hotel: Elegant bungalows in the heart of a humid and tropical forest. Equiped with private bathrooms with hot water and mobile heating in winter, each bungalow has a large balcony opening to a green landscape. The restaurant and its raised balcony are invitations for relaxation and serenity.
  • Three meals are served; picnic baskets will be provided during walks. The crossed cooking is with local products, like rice, meat, chicken, vegetables, seasonal fruits. Kitchen staff honors to enhance spices and products from Fanamby’s protected areas (cashew nuts, vanilla, wild peppers, pink peppers, red rices).
  • Day 4: Ambohitantely Special Reserve - the camp in the reserve with full board
  • Day 5-7, 13: Ankarafantsika National Park - Gite de Ampijoroa: Gite de Ampijoroa has seven basic lakeside bungalows that are set discreetly in the forest and face Ravelobe Lake. They are clean, comfortable, and simple, and are ideal to get an early start in the forest the next day (being a two minutes walk from the park entrance). Across the road, at the campsite and research station, is the simple, open-air restaurant La Pigargue.
  • Day 8-11: Bemanevika Special Reserve - the camp in the reserve or guesthouse in Bealanana with full board
  • Day 12: Antsohihy - Tonight you will sleep in bungalowsm in Antsohihy
  • Day 14: Mahajanga - Karibu Lodge: Located in the residential area La Corniche, it has a magnificent view of the sea. It is built with great taste with local materials like Mahajanga stone and Tananarive granite, and it exudes a lot of charm. This luxury lodge offers very spacious suites including a terrace, a living room, a private bathroom with sanitary facilities, and air-conditioner.
  • To have breakfasts you will be welcomed in a restaurant with a large shaded terrace with a panoramic view of the sea. To relax and refresh you will have a swimming pool a few meters from the sea.
  • Day 15, 22: New Protected Area Antrema and Katsepy - overnight at the rustic cabins of Ms. Chabaud, on the beach
  • Day 16: Mitsinjo (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex) - a simple private local house
  • Day 17-18: Lake Kinkony - camp with full board
  • Day 19: Namakia - a private house, colonial building, with basic accommodation is possible
  • Day 20-21: Ampitsopitsoka village - the village community will provide you with food, full board, and drinks. Accommodation will be at a family, in tents at the camp or in the bungalows of Madame Paulette, located on the beach
  • Day 8, 10: New Protected Area Antrema and Katsepy - overnight at the rustic cabins of Ms. Chabaud, on the beach

Program

This birding and wildlife tour is set to take in as much of this biological melting pot as possible during your time here. This tour combines bird watching, adventure, and discovery. It will confirm again the uniqueness of Madagascar’s biodiversity and habitats. You will visit isolated lakes holding the last population of the recently rediscovered Madagascar pochard. In the Mahavavy Delta, the fishermen’s village of the Ampitsopitsoka will warmly welcome you among them in the community. You will also enjoy its unspoiled beach.

Equally awe-inspiring as the habitats is this island’s avifauna whose presence in the flesh make superlatives seem inadequate, and hopefully you will get to see representatives of Madagascar’s endemic bird families during your time here.

This tour is an off-the-beaten-track birding adventure in search of some of the world’s rarest birds, allowing birders to connect with some of the most range-restricted and endangered species on the planet. These include the Madagascar pochard, Madagascar serpent eagle, slender-billed flufftail, red owl, Bernier’s teal, Malagasy sacred ibis, Humblot’s heron, etc.

The Betsiboka Delta is home to two of Madagascar’s rarest and most endangered birds, Bernier’s teal and Malagasy sacred ibis, and you have an excellent chance of finding both of these species during your morning outing. Other noteworthy birds you may encounter on this journey are Humblot’s heron, African openbill, greater flamingo, African spoonbill (a very rare bird in Madagascar), Madagascar harrier-hawk, terek sandpiper, greater and lesser sand plovers, crab-plover, and lesser crested and Saunders’ terns.

You will explore a number of this island’s most awe-inspiring habitats - from the bird-rich sites of the eastern rain forest to the deciduous woodlands of the north-west and Kinkony - Mahavavy wetlands - as you search for your quarry. Not only is the birding spectacular, but so too is the scenery and the variety of fauna and flora that one picks up along the way.

Besides the birds, you could see lemurs (including the indri and world-famous dancing sifakas), other mammals from civets to strange tenrecs (the planet’s most primitive mammals), many species of chameleons, cryptic leaf-tailed geckos, and other bizarre reptiles and amphibians.

You will feel the Malagasy way of life: Malagasy go to bed with the chickens and get up with the roosters. As everywhere in the tropics, people of Malagasy here have early dawns and early sunsets. All of NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar's tours will start early to see the best of Madagascar because during the daytime animals are asleep or at rest, and birds fly away. Only in the afternoon their vigorous activity restarts. Usually, breakfast is served from 5.30 a.m. everywhere.

