Our ‘off the beaten track’ Madagascar tour caters to dedicated birding enthusiasts, especially those who have already explored the classic Madagascar birding circuit and encountered roughly 80 percent of the island’s endemics. For the remaining range-restricted Malagasy species, this specialised tour explores remote sites not typically covered in traditional birding tours. It presents a rare opportunity to encounter some of the planet’s rarest, most endangered species like the Madagascar Pochard, Madagascar Serpent Eagle, Slender-billed Flufftail, and Red Owl.
Alongside exceptional birding, the tour unveils breathtaking scenery and a rich diversity of fauna and flora. However, it’s essential to note that this expedition demands physical endurance and offers basic camping arrangements. Yet, the allure of encountering these elusive bird species compensates for the lack of typical comforts. This tour is tailored for enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in the most remote and elusive bird species in Madagascar.
*Please see our Best of Madagascar – Birds & Wildlife, which can be added as an extension before or after 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: Au Bois Vert Lodge
The next morning, we’ll be taking a domestic flight to Mahajanga. On arrival, we’ll get settled at our hotel and then in the afternoon, 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: Gite D’Ampijoroa
The next morning, we’ll drive to Bealanana, which will span the entire day, offering a scenic drive. Along the way, we’ll have a brief passage through Ankarafantsika National Park, providing opportunities to spot various bird species.
Possible sightings include the striking Broad-billed Roller, White-headed Vanga, Madagascar Hoopoe, Crested Drongo, and the sought-after Sickle-billed Vanga among others.
Once we reach Bealanana, we’ll get to do some birding around the lodge gardens.
Where you will be staying: Bealanana Hotel
After breakfast, our journey heads eastward, aiming to reach Bemanevika by late morning. Along the way, we’ll keep an eye out for the Olive Bee-eater, Malagasy Kestrel, Madagascar Cisticola, and possibly the Madagascar Buzzard.
Bemanevika, a key component of Madagascar’s Protected Areas System, encompasses a unique blend of wetlands, marshlands, grasslands, and fragments of rainforest. Within this diverse landscape reside two critically threatened endemics: the rediscovered Madagascar Pochard, once believed extinct in the wild and the Endangered Madagascar Serpent Eagle.
On arrival, we’ll set up camp with the help of the Peregrine Fund and be on the lookout for the White-throated Rail, Madagascar Lark, Meller’s Duck, and the secretive Red Owl, one of the island’s rarest species seldom seen.
Over the next two full days, our focus will be on discovering the remarkable species this area holds. Our primary targets include the elusive Madagascar Pochard, Madagascar Serpent Eagle, Red Owl, and Slender-billed Flufftail.
Moreover, amidst our mission for these sought-after species, the diverse habitats present an array of fascinating birds to observe. From grasslands and wooded areas hosting species like the Malagasy Harrier, Madagascar Cuckoo, and Lesser Vasa Parrot, to wetlands teeming with possibilities such as the Madagascar Partridge, Grey Emutail, and Madagascar Harrier-Hawk. Additionally, marshy regions may reveal sightings of the Madagascar Flufftail. Explorations around a nearby lake might allow us to see the Madagascar Grebe, Madagascar Swamp Warbler, and Madagascar Rail, while night walks promise encounters with species like the Madagascar Nightjar, Rainforest Scops Owl, and Madagascar Owl
Where you will be staying: Peregrine Fund Camp
Today marks the beginning of our return journey, heading westward for an overnight stay in Antsohihy. As we travel, we’ll seize opportunities for birdwatching along the route and plan a stop for a picnic lunch.
Today involves transferring from Antsohihy to Mahajanga, with a planned lunch break in Ankarafantsika National Park looking for species that we may have missed on Day 3.
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.
Medium– this tour has been designed to leave plenty of time at Bemanevika to get all the target species but there are long drives to get there.
Hard – lots of on-foot birding in difficult terrain, which can be tiring. Lots of long drives to get to This truly is an ‘off the beaten track’ birding tour looking for rarities, so please do not expect luxury – expect to be immerged in nature instead! Truly a once in a life time experience.
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.