Panoramic view at sunset above Baobab trees
Panoramic view at sunset above Baobab trees

Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, is like a gigantic ark sailing ever so slowly across the Indian Ocean, having broken free from the African continent some 160 million years ago. It took with it a vast menagerie of animals and plants which over countless millennia have evolved in almost complete isolation, so much so that today over 80% of all life forms here are found nowhere else on the planet. We travel around the island in a sequence of internal flights and road transfers and it can be a challenging experience, but the rewards are enormous. The National Parks and private reserves that feature in our tour are among the finest in the world and are home to a simply bewildering array of flora and fauna.

On the botanical side we can expect to see a huge range of fascinating trees and plants, none more curious than the baobab, which look like giant tubers that have been pulled from the earth and thrust back in with the roots uppermost, hence the name ‘Upside Down Tree’. Among the other highlights are spiny bush plants including the unique cactus-like didiereaceae; strange triangulated palms, bloated pachypodiums and carnivorous Pitcher Plants; tree ferns, aloes and euphorbias. We will also see a host of orchids, including the famous comet orchid, which should be in flower at this time of year.

Think of Madagascar and you think of lemurs and for many these endearing primates will top a star-studded cast list of birds and animals. In addition to the familiar ring-tailed lemur we can hope to see Sanford’s brown lemur, nocturnal mouse lemurs, and Indri, largest of all the lemurs with a haunting, whale-like call. Among the other creatures that may cross our path are geckos, chameleons and a wonderful selection of rare birds.

What's included?

  • Accommodation
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Meals - as per the itinerary
  • Internal Flights

Today's Price

Deposit: $750 Single supplement: $1,080

Tour highlights:

  • Discover an array of endemic flora and fauna
  • Enjoy a nocturnal visit to discover the smallest frog and chameleon species of the rainforest
  • Walk along white sandy beaches bordered by turquoise seas
  • Spend a full day at the Berenty Reserve, home to six species of lemur
  • View the iconic Baobab trees throughout the country

Tour details

Dates November 5 2019 - November 19 2019
Duration 15 days
Today's Price
Deposit: $750 Single supplement: $1,080 Balance due by August 13 2019
Activity Level
Tour code BWFFM19A

Call for availability

November 5 2019: Itinerary

We depart on an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Antananarivo. 

On arrival this morning in the capital Antananarivo (usually known as ‘Tana’) we will be met by our local guide and transfer to our hotel where dinner is served this evening.

Meals include: Dinner

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for our domestic flight north to Diego Suarez/Antsiranana, situated on the far north coast. On arrival, we will drive to our hotel and check-in.

After freshening up, we will drive towards to Sakalava Bay, 25kms from the hotel. Here we take a walk along the Three Bays (Bay of Sakalava, Bay of Pigeons and Bay of Dunes), bordered by a turquoise sea and white sand. The track runs alongside an endemic forest of baobabs and ends at the majestic entrance to the Diego Bay Pass. We will also visit the lighthouse and the old French military installations.

After lunch at a local restaurant we will visit the fishing village of Ramena, before returning to our hotel. Dinner is served in the evening.

All meals included

We depart today for an excursion to the Montagne d'Ambre National Park that protects an isolated rainforest block extending over 18000ha. With a maximum altitude of 1475m, this area of former volcanic activity is like a green oasis in the centre of the desert, a real paradise for botanists, with much of the flora and fauna of Montagne d'Ambre being locally endemic. This is the wettest part of Madagascar with an average rainfall of 3585mm, so the park is filled with rivers and lakes, torrents and waterfalls.

Plant highlights include tree ferns and the large epiphytic tree fern, Asplenium nidus. We have a good chance of seeing Sanford’s brown lemur and the amazing, camouflaged Leaf-tailed gecko, Uroplatus fimbriatus, on this walk, as well as a view of the Antomboka waterfall. A picnic lunch is included today.

We return to our hotel in Diego Suarez. Dinner is served in the evening.

