Days 1: Arrival into Antananarivo

Upon arrival in the bustling capital of Antananarivo, or
“Tana” as it is more commonly known, we transfer to our
hotel near the airport for an overnight stay. Travelling
from the airport into the city, one cannot help being struck
by the uniqueness of the Malagasy culture, a strange
mixture of African and Asian influences reflected in the
landscape and architecture.

Depending upon time of arrival, we will take our first
birding excursion at Lac Alarobia. This private sanctuary
set within the city protects large numbers of ducks and
egrets. As evening sets, the small lake literally teems with
waterfowl. Large numbers of White-faced Whistling Duck
and Red-billed Teal should be seen, usually accompanied
by smaller numbers of Hottentot Teal and Knob-billed
Duck and, with luck, Madagascar Grebe. A fantastic
assortment of egrets roost and breed in the sanctuary,
including splendidly adorned Malagasy Pond Heron and
Dimorphic Egret. Mascarene Martin is common overhead
and we will be watching in adjacent areas for more
Madagascar endemics, which may include Malagasy
Kestrel, Malagasy Coucal, Malagasy Black Swift,
Madagascar Wagtail, Madagascar White-eye,
Madagascar Mannikin and Red Fody.

Day 2: Antananarivo to Perinet

We depart early for the drive eastwards across the
Highland Plateau to the famous reserve of Perinet
(otherwise known as Analamazaotra). Hamerkop, Black
Kite of the Yellow-billed race, Brown-throated Martin and
Madagascar Cisticola are regularly encountered en route.

Our accommodation for the next five nights is a delightful
hotel, ideally located overlooking a lake at the edge of the
forest. Being so close to the reserve means that wildlife is
often right on our doorstep. Fluorescent, green Lineated
Day Geckos scuttle on the outside walls of our chalets,
Madagascar Wagtails flit along the paved walkways and
we may well be serenaded by the beautiful songs of the
world’s largest extant species of lemur, the handsome

Days 3 to 6: Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia
National Park

The moist rainforest cloaking Madagascar’s eastern
escarpment protects the richest assemblage of birds on
the island, including many that are rare or poorly known.
We will spend the following four days exploring both
Perinet and Mantadia. Over 100 bird species have been
recorded from within the small reserve of Perinet and we
will search for such specials as Madagascar Flufftail, the
elusive Madagascar Wood Rail, Madagascar Blue Pigeon,
Greater Vasa Parrot, Madagascar Cuckoo, Madagascar
Spinetail, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, Malagasy
Paradise Flycatcher, Madagascar Cuckooshrike, Ward’s
Flycatcher, Tylas Vanga, Madagascar Starling, Long-
billed Bernieria and Spectacled Tetraka, White-throated
Oxylabes, Nelicourvi Weaver and Souimanga Sunbird.
Amongst the most sought-after of Madagascar’s birds are
those of the five families endemic to the Malagasy region:
the peculiar mesites, exquisite ground rollers, Cuckoo
Roller, vangas and Malagasy warblers. Some of these,
such as the bizarre Madagascar Cuckoo Roller and Pitta-
like Ground Roller, as well as a number of the vangas are
reasonably common and regularly encountered, whilst
most of the others remain rare, local or elusive. We will
make a special effort to locate as many representatives of
these charismatic families as possible, as well as those of
two endemic sub-families, the couas and asities.
In the forested hills around Perinet, we hope to find the
localised Red-fronted and Blue Couas, Velvet Asity, and
flocks of vangas that may include White-headed, Chabert’
s, Blue, Red-tailed, Hook-billed and the unique Nuthatch

Highland marshes around the borders of the reserve
support some of the island’s threatened birds.
Madagascar Swamp Warbler and Madagascar Rail are
likely to be seen here and we may also find Madagascar
Partridge and Madagascar Snipe if we are exceptionally

Whilst in the Perinet area, we will make a special effort to
see the reserve’s most famous residents, these being the
huge, singing lemurs known as Indri. A journey in search
of these magnificent creatures is on a par with gorilla-
trekking in the mountain forests of Uganda, and if we are
fortunate we will be treated to a close encounter with a
family group, their eerie, whale-like howling echoing
through the forest. Other lemurs we hope to see include
Common Brown and Grey Bamboo Lemur, and we will
also search known roosting sites for the nocturnal but
inquisitive Weasel Sportive Lemur and Eastern Avahi.
Another “must see” member of the island’s fauna is the
Giraffe-necked Weevil, a tiny red and black insect named
for its unusually proportioned neck!

