The Best of Madagascar Tour takes us to some of the most sought after destinations in Madagascar.
Madagascar is without a doubt a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature photographers, offering some incredible diversity, both from a landscape and wildlife point of view
Lemurs, baobabs, rainforests and deserts – few places on Earth offer such a uniquely diverse kaleidoscope of nature. The fauna and flora of Madagascar is unmatched with epic landscapes of prolific beauty and bizarre obscurity. Imagine the possibility of travelling from rainforest to desert in less than 500km/310 Miles!
On this Best of Madagascar tour we will go in search of the island’s signature animals ranging from lemurs and chameleons; to fossa and the amazing array of birds. We will also focus on landscapes which includes everything from baobabs to orchids and so much more.
Madagascar is a one-of-a-kind destination and on this Wild Eye departure our goal is to explore the world’s fourth largest island by immersing ourselves in the various destinations we will be visiting.
Mantadia National Park and Perinet Reserve
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a 155 square kilometre protected area, located about 150 km east of Antananarivo, consisting principally of primary growth forest in Alaotra-Mangoro Region in eastern Madagascar.
This rainforest is habitat to a vast species biodiversity, including many endemic rare species and endangered species, including 11 lemur species. The park's two component parts are Mantadia National Park and Analamazoatra Reserve, which is best known for its population of Madagascar's largest lemur, the Indri.
The lush rainforest of the 810-ha Perinet Special Reserve is undoubtedly the best place to see Madagascar’s largest lemur, the Indri. With a barely visible tail, black and white markings and a surprised teddy–bear face, this Lemur is one of the few animals in the world that cannot survive in captivity. Its haunting call can be heard for up to 3km in the forest.
When we've finished enjoying the closest encounters with the 'dog-man' Indri that Madagascar has to offer, there are a further 11 species of lemur to go in search for.
We may find a troop of grey bamboo lemurs, common brown lemur, or the beautiful diademed sifaka. Birders will be looking out for several specialities including the gorgeous, rare velvet asity, the Madagascar flufftail, pygmy kingfisher, blue coua, nuthatch vanga, collared nightjar, among other endemics.
Perinet is also one of the best spots in Madagascar to look for reptiles. As you walk through the rainforest, you will spot the incredibly ornate Satanic leaf-tailed gecko and upwards of five chameleon species. We will also keen an eye out for some of the many stunning endemic orchid species adorning the canopy, and the bizarre giraffe-necked weevils whizzing past, one of Madagascar's most charismatic little rainforest denizens.
Departing Antananarivo early in the morning, it is about a four hour drive from the country's capital.
The journey offers first time visitors to Madagascar a gentle introduction to rural life, with reed fields, redbrick houses and roadside stalls selling seasonal fruits and vegetables along the route.
Where we staying: Mantadia Lodge
Our first stop on the Best of Madagascar Tour is Mantadia Lodge, which is located on a hill of a 100 meters high which gives a panoramic view of the forest.There are 25 rooms, 10 of which are Twins and one of which is a Family Suite for 5 guests.
All rooms provide the comfort of a 3 star hotel, and are equipped with Wi-Fi, cable TV and a terrace that offers a panoramic view, an inside living room and a wood burning stove for the cooler season.
The restaurant was designed with large windows in order to provide a spectacular view, as well as a 40 square meter terrace for a unique lunch.
Your stay here will also be enhanced by a calm living room with a reading area and a bar.
In the morning you might be awakened by the singing of the Indri Indri, a kind a lemurs that can only be found here, in the park of Andasibe. An infinity edge pool and 2 massage rooms are also at your disposal.
The entire team at Mantadia Lodge will ensure that your stay is an enjoyable and memorable one.
The second reserve that we will be visiting on the Best of Madagascar Tour is Palmarium Reserve.
