Northwest Madagascar, the ‘Boeny region’ is a captivating area that encompasses diverse landscapes, blending dense forests and gorgeous lakes. Anchored by Ankarafantsika National Park, this area is a biodiversity hotspot, boasting an array of endemic species. Renowned for its rich birdlife, the park is home to elusive species such as the White-breasted Mesite, Schlegel’s Asity, Van Dam’s Vanga, Madagascar Ibis, and the elusive Banded Kestrel. The area offers breathtaking scenery, including Lake Ravelobe, which is the best place to find the endangered Humblot’s Heron and the relatively easier-to-spot critically endangered Madagascar Fish Eagle.
*Please see our 15-Day Best of Madagascar – Birds & Wildlife, which can be added as an extension before or after this tour. Our scheduled group tour runs directly before 1st – 7th October 2024.
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: Au Bois Vert Lodge
The next morning, we’ll be taking a domestic flight to Mahajanga. Upon arrival, we will transfer to Ankarafantsika Reserve, taking approximately four hours. Once we reach the lodge, and have some lunch we’ll get our first taste of this fantastic western deciduous forest.
Ankarafantsika is a stronghold for many endangered Madagascar bird species, many of which are sadly on the brink of extinction. Among these are the enigmatic White-breasted Mesite from an unknown taxonomic lineage, and the remarkably diverse vangas, including the White-headed, Blue, Chabert’s, Rufous, Hook-billed, Van Dam’s, and the exceptional Sickle-billed, known for its adeptness at excavating decaying wood with its robust hooked bill. The elusive Schlegel’s Asity, representing another unique endemic family, can be found sparingly within the reserve’s confines.
We will also be on the lookout for the Madagascar Ibis, Madagascar Fish-Eagle, Madagascar Buzzard, Frances’s Sparrowhawk, and the distinctive Couas, including Coquerel’s, Red-capped, and Crested. Nearby water sources, notably a substantial dam, offer opportunities to encounter the elusive Humblot’s Heron and the elegant Madagascar Jacana.
This woodland also boasts a diverse range of unique reptiles and mammals, including the fascinatingly diverse chameleons, notably the impressive and world’s largest Oustalet’s, reaching lengths of up to a meter! We’ll undoubtly see various lemurs, including the Brown, Western Woolly, Milne-Edwards Sportive, and the diminutive Gray Mouse Lemurs. However, observing the nocturnal Mongoose and the regionally exclusive Golden Mouse Lemurs might necessitate exceptional luck. The agile Coquerel’s Siffakas are frequent visitors to the area, adding to the allure of our nights near Ankarafantsika.
Where you will be staying: Gite D’Ampijoroa
Today, we’ll be heading back to Mahajanga – a vibrant town pulsating with activity and bustling tuk-tuks. We will spend the day at Betsiboka River Delta, where we hope to add to the Malagasy Sacred Ibis and Bernier’s Teal to our extensive list. Navigating through the mangroves, we’ll have the opportunity to observe a diverse array of tropical shorebirds, elegant terns, and an assortment of other captivating species.
Where you will be staying: Karibu Lodge
In the morning, we will catch a flight back to the capital from Mahajanga where this tour will sadly be coming to an end. On arrival in Antananarivo, you will be met by a Sustainable Birding representative who will help you connect to your international flight home.
*Please see our 15 Day Best of Madagascar – Birds & Wildlife, which can be added as an extension before or after this tour. Our scheduled group tour runs directly before on 1st – 7th October 2024.
Slow– this tour has been designed to go at a steady pace, leaving plenty of time to get all the target species at Ankarafantsika. Anyone who 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 to Ankarafantsika from Mahajanga (max. 4 hours), but it’s well worth the wait. Accommodation in this region of Madagascar is scarce, so please do not expect luxury.
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.