In the evenings, we will embark on night walks. Nocturnal
outings are a thrilling and, indeed, essential part of any
trip to Madagascar and Perinet is one of the best sites to
search for the island’s night birds. Specialities here
include Madagascar Owl, Rainforest Scops Owl and both
Madagascar and the rare and little known Collared
Nightjar. Whilst seeing these birds will be the focus of our
walks, we will not neglect the immense variety of non-
avian life that emerges after dark. Although Madagascar
is famous for the spectacular lemurs that have adapted to
a daytime existence, a number of species of these
primitive primates remain, like their African cousins the
galagos, denizens of the night. We will search for and
should find Eastern Avahi, Furry-eared Dwarf and the
diminutive Goodman’s Mouse Lemurs, and may also
encounter some of Madagascar’s other evolutionary
masterpieces such as the bizarre Lowland Streaked
Tenrec. The island’s reptile and amphibian (“herp”) fauna
is equally fascinating and even the most hardened birder
would not fail to be impressed by the plethora of colourful
and bizarre frogs, chameleons and geckos to be seen on
an evening’s stroll through the rainforest. In particular, we
will search for the giant Parson’s Chameleon and three
species of eccentric leaf-tailed geckos, the huge
Uroplatus fimbriatus, the aptly named Uroplatus
phantasticus as well as the moss-like Uroplatus sikorae.
Mantadia National Park lies a short distance from Perinet,
protecting a large expanse of primary forest at a
somewhat higher altitude. Though it has only recently
been opened to the public, Mantadia is now an essential
destination on any birding trip to Madagascar, having
rapidly gained a reputation as an excellent site for a
handful of highly sought-after forest birds. Not least
amongst these are a number of species formerly
considered to be restricted to the poorly accessible
rainforests of the far north-east, such as Red-breasted
Coua and Scaly Ground Roller. We will concentrate on
finding these specials, also watching for more widespread
yet no less desirable forest birds such as Madagascar
Blue Pigeon, Rufous-headed and Short-legged Ground
Roller, Common Sunbird Asity, Crossley’s Babbler (recent
DNA-analysis suggests this species is an aberrant
terrestrial vanga!), Common and Dark Newtonia (also in
the Vanga family), Wedge-tailed, Green, Stripe-throated
and Common Jery, the newly described Cryptic Warbler
and Forest Fody.

Other attractions in this scenically beautiful park include
the vocal Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, the elusive
Diademed Sifaka (considered by many to be the world’s
most beautiful lemur), endearing Red-bellied Lemur and
Painted Mantella, a spectacularly coloured forest frog.
Much of the birding in Mantadia National Park can be
enjoyed from the wide road that runs up into the reserve,
although seeing the skulkers of the forest understorey will
require that we take to the forest trails.

Day 7, 27th July: Perinet to Antananarivo

After a final morning birding in the Perinet area to catch
up with any forest specialties we might have missed, we
will return to Tana.

If time allows after check-in at our comfortable hotel, we
may visit the Tsimbazaza Zoo. While strolling along the
open paths through the extensive gardens we could
encounter some of Madagascar’s widespread but
nonetheless enjoyable birds including Malagasy
Kingfisher, Malagasy Turtle Dove, Crested Drongo,
Madagascar Hoopoe, Common and Stripe-throated Jery,
Malagasy Brush Warbler, Red Fody and Madagascar

Day 8: Antananarivo to Ifaty via Tulear.

From Tana we will take an early plane flight to the south-
western coastal town of Tulear. Upon arrival we will visit
the Tulear Harbour where we will scan the mudflats for
waders and terns, and we may record Lesser Crested
and Saunders’s Tern, Greater and Lesser Sand Plover,
Terek Sandpiper or the peculiar Crab-plover.

Thereafter we will transfer to our hotel in the small resort
of Ifaty for a two night stay. Although the distance is only
25km, the journey is slow and arduous due to the very
poor condition of the road. We will stop en route to bird
some wetlands and salt pans which may hold numbers of
Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Little Bittern, Kittlitz’
s and the rare and local Madagascar Plover, assorted
migratory waders and Malagasy Marsh Harrier if we are
very fortunate.

Day 9: Ifaty

Much has been written about the strange Didierea
woodland, or “Spiny Forest”, around Ifaty but this in no
way lessens the feeling of awe that overcomes one as we
set foot in this botanical wonderland. Venturing out at
dawn, before the day’s heat, we will stroll amongst the
myriad multi-stemmed succulents, squat baobab trees
and thorny scrub in search of such spectacular endemics
as Banded Kestrel, Running and Red-capped Coua,
Archbold’s Newtonia, Thamnornis, Subdesert Brush
Warbler and Lafresnaye’s Vanga. Two very special birds
here are the near mythical Subdesert Mesite, which we
may find adopting its strange, cryptic posture on a thorny
branch, and the Long-tailed Ground Roller, an elusive
ground dweller best located by its low, hooting call. Flocks
of noisy Sickle-billed Vanga are another feature of this
bizarre, Tolkienesque landscape. As the day warms up so
too does the reptile activity increase and we should see
the numerous Three-eyed Lizards and may be lucky
enough to find a beautiful Spider Tortoise or rare
Dumeril's Boa.