  • Transport: This safari demands significant logistic efforts (powerful 4x4 car, canoes, motorboats, and Dhow)
  • Distance: 1950 kilometers on land
  • Camps: 8
  • Difficulty: Difficult access
  • Regions: North-West, Antananarivo, and around

Day 1: Arrival at Antananarivo

Tongasoa aty Madagasikara! Dear friends, welcome to Madagascar! NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar will do their very best to make your trip in Madagascar unforgettable. Their bureau's team will be at the airport to welcome you from your international flight.

Your special tour will begin in Antananarivo, where you will go by car to your hotel where a prepared room with a comfortable bed will be available for you to have a rest. Discover the city as you are taken to the hotel where you will stay overnight. And in the evening, after dinner over a cocktail, you will discuss the program.

From the first day to the last day, the experienced and professional guide and the driver will be next to you to make sure you have everything you need, so don’t worry about it. Tomorrow you are leaving the capital city.

  • Arrival at Tana
  • Tana city tour (optional)
  • Accommodation at the hotel, bed and breakfast
  • Dinner and discussion of program

Day 2: Antananarivo - Anjozorobe - Angavo Protected Area

During the course of the morning you travel to Tsarasaotra which means birds‘ island, a small green oasis in the north of the city. The park is a refuge for many birds that can be easily watched and photographed here - among them 14 endangered species that only live in Madagascar.

After visiting Tsarasaotra Park, you will drive along a scenic road to Anjozorobe - Angavo Protected Area. The drive lasts for two hours. Here, the adventure really starts. Anjozorobe - Angavo offers you the simplicity of harmonious communication with nature. Your visit will be a unique experience. The protected area allows you to admire exceptional fauna and flora through thematic circuits adapted to all the rhythms.

After lunch, you will walk for around three to four hours to admire the exceptional fauna and flora. The pace is not too fast and the hiking path is good.

Tonight, you will have a night tour of 1,2 kilometers, for about one hour of walking. During your visit, you’ll see the nocturnal lemurs, like the lepilemur mustelinus or tsidy and the avahi laniger or fotsife in Malagasy. Among the forest night life, it’s possible to meet other nocturnal animals: chameleons (Calumma brevicornis, Calumma globifer, and Calumna gastrotaenia), frogs (Mantidactilus and gypheromantis).

  • Distance: About 100 kilometers
  • Driving time: About two hours
  • Visit in the Tsarasaotra Park
  • Walks in the Anjozorobe - Angavo
  • Night tour
  • Accommodation at the hotel, full board

Day 3: Anjozorobe - Angavo Protected Area

This day will be fully devoted to the discovery of Anjozorobe - Angavo. The unusual tranquility and beautiful scenery where numerous birds live invite you to explore the forest. You will also see a multitude of lemurs, reptiles, and batrachians which live together in a rich vegetation. The Anjozorobe Forest is part of a branch of the eastern rain forest that runs along the Angavo Scarp.

Eighty species of birds are known from the site, of which 50 are endemic to Madagascar. Most of the species that are restricted to humid forest can be found here. It will be a truly remarkable experience and you hopefully will have the opportunity to see some of the indigenous species living in this area.

  • Walks in the Anjozorobe - Angavo
  • Night tour
  • Accommodation at the hotel, full board

Day 4: Anjozorobe - Angavo - Ambohitantely Special Reserve

After morning bird watching and breakfast, you will drive along a scenic road to Ambohitantely Special Reserve. Ambohitantely Special Reserve protects the last of the original highlands forest. It is covered with natural forest and grassy plains and is known for its astonishing populations of palms. It is a great location to see birds - with over 48 species, including the Madagascar crested ibis.

Among the birds, 48 species are reckoned. Most of them are endemic to Madagascar but none is endemic to Ambohitantely. Two threatened species are observed, such as the Madagascar harrier (circus macroscles), the Henst's goshawk (Accipiter henstii), and the Madagascar crested ibis (Lophotibis cristata). Ambohitantely Special Reserve is the only protected area where the circus macrosceles lives. In the afternoon, you will spend your time hiking through this special reserve.

  • Distance: About 240 kilometers
  • Driving time: About four hours
  • Walks in the Ambohitantely Special Reserve
  • Night tour
  • Accommodation at the camp in the reserve, full board

Day 5: Ambohitantely Special Reserve - Maevatanana - Ankarafantsika National Park

You will spend the morning trekking this reserve again before heading back to your car for your transfer to Ankarafantsika National Park. You will cross the beautiful hilly landscapes. The rice fields are still numerous and the traditional pise houses well-established. There are plenty of lakes and many waterfalls fed by the rains of the moment. You will arrive at Sakalava.

