This tour is designed to highlight some of Madagascar’s most remarkable birdlife and wildlife within a relatively brief period, considering the vastness of the island. Starting in the capital, Antananarivo, we swiftly move to the Analamazoatra Special Reserve and Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. From there, our journey continues southward to the exceptional Ranomafana National Park, followed by an exploration of Isalo National Park and Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park. The tour culminates on the western coast, where we explore the unique Spiny Forest in Ifaty before returning to the capital.
This comprehensive itinerary offers an incredible glimpse into Madagascar’s diverse landscapes and ensures unforgettable sightings along the way.
*Please see our 6-Day Berenty Reserve Tour, 7-Day Mighty Masoala Birding Tour & 7-Day Ankarafantsika & Betsiboka Delta Tour, which were designed to be pre or post-extensions to this tour.
On arrival at Ivato International Airport, a Sustainable Birding representative will meet you at arrivals and do a quick meet and greet, before transferring you to your hotel in Antananarivo, so you can relax and get some sleep ready for a great adventure ahead.
Where you will be staying: San Cristobal Hotel
In the early hours of the day, we embark on a captivating three-to-four-hour journey to Andasibe, renowned as one of Madagascar’s top rainforest destinations. Here, the hauntingly beautiful call of the Indri echoes through Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. In the afternoon, our exploration leads us to the Analamazoatra section, where encountering the Indri, alongside the striking Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, is almost assured. The birding is exceptional, offering sightings of up to four distinct ground rollers and two nightjars, including the intriguing Collared Nightjar. Additionally, in the evening we might encounter the Madagascan Owl, Rainforest Scops Owl, and a fascinating array of nocturnal lemurs and chameleons during an immersive night walk through the area.
Where you will be staying: Mantadia Lodge
Over the next two days, we’ll be exploring both the Mantadia National Park section of the park and the Analamazoatra section. We’ll be on the lookout for sought-after species such as the vibrant Velvet Asity, Common Sunbird-Asity, elusive Madagascan Flufftail, and the striking Blue Vanga as well as the Blue Pigeon, Madagascan Cuckooshrike, Rand’s Warbler, among others. Additionally, we will be looking for rare species such as the Madagascan Grebe, Madagascan Rail, Red-fronted Coua and Meller’s Duck.
Expect glimpses of Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, alongside wildlife such as the Giraffe Weevil, Madagascar Tree Boa, and numerous chameleons, ensuring a rich and immersive wildlife experience.
Where you will be staying: Mantadia Lodge
The saying goes, ‘good things come to those who wait’ and this couldn’t be more fitting for our next leg of the trip. Our fifth day is a long one, where we’ll be driving south transecting the country with an overnight stop at Antsirabe, with several birding stopovers along the way.
The next day sees us finally reach Ranomafana National Park, where we will get to go out birding in the afternoon for our first taste of this spectacular park.
Ranomafana National Park, nestled in Madagascar’s lush landscapes, is a vibrant canvas of dense rainforests teeming with biodiversity. This park hosts a variety of vibrant flora and elusive fauna, with dense forests and remarkable bird species such as the Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity, Cryptic Warbler, and Pollen’s Vanga, among many others. Beyond birds, the lemur species here are fantastic where we stand a good chance of seeing the highly specialised Golden Bamboo Lemur. We will also be keeping an eye-out for the red-eyed Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko.
Where you will be staying on Day 5: Couleur Café
Where you will be staying on Day 6, 7 & 8: Hotel Thermal Ranomafana
Our next stop is Isalo National Park – an awe-inspiring gem nestled in the heart of Madagascar, with surreal landscapes and diverse wildlife. This otherworldly sanctuary boasts an array of stunning sandstone formations, majestic canyons, and rugged terrain, creating a visual spectacle unlike any other. Its distinct terrain is adorned with unique endemic flora, resilient succulents, and scattered pockets of lush vegetation thriving amid the arid surroundings.
