At a Glance
Dates: September 11th - September 26th, 2024
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £6,295 pp sharing (with a £400 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Visit some of Madagascar's best remaining wilderness areas, where fosa, aye-aye and much more can still be seen.
Madagascar is a mammal-watcher's dream in so many ways. Rare and elusive species can be found in countless areas across this vast country, with every national park seemingly boasting endemic or near-endemic endangered lemurs and small mammals. Sadly, almost all of these protected areas are under threat, with logging and woeful management combining to ensure that the future of Madagascar's mammals looks less secure with each passing moment.
This itinerary takes visitors to two of the most iconic wilderness areas left in Madagascar. The south-west is the first, including Kirindy, where dry forest protects iconic species including the ring-tailed lemur and the fossa, the closest mammal Madagascar has to a 'big cat'. The second is the fantastic Masoala National Park, home to some of the rarest primates in the world, including the red-ruffed lemur - and nearby reserves are key sites for the absurd and sought-after aye-aye.
In truth, one could still spend a lifetime exploring Madagascar and barely scratch the surface, but this itinerary offers a great opportunity to see the very best that this fascinating country has to offer.
On arrival into Madagascar's hectic and bustling capital city, you will be met at the airport by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and escorted to your local hotel. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening before dinner, and the remainder of your day is at leisure to catch up on sleep after a long inbound flight.
After breakfast this morning, we return to Anatananarivo's airport for the eighty-minute flight south-west to Morondava. Arriving at around 2pm, we transfer to our basic but comfortable lodge in Kirindy, a drive of between two and three hours depending on road conditions.
There will be a chance to settle into our accommodation before dinner at the lodge. Thereafter, we will head out on our first wildlife-focussed activity of the tour, with a night walk into the dry forest of Kirindy, seeking out some enigmatic noturnal mammals. Kirindy is known as a hotspot for sightings of the charismatic fossa, but we may also encounter lesser or greater hedgehog tenrecs, Coquerel's giant mouse lemur, western tufted-tailed rat and much more. For herpetologists, chameleons are easily spied as they sleep as they glow a soft whitish colour under our lights Following a walk of several hours, we will return to the lodge for some rest.
The full day today will be spent exploring the dry forest of Kirindy. Immediately after breakfast, we will set out on a day-hike that we hope will reveal some of the cryptic species found here. Fossa are always a key target, but Verreaux's sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur and narrow-striped boky are also all species we hope to locate this morning.
We return to the lodge for lunch, with the option of a short afternoon hike depending on how successful our morning hike was. After dinner, we will be certain to head out on another lengthy night walk focussed on the very rarest mammals this area has to offer.
Our last morning in Kirindy will again be spent on a day-hike with a focus on any key mammals that may have evaded us during our stay here. After lunch, we will return by road to Morondava, stopping en route for photographs of the iconic 'Baobab Avenue'. Arriving in Morondava by early evening, we will check in to our local hotel with the remainder of the evening at leisure.
Madagascar is a devilishly difficult country to get around, with a limited network of roads, most of which are very poor in quality - sadly this is a reflection of just how poor Madagascar is. As a result, most of our travel around the country is done by air, and we return to Anatanarivo on a 14.30 flight this afternoon. On arrival, we transfer directly to our local hotel.
Again departing Antananarivo, our flight today to the coastal town of Toliara takes just under two hours. From here, we take a speedboat south for around an hour to Anakao, a popular tourist destination. Our interest is not just focussed on the beautiful beaches, though, and after checking in at our basic lodge we will make a beeline for the nearby Tsimanampetsotse National Park. Time will allow for a short afternoon hike into the park, where we will focus on photographic opportunities of one of Madagascar's most iconic and photogenic mammals, the ring-tailed lemur, as well as the beautiful Verreaux's sifaka.
After returning to the lodge for dinner, we will again head out on a night hike, where our key targets include the elusive Grandidier's vontsira, as well as Petter's sportive lemur and grey-brown mouse lemur. We overnight at our basic and comfortable lodge tonight.
This morning we will head to a local cave system, where several species of bat are known to be seen regularly, and we will also make an effort to locate any key lemur species that evaded us yesterday. Thereafter, we return to Toliara by speedboat, overnighting at a local hotel.
Today we return to the capital by plane, before heading north-east tomorrow.
This morning we head to the gateway to the wilds of Madagascar's north-east - Maorantsetra. The flight lasts around an hour and a quarter, and on arrival we transfer to our basic but comfortable riverside accommodation in the heart of the town, where we overnight.
Days Ten to Twelve
Early on day ten we transfer by speedboat to the stunning Masoala National Park. These three days are dedicated to morning, afternoon and night hikes deep in the forest, aiming to locate some of the rarest mammals that Madagascar has to offer. In particular, a special effort will be made to locate the highly-threatened and hyper-localised red-ruffed lemur. Diurnal walks will also focus on white-fronted brown lemur, northern bamboo lemur and a rich diversity of birdlife. Nocturnal walks, which are always hugely exciting in Masoala, target species including Masoala fork-marked lemur, Masoala sportive lemur, Masoala woolly lemur, hairy-eared dwarf lemur and greater dwarf lemur. We overnight at a rustic beachside lodge each night.
Following a final breakfast in Masoala, we transfer by speedboat to the small, densely-forested island of Nosy Mangabe. On arrival, a hike into the forest is likely to reveal white-fronted brown lemur and black-and-white ruffed lemur, and we will focus on these and several other species on a late afternoon walk. After dinner at the campsite, though, our attentions will turn to the other-wordly and highly-prized aye-aye - this bizarre looking mammal is always extremely difficult to locate, but we hope to get lucky tonight.
We transfer by speedboat back to the mainland today to the tiny reserve of Farankaraina. Whilst many of the lemur species that occur here are better seen in Masoala, we do have the opportunity to spot other mammals including ring-tailed vontsira and lowland streaked tenrec today too. However, our main reason for visiting Farankaraina will become apparent after dark, as we set out to locate the iconic aye-aye - this is perhaps the best place in Madagascar to see them as they emerge into the darkness from their diurnal slumber.
After a hectic and rewarding itinerary, we return by speedboat to Maroantsetra today, with your afternoon at leisure to catch up on rest.
We return to Anatananarivo by plane today, where this tour ends - additional nights' accommodation in the capital can be arranged on request.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in September 2024, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when travelling around Madagascar is at its easiest. The tour will run from September 11th to September 26th.
The cost of this trip is £6,295 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £400 pp for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,900 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Antananarivo at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Madagascar for stays over 15 days. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Madagascar will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a 30-day Madagascar entry visa on arrival for UK citizens is around £20, in addition to a 10 Euro arrival fee.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Madagascar in September is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 11 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
There are no security concerns in any of the areas visited on this tour.