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Madagascar’s Paramount Birding tours - 14 days

Top targetsMadagascan Sandgrouse, Red-tailed Tropicbird, Long-tailed Ground Roller, Rufous-headed Ground Roller, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Short-legged Ground Roller, Subdesert Mesite, Brown Mesite, White-breasted Mesite, Verreaux’s Coua, Running Coua, Crested Coua, Blue Coua, Red-breasted Coua, Schlegel’s & Velvet Asity, Helmet Vanga, Bernier’s Vanga, Red-shouldered Vanga, Rufous Vanga, Pollen’s Vanga, Van Dam’s Vanga, Nuthatch Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Sickle-billed Vanga, Litoral Rock Thrush, Madagascan Ibis, Madagascan Fish Eagle, Frances’s Sparrowhawk, Malagasy Harrier, Madagascar Wood Rail.
Habitats & land cover typeRainforest, dry-deciduous forest, shores, swamp, savannah
Best season September to November – Breeding seasons for most birds
ClimateWarm to very hot, cooler evenings in highlands, some possible rainfall
Walking pace Slow / Moderate / Difficult (strenuous)
Ease of birdwatchingModerate to challenging in the rainforest
Particularity This birdwatching tour is specially designed to make the most of the time, visiting the three biomes’s Madagascar to focuses on the endemic birds
The northern deciduous forest, southern spiny forest and the humid rainforest of the east are well known to birdwatchers because of its abundance of endemic species
Other attractions Wildlife viewing, marine reserves.
Group size Private tour.
Accommodation: Comfortable hotels and lodges – as per availability in the area.

For this tour, we focus mostly on the endemic families and species of the birds of Madagascar within five different habitats.

Our tour starts in Antananarivo to reach Ampijoroa, a must-visited site for all birders visiting Madagascar. It is included in Ankarafantsika Reserve, in the dry deciduous forest. This site gives a real snapshot of the western biome of Madagascar. The Lake Ravelobe, home for several aquatic birds also gives an extra dimension to the birdlife at Ankarafantsika. The trails are quite easy but the temperature can rise up to 38° centigrade during birding season.

Our second destination is Analamazaotra/Mantadia, parts of Andasibe. It is located in the rainforest of the Eastern biome. The terrain consists of robust hills and mountain ridges, with many valleys and rivers but our birding trails are quite fair. The humid evergreen forest gives a great habitat for forest birds. An extension to Maromizaha Reserve, a nearby forest managed by the local community is an extra rewarding birding time.

We shall head south then to Ifaty, a small village west of Toliary to spot few rare species in the spiny forest, like the very rare Long-tailed ground roller, the Sub-desert Mesite amongst others.
We will continue south to the splendid park of Tsimanapetsotsa. It composed of a lake and bushland area on a sandy plain and limestone terrain. The Tsimanapetsotsa Lake is shallow and has a milky colour, being the only soda-saturated lake in Madagascar. It is a real pleasure to spot the birds around the lake and throughout the Baobabs trees. Sandgrouse, Flamingos, Verraux Coua amongst other species are quite abundant and easy to spot compared to other areas due to the strict preservation of the habitat. Tortoises Radiata, Catta lemurs and Propithecus Verrauxi (Sifaka) can be observed closer here.

To conclude our southern adventure, we shall make a quick visit to Andatabo, a nearby bushland by the RN7 to spot the rare Red-Shouldered Vanga.

We shall then head to the North East, the opposite ecosystem of the south. The jungle of Masoala Peninsula – classified amongst the top 5 biodiversity hotspots in the World. We will focus our birding trails in the forested massif of the peninsula in the west and in the around the marine reserve of Tampolo. Our main target is the Helmeted-Vanga as Masoala remains the main easiest site to observe this rare species compared to the newly discovered site where there are very challenging hikes before reaching the spot.

We have the Lake Tsarasaotra left to conclude our adventure tour.

In sum, this tour covers the three biomes of the country and rise the chance to see the most endemics birds of Madagascar within a limited time frame.

Note: The Helmet Vanga has been inventoried and observed at Antavolobe – Iaroka– near Andasibe, during the past two years but the access remains challenging as 4 to 7-hour walk is required to reach the spot.

EXPECTED TARGETS IN THE MAJOR SITES

1 – Tsarasaotra
White-faced Whistling-Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Malagasy Pond Heron, Squacco Heron, Black Heron, Dimorphic Egret, Great White Egret, Western Cattle Egret, Comb Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Red-billed Teal/ Duck, White-throated Rail, Madagascan Swamp Warbler , Hottentot Teal, Red Fody, Madagascan Coucal, Madagascan Wagtail, Malagasy Kingfisher, Malagasy white eye, Yellow-billed Kite, Madagascan Mannikin, Malagasy Kestrel, Mascarene Martin, Meller’s Duck, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Common Moorhen, Long-tailed Cormorant, Madagascan Cuckoo, African Pygmy Goose, Baillon’s Crake, Common Myna, Madagascan Stonechat.