Beyond its geological marvels, Isalo has a rich diversity of birdlife, with both the Benson’s Rock and the Madagascan Partridge being our targets and should be achieved within our two days stay here. The park has many lemurs, including the iconic Ring-tailed Lemur, who find solace among the dramatic rock formations. As one ventures through its trails, Isalo’s reath-taking vistas, serene natural pools, and vibrant sunsets paint a mesmerising portrait of nature’s resilience and unparalleled beauty. It’s the perfect location for both birders and wildlife enthusiasts.
Where you will be staying: Isalo Rock Lodge
On our way to the west coast, we’ll spend a day at the Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park. Although, one of Madagascar’s most unique parks with dense dry forests, scrublands and limestone formations, there is no accommodation inside the park, so we will do a flying visit hoping to gain as many targets as possible.
We’ll be on the lookout for the Appert’s Tetraka, Giant Coua, as well as Coquerel’s Coua and the distinct Cuckoo Roller (which we hope to see displaying). It’s also where you’ll find the endangered and sought-after Verreaux’s Sifaka and the elusive Hubbard’s Sportive Lemur.
In the afternoon, well drive to Ifaty for an overnight stay before heading to the remarkable Spiny Forest.
Where you will be staying: Les Dunes d’Ifaty
After much anticipation, you’ll be treated to one of Madagascar’s most astonishing destinations. Not only renowned for its peculiar and completely unique landscape but also for its exceptional birding.
The Ifaty Spiny Forest, located in the southwestern region of Madagascar, is shaped by its thorny vegetation, sturdy baobab trees, and hardy succulents amidst the arid terrain. This unique ecosystem highlights plants that have evolved specialised adaptations, including thorns and succulent leaves, to thrive in the harsh, dry climate. Its distinctive appearance, characterised by an interplay of rugged vegetation against the clear skies, stands as a testament to nature’s resilience and adaptation.
Within this habitat, a diverse range of wildlife finds its niche. Species like the Long-tailed Ground Roller bring dashes of colour to the earth-toned landscape, while chameleons and spiny lizards seamlessly blend into their spiky surroundings. The Spiny Forest embodies the intricate balance between flora and fauna in an environment sculpted by centuries of evolution.
Over the next two days, our focus will be set on seeing specific target species, including the Long-tailed Ground Roller, Subdesert Mesite, Sickle-billed Vanga, Archbold’s Newtonia, Banded Kestrel, Thamnornis, Lafresnaye’s Vanga, Red-capped Coua, the local olivaceus subspecies Green-capped Coua, Running Coua, and other species. Additionally, we’ll explore a site known for the Madagascan Plover.
Where you will be staying on Day 12: Les Dunes d’Ifaty
Where you will be staying on Day 13: Auberge de la Table
The next morning, we’ll be catching a domestic flight back to the capital, where this incredible tour will be ending. A Sustainable Birding representative will meet you at Ivato International Airport to make sure you’re safely checked in before getting your international flight back home.
*Please see our ‘Off the beaten track’ Madagascar Birding Tour, 7 Day Masoala National Park Birding Tour & 7-Day Ankarafantsika National Park Birding Tour, which were designed to be pre or post-extensions to this tour.
Slow/Medium – this tour has been designed to go a steady pace, leaving enough time at each destination. Anyone that has been birding in Madagascar knows that sightings do not come ‘thick and fast’ compared to mainland Africa, although the rewards are much higher.
Easy/Medium – lots of on-foot birding in quite difficult terrain, but nothing overly enduring. There are a couple of long drives (max 5 hours), but on these long drives, there will be plenty of stops of birding.
Secure your place on this trip with a 25% deposit.
The above cost is based on a group of 6 people. Please get in touch if you’d like us to arrange a private tailor-made tour
At Sustainable Birding, our goal is to ensure that every birding holiday we create contributes positively to bird conservation efforts and local communities. Our determination to promote sustainable travel led us to become founding members of Tourism Declares Climate Emergency. As part of this commitment, we have established the world’s pioneering carbon scoring and offsetting framework for tailor-made holidays. Feel free to request us to carbon score your individual trip!
The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.