In Madagascar, we offer two birding tours; a photo tour; and a tour that visits remote areas of the northwest plus the Comoros, looking for some rare endemics. Click for more information about each tour: Madagascar: The Eighth Continent, Madagascar in July: Wonders of the 8th Continent in the Cool Season, Madagascar Photo Tour, and Northern Madagascar and Comoros
Madagascar’s flora and fauna are so different from anywhere else on Earth that it is often referred to as the eighth continent; five bird families and 120 species are found only here. These include a variety of vangas, Madagascar’s answer to the Darwin’s finches; turaco-like couas; absolutely awesome ground-rollers; and taxonomic oddball mesites. On top of the world-class birds, no other tour run by Tropical Birding offer such a bounty of things other than birds. Madagascar is home to some of the planet’s greatest biological oddities, that appear to have their origins in Alice’s wonderland… other-worldly plants, Jurassic reptiles, a bounty of lovable lemurs, colorful chameleons, peculiar geckos, and bizarre insects.
Tropical Birding has an office in Madagascar, which gives us an excellent capacity to handle logistics in this sometimes challenging part of the world. It also allows us to stay up-to-date on the whereabouts of rare and hard-to-find bird species.
Gallery of the Top 20 Wildlife of Madagascar:
In the dry southwest lies the odd spiny forest, perhaps the most distinctive biome on Madagascar, and a place that we visit on both the photo tour and birding tour. Here we seek out spectacular semi-desert species such as bushy-crested Madagascar Hoopoe, cute little Gray-headed Lovebird, long-legged Running and ‘Green-capped’ Couas, Lafresnaye’s Vanga, and the striking Sickle-billed Vanga. At the top of our southwestern hit list are two very strange and globally threatened birds: the cryptic Subdesert Mesite and the elegant Long-tailed Ground-Roller, an endemic species somewhat resembling a colorful roadrunner. On both tours, we take a boat to visit a small offshore islet that hosts a colony of Red-tailed Tropicbirds.
On our photo tour and on an extension to the birding tour, we visit the northwest, where it is also dry and warm, but where the broadleaved forests hold a different suite of lemurs, birds, and reptiles. This is a lemur paradise, with lanky Coquerel’s Sifaka and big-eyed Milne-Edwards’ Sportive Lemurs amongst seven possible species. This is also a good area for snakes, and there is no nervous tension as none of Madagascar’s snakes are venomous. We will also seek out the giant Oustalet’s Chameleon and the spiky Cuvier’s Iguanid. The rare Madagascar Fish-Eagle and Schlegel’s Asity are special targets in this part of the country.
The lush rainforests of eastern Madagascar offer the best of Madagascar’s fauna. Many of the island’s most spectacular endemic birds are restricted to this rainforest biome, species including Pitta-like and Scaly Ground-Rollers, Red-breasted Coua, Madagascar Flufftail, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, and Madagascar Paradise-Flycatcher. A visit to Madagascar would not be complete without being serenaded by the planet’s largest lemur, the Indri. The spine-chilling howls of this creature will stick in your memory for the rest of your life. With luck, we might encounter one of Madagascar’s evolutionary masterpieces, the bizarre Lowland Streaked Tenrec. After dark we will search for some of the creatures of the night, like woolly-lemurs, dwarf-lemurs, and mouse-lemurs. The east’s reptile and amphibian fauna are as dramatic as the birds; among the myriad of colorful and photogenic frogs, chameleons, and geckos we may encounter are the giant Parson’s Chameleon, dapper frogs, glowing green day-geckos, and eccentric leaf-tailed gecko. A Masoala extension to our birding tour gives us excellent chances at seeing both Helmet and Bernier’s Vangas, plus the Red Panda-like Red Ruffed Lemur.
A short extension to the photo tour visits Berenty, in the far south, where there are incredible photographic opportunities for two of Madagascar’s most photogenic and famous lemurs: the cute Ring-tailed Lemur and the famous ‘dancing’ Verreaux’s Sifakas.
Our Northern Madagascar and Comoros tour is for rugged birders keen to clean up on some of the rarest endemics of Madagascar and the rarely-visited Comoros. These include the recently rediscovered Madagascar Pochard, beautiful Red Owl, a chance at the near-mythical Madagascar Serpent-Eagle, Sakalava Rail, 4 species of Comorian scops-owls, the handsome Comoro Olive Pigeon, and odd Humblot’s Flycatcher. We visit several remote spots in northwestern Madagascar, plus all four of the islands of the Comoros.
Gallery of the Top 20 Birds of Madagascar: