Madagascar Photographic Tour

Madagascar map

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: SYDNEY TO JOHANNESBURG

This morning we are flying from Sydney to Johannesburg on Qantas flight QF63 which departs at 9.55am. We will arrive in Johannesburg at 4.15pm and clear Customs and Immigration. After clearing Customs & Immigration we transfer to our hotel.

The Peermont Metcourt Suites is one of four hotels within the Emperors Palace complex. The central part of the complex offers a variety of reasonably priced restaurants, a casino and retail shops. Access to this area is a few minutes’ walk from the Metcourt Suites. While the Metcourt Suites serves breakfast (which is included in your tariff), other meals will need to be taken in the central complex.

Overnight – Peermont Metcourt Suites, Johannesburg (B&B basis)

Day 2: JOHANNESBURG TO ANTSIRABE

This morning we are returning to the airport using the hotel’s shuttle for our SA Airlink flight from Johannesburg to Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar. The flight departs at 10:00am. Flying time is scheduled for 3hrs 10min. Arrival into “Tana” is at 2:10pm. We will then be transferred by road to directly south to Antsirabe (about 170km south of Tana) where we arrive in time for dinner.

Antsirabe is the third largest city in Madagascar and has a population of approximately 183,000. Due to its high altitude (about 1,500m) temperatures are rather cool and very cool in winter! The temperate climate was probably the reason why Norwegian missionaries chose this place to settle down in 1872. Its name means “where there is salt” honouring the large number of hot springs the town has, a fact that has given the city the nickname of “Malagasy Vichy”. The thermal baths had been long appreciated for their curative effects by the local population when French colonists decided to locate a thermal bath here in the 19th century.

Our stay here will be at Couleur Café Hotel. The brick bungalows are located in a pleasant garden and the main building has a communal lounge and dining table. There is also a small shop, where you can buy souvenirs. The rooms have high ceilings and are light and airy. Each has an en-suite bathroom with a shower and there is also a fire place, which is very welcome in the colder winter months!

Overnight – Couleur Café Hotel, Antsirabe (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 3: ANTSIRABE

This morning we will undertake a city tour. Saturday is market day in Antsirabe, and we shall visit both of the town’s two big markets, Asabotsy Market and Petit Marché. The city is also the home of the “pouse-pouse” (rickshaw), and these colourful vehicles are found in great numbers throughout the city.

In the afternoon we shall visit the nearby volcanic lakes of Andraikiba and Tritriva. Both very scenic areas, but radically different in their appearance.

Overnight –Couleur Café Hotel, Antsirabe (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 4: ANTSIRABE TO RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK

This morning we depart from Antsirabe and head south to Ranomafana National Park. On the way we will stop at Ambositra. Ambositra’s vicinity to the forest has turned it into the centre of Madagascar’s wood carving industry. Its name means “the place of the eunuchs” supposedly because the Merina tribe castrated all defeated warriors of the local tribe, the Zafimaniry. The cultural influence of this t ribe can be found in the traditional motifs of the local houses with their intricately carved balconies, panels and shutters. There are many specialized workshops in printmaking, woodcarving and marquetry. Artisans usually coming from the nearby Zafimaniry villages are found in small workshops, though it is very common to observe them working under a tree in the street.

We will arrive later in the afternoon at Setam Lodge. Setam Lodge is on the edge of Ranomafana National Park, the first thing you will notice are the magnificent views of the mountains and rainforest. The lodge has been built to make the most of its location, so the restaurant has huge windows to allow in as much of the view as possible and all of the rooms have small terraces facing down over the valley. This evening we shall walk through the edges of the park in search of nocturnal species.

Overnight – Setam Lodge, Ranomafana. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 5: RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK TO FIANARANTSOA

This morning we enter Ranomafana National Park (which means “hot water” in Malagasy). It is doubtless one of the most spectacular National Parks of Madagascar. The park contains twelve lemur species. Aside from the golden bamboo lemur, visitors may see: eastern woolly lemur, red bellied lemur, eastern grey bamboo lemur, greater bamboo lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur, Milne-Edward´s sifaka, Small-toothed sportive lemur, greater dwarf lemur and brown mouse lemur and the very rare aye-aye.

Other mammals include 7 species of tenrecs, 8 bats and 6 carnivores, like the Malagasy striped civet and some mongooses. Birds are also wide spread in Ranomafana. There are at least 115 species catalogued (30 are local en demic to this part of Madagascar), among them the Henst’s goshawk, Rufous-headed ground-roller, velvet asity, mesites or the threatened crested ibis. Apart from that, the wildlife is completed by 62 species of reptiles (chameleons, snakes and f ringed and satanic leaf- tailed geckos are pretty common), 98 frogs, 90 butterflies, 350 spiders and several fishes and crayfishes. We will spend part of today walking through the quite rugged forests in search of wildlife.