The private reserve of Palmarium is also known as Ankanin’ny Nofy which translates from Malagasy as ‘nest of dreams’. It is spread across 50 hectares of peninsula land in the Lake Ampitabe area on the East coast of Madagascar, nestled on the banks of the Pangalanes channel and the Indian Ocean. Separated from the latter by thin coastal sand dunes, the landscape otherwise comprises of littoral forest with relatively flat terrain and some well-kept trails for exploration.
Palmarium represents one of the most beautiful areas along the Pangalanes Canal, where fishermen float by and go about their daily lives.
This Reserve is approximately two hours away by boat from Tamatave and is home to a smattering of small lodges that are dotted in amidst the thick forested banks of the Pangalanes. The isolation of the reserve means it is one of the few places in Madagascar where it is possible to come close to some of the least timid, free-ranging and tame lemur species on the island, including the largest lemurs, the Indri, as well as the famous dancing sifaka. This Reserve is an absolute must for Photographers as it give us some great opportunities to get impressive snaps of these unafraid lemurs in the wild. The area is also home to the emblem of Madagasacar, the Ravinala, as well as frogs, reptiles, orchids, palm trees and the carnivorous pitcher plant.
We will depart Mantadia Lodge and transfer by road to Manambato which is about a three hour drive. From here we will transfer by boat to the Palmarium Hotel, situated on the edge of the reserve on Lake Ampitabe.
Where we staying: Palmarium Hotel
The Palmarium Lodge is situated in the Pangalenes, which consists of a series of lakes linked by artificial canals.
The hotel is the ideal accommodation for nature enthusiast and lemur lovers as it is situated on the shore of Lake Ampitabe in a private reserve, which is home to an incredible array of wildlife including a group of friendly lemurs that regularly visit the hotel.
Accommodation at Hotel Palmarium is made up of thatched bungalows, 13 in total, built from local materials. The spacious rooms are equipped with double or twin beds, mosquito netting, an en-suite bathroom, and a private wooden verandah with bamboo and fabric chairs and a hammock -perfect for relaxing as you take in the sights and sounds of Lake Ampitabe.
All of the bungalows have a stunning view of the lake.
Morondava is the economic capital of the Menabe region and is located 701km from the Southwest of the capital. It will offer you a lot of discovery. It is charming and interesting, as it mixes a dynamic city-cente and a quiet country-side. Nature lovers won’t be disappointed as the region is well-known for its numerous forests (Andranomena, Analabe, Manamby, Kirindy) and its rich fauna and flora.
Morondava is located at the gates of the Avenue of the Baobabs. It is the capital of the Menabe Kingdom. It offers many landscapes, each more breathtaking than the other. The sea intermingles with the ground tinted in red, offering an incredible scenery.
Morondava was also the centre of the Sakalava kingdom and is known for its elaborately sculpted wooden royal tombs. These tombs are frequently decorated with well-executed, often erotic, funerary carvings representing life and fertility.
After returning back to Antananarivo from Palmarium Reserve, we will connect on a flight to Morondava. Upon arrival we will be met by our local guide and transferred to our Hotel.
Where we staying: Palissandre Côte Ouest
Located on Morondava beach, just 40 minutes from the famous Avenue of the Baobabs, Palissandre Côte Ouest comprises 30 bungalows each with private terrace and sea views. This makes for the ideal place to relax after exploring western Madagascar.
Located on Nosy Kely beach, Palissandre Cote Ouest is a stylish property within easy reach of the Avenue des Baobabs. The hotel is a wonderful option for those looking to combine relaxation with the impressive baobab-strewn dry forest landscapes of western Madagascar. There are 30 thatched bungalows set in well-maintained gardens scattered with coconut palms, each with air-conditioning, en-suite bathrooms and a private terrace, perfect for viewing the stunning ocean sunsets over the Indian Ocean. A few family bungalows are also available.