All meals included

Checking out after breakfast, we will be driven northwest to the dry Montagne des Français to see the locally endemic dry-country flora. This is the type locality of the northern ‘flat-top’ baobab, Adansonia suarezensis, which emerges to stand proud above the surrounding vegetation on the slopes on the way up the dry mountainsides. One even has a few orchids nestling in the crown (Angraecum praestans & A. leonis). Other pachycaul plants to be found include Adansonia madagascariensis, Pachypodium rutembergianum, P. decaryi and the cone-shaped Cyphostemma pachypus, as well as ‘true’ succulents such as Aloe suarezensis and Euphorbia ankarensis.

Near the top, on Pic des Orchidées, the most famous of all Malagasy orchids, the Comet Orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale), should be in flower. This has the longest spur of any orchid, which as Charles Darwin correctly predicted is pollinated by a moth with a 30 cm-long tongue, Xanthopan morgani praedicta. A picnic lunch is included.

Flight schedule permitting, we take an afternoon flight from Diego Suarez back to Tana.

All meals included

Hotel: Le Louvre Hotel & Spa, Antananarivo

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for flight to Fort Dauphin on the far south-east coast, set on a peninsula backed by high green mountains – depending on the flight schedule we will have lunch in either Tana or Fort Dauphin. On arrival, here in the southernmost limit of the humid eastern domain, we travel inland along fairly poor roads to Berenty Private Reserve, which protects parcels of the bizarre 'spiny desert' habitat (Euphorbia-Didieraceae bush) as well as dry Tamarind gallery forest. After the Ranopis Pass which marks the transition zone between the southern and eastern domains - and where we can stop to view a slope full of the marvellous and strange Triangulated Palm - we enter the 'spiny desert' which stretches for as far as the eye can see and is dominated by tall, thorny Didieraceae trees and much Euphorbia. 

All meals included

Hotel: Berenty Lodge

After breakfast today we will explore the Berenty Reserve, where the trails are broad and the terrain is flat. Best known for its large and well habituated populations of the iconic Ringtail lemur and the "dancing" Verreaux’ sifaka, Berenty is home to six species of lemur, the south's largest colony of Madagascar fruit bats, and 103 bird species, 56 of whom breed in the reserve. It also holds a wide variety of fascinating dry country flora including ancient Tamarind trees, tall, impressive Pachypodiums and Moringas. We have the whole day to explore the reserve. Note the tall, bloated Pachypodiums, Moringas and other xerophytic species typical of the spiny bush on sandy substrate, such as various endemic (and endangered) Aloe species, and some of Madagascar’s unusual woody tree Euphorbias. 

All meals included

Hotel: Berenty Lodge

Towards the end of the day, after lunch at the Reserve’s restaurant, we travel back to Fort Dauphin with stops en route to see localised and rare flora including tall, spiny Didieraceae trees; Baobabs (Adansonia za) and the peculiar, endangered and highly localised Triangulated palm. With luck, if they have re-established themselves, in the more humid area near Fort Dauphin we can see endemic Pitcher-plants: Madagascar marks the westernmost limit for this predominantly Asian group of carnivorous plants which do not exist in Africa. 

All meals included

Hotel: La Croix du Sud, Fort Dauphin

After breakfast we transfer to the airport at Fort Dauphin for our flight to Tana.

Depending on flight schedules we will visit the National Botanical Garden in the Parc of Tsimbazaza either this afternoon or first thing tomorrow morning.

All meals included

Hotel: Le Louvre Hotel & Spa, Antananarivo

We depart for Andasibe this morning on road N°2 connecting Antananarivo to Tamatave, the biggest harbour of Madagascar, travelling through luxuriant forests of Angavo, with a picnic lunch en route. 

All meals included

Following an early breakfast we will spend the morning exploring the lush rainforest of ‘Périnet’ (the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park). This is the most visited protected area in the country due to its world renowned rainforest flora and remarkable wildlife. Several nocturnal species live in the park, such as the tiny Microcebus. Chameleons, frogs are present everywhere, among a flora rich in pandanas, eucalyptus, ravinala, rosewood. There are also several lakes covered with water lilies, full of charm and mystery.

