Wildlife & Birding
Untouched and uninhabited by humans for 80 million years, Madagascar’s endemic wildlife has flourished, with 150,000 out of Madagascar’s 200,000 species being endemic to the island. With over 100 types, lemurs are the dominant primate in Madagascar, thriving due to the lack of competition. Species include the indri lemur, ring-tailed lemur, verreaux’s sifaka and pygmy mouse-lemur, while subspecies of lemur include lorises and bushbabies. Ring-tailed lemurs, mouse lemurs and bamboo lemurs have become particularly renowned worldwide after featuring in the DreamWorks film, “Madagascar”. Parc National de l’Isalo and Parc National d’Andasibe are recommended sites to see lemurs, with early morning being the optimal time to view particular species due to their nocturnal tendencies. Other mammals indigenous to the region are ring-tailed mongoose, fossas, eupleridae and the Madagascan flying fox, each highly distinctive and a must-see. Comparable to a small-scale cougar, the carnivorous fossa mainly feeds on lemurs and resides in isolated regions of the forest. It can be found in Kirindy Forest, while the ring-tailed mongoose live in Ranomafana National Park.
For avid bird watchers, Madagascar is home to five endemic bird families, most of which are found in the rainforest. The most celebrated include the Madagascar paradise-flycatcher, scaly ground rollers, nelicourvi weaver and Madagascan fish eagle. Mantandia and Perinet are exceptional national parks for bird watching, as well as areas including Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve and Berenty Reserve.
Madagascar allows for any trekker, intermediate or advanced, to experience both its cultural and natural diversity. Whether it's walking through wildlife reserves and tropical lowland forests, or hiking along the idyllic Indian ocean coastline, Madagascar’s offerings are boundless. Observe the whales migrating during the summer months, roam the forests to spot endemic lemurs, or take a dip in a natural swimming pool. Marvel at this incredible ecosystem, take in the rich ecology and experience something outside the realm of everyday life.
Isalo National Park
Home to a wide range of terrain, from savanna and canyons to waterfalls and natural pools, Isalo National Park is an incredible trekking destination. Explore rich biodiversity, from the crested ibis to endemic frogs, while aloe, elephant’s foot and palm are just some of the unique flora surrounding the park. Trek along the Canyon des Singes (meaning “Canyon of Monkeys”), renowned for its dancing sifakas and ring-tailed lemurs, and hike through the dense vegetation of the Namaza circuit before reaching a breathtaking waterfall. You will also walk past the sacred tombs of the Malagasi Bari tribe where they bury their dead. Isalo National Park is a must-see for first-time visitors to Madagascar and several days can be spent here. Nearby Relais de la Reine is a wonderful boutique property which makes a convenient base to explore the Isalo National Park area.
Andringitra National Park
Known as one of the most diverse places in Madagascar, Andringitra National Park is a spectacular destination for wildlife enthusiasts, with most of the flora and fauna endemic to the region. Covering 77,000 acres and housing 3 different ecosystems (grassland, scrub and forest), the park's residents include 13 kinds of lemur, 1,000 types of plant and 50 species of mammal. Andringitra National Park invites its visitors along four different trails of varying difficulty, ranging from 6 km for beginners to 28 km for those after a challenge. The most famous hikes include the Diavolana trek and the Imarivolenitra hike to Pic Boby, or for a shorter trek, venture through thick vegetation to a phenomenal 300 metre waterfall on the Asaramanitra trail. For something out of the ordinary, walk the 15km Isahavato trek at nightfall, journeying up 2,658 metres to a rock plateau for breathtaking panoramic views at sunset.
Located in the eastern part of Madagascar, the rainforest houses over half of the total wildlife living on the island. Often referred to as the “lowland rainforest” due to its low elevation, it is a spectacular region to see the unique flora and fauna Madagascar has to offer. Journey to north east to Marojejy National Park, home to mongoose, fossas, civets and lemurs. The flora is just as fascinating here, ranging from beautiful orchids to specially adapted plants, including carnivorous and anti-carcinogenic species. Rainforest excursions are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover the special surprises hidden within the depths of Madagascar.
Zafimaniry Village Trek
This 3-day trek allows you to meet the Zafimaniry tribe, a clan of about 16000 people living in numerous villages in central Madagascar. They are renowned for their woodcarving skills, as well as their homes made from vegetable fibres and bamboo, which can be taken down and moved relatively easily. Walk through the eucalyptus forest, grassland and mimosa trees to Vohibe, a rocky platform with wonderful views. Take a morning walk through the rice fields and visit local Zamimaniry homes where you'll see woodcarvers at work. Visit more villages where your guide will explain the local traditions and lifestyle. We contribute a "community charge" to ensure villages benefit directly in a fair way.
Home to over 10,000 plants, including 1,000 types of orchid, 6 species of baobab, rare kinds of palm and countless medicinal plants, it’s no wonder that Madagascar is known for its unique flora. With multiple ecosystems and varying climates, the island provides perfect conditions for an innumerable amount of plants to thrive. From coastal bushland and wetlands, to mangroves and forest, Madagascar has an incredible 80,000 different plant specimens, with many endemic species making it a one-of-a-kind destination. Traveller’s palm is an endemic plant to Madagascar, with leaves growing up to an astonishing 4 metres. According to legend, its name originated from the plants ability to hold a reservoir of water in its leaf bases, acting as a life preserve for any exhausted passersby or wildlife. Contrary to its name, traveller’s palm not actually part of the palm family. It has a unique relationship with the ruffed lemur, it’s co-pollinator, with the two species believed to have evolved alongside each other. The Baobab tree is a great symbol of hope across the African savanna and in Madagascar, where six of the eight species thrive. Known as the ‘tree of life’, it has an incredible ability to thrive in the most arid of conditions and live for up to 5,000 years.
Always a fun way to see a new place, we can arrnage a half-day cycle tour of Antsirabe, Madagascar's second largest city. Known for its impressive colonial architecture and surrounding countryside, see villagers tend to their rice paddies in seemingly endless terraces. Visit the beautiful Andrononobe and Andraikiba lakes and reward yourself with a dip in Lake And raikiba. This is ideal for those who already cycle or practice regular sport. Cycle, helmet and packed lunch are provided.
Located close to Nosy Be, its busier neighbour, this little volcanic island (which is covered by dense tropical forest and resembles a giant turtle) is mainly known for its many small, pretty and quieter beaches
Situated in the east and easily accessible by plane from Tana, Sainte Marie is a lush tropical island with pristine beaches. For divers, a midnight dive to an underwater wreck is a must. The island also plays host to migrating whales from July to October.
If your trip ends in Tulear, then just 27km north along the Mozambique Channel lies Ifaty. It has good (but not the island’s best) beaches yet it’s still a fine base from which to enjoy the lagoon, huge reefs and an excursion to the nearby baobab forest.