Later in the day we depart from Ranomafana and travel on to Fianarantsoa. Fianarantsoa, is an old royal city which became in 1830 administrative capital of the region under the colonial power. The name Fianarantsoa means “the place where one can learn something good” and was given by Queen Ranavalona 1st honouring the many academic institutions and reputed schools that are based her e and which justify its reputation as the academic, intellectual and religious capital of the country. It has the largest number of churches per square metre of the country. Like in Tana, old houses were in general built in the hills and the new ones were built in the valleys. The old upper town, the new town (where most shops are located) and the train station district constitute the core of a city that has become almost unavoidable for any traveller heading to the South.

Overnight – Zomatel Hotel, Fianarantsoa. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 6: FIANARANTSOA

Today will be a combination of a tour of the city plus free time to explore areas by yourself.

Overnight – Zomatel Hotel, Fianarantsoa. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 7: FIANARANTSOA TO ISALO NATIONAL PARK

Today we depart Fianarantsoa and drive to Ranohira (359kms). The journey will take us through the spectacular Horombe Plateau. Our first stop on this journey will be Ambavalao which is home to the renowned Antaimoro craft paper, which is beautifully decorated with dried flowers and leaves. Ambalavao is also the site of the largest Zebu (the national cattle) market. Today is auction day and we will pay a visit to this hustling, bustling event.

We then will continue on to nearby Anja Park. The forest in Anja was designated a protected area reserve by the Government of Madagascar in 1999. The reserve extends over 30 hectares. The space is enriched with an ecological wealth of flora and fauna species, most notable for its dense population of semi-tame ring-tailed lemurs. Anja Reserve is the most visited community managed forest and ecotourist site in Madagascar. Anja has become a vital example of how community management of natural resources can both effectively protect the area and benefit the community.

Our destination is Le Jardin de Roy, which is found in a beautiful rock formation setting just south of Ranohira. The hotel takes its name from the land on which it was built, Le Jardine du Roy, a property belonging to ancestors of the king of Bara. The hotel was designed to blend into the pristine natural environment. The roof’s high slopes mimic that of the surrounding rocks. All of the granite on the property has been selected one by one and hand-carved to reproduce the colours of the massif. The entire hotel has been built with local materials common in Malagasy construction including rosewood and marble. It is conveniently located near Ranohira and theentrance to Isalo National Park.

Overnight – Le Jardin de Roy, Isalo (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 8: ISALO NATIONAL PARK

Today we visit Isalo National Park. Established in 1962, the Isalo protects 815 km² of sandstone massif wildly eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges (known as “runiformes”) featuring wild forms, impressive gorges and canyons and tiny stalagmite pinnacles. Though wildlife is here not as prominent as in other parks of the country, there are still a couple of species worth to look out: Ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs, sifakas and 14 nocturnal lemurs hide in dense vegetation along the streams. The park is also home to approximately 80 species of birds (including the rare Benson’s rock-thrush, the knob-billed duck and the crested ibis), 35 of reptiles and several endemic frogs. The flora is indeed more interesting than the fauna. There are several local endemic plants among the 500 species which are found w ithin Isalo, such as the elephant’s foot and some rare palms and aloe species.

The park’s terrain varies from grasslands to steep gorges, and a variety of walking circuits are provided to meet the individual’s capabilities. Our guide will assist you in determining which ones will meet your needs.

Overnight – Le Jardin de Roy, Isalo (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 9: ISALO TO TOLIARA

This morning we depart from Isalo and drive to Tulear (Toliara) (245kms in around 4 hours). On arrival we shall visit Arboretum d’Antsokay. The Arboretum was created around 1980, on the initiative of a Swiss amateur botanist, Hermann Pétignat who died in 2000. On a surface of 40 hectares there are almost 900 species of plants, 90% endemic to the region.

Our overnight stay with be at the Hotel Victory, which is on the main road between the town and the airport, but set back from the oise of the road. We shall have a tour around the town area in the late afternoon, when it is at its busiest.

Overnight – Hotel Victory, Toliara. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 10: TOLIARA

This morning we have a very early departure and we travel an hour north of Toliara to Reniala Forest Reserve. It shelters an amazing, bizarre and unique ecosystem which only occurs in the south-eastern part of Madagascar: the spiny forest. The towering spiny bushes are home to more than 2000 plants species (many of them local endemic), some spectacular and very old baobabs (there is a giant baobab of 12.5 m diameter) and a complete endemic plants family, the Didieraceae. Reniala includes a botanical trail and a bird sanctuary.