Along the journey, you will make a stop in Maevatanana for lunch and some visits. The ancient buildings of the beginning of the twentieth century are very pleasant. Here you will visit the Antanimbaryo market. Gold seekers tend to come together at this market on the south of the city, where purchasers coming from Tana but also from the United States and from Thailand negotiate on the sale of this precious metal.

Do not forget to bargain if you want to buy souvenirs for your loved ones. After the gold fever, you will commit to the less lucrative but surely not less thrilling activity of watching the crocodiles from the river. The area of Maevatanana was once a favorite place for hunting crocodiles (up to 5000 skins per year). Today hunting crocodiles is forbidden.

In addition, you will stop in the village of Kandreho. This small village is renowned for the manufacture of raffia fabrics using special printing techniques (lay masaka that recall those of the Sunda Islands). To get some stunning photos, you will stop at the bridge over the Betsiboka Rapids. The red waters masses the Betsiboka River at a place where some tumultuous rapids form. During the wet season foam usually reaches the bridge.

In the evening, you will arrive in the Ankarafantsika National Park. Here you are able to take night walks to see some of the nocturnal species which are particularly prevalent in this park (including mouse lemur - the smallest primate in the world).

  • Distance: About 385 kilometers
  • Driving time: About six hours
  • Walks in the Ambohitantely Special Reserve
  • Visit to the Antanimbaryo gold market
  • Watch the crocodiles from the river
  • Visit to the manufacture of raffia fabrics
  • Stop at the bridge over the Betsiboka Rapids
  • Night tour
  • Accommodation at the hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6: Ankarafantsika National Park and The Ampijoroa area

Ankarafantsika National Park, set on Lake Ravelobe, is a mixture of deciduous forests and wetlands. This is a major ecotourism site. It is known for its lakes and for being a haven for lemurs and endemic birds. It is home to the beautiful Coquerel’s sifaka, as well as seven other species of lemurs (including western woolly, fat tailed dwarf lemur, mongoose lemurs) and exceptional birds (including roufous vanga and fish eagle). Overall 115 species of birds have been recorded, of which 41 are endemic to Madagascar or 129 species of birds have been recorded, of which 75 are endemic.

At least five pairs of Madagascan fish eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides) breed at the site. Ankarafantsika is one of only two sites known for Van Dam's vanga (Xenopirostris damii), and one of only six sites known for white-breasted mesite (Mesitornis variegate). The total population of the latter species at the site has been estimated at between 6,000 and 26,000. Madagascar grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii) and Humblot's heron (Ardea humbloti) are regular non-breeding visitors, and about 20 pairs of Madagascar pond-heron (Ardeola idea) breed at Lake Ravelobe.

Madagascar crested ibis (Lophotibis cristata) and Schlegel's asity (Philepitta schlegeli) are both fairly common, the latter being restricted to humid valleys. Madagascar blue-pigeon (Alectroenas madagascariensis), normally a species confined to the East Malagasy biome, is sometimes recorded here. There have been recent records of Nuthatch vanga (Hypositta corallirostris) which, if confirmed, would be the first record of this species outside the east.

  • Walks in the Ankarafantsika National Park: You will set off to explore this forest on foot to see a superb fauna; you will have a rich day excursion. You will take a picnic lunch to have on the trails in the national park.
  • Picnic lunch
  • Night tour: After dinner, you will have the option of setting out on a night hike again to see some of the nocturnal inhabitants of the forest
  • Accommodation at the hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7: Ankarafantsika National Park and The Ampijoroa area

This is another day to explore this forest on foot to spot a superb fauna. You will have a rich day in the Ampijoroa area. Easy species include blue, sickle-billed, Chabert’s, rufous, hook-billed, and white-headed vangas and both greater and lesser vasa parrots, white-breasted mesite, Coquerel's and red-capped couas, Van Dam's vanga, and Madagascar green pigeon. Schlegel's asity is present but harder to find. Birds of prey include Madagascar fish eagle, Madagascar harrier hawk, Madagascar buzzard, Madagascar sparrowhawk, and Frances's sparrowhawk.

Lake Aboromalandy and Lake Ravelobe and other wetlands may turn up Madagascar fish eagle, Humblot’s heron, and the shy Allen’s gallinule. It is also a good place to see the African pygmy goose, Madagascar jacana, Madagascar crested ibis, white-throated rail, Humblot's heron, Madagascar white ibis, Madagascar pratincole, and Madagascar (Bernier's) teal, banded kestrel, Madagascar pygmy kingfisher, and purple heron, red capped coua, white-breasted mesite, Schlegel’s asity.

On Lake Ravelobe views may be had of Madagascar fish eagle and white-throated rail.

