Madagascar Photo Journey
Some of the most photogenic creatures on earth.
Of all of the photo tours that we offer, this is one of the least bird-oriented. This isn’t because there aren’t abundant opportunities to photograph birds… we will go after the bounty of endemic species on offer, and you are sure to end up with magnificent photos of vangas, ground-rollers, mesites, and many others. What makes this a less bird-oriented tour is not the lack of birds, but the astounding variety of other subjects also on offer… you will fill many cards with striking lemurs, colorful chameleons, peculiar geckos, and bizarre insects. Night walks are a major part of this tour, so flashes are recommended.
We begin by flying into the dry southwest, where we enter the odd spiny forest, where we set out each morning at dawn to take advantage of the cooler air and beautiful morning light. We’ll 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 hit list are two very strange and globally threatened birds: the cryptic Sub-desert Mesite and the elegant Long-tailed Ground-Roller, an endemic species somewhat resembling a colorful roadrunner. As the photogenic red sands warm up, the reptiles come out to play, and we will turn our attention to these mini-dinosaur-like critters, such as the handsome Three-eyed Lizard. One morning we will board a chartered boat to visit Nosy Ve, a small offshore islet. The star attraction here is a colony of Red-tailed Tropicbirds that fly right overhead for unlimited photo opportunities.
The next leg of the trip heads to the far 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 and we ought to catch up 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. We’ll consider ourselves lucky if we manage photos of the extremely rare Madagascar Fish-Eagle or Schlegel’s Asity.
We’ll finish off our tour in the lush rainforests of eastern Madagascar. Two parks here, Mantadia and Perinet, offer the best of Madagascar’s fauna. Many of the island’s most spectacular endemic birds are restricted to this rainforest biome, where we seek out photo opportunities with species including Pitta-like and Scaly Ground-Rollers, Red-breasted Coua, Madagascar Flufftail, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, and Madagascar Paradise-Flycatcher. The experience of rambling within Perinet 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, and these large prosimians make for wonderful photo subjects. 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, and should find Eastern Woolly, Crossley’s Dwarf, and Rufous Mouse Lemurs. The area’s reptile and amphibian fauna are equally dramatic; 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 two species of eccentric leaf-tailed gecko.
A short pretour to Berenty offers 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. The gallery forest here also supports Giant Coua and day-time roosting White-browed Owl and White-footed Sportive Lemur. The tour begins and ends in Antananarivo.
Please contact us for a detailed day-by-day itinerary.
CLIMATE: The eastern rainforest sites are cool, with rain possible. The climate at Ifaty and in the northwest are very hot and dry.
DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate. The eastern rainforest sites require long days on forest trails; those at Ranomafana are steep. All other sites have mostly easy trails. The roads are surprisingly good. The warm temperatures in the west can be challenging for some people.
ACCOMMODATION: Basic to moderate in the northwest. Good to very good elsewhere.