2- Andasibe – Analamazaotra
Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Madagascan Wood Rail, White-throated Rail, Malagasy Sacred Ibis, Malagasy Scops Owl, Madagascan Owl, Rainforest Scops Owl, Collared Nightjar, Madagascan Nightjar, Red-breasted Coua, Blue Coua, Madagascan Cuckoo, Madagascan Pygmy Kingfisher, Malagasy Kingfisher, Spectacled Tetraka, Short-legged Ground Roller, Rufous-headed Ground-Roller, Scaly Ground Roller, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Nelicourvi Weaver, Velvet Asity, Common Sunbird Asity, Souimanga Sunbird, Malagasy Green Sunbird, Tylas Vanga, Hook- billed Vanga, Red-tailed Vanga, Crossley’s Vanga, France’s Sparrowhawk , Madagascan Sparrowhawk, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher , Ward’s Flycatcher, Olive Bee-eater, Madagascan Flufftail, Sooty Falcon, Madagascan Coucal, Dark Newtonia, Common Newtonia, Crested Drongo, Malagasy Bulbul, Malagasy Brush Warbler, Cryptic Warbler, Rand’s Warbler, Common Jery, Green Jery, Stripe-throated Jery, Madagascan Cisticola, Madagascan Magpie-Robin, Madagascan Stonechat, Long-billed Bernieria, Madagascan Mannikin, Madagascan Wagtail


3- Mantadia
Meller’s Duck, Madagascan Grebe, Madagascan Rail, Madagascan Wood Rail, White-throated Rail, Short-legged Ground Roller, Scaly Ground Roller, Rufous-headed Ground Roller, Madagascan Spinetail, Nuthatch Vanga, Helmet Vanga, Tylas Vanga, Red-tailed Vanga, Hook-billed Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Blue Vanga, Forest Fody, Greater Vasa Parrot, Lesser Vasa Parrot, Madagascan Starling, Madagascan Blue Pigeon, Rand’s Warbler, Striped-throated Jery, Wedge-tailed Jery, Collared Nightjar, Madagascan Pygmy Kingfisher, Red-breasted Coua, Red-fronted Coua, Blue Coua, Red owl, Brown Mesite , Madagascan Cuckoo, Broad-billed Roller, Green Jery, Cuckoo Roller, Common Newtonia, Dark Newtonia, Common Sunbird-Asity, Souimanga Sunbird, Malagasy Green Sunbird, Crested Drongo, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Malagasy Bulbul, Rand’s Warbler, Malagasy Brush Warbler, Madagascan Swamp Warbler, Brown Emutail, White-throated Oxylabes, Spectacled Tetraka, Dusky Tetraka, Madagascan Stonechat, Nelicourvi Weaver, Madagascan Flufftail, Rainforest Scops Owl, Madagascan Owl, Mascarene Martin, Madagascan Magpie-Robin, Forest Rock Thrush, Madagascan Mannikin, Madagascan Wagtail


4- Ampijoroa
White-faced Whistling-Duck, White-throated Rail, Purple Heron, Malagasy Sacred Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Madagascan Jacana, Humblot’s Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Western Cattle Egret, Olive Bee-eater, Crested Drongo, Mascarene Martin, Broad-billed Roller, Chabert’s Vanga, Van Dam’s Vanga, Sickle-billed Vanga, Blue Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Rufous Vanga, Hook-billed Vanga, White-breasted Mesite, Schlegel’s Asity, Coquerel’s Coua, Crested Coua, Madagascan Hoopoe, Cuckoo Roller, Red-capped Coua, Madagascan Fish Eagle, Malagasy Kingfisher, Allen’s Gallinule, African Darter, Banded Kestrel, France’s Sparrowhawk , Sakalava Weaver, Madagascan Magpie-Robin , Grey-headed Lovebird, Madagascan Nightjar, Madagascan Sparrowhawk, Madagascan Buzzard, Madagascan Buttonquail, Malagasy Green Sunbird, Souimanga Sunbird, Long-billed Bernieria, Sooty Falcon, Lesser Vasa Parrot, Greater Vasa Parrot, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Madagascan Coucal, Madagascan Cuckoo, Common Newtonia, Malagasy Bulbul, Mascarene Martin, Madagascan Swamp Warbler , Common Jery , Torotoroka Scops Owl, Madagascan Cuckooshrike, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher


5- Near Tulear
Green-capped Coua, Madagascan Buttonquail, Saunder’s Tern, Greater Sandplover , Bar-tailed Godwit, Lesser Sand Plover, Humblot’s Heron, White-throated Rail, Greater Painted-Snipe, Madagascan Lark


6- Nosy Ve
Red-tailed tropic bird


7- Ifaty
Archbold’s Newtonia , Common Newtonia, Grey-headed Lovebird, Subdesert Brush-Warbler, Thamnornis (Kiritika), Lafresnaye’s Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Hook-billed Vanga, Sickle-billed Vanga, Chabert’s Vanga , Red-tailed Vanga, Souimanga Sunbird , Malagasy Green Sunbird, Striped-throated Jery, Common Jery , Malagasy Turtle Dove, Namaqua Dove, Madagascan Hoopoe, Madagascan Cuckooshrike, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher , Sakalava Weaver, Madagascan Cuckoo, Madagascan Harrier-Hawk, Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk, Madagascan Sparrowhawk, Malagasy Kestrel, Banded Kestrel, Madagascan Nightjar, Madagascan Buttonquail, Malagasy Bulbul, Striated Heron, Olive Bee-eater, Scooty Falcon, Green Pigeon, Peregrine Falcon , Pied Crow , Madagascan Lark, Red Fody , Yellow-billed Kite , Bat hawk, Madagascan Magpie-Robin, Madagascan Buzzard, Crested Drongo, Madagascan Coucal, Greater Vasa Parrot, Lesser Vasa Parrot, Madagascan Swamp Warbler, Torotoroka Scops Owl, Little Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Madagascan Plover, Crab-Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kittlitz’s Plover , Three-banded Plover, Long-tailed Ground Roller, Subdesert Mesite, Running Coua, Red-capped Coua, Green-capped Coua, Crested Coua, Giant Coua, Cuckoo-Roller


8- Andatabo
Red-shouldered Vanga, Verreaux’s Coua, Subdesert Brush Warbler, Red-capped Coua , Madagascan Cuckoo, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Lafresnaye’s Vanga


9- Masoala
Helmet Vanga, Bernier’s Vanga, White-headed Vanga , Blue Vanga , Nuthatch Vanga , Chabert’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga , Tylas Vanga , Hook-billed Vanga , Red-breasted Coua, Brown Mesite , Rufous-headed Ground Roller, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Short-legged Ground Roller, Scaly Ground Roller, Madagascan Serpent Eagle, Red Owl, Dusky Tetraka, Scooty Falcon, Rainforest Scops Owl, Common Jery, Green Jery


10- Ampitolova
Pygmy goose, White-backed duck, Madagascar Jacana  


Map – of the Madagascar’s Paramount birding tours

ITINERARY OUTLINE

Meet and greet at the airport. Transfer to your hotel and check in. Tour briefing.

Fly to Mahajanga. Upon arrival, drive eastwards to reach Ampitolova for birding.
Then, drive to Ankarafantsika/Ampijoroa NP.
In the evening, short night walk.

Birding immersion at Ankarantsika. Morning and afternoon hikes.

Full day drive to Antananarivo. Birding on the way.

Drive eastwards to Andasibe/Périnet. Birding on the way. On arrival, birding at Analamazaotra National Park and/or VOIMMA Reserve.

Early morning depart to Mantadia Reserve for birdwatching.

Early morning depart to Maromizaha, a nearby and huge eserve to spot other species. 

Then drive back to Antananarivo in the afternoon.

Fly to Tulear. Then drive to Ifaty.  On the way, birding at Belalanda Lake and other spots if time allows – otherwise the next day morning.

After an early breakfast, drive back to Tuléar. Then, transfer to the harbour and onboard to reach Anakao. Upon arrival, drive through the sandy trail to Ambola and Tsimanampetsotsa NP. Birding on the way and inside the park.
After a last morning inside the park, drive back to Anakao and then boat transfer to Nosy Ve Island for birding. Return to Anakao.

In the morning, boat transfer to Tuléar, drive to Andatabo (La Table) for a birding visit. Then, transfer to the airport and fly back to Antananarivo.

Birding at the Ramsar Site of Tsarasaotra Lake. Then, transfer to the airport and fly to Maroantsetra.

Boat transfer to the Masoala peninsula. Birding inside teh park.

Continue exploring the park. After the lunch, transfer to the Marine Reserve and enjoy the lagoon and birding in the surrounding forest.

Early morning boat transfer to Maroantsetra and fly back to Antananarivo.

End of the tour after transfer to the international airport of Ivato.

TOUR OPTIONS & EXTENSIONS

The spots below can be added to this tour according your targets and interests

Top target:  Madagascar Teal

Iaroka Reserve is an alternative to Masoala National Park.
Top targets: Helmet-Vanga, Nutach Vanga

 

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