  • Walks in the Ampijoroa area
  • Picnic lunch
  • Accommodation at the hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 8: Ankarafantsika National Park - Bealanana

Early morning departure with a 4x4 car for Bealanana, to a specific destination, Bemanevika Special Reserve to find the local endemic fauna and especially wild ducks with white eyes (Madagascar pochard) and red owls. Bealanana is a small village near to which is the last remaining site for the critically endangered Madagascar pochard.

Firstly, you’ll get some amazing birds on your list and have a great time. If you spend some decent time up there, you may even make some crazy discoveries. There hasn’t been a Madagascar serpent eagle seen for a while there, not since the radio tagged bird died. They are probably still in the general area though.

Maybe you will be the last tourists to see this particular bird, but the researchers there do hope and intend to catch another eagle to tag. No guarantees though. Secondly, the more travelers that go there, the more publicity and money can be put into promoting, protecting, and researching the site and its birds.

  • Distance: About 450 kilometers
  • Driving time: About seven hours (difficult access, off-road). You will start the long drive north to Bemanevika. The journey will be tiring and long. Along the way, you will pass through villages and animated markets so there is always something to look at en-route. The road would get progressively worse as you get near Bemanevika, but the track you will end up on late in the afternoon could hardly be described as a road.
  • Lunch en-route in Antsohihy
  • Overnight at the camp in the reserve or guesthouse in Bealanana, full board

Day 9: Bemanevika Special Reserve

In the morning, you will head to hike to admire the nature of the reserve, to meet with local endemics of fauna. En-route you will be aware of roadside birds like olive bee-eater, Malagasy kestrel, Madagascar cisticola, and perhaps the occasional Madagascar buzzard. The continental wetlands of Bemanevika are composed of permanent and intermittent freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, permanent and seasonal streams, marshes, and permanent freshwater ponds.

A matrix of dense rain forests with altitude, a characteristic of the area, ensures connectivity between different wetland ecosystems. Three big lakes are dominating in this beautiful reserve and landscape.

On arrival, your camp staff will welcome you to the pristine environment that you will research. After setting up camp, which will be your base for the next three nights, you will start exploring the different habitats of this exciting place and will be looking out for white-throated rail, Madagascar lark, and other species.

On one of the small lakes you will be looking for Meller’s duck and Malagasy kingfisher, and in the forested area you set out to seek one of the main targets of this trip, the red owl, by far the most uncommon of owls the island has to offer and one which very few world birders have laid eyes upon.

The Madagascar pochard was rediscovered in 2006 at Bemenavika, but life remains incredibly tough for them. Restricted to just one or two tiny crater lakes, the entire population of about 20 - 30 individuals is at risk of extinction at any point. There is now a successful captive breeding population instigated by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Gerald Durrell Conservation Trust, but productivity in the wild is dangerously low.

  • Discovery of Bemanevika Special Reserve. The crater lakes at Bemanevika are not all equally used. One of them is now a marsh with no open water at all. Most of the pochards use just the one small lake of about 20 hectares. This species was once found at several sites in the northern half of Madagascar, but mainly on Lake Alaotra.
  • Lunch-picnic
  • Overnight at the camp, full board

Day 10 - 11: Bemanevika Special Reserve

You will have two full days to search for the very special birds this area has to offer. Your main targets, of course, are the sought-after Madagascar pochard, Madagascar serpent eagle, red owl, and slender-billed flufftail, and there is an excellent chance that during these two days you will be able to lay eyes on all - or most - of them.

In addition, there will be many other fascinating species. In the grasslands and nearby wooded areas you will be on the lookout for Malagasy harrier, Madagascar mannikin, Madagascar starling, Madagascar cuckoo, Madagascar cuckoo-hawk, Malagasy coucal, common quail, lesser vasa parrot, Madagascar lark, Mascarene martin, Malagasy bulbul, Madagascar buzzard, Malagasy kestrel, and olive bee-eater. In the wetlands and adjacent habitats you will keep your eyes open for the Madagascar partridge, grey emutail, Madagascar harrier-hawk, lesser vasa parrot, blue coua, Malagasy black swift, Malagasy brush warbler, and Malagasy white-eye, while marshy areas could yield the Madagascar flufftail.

At the lakes you could find Madagascar grebe, Madagascar swamp warbler, and Madagascar rail, and night outings will provide opportunities for Madagascar nightjar, rain forest scops owl, and Madagascar owl.

  • Discovery of Bemanevika Special Reserve. Bemanevika is famous among birders as the only place you are likely to see the incredibly rare and elusive Madagascar red owl. They are undertaking studies of the owls here, and one individual is fitted with a radio tag, so they are able to find this bird on demand. This, of course, is a very helpful scenario for lazy birders. Following the guides through the dense forest and down the near vertical slopes of the crater-lake, you eventually will be greeted by the sight of the red owl.
  • Lunch-picnic
  • Overnight ar the camp, full board

Day 12: Antsohihy and Anjiamangirana Special Reserve

This morning you will go back to Antsohihy. Immediately upon arrival, you will make an excursion around town and visit the handcraft manufacturer of decorative items. Then you will visit the house of the first president of Madagascar and learn about its hidden stories.

After lunch, you will continue to drive for the discovery of the secrets of Anjiamangirana / Manasamody 50 kilometers from Antsohihy, through alleys. In Satrana you can discover a field of very interesting pachipodium in the middle of nowhere. You will hike to the Manasamody viewpoint for a photo of the panoramic view.

Next, you will continue your walk downhill to enter the Anjiamangirana Special Reserve where you will see animals such as Coquerel's sifakas, bats, and if you are lucky, the Anjiamangirana sportive lemur. This forest is the only confirmed location for the Anjiamangirana sportive lemur (Lepilemur grewcockorum). Later you'll stroll through the baobab forest.

  • Distance: About 220 kilometers
  • Anjiamangirana Special Reserve. Depending on the season, you can take walks in the reserve during the night to watch the aye-aye.
  • Tonight you will sleep in bungalows in Antsohihy

Day 13: Return to Ankarafantsika National Park and the Ampijoroa area

Today, you return to Ankarafantsika National Park and the Ampijoroa area. After lunch, you will have another beautiful day and the next day's morning to explore this natural wealth. On arrival, you should encounter numerous park residents such as the gaudy broad-billed roller, screeching lesser vasa parrot, crested drongo, Madagascar magpie-robin, Sakalava weaver, Madagascar hoopoe, Malagasy paradise flycatcher, Madagascar green pigeon, and Malagasy turtle dove, before birding the dry semi-deciduous forest.

There will also be an optional pre-dinner night walk this evening in search of the large range of reptiles and mammals that occur in these fauna and floral rich woodlands. In the evening, you can explore the lodge and its surrounding. The nightlife around the lodge would prove to be very interesting.

  • Distance: About 230 kilometers
  • Driving time: About four hours
  • Walks in the Ankarafantsika National Park
  • Night tour
  • Accommodation at the hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 14: Ankarafantsika National Park - Mahajanga

After a final morning birding, lemur watching, and photographing, you will have breakfast at the hotel at 7:00 a.m. and depart until 8:00 a.m. Today you will leave to Mahajanga, on the north-west coast of Madagascar, for the next leg of your birding adventure. You will wind your way through Marovoay which has a distinctly East African feel about it.

Markets full of fresh tropical fruit, vegetables, and spices dominate the town. Marovoay means "where there are many crocodiles”. Indeed, the rivers abound many Nile crocodiles and can be easily seen. Hunting of crocodiles was in the early twentieth century an important activity in the region, but fortunately for these big reptiles this practice is no longer in use.

The landscape opens up rather starkly after you leave the town and you will pass cashew nut sellers and ladies washing and drying their laundry next to the many small streams that you pass along the way to Mahajanga. En-route, you may encounter purple, striated, squacco, and Malagasy pond herons, as well as flocks of black herons performing their bizarre umbrella-feeding routine in the roadside water-bodies.

The plan is to stop at Lake Amboromalandy and at rice fields to try to find birds like Madagascar jacana, Malagasy pond heron, Humblot’s heron, the strange black heron, and others.

You will arrive at the hotel at 2:00 p.m. Let’s enjoy it and discover this amazing place! You will have a welcome cocktail, then you will head to the small beach and Grand Pavois. Beach, bathing, sunbathing, and lunch at the Grand Pavois Barracuda Hotel are planned. You can have a siesta in the shade on the beach and stroll to the Red Circus (30-minute walk). It is an eroded hill with its amphitheater shape showing all the shades of colors between red and white. The best time to visit is at sunset.

  • Distance: About 125 kilometers
  • Marovoay town. A trip plan: the market zebu (Friday and Thursday); town tour and visit various markets (crafts, vegetables, fish); climbing to a lookout site for a great view of the plains and rice fields; simple lunch in a local inn (hotel Anjara)
  • Lake Amboromalandy
  • Beach, bathing, sunbathing
  • Lunch at the Grand Pavois Barracuda
  • Walk in the Red Circus at sunset and return to the Barracuda to 6:00 p.m. to return to the hotel until 6:30 - 7:00 p.m. Later on, you will enjoy a presentation of the hotel and the restaurant. Dinner will be served at your hotel and you will stay there overnight.
  • Accommodation at the hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 15: Betsiboka Delta and new protected area Antrema - Katsepy

After yesterday's relaxing day, in the morning you’ll be birding the mangroves in the Betsiboka Delta for rare species such as Malagasy sacred ibis and Bernier’s teal, along with a host of tropical shorebirds, terns, and more.