The afternoon is free for you to explore Toliara.

Overnight – Hotel Victory, Toliara. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 11: TOLIARA TO ANTANANARIVO

This morning we depart with Air Madagascar to Antananarivo. On arrival at Tana at we will be met and transferred to our hotel. The afternoon is free to explore the city centre.

Overnight – Colbert Hotel, Antananarivo. (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 12: ANTANANARIVO TO MORONDAVA

Today is a very early start as we have a 6:40am flight to Morondava. Upon arrival we transfer to the hotel and relax prior to a mid-afternoon departure to the Avenue of the Baobabs.

Of the eight baobab species in the world, six are endemic to Madagascar; one other is found in Africa and another in Australia. The best place to see one of these species, the Adansonia granddieri, is the Avenue des Baobabs. This is a large region with the majestic tree in abundance, and a sacred baobab with offering s around it showing the significance of the trees. There are also two that have become intertwined, and are known as Les Baobabs Amoureux. We shall stay until after su nset and then return to our hotel.

Overnight – Baobab Café Hotel, Morondava. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 13: MORONDAVA

This morning we are up before dawn so that we can return to the Avenue of the Baobabs for a breakfast. dawn photo shoot. Afterwards we return to our hotel for a late breakfast.

The afternoon has been set aside as free time for your own exploration of Morondava.

Overnight – Baobab Café Hotel, Morondava. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 14: MORONDAVA

This morning we set out across the nearby river and pay a visit to the village of Betania. This is a fishing village of around 1,000 people and has very basic facilities. It is inhabited by the Vezo tribal group. Fishing is practiced with net fishing from dug- out canoes and line fishing from outrigger canoes.

We return to Morondava, and the afternoon is free for your own exploration.

Overnight – Baobab Café Hotel, Morondava. (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 15: MORONDAVA TO ANTANANARIVO

We will depart Morondava on a morning flight to Anatanarivo, and then have an afternoon free to explore parts of the city.

Overnight – Colbert Hotel, Antananarivo. (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 16: ANTANANARIVO TO ANDASIBE – MANTADIA NATIONAL PARK

This morning we depart for Andisabe, a journey of 145kms on quite good roads (about three hours journey). We will stop at Réserve Peyrieras, a private reserve created by Mr. Peyrieras. Almost all species of Madagascar’s insects and butterflies are represented here. Visitors can observe them at all stages of their development at the large aviaries adapted to their natural environment. Mr. Peyrieras also has a large collection of chameleons, plus various amphibians, snakes, lizards and crocodiles.

We shall then transfer to our lodge. This afternoon we will visit Vakona Private Reserve, which is owned by Vakona Forest Lodge and also contains “Lemur Island” which is a great opportunity to get up close to Lemurs in a natural setting.

Overnight – Vakona Lodge, Andasibe.  (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 17: ANDASIBE – MANTADIA NATIONAL PARK

Today we will visit the Analamazaotra Reserve. The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park with its 154 km² encompasses two distinct areas: the small Réserve Spéciale d’Analamazaotra (popularly known by the old French name of the nearby town and railway station, “Périnet”) in the south next to Andasibe village; and the much larger Parc National de Mantadia to the north. Both parts belonged to the same humid forest, but because of human activities are now divided in two. The park was created in 1989.

The Reserve is famous for the Indri which is the largest of all lemurs and whose calls can be heard widely during the mornings. There are 13 other lemur species found here.  The extraordinary animal diversity is completed with another 15 mammal species, more than 100 of birds (many of them endemic, like the Madagascar yellowbrow, Madagascar baza, Madagascar wagtail or the Madagascar serpent-eagle), 50 of reptiles, among them the biggest chameleon of the island – the boa manditra, many leaf-tailed geckos and more than 80 amphibians.

In all of the nature reserves we visit expect to do quite a bit of walking. In this reserve in particular it will be hot and humid and it can be quite hilly. In the afternoon we shall trek in a different area of the reserve in search of other species.

Overnight – Vakona Lodge, Andisabe.  (Dinner & Breakfast)

Day 18: ANDASIBE – MANTADIA NATIONAL PARK TO ANTANANARIVO

This morning we depart from Andisabe and travel back towards Tana. We shall stop at Ambohimanga, which is a traditional fortified royal settlement (“rova”). This Palace of Kings & Queens is around 25kms from the city of Anatanarivo.

We continue on to our hotel where the afternoon is at leisure.

Overnight – Colbert Hotel, Antananarivo. (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 19: ANTANANARIVO TO JOHANNESBURG

Late this morning we transfer to the airport to join our South African Express flight  which departs at 3.00pm for Johannesburg.

