Essential Madagascar: Lemurs, Baobabs & Tsingy
A Scouting Trip with Jeremy Woodhouse, Nov 2020
Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, desert, hiking and diving: Madagascar is a dream destination for outdoors enthusiasts – half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions.
Madagascar is unique: 5% of all known animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. The island's signature animal is the lemur of course, but there are many more weird and wonderful creatures and plants: baobabs, insects, sharks, frogs, orchids, palms, birds, turtles, mongoose. The list goes on. Much of this biodiversity is under threat, from climate change and population pressure, giving each trip a sense of urgency but also purpose: tourism can truly be a force for good.
The remarkable fauna and flora is matched by epic landscapes of an incredible diversity: you can go from rainforest to desert in just 300km. Few places on Earth offer such an intense kaleidoscope of nature. There are sandstone canyons, limestone karsts, mountains, fertile hills cascading with terraced rice paddies, forests of every kind – rain, dry, spiny – and a laterite-rich soil that gave the country its nickname of 'Red Island'. With 5000km of coastline, the sea is never very far, turquoise and idyllic in places, dangerous in others.
Making the best of Madagascar can be challenging (and expensive): it is the world’s fourth-largest island and its roads are dismal. For those who relish an adventure, however, this is a one-of-a-kind destination: the off-road driving is phenomenal, there are national parks that only see a few hundred visitors a year, regions that live in autarky during the rainy season and resorts so remote you’ll need a private plane or boat to get there. There are also more activities than you'll have time for: hiking, diving, mountain biking, kitesurfing, rock-climbing, you name it.
Madagascar has been populated by successive waves of migrants from various corners of the Indian Ocean. It is unlike anywhere else in Africa or Asia. There are fantastic sights to discover this unique history, but also numerous opportunities to meet local people and immerse yourself in their world: in village stays, long-distance trails, festivals, taxi-brousse (bush taxis) and Friday night discos — Lonely Planet
Pre-Tour Arrival Day
We recommend you arrive to Antananarivo (Tana) before the tour starts, as flights generally arrive in the afternoon from Nairobi and Johannesburg, or in the late evening from Paris. A hotel shuttle will be there to greet you and carry you to your rooms for a night of rest before the start of the tour. Our trip concludes on the afternoon of Day 14. If leaving Antananarivo directly after the trip, we recommend departing either on late overnight flights (around 1–3 am to Europe), or the following day around 2–4 pm to African connections. Alternatively, stay an additional day in Tana and depart late the following evening.
Day 1: Tana – Morondava (South West part of Madagascar)
The charter plane will take around 1 hour 20min to reach Morondava. We leave in the morning, 9am the latest and will lunch in Morondava. The hotel is half an hour from the airport, at the shore of the beach. You need to be careful though, the beach here is not good, dirty because people use to do their toilet at the beach, if ever you decide to walk there, you need to be careful, check well where you step on.
After lunch, before going to the Avenue of the Baobabs which is the highlight here, we can leave earlier from the hotel to go to the local market to take pictures of the everyday life of people. The Avenue of the Baobabs is 16 miles from the hotel and can be made in 45 minutes. The 3 last miles before reaching the place is done on uneven road. We wait for the sunset and come back to the hotel for dinner.
Day 2: Morondava – Kirindy Park
Kirindy Park is in the northern part of Morondava, 40 miles from there and it takes around 2 hours and half to reach it. It has a dry deciduous forest, and you can see forest of Baobab there along with 2 species of diurnal lemurs: the red fronted brown lemur and the Verreaux’s Sifaka, the white dancing lemur. Here you can you can find the biggest carnivorous animal of Madagascar, the fossa. And this is apart from the birds, most endemic to Madagascar, reptile like chameleons, geckos…it’s worth visiting this park just for the very elusive fossa. This is the only place where it is easy to see and we will not encounter it in the next places we will be.
Day 3: Morondava – Tsingy
We leave Morondava in the morning, around 9 am and have a short flight (around 20 minutes) to arrive to the Tsingy. It takes one hour to reach the hotel on a very dirt road. We reach the hotel and take a rest. We can go to the Tsingy National Park in the afternoon to be in the “Little Tsingy”.
After that, we go back to the hotel for dinner and rest.
Day 4: Tsingy
This day is for the “Big Tsingy” discovery and we will be around 3 hours in the park. We might see 2 species of lemurs at the park, the ring tailed lemur and the white lemur called Decken’s Sifaka.
Day 5: Tsingy – Berenty (SE Madagascar)
We leave in the morning by 7:30am and depart for our next destination. We will fly to the south east part of Madagascar, almost at the tip of the island to reach Berenty arriving there by 11:30am. After lunch, we can explore this private reserve. The ring-tailed lemurs, the brown lemurs and the famous dancing lemur Verreaux’s Sifaka (white lemur) are here. If ever you have seen this dancing lemur somewhere in a documentary, there’s a good chance it’s from this lodge. What is good here is that the lemurs are around the lodge and we can explore the area at our leisure. We will have local guide to show us around. We can also take a night walk safari to see nocturnal species of lemurs, birds and chameleons.
We will stay for 3 nights to enjoy all they have here.
Day 6 – 7: Berenty private Reserve
Day 8: Berenty – Tana
In the morning, we fly back to Tana and arrive by noon or 1 pm. The flight is around 3 hours. We will spend the rest of the day exploring Tana. Tana, as the capital is universally known, is all about eating, shopping, history and day trips. The town centre itself, with its pollution and dreadful traffic, puts off many travelers from staying, but bypassing the capital altogether would be a mistake: Tana has been the home of Malagasy power for three centuries and there's a huge amount of history and culture to discover.
Day 9: Tana – Andasibe
We leave in the morning by van to Andasibe in the eastern part of the capital (about 90 miles). We will drive through villages, rice fields, brick factories on a winding road…we will see the real life of people living in the highland (central part of the country). After around a two and half hour-drive, we will stop in a reptile reserve to see chameleons, frogs, geckos, & butterflies… what is interesting here is the number of different species of animals they have in this reserve, if ever you want to see them in the nature, we need to go far to different areas when the time is not permitted for us. This place is worth to visit and good for photography, animals are very close, and many can be photographed in macro mode.
We will take a picnic lunch from our hotel in Tana and lunch in this park. After lunch we return to our hotel and rest during the afternoon while waiting for the night safari to look for nocturnal species of lemurs, chameleons, frogs…our walk will be around an hour and a half before we have dinner. It all starts around 6 pm.
Day 10: Andasibe
Today, we will be at the reserve of the hotel we stay to see the playful lemurs that can be on your shoulders (some of them). We will encounter a few species of lemurs here and we can be there as long as we want since the lodge is 2 minutes by car. During the afternoon, those who want to go to the village to see local life may go. It is located 20 minutes by car from the hotel.
Day 11: Andasibe – Palmarium
We leave Andasibe early in the morning and drive the 95 miles to reach the east coast and the Pangalanes Canal, the second longest man-made canal in the world. From here we will have a one hour boat ride to our hotel.
Arriving here, the lemurs are around the lodge as well. We will meet few species and one of the highlight is the Indri Indri, the biggest of all living lemurs with its piercing call (unique). We will have night timel safaris here as well, one is to see the most elusive and secretive of all lemurs, the aye-aye (nocturnal species). For this one, we must take a boat ride to see them.
We stay 3 nights here, so we have time to see the lemurs playing around especially during the day.
Day 12 – 13: Palmarium
Day 14: Palmarium – Tana
We leave in the morning by boat this place for 40 miles to reach the first sea port of Madagascar where we will take our flight back to Tana.
Arrival, Departure & Visa
Arrival & Meeting Place
We recommend you arrive to Antananarivo before the tour starts, as flights generally arrive in the afternoon from Nairobi and Johannesburg, or in the late evening from Paris. A hotel shuttle will be there to greet you and carry you to your rooms for a night of rest before the start of the tour. Our trip concludes on the evening of Day 14.
If leaving Antananarivo directly after the trip, we recommend departing either on late overnight flights (around 1–3 am to Europe), or the following day around 2–4 pm to African connections. Alternatively, stay an additional day in Tana and depart late the following evening.
For almost all nationals (except those of Burundi and Palestine) a visa on arrival is available for Madagascar. We do not recommend the e-Visa system, as it is less reliable. If you want to ensure a speedy process through customs, we recommend booking a seat near the front of the plane so you are one of the first to exit your plane and enter the queue.
Average Weather in November in Antananarivo Madagascar. Daily high temperatures are around 80°F, rarely falling below 75°F or exceeding 86°F. Daily low temperatures increase by 2°F, from 59°F to 61°F, rarely falling below 55°F or exceeding 64°F.
The Malagasy language of Malayo-Polynesian origin, is generally spoken throughout the island. The official languages of Madagascar are Malagasy and French. Madagascar is a Francophone country, and French is spoken among the educated population of this former French colony.
The Malagasy ariary is the currency of Madagascar. It is subdivided into 5 iraimbilanja and is one of only two non-decimal currencies currently circulating (the other is the Mauritanian ouguiya).
What vaccinations and medications will I need?
Though not required by law for entry, the CDC highly recommends being up to date on your standard MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) shots. In addition, vaccinations for Hep A and Typhoid are highly recommended. Unless you’re traveling from (and spending more than 12 hours in) a country with risk of yellow fever transmission, a yellow fever vaccination isn’t required. Malaria can be a concern in remote regions, and you may want to consult your physician on Malaria prophylaxis such as doxycycline. If you decide to skip this, an insect repellent of at least 40% DEET is found to be effective along with clothing that fully covers your body. Please consult your travel physician for the best advice custom to your medical history.
Madagascar is a thoroughly remote island nation, and travelers should be willing to bring a sense of adventure on our excursions along the coast. A few days will entail long drives on rugged dirt roads, so for those who’d like a bit of additional support or padding, please bring a seat cushion or back support. There are no bridges in this part of the country, and we’ll have to make two river crossings by driving our SUVs onto wooden plank barges. Electricity will be available at all of our hotels, though it may be intermittent at times in Bekopaka, as the solar panels occasionally have to recharge. WiFi and cellular connections can be quite hit-or-miss.
Before you pay your deposit, please register for this tour
Tour dates: Nov, 2020
Cost: Approx $TBA
Charter Flights: $TBA
Single Supplement: $TBA
Max Group Size: 6
6 SPOTS OPEN
Photographer: Jeremy Woodhouse
Once you have made your flight arrangements, please fill in the form at the link below
Tour Fee Includes
Tour Fee Does not Include
Paying by check
If you would like to pay your deposit and/or balance with a check, please make the check payable to: Pixelchrome, Inc and mail it to:
605 Rouen Drive,
McKinney TX 75070
Paying by Wire Transfer
If you would like to pay by Wire Transfer please send the funds to the following bank account (please make sure that you cover the fee for the draft).
Please inform us by email once you have sent the draft.
Bank: Wells Fargo Bank, NA
Account #: 4428-000051
Routing #: 121000248
Swift #: WFBIUS6S
Wells Fargo Bank, NA
2851 South Ridge Road
McKinney, TX 75072, USA
Phone: (972) 439-3416
Virtual Private Network
If you want to access an uncensored internet while on the road, you may want to consider getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN). I use Express VPN. If you decide to use this option,
please use the referral link below.
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