Leaving in the early morning provides you with enough time to take a motorized boat ride up the Betsiboka Delta. This seldom-visited region is home to two of Madagascar’s rarest and most endangered birds, Bernier’s teal and Malagasy sacred ibis, and you have an excellent chance of finding both of these species during your morning outing.

Other noteworthy birds you may encounter on this journey are Humblot’s heron, African openbill, greater flamingo, African spoonbill (a very rare bird in Madagascar), Madagascar harrier-hawk, terek sandpiper, greater and lesser sand plovers, crab-plover, lesser crested, and Saunders’s terns. Then you continue your trip to the Antrema new protected area. After lunch, prepared by the local community, you will discover this area.

You will cross a bridge over the mangrove and stroll to the beach for Katsepy lighthouse and ride to the fishing village down with the blue circus, nestled between sandy beaches that invite guests to a complete idleness.

Apart from walking to the lighthouse (where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Bombetoka Bay) or visiting the nearby Bay Boeny for a different landscape, there is nothing more to do here than laying on a hammock, swimming, and enjoying the excellent meals prepared by Ms. Chabaud who is supposed to be one of the best cooks in the region.

  • The Betsiboka Delta
  • Visit the Antrema new protected area. Visit plan: the sifakas of the village of the prince and the arboretum; Mangrove Restoration Area; Sahariaka Lake in the heart of the palm savanna; the fishing village of Ambanjabe; visit of the mangroves of the marine park.
  • Snack and lunch will be prepared by the local community
  • Snack, drinks, and overnight at the rustic cabins of Ms. Chabaud, on the beach

Day 16: Antrema National Park - Mitsinjo (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex D1)

After a final cleanup birding in the Antrema, this morning is another opportunity to wander around and enjoy the sea, the sun, and swimming. After lunch, you’ll take the off-road vehicle and head to Mitsinjo to reach the Kinkony Lake which is part of the Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex, a unique and exceptional area, with the amazing opportunity to watch staggering landscapes along the way.

The site is ideal for watching rare birds of Madagascar. Nevertheless, it can be a rough journey, the transfer to Mitsinjo taking from two to three hours, an adventure trip depending on the road's condition.

En-route, you will be able to encounter birds like greater and lesser flamingos, Madagascar harrier, hotentot teal, Kittlitz’s plover, African openbill stork. A seven-night stay should allow you to spot most of the key birds of the complex. You should reach to overnight at a very basic accommodation (private local house, having electricity, sharing shower, including the toilet).

  • Distance: About 70 kilometers
  • Driving time: About two to three hours on a bumpy road
  • Dinner and overnight at the simple private local house

Day 17: River trip to Kinkony Lake (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex D2)

Today you head to Lake Kinkony, one of the world’s “bird watching spots”. After breakfast, you are loading all the bags on a zebu-cart to get to the Mahavavy River and you will have an at least six hours (upstream) ride on a metal local pirogue (seat on the floor).

On arrival at the local community by 3:00 p.m., local guides will welcome you to the pristine environment that you will research. After setting up camp, which will be your base for the next two nights, back to the lake, you will start exploring the different habitats of this exciting place and will be looking out for the target species and locally endemic Sakalava rail.

This is a very good possibility to spot fresh water birds, like Madagascar swamp warbler, Madagascar jacana, reed cormorant, African darter, sacred ibis, African spoonbill, yellow billed stork, and pond heron.

  • Ride time: About six hours
  • Trip to the Mahavavy River
  • Lunch-picnic, beverages, drinks
  • Discovery Kinkony Lake (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex)
  • Overnight at the camp, full board

Day 18: Kinkony Lake (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex D3)

Are you keen to explore Kinkony Lake? Today you will make amazing discoveries. You will spend another full day exploring the lake and the picturesque environment of the lake which is rich in both birds and plants. Just enjoy birding around, don’t think about dinner. It is taken care of at the camp where you will stay overnight.

The amazing Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex presents great ornithological diversity, especially in aquatic avifauna. And it’s not just birds. You are likely to encounter spectacular lemurs such as crowned sifaka (Propithecus coronatus) and Decken’s sifaka (P. deckeni).

Target species of the area are the African spoonbill, crested coua, crested drongo, Madagascar hoopoe, black winged stilt, green backed heron, white faced whistling duck, squacco heron, turtle dove, comb duck, Madagascar sandgrouse, Malagasy king fisher, knobe billed duck, purple heron, grey heron, squacco heron, reed cormorant, common moorhen, Madagascar teal, hottentot teal , Sakalava rail, common sandpiper, Madagascar magpie robin, green pigeon, paradise flycatcher.

  • Discover Kinkony Lake (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex)
  • Lunch-picnic, beverages, drinks
  • Overnight at the camp, full board

Day 19: Kinkony - Namakia (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex D4)

Today, early in the morning, you will go way back all in the same pirogue, but downstream, so the return journey will be much faster. Along the way, you will also have excellent chances to meet a variety of birds. After lunch in Mitsinjo and after a small digestive break, you will drive to Namakia in the jeep for a relatively short time depending on the state of the road.

  • Ride time: About five hours
  • Lunch en-route
  • Excursion to a sugar factory in Namakia
  • Dinner and overnight at the private house, colonial building, basic accommodation is possible

Day 20: Mahavavy Delta (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex D5)

After breakfast, you will go to the harbor on the outskirts of the town and ride a local pirogue with a small engine 20 CV for birding toward Ampitsopitsoka fishing village which is the place for shore birds and the endemic Bernier's teal. This village is a favorite place to observe migratory birds and pink flamingos (September and December).

During your slow four-hour descent along the Mahavavy Delta, you will track down birds, especially in the near villages such as Tsiandrora, Belovo, and Vavan'Ampitsopitsoka.

You will land in Ampitsopitsoka at about 3:30 p.m., in the heart of the very hospitable local population, to immerse yourself in the country of Sakalava. Have lunch and it's time to enjoy a well-deserved rest on a beautiful beach. Approximately at 7:00 p.m. you will have dinner and an entertainment program.

Target species in this area are Bernier’s teal, Namaqua dove, turtle dove, love-birds, Madagascar sandgrouse, comb duck, bee-eater, sacred ibis, African spoonbill, sand piper, crab plover, greater and lesser flamingos, Madagascar harrier, Hotentot teal, Kittlitz’s plover.

  • Ride time: About four hours
  • Lunch-picnic
  • Lunch in Ampitsopitsoka
  • The village community will provide you with food, full board, drinks
  • Accommodation at a family, in tents at the camp, or in the bungalows of Madame Paulette, located on the beach
  • Entertainment (traditional dances, singing, ball)
  • Taboos: It is strictly forbidden to bring pork and peanuts

Day 21: Ampitsopitsoka Village (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex D6)

After breakfast, at about 8:00 a.m., you will visit the Ampitsopitsoka village to learn more about the daily life of these hospitable people of Sakalava.

After lunch, no later than 12:30 p.m., you will go on a bird watching tour near the villages of Vavan'Antsatra / Betaintsamaka, Doany Kassimo, Aranta Be / Mangadrabo, where the birds abound. The plan is to come back at 4:30 p.m., and after you will have free time to relax on the beach. Dinner and entertainment are planned at 7:00 p.m.

  • Visit to the village of Ampitsopitsoka
  • Bird watching
  • Entertainment (traditional dances, singing, ball)
  • Full board

Day 22: Antsoheribory and Boeny Aranta (Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex D7)

After breakfast, at 8:00 a.m., you set off on a trip to Port Namakia by a pirogue. The trip takes one hour. You get into the jeep and drive straight to Antsoheribory and Boeny Aranta.

Antsoheribory, a small sandy islet, an oasis of freshness, is a small corner of paradise. Although it is home to many tourist attractions, this island measuring two kilometers long and 70 meters wide is still unknown. It is rich in fauna and flora, among others, the birds and marine fish and vegetation marked by the dominance of the baobabs. The ruins of the former home of Arab sultans erected on the island also include cultural landmarks to immortalize the scene attractions.

This unique destination still deserves to be discovered, along with its rich flora and fauna. The local vegetation is, indeed, dominated by the presence of the baobabs. The two most identified varieties are the za andansonia, as well as the large pachypodium rytenbergianum digitata. There are countless species of birds and fish, common and endemic.

The diversity of marine fauna is also one of the attractions of Antsoheribory. Actually, the waters have wonderful coral reefs, so favorable for the practice of diving and snorkeling. In the northern part of the island, the seabed is particular. You will meet different fish - the mutts, sardines, parrotfish, rays, red mullet, moray eels, exocets, etc.

  • Antsoheribory Island
  • Lunch-picnic
  • Stroll
  • Swimming
  • Sunbathing
  • Snorkeling
  • Snack and drink

You again sit in your car and go down to Katsepy until 6:30 p.m. Dinner and overnight will be at the rustic cabins of Ms. Chabaud, on the beach.

Day 23: Mahajanga and flight to Tana

Today you fly back to Tana for your final night. Your flight at 6:55 p.m. (Friday, Saturday, Monday) provides you with enough time to do some more activities. After a very early breakfast, you will go to the bay at 7:00 a.m. to cross the Bombetoka Bay by ferry.