The restaurant overlooks the pool and serves delicious Malagasy cuisine, in addition to offering themed buffet nights and sometimes beach barbecues. You can also enjoy cocktails made with local rum and seasonal fruits at the hotel’s Tsingy Bar. Palissandre Cote Ouest even has a small spa offering various massages and healing treatments.
The Palissandre Cote Ouest is ideally located for visiting the Avenue des Baobabs (around 40 minutes away) and offers a good base to relax between seeing the sights of the Menabe region.
Tsingy de Bemaraha and the Grand Tsingy
The last Park that we will be visiting on the Best of Madagascar Tour is Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.
The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a national park located in Melaky Region, northwest Madagascar. The national park centers on two geological formations: the Great Tsingy and the Little Tsingy. Together with the adjacent Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, the National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Malagasy, "tsingy" means "where one cannot walk barefoot." And that's no joke. The word refers to tall, thin, needle-like rock formations that can be found throughout the country.
The reserve’s canyons, gorges, undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps display an astonishing richness of fauna and flora which have not been completely recorded. The rate of endemism is about 85%, and 47% are even local endemic!
The limestone seabed rose to create a plateau around 200 million years ago, which was little by little eroded by heavy rainfalls until it became its actual shape. This massif is delimited to the east by the abrupt Bemaraha Cliffs, which rises some 300 to 400m above the Manambolo River valley and extends several tens of kilometres from north to south.
The western slopes of the massif rise more gently, and the whole western region of the reserve forms a plateau with rounded hillocks which slope away to the west. To the north undulating hills alternate with limestone extrusions, while in the south extensive pinnacle formations make access extremely restricted. In the south of Petit Tsingy is the spectacular Manambolo Gorge where you can see waterfalls, lemurs and magnificent untouched forests.
From Marondava we will embark on a 10 hour adventure by road to Le Soleil des Tsingy. There will be a variety of wildlife and birds along they way for us to enjoy.
This is the ultimate adventure and the views at Le Soleil des Tsingy will make it all worth while.
Where we staying: Le Soleil des Tsingy
Located close to the magnificent limestone formations within Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Le Soleil des Tsingy is an eco-friendly lodge in the most peaceful of settings. Surrounded by over 20 hectares of land, this is the perfect base from which to explore the fascinating flora and fauna of Madagascar.
With just 17 bungalows, at Le Soleil des Tsingy you are offered a private and secluded experience. Each bungalow provides en-suite facilities and has its own terrace, allowing you to relax and admire the views. Constructed with local, natural materials such as the stone basins, the wooden bungalows are complete with hand-made furnishings and decorations, ensuring Le Soleil des Tsingy feels at one with its surroundings.
There are several communal areas at Le Soleil des Tsingy, including a comfortable lounge, and pool room complete with board games. Outside, a large terrace offers views of the canopy below, with a 15-metre pool in which you can unwind after a day of exploring the surrounding area. Meals at Le Soleil des Tsingy are taken in the main lodge, and the dishes served are a creative blend of traditional Malagasy and European cuisines.
It is hard to think of a better destination to end off our Best of Madagascar Tour.
Since the majority of our activities will be done on foot, and the fact that we generally get relatively close to our subjects, a focal length of around 200-300mm will be enough. it is important to consider that the forests can often be quite dark, so a 2.8 lens is recommended. The landscapes are breathtaking so a wide angle lens like a 16-35mm or equivalent will come in very handy. There is also the opportunity of some macro photography, so we would advise that you bring a macro lens along to be able to capture those finer details.
This is Why Travel With Wild Eye
- Explore 5 iconic areas of Madagascar on what will be a life changing adventure.
- The opportunity to view and photograph wildlife in Madagascar, not found anywhere else.
- Exploring the diversity of Madagascar, from the spectacular forests in Mantadia, to the incredible dry deciduous forest in Tsingy.
- Expand your portfolio, from wildlife to landscapes and even the finer details in Macro photography
We look forward to sharing this incredible adventure through Madagascar with you.