The tropical ocean off Ifaty is alive with marine life and we
will have some time to don masks and snorkels and
appreciate the myriad colours of a coral reef or relax in
the warm shallows in front of our hotel. An optional
afternoon excursion will be taken to bird some wetlands to
the south of Ifaty where previous Rockjumper tours have
found Greater Painted Snipe, Little Bittern, White-
throated Rail and Baillon’s Crake.

Day 10 July: Ifaty to Tulear

After some final birding in the Ifaty area, we will make our
way southwards to Tulear, for a two-night stay. In the
afternoon, we will make our first excursion to a flat-topped
mountain aptly known as La Tabla. The habitat of this
desolate area is known as coral rag scrub and consists of
dense thorny scrubs, Euphorbias and twisted Baobabs.
Our target birds in this area include two species with
highly restricted ranges: Verreaux’s Coua and the
recently discovered Red-shouldered Vanga. Reptile life
here is particularly rich and we should find large, sleek
Zonosaurus plated lizards and if very lucky the stunning
Dumeril’s Boa and endangered Radiated Tortoise.

Day 11: San Augustin and Nosy Ve

This morning, we will board a speedboat for an excursion
to the small uninhabited islet of Nosy Ve to the south of
Tulear. En route we will stop at the cliffs near San
Augustine where both Humblot’s and Grey Herons breed
annually. The main attraction of Nosy Ve is its colony of
Red-tailed Tropicbirds, which allow close approach as
they are left unmolested by local people due to a taboo or
fady. We may also find Crab Plovers roosting on the
sandbars here, as well as good numbers of other migrant
waders and a large tern roost. We will also have another
chance to snorkel on the pristine coral reef encircling the
island. After snorkelling we will enjoy a scrumptious
seafood lunch on the mainland opposite the island and
then search for the localised Littoral Rock Thrush in the
adjacent coastal Euphorbia scrub. In the early afternoon
we will return to Tulear by speedboat where we can rest
up before dinner and enjoy a lovely hot shower after our
exciting but salty day out at sea.

Day 12: Tulear to Berenty via Fort Dauphin

This morning we will take a short flight to Fort Dauphin
(also known as Toliagnaro), in the south-eastern corner
of the country.  Upon arrival we will transfer to the world-
famous private lemur reserve of Berenty. The 4 hour
drive takes us from the wind-blown but picturesque town
of Fort Dauphin through well watered valleys packed with
paddy fields and finally into the rain-shadow of the
Andohahela Mountains where the octopus like Didierea
trees are diagnostic of the spiny desert. As we near
Berenty, the natural habitat is replaced by extensive
tracts of sisal plantations, stretching as far as the eye can
see. Berenty Lemur Reserve belongs to the De Haulme
family who have set aside sections of gallery forest along
the Mandrare River to conserve its population of lemurs
and other wildlife.

We shall venture out in the evening in search of
Torotoroka Scops-Owl and the impressive White-browed
Hawk-Owl but may also encounter a host of other
nocturnal creatures such as the strange Greater
Hedgehog Tenrec and several species of attractive
geckos (including the remarkable Big-headed Gecko and
unique Fish-scaled Gecko).

Day 13: Berenty Lemur Reserve

Berenty is justly famous for its lemurs, not only because
its deciduous woodland is home to five species of these
primitive primates but also for the ease with which they
may be seen and appreciated in the wild. Brown Lemurs
occur in large numbers during the day and both White-
footed Sportive and Gray Mouse lemurs are regularly
encountered on night walks through the reserve, though
the undoubted favourites are the Ring-tailed Lemur and
Verreaux’s Sifaka. Whilst the bands of cat-like, quizzical
Ringtails are often the first to steal visitors’ hearts (as well
as any spare fruit they may have on their persons!), their
appeal is easily matched by the strikingly patterned
sifakas, with their soulful expressions and bizarre, bipedal
dancing locomotion. To spend time with groups of these
gentle creatures will certainly be one of the highlights of
our Madagascar adventure.

A further mammalian highlight of Berenty is visiting the
Madagascar Flying Fox roost, were about 300 of these
impressive animals sporting 1.25 metre wingspans spend
their day squabbling and presumably sleeping.
We will be on the look-out for the numerous Giant Couas
that stroll along the well-cleared paths through the
woodland, any many other woodland birds. Potential new
species we may find here include Long-tailed Cormorant,
Peregrine Falcon, Madagascar and France’s
Sparrowhawk, Helmeted Guineafowl, Madagascar
Sandgrouse, Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk and Alpine Swift.

Day 14: Berenty Lemur Reserve to Fort Dauphin to

We will have a final morning to enjoy and photograph the
approachable wildlife in Berenty, and visit the well
presented local museum, which displays one of the few
complete Elephant-bird eggs in the world. In the afternoon
we will transfer back to Fort Dauphin to connect with our
flight back to Tana when we will spend our final night of
the tour.

Day 15: Tana and Departure to Home

This morning we will depart for our flights back home.
Detailed Itinerary
15 Days Birding and Enjoying Wildlife in
Highlights of Birding & Wildlife