A city tour is planned. The photographic motifs are extraordinarily plentiful: trading posts, sculpted wooden doors, all remnants of the Arabic origins of the city, old colonial houses with ochre facades which show some relics of a gone glory, narrow streets with small gardens planted with bugambilia plants.

Then you’ll take a flight back to Tana where this epic birding and wildlife adventure around the North-West of Madagascar will conclude. You will have a goodbye dinner in the cozy atmosphere of Le Restaurant La Varangue.

  • Flight to Tana
  • Distance: About 400 kilometers
  • Flight time: About one hour
  • Goodbye-dinner at the Le Restaurant La Varangue
  • Accommodation at the hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 24: Departure

Today your tour ends. You will be transferred back to Ivato International Airport (TNR). NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar wish you a comfortable journey home and are sure you will take with you some wonderful memories of Madagascar. Experienced travelers are used to goodbyes, but that doesn't mean they get any easier. When the time comes to depart the wonderful Madagascar, they wouldn't be surprised if you were already planning a return trip.

  • Tana city mini tour
  • Transfer to Ivato International Airport (TNR)

Guides

Solofo Razafimahazo

Location

This birding-safari will take place in several destinations of Madagascar, including Anjozorobe - Angavo Protected Area, Ambohitantely Special Reserve, Ampijoroa area, Ankarafantsika National Park, Bemanevika Special Reserve, Anjiamangirana Special Reserve, Betsiboka Delta, Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex, Ampitsopitsoka village, Mahajanga, New Protected Area Antrema, Antsoheribory and Boeny Aranta.

Food

During the safari, you will be provided with 23 breakfasts, 10 lunches, four picnic-lunches, 12 dinners, and drinks. For nights spent in hotels, you'll pay for meals as you go along and get the chance to sample local cuisine made with local fresh fish and seafood. Your accommodations are in bed and breakfast basis, but you will get full board meals on the second, third, fourth, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, seventeenth, eighteenth, twentieth, and twenty first days of the safari. Bottled mineral water in the vehicle will be provided for you.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

  • Botanical and Zoological Park of Tsimbazaza in Tana. Before dinner, if you want, you will be able to make an excursion to Tsimbazaza Park to see the mythical aye-aye. Of course, there are tours that will take you to the natural habitat of the aye-aye but these animals are nocturnal and live in trees, so spotting them in the dark up in high branches is practically impossible.
  • Excursion to Chocolaterie Robert factory and Chocolatière boutique
  • Excursion to The PALA jewelers

What's included

  • 22 days outdoor activities including trekking in the forest and exciting game drives
  • Guided visit to the Anjozorobe - Angavo Protected Area
  • Guided visit to the Ambohitantely Special Reserve
  • Guided visits to the Ankarafantsika National Park
  • Guided visits to the Ampijoroa area
  • Guided visits to the Bemanevika Special Reserve
  • Guided visits to the Anjiamangirana Special Reserve
  • Night tours to see some of the nocturnal species
  • Guided visits to Marovoay town
  • Guided visits Betsiboka Delta
  • Mahavavy - Kinkony Complex and Ampitsopitsoka village
  • Mahajanga, the city of flowers
  • Guided visit to the New Protected Area Antrema
  • Guided visit to the Antsoheribory and Boeny Aranta
  • Guided visit to the Cirque Rouge (Red Circus)
  • Guided visit to Tsarasaotra Park
  • Guided visit to the Antanimbaryo gold market
  • Watch the crocodiles from the river
  • Guided visit to the manufacture of raffia fabrics
  • Stop at the bridge over the Betsiboka rapids
  • Snorkeling
  • Tana city mini tour
  • Picnics in the stipulated places in the program
  • Entrance fees to parks and reserves and the services of local ornithological guides
  • A 4x4 vehicle with a driver
  • Fuel
  • Rent of boat
  • Services of a professional, experienced, English-speaking personal guide (English, French, or Russian language)
  • Services of porters
  • All transfers, including water transport
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Breakfasts
  • Full board meals on the sixth, seventh, and ninth day
  • Bottled mineral water in the vehicle
  • Mattress and blankets
  • Government taxes and fees, including TTC, TVA, and tourist tax at hotels
  • Domestic flight
  • 23 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Additional activities and excursions
  • International air travel
  • Lunches en-route, lunches and dinners (except in places mentioned as half or full board)
  • Medical insurance
  • Personal items and expenses
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks at hotels
  • Special requirements (to be specified during your order)
  • Visa fee (single entry one-month visa currently costs 30 EUR, issued on arrival)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Ivato International Airport (TNR). Transfers from and to this airport are included. NDAO-i-Travel Madagascar will pick you up from the airport.

Airport: Ivato International Airport Airport transfer included: Ivato International Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 40% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
24 days / 23 nights
from --
Availability

This vacation is available from September to December. Please select an arrival date below.

Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 2 participants

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