We can look for the marsh orchid, Gastrorchis lutea, and lovely, terrestrial orchids such as G. pulcra var. perrieri and G. tuberculosa. Aerangis orchids may be in flower in the Orchid Garden and also Cymbideiella pardalina, which in nature only grows in clumps of the Staghorn fern, Platycerium madagascariensis. Star attractions on the wildlife front include lemurs such as Indri (largest of the extant lemurs and noted for its whale-like 'song'), shy grey bamboo and brown lemurs, a wonderful selection of rainforest birds (notably blue coua, velvet asity and coral-billed nuthatch vanga) and reptiles such as the giant, emerald green Parson's chameleon.

After lunch in the hotel, for those who wish we will visit the Vakona reserve by canoe, which will enable us to reach the forests where different species of Lemurs live. We can expect to observe these lemurs very closely - some are so familiar that they will jump on your shoulder.

Alternatively you may wish to spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool. Dinner is served in the evening.

All meals included

We have another early morning start as we trek through the forest reserve of Analamazaotra, managed by the Mitsinjo association, which works for the preservation of Andasibe fauna and flora. Lunch is served back at the hotel after which the afternoon is free to relax. Once night has fallen (around 6.00pm), we will have a one hour nocturnal visit to discover the smallest chameleons and frogs species on the rainforest and the smallest lemur species called mouse-maki.

All meals included

After breakfast we transfer back to Antananarivo. On the way we will stop to Marozevo for a visit to the Madagascar Exotic Park. This farm, unique on the island, allows observing a large number of chameleons. It also shelters numerous species of butterflies and insects. Lunch is provided on the way.

On arrival in Anatananarivo we will check in for the final time to the Hotel du Louvre, with the rest of the day free to relax in the hotel or explore independently.

All meals included

Hotel: Le Louvre Hotel & Spa, Antananarivo

This morning we visit the nursery of the late Alfred Razafindratsira, who was a major supplier of seeds for palms and gained immortality by discovering a new species which bears his name: Beccariophoenix alfredii, also known as the High Plateau Coconut Palm.

After lunch in Tana there will be an opportunity for souvenir shopping in the local crafts market. After an early farewell supper, we transfer to the airport in time for our overnight flight back to London.

All meals included

Hotel: Le Louvre Hotel & Spa, Antananarivo

On arrival in London the group shall disperse or make onward connections.

Meals include: Breakfast

Please note that the hotels listed are subject to change.

November 5 2019: Additional Info

November 5 2019: Accommodation

Offering an indoor pool and a spa and wellness centre, Le Louvre Hotel & Spa is located in Antananarivo. Free WiFi access is available.

Each room here will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and a balcony. Private bathroom also comes with a shower. Extras include satellite channels.

At Le Louvre Hotel & Spa you will find a restaurant and a fitness centre. Other facilities offered at the property include meeting facilities and laundry facilities. The property offers free parking.

Established in 1937 as one of the first nature reserves in Madagascar, Berenty provides easy walking along well tended, level and wide trails in shady riverine gallery forest and patches of spiny forest where habituated lemurs and other wildlife can easily be seen. Accommodation is basic but perfectly adequate and is suitable for those with mobility problems and those who relish tame “wilderness” in which plenty of local wildlife can be seen.

The lodge and land are owned by the locally powerful de Heaulme family, who developed the extensive, surrounding sisal plantations and owns some hotels in Fort Dauphin, including the Croix du Sud and Le Dauphin.

3.7 miles from Nahampoana Reserve Botanical Garden, La Croix du Sud is situated in Fort Dauphin and provides air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. Boasting a garden, the hotel is close to several noted attractions, around a 3-minute walk from French Cultural Centre, 650 yards from Tourism Office and an 8-minute walk from Night Club. Harbour is a 9-minute walk away.

All units in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. With a private bathroom, certain units at La Croix du Sud also offer a garden view.

Breakfast is available daily, and includes continental and American options.

November 5 2019: Enquiries

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