We arrive into Johannesburg at 5.40pm. After clearing Customs & Immigration we will transfer to our hotel.

Overnight – Peermont Metcourt Suites, Johannesburg. (B&B basis)

Day 20: JOHANNESBURG TO SYDNEY

Today is free until around 3.00pm when we need to check-in for our Qantas flight back to Australia. We must check-out of your rooms by 10:00am, but luggage can be stored in the hotel and collected later in the day. This will allow time for a morning tour of some of Jo’burg, a little shopping, or just relaxing before the flight.

The Qantas flight (QF64) departs at 6:15pm.

Day 21: SYDNEY

We arrive back into Sydney at 2.15pm.


Conditions

This tour is being run in partnership with Wildlife Safari Consultants and all arrangements and bookings are to made through them.

** The cost of this tour is made up of two components:

(1) International Airfare – Between now and the time of travel all airlines will release special fares, and it is our intention to offer these as/when they become available. Our estimate is that the economy airfares will total between $2,900 (which is an instant purchase version available from time to time) to $3,600 (including airline taxes and charges).

(2) The Tour cost in US$ – We are quoting this tour in US Dollars. This will be converted to Australian dollars when final payments are made. (Our policy is to use the prevailing exchange rates [NAB Selling Rate] at the time of full and final payment. This gives clients the advantage of improving exchange rates. Many operators use a “forecast rate” which is much lower than prevailing rates and which “loads” the quote to protect them. We believe it is fairer to adjust the final price according to prevailing rates, thus giving clients a possible benefit of an improved rate, and a current quote which doesn’t have to be loaded to cover variations.) You may also elect pay this amount in advance when exchange rates are very favourable (details of this scheme will be forwarded when you book on the tour). The US$ component is US$9030.00  per person sharing.

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, and is often referred to as the “Eight Continent” due to its size and isolation. This mysterious island offers a unique combination of landscape, wildlife and culture, providing many rewarding photographic opportunities. The island is famous for its amazing lemurs, colourful chameleons and mighty baobab trees. In fact, more than 80 percent of Madagascar’s fauna and flora exist nowhere else on earth, truly making it a must see destination. The 70 species and subspecies of lemurs will surely entertain you, and the Malagasy people will welcome you with open arms.

This tour has been specifically designed to maximise the opportunities for photography, and has been scheduled to coincide with the birth of the Lemurs. Why not join us on this unique photographic adventure of one of the most extraordinary countries on earth. This trip will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will certainly never forget.


Highlights

  • Antsirabe – with its colourful markets and volcanic lakes
  • Ranomafana National Park – one of the most spectacular national parks in Madagascar, comprised of steep, mountainous terrain. It is the home to a variety of wildlife, including the very rare Golden Bamboo Lemur.
  • Fianarantsoa – an old royal city with chaotic narrow streets crammed with crumbling houses.
  • Isalo National Park – with its sandstone massif’s that have been eroded into unusual landforms, including impressive gorges and canyons, and stalagmite shaped pinnacles.
  • Toliara – a bustling port town with crumbling French colonial architecture and brightly coloured rickshaws.
  • Reniala Private Reserve – with its amazing, bizzare and unique spiny forest, with more than 2000 different plant species, including giant baobab trees.
  • Antananarivo – the bustling capital of Madagascar with activity on every corner.
  • Morondava – laid-back seaside town with the magnificent and iconic Avenue of Baobabs nearby.
  • Andasibe-Mantadia National Park – Madagascar’s most celebrated reserve with an extraordinary array of flora and fauna.
  • Lemurs, Lemurs and more Lemurs.

Details

  • Duration: 21 days total
  • Departure: Not currently scheduled.
  • Price: US$9030 land only per person twin share.  International airfares are estimated to be between AU$2900 and AU$3600 per person departing from Sydney, depending on when purchased.  **
  • For anyone requiring a single room, there will be an additional surcharge **

Included

  • The complete tour as per the itinerary (item 2 above)
  • International Economy Airfares **   (items 1 above)
  • All Domestic Airfares (within Madagascar which are included in the “Tour” price) **
  • All International and Domestic Airport and Airline taxes & charges **
  • Meals as specified

Not included

  • Travel Insurance (we have a special offer for Suresave Travel Insurance)
  • Any expenses of a personal nature (such as laundry, phone calls, personal tipping etc.)
  • All meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Any drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)
  • Any optional tours Johannesburg

**  Subject to change prior to ticket issuance (due to weekly variations in Taxes and Surcharges).


Madagascar Images

Top Image – © Malcolm Fackender

Other Images – © Dennis Jones

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