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Madagascar Birding Tour

In this Madagascar birding tour, we have selected only the best. Here you get to enjoy the best birding sites on your Madagascar safari tour. This African birding safari to Madagascar is offered in a shorter package and at a more relaxed pace.

Nonetheless, This Madagascar tour safari still target all five endemic Malagasy bird families. There are good numbers of lemurs and other representative wildlife. That makes this Madagascar tour ideal for travelers with limited time. It is also good for those looking for other wildlife other than every single endemic bird.

Madagascar has a rich birdlife and over two hundred species are recorded. They include a high rate of endemism. Due to deforestation the birdlife in Madagascar is now under threat.

To assist in their preservation, we offer this Madagascar birding tour. This is in collaboration with the Association ASITY. This includes Malagasy birdwatchers. By choosing this tour, you make your contribution to the preservation of Madagascar birds.

About the 12 Days Madagascar Birding Tour

The first destination on this Madagascar birding tour is a journey. A journey to the bird and animal-rich sites of Perinet and Mantadia National Park. This is in the eastern rain-forest zone. The unforgettable song of the Indri drifts through these forests.

Madagascar birding tour will take time out to find a family group of the largest lemur species. Some of the brilliant birds to look for include several highly sought-after forest birds. They include Pitta-like, Rufous-headed, Short-legged and Scaly Ground Rollers. We also have Red-breasted, Red-fronted and Blue Couas. Here you will also find the stunning Velvet Asity, Cuckoo Roller among others

Madagascar Birding Tour

Other attractions in this scenically beautiful region are the vocal Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur. We also have the elusive Diademed Sifaka. This is considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful lemur.

The next leg of this the Madagascar birding tour takes us to Ifaty and Tulear. You will be here for their spiny deserts and coastal habitats. Here we look for the uncommon Madagascar Plover and the beautiful Red-tailed Tropicbird. You will find them along the seashores. Proceed on exploring the bizarre, Tolkienesque landscape. Here you will find of multi-stemmed succulents, squat baobab trees and thorny scrub.

Spectacular Madagascar Endemics

You will be looking for such spectacular endemics as Banded Kestrel, Running. We also have Red-capped Couas,  Archbold’s Newtonia and Thamnornis, Lafresnaye’s Vanga. let us not forget the near mythical Subdesert Mesite and Long-tailed Ground Roller. The latter is an elusive ground dweller best located by its low, hooting call. There are flocks of noisy Sickle-billed Vangas here too. You should also lookout for Subdesert Brush Warbler and the attractive Chabert’s Vanga.

You don’t need luck to see members of at least 5 endemic families which every year, attract Birders from all around the world: Beautiful Ground rollers, the unique Asitys, the diverse Vangas, the terrestrial Mesites and the Couas. This guided birding tour to Madagascar allows photography of the endemic birds of Madagascar.

Birding in Madagascar is also an opportunity not only to see the birds but to see the other Madagascar wildlife in their natural habitat: Lemurs, chameleons, weird Leaf tailed Geckos, etc

Madagascar Birding Tour

Other than birds, Madagascar birding tour will take time out to find a family group of the largest lemur species. You will see some of the brilliant birds to look for include several highly sought-after forest birds.

They include Pitta-like, Rufous-headed, Short-legged and Scaly Ground Rollers. We also have Red-breasted, Red-fronted and Blue Couas. Here you will also find the stunning Velvet Asity, Cuckoo Roller among others.

12 Days Madagascar Birding Tour Highlight

The focus of this Madagascar birding tour is the birdlife in Madagascar. But, you will come across great landscape, and amazing lemur species. There is plenty of insects and reptiles among others.

  • Great number of birdlife
  • Lemurs including Indri indri
  • Nature walks in the tropical rainforests of Madagascar
  • Many reptiles and insect species

12 Days Madagascar Birding Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Tana – Andasibe

Meet and greet upon arrival in Antananarivo. Enjoy a transfer to your hotel for a briefing on this Madagascar birding tour.  This will be followed by a morning visit the private park of Tsarasaotra, which is a RAMSAR site.

Tsarasaotra is tranquil oasis and a nesting site for several bird species. They include Squacco Heron, Little Grebe, Black Heron, among others.

Madagascar Birding Tour

Your Madagascar birding tour then proceeds to Andasibe on a 3 hours scenic drive. En route, you will stop at the Pereyras reserve on the way. Pereyras reserve has a remarkable collection of insects, reptiles and amphibians of the island. There is chameleon, stick insects, frogs and geckos here. Other colorful wildlife is well represented and are observable with ease here.

Enjoy lunch at cost before you proceed with your Madagascar birding tour to Andasibe. You will arrive in time for dinner which is payable directly.

Night in Andasibe

Andasibe Matandia National Park

Andasibe Matandia National Park is also known as Perinet Special Reserve. Other do call it Speciale d’Analamazaotra. This park is about 4 hours’ drive from the capital, Antananarivo, to the East.

This humid National Park of 155 km2 is one of the most well-known. It is the most visited rain forests in Madagascar where rain falls on average 240 days a year.

Madagascar Birding Tour

There are 14 different types of lemurs of which (by far) the best known on is; the rare Indri Indri. This is the largest half ape in the world and only exists in the east of Madagascar.

You would think they are difficult to find but the Indri Indri. You can hear them from afar by the hard and distinctive call they produce. Besides the lemurs, there are many other endemic animals here. they include chameleons, frogs, leaf tail geckos and birds

Day 2: Andasibe – Mantandia National Park

Start the day on Madagascar birding tour with breakfast. This is before embarking on a full day birding in the Mantadia National Park. This Madagascar National Park is a medium altitude rainforest. It is home to no fewer than 109 species of birds. They include the Scaly ground roller, blue coua and nuthatch vanga.

Mantandia National Park is also home to Diademed Sifaka. You will have to carry your picnic lunch box. Return to your hotel later in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day at leisure and overnight

Night in Andasibe

Day 3: Andasibe – Analamazaotra National Park – Tana

You will begin the day on Madagascar birding tour with breakfast at your lodge. This is before this Madagascar birding tour leaves for the Analamazaotra National Park. This is an extenstion of Andasibe and you will be here in the morning.

Analamazaotra rainforest shelters the largest lemur, the Indri Indri, observable with ease. The park is also home to other bird species. They include the likes of red-fronted coua, tylas vanga, velvet asity and the list goes on.

You will have your lunch in a restaurant payable directly before you drive back to Tana. Proceed to your hotel in Antananarivo where you are booked on bed and breakfast.

Night in Tana

Day 4: Tana – Antsirabe – Ranomafana National Park

The day on Madagascar birding tour starts with breakfast in your Tana hotel. This is to be followed by a 3 hours 30 minutes’ drive to Antsirabe where you will stop for lunch on own account.

This Madagascar birding tour then proceeds on the drive on another 5 hours. This is adrive to Ranomafana National Park. You will upon arrival check into your hotel for overnight.

Night in Ranomafana

Day 5: Ranomafana National Park

Full day on Madagascar Birding tour devoted to bird watching. The lowland rainforest of Ranomafana national park is home to 96 species of birds. Some of these birds are endemic to the area. They include the brown mesite, Pollen’s vanga, yellow-bellied sunbird-asity or Henst’s goshawk.

You need to carry picnic lunch box on own account. Later in the afternooon return to your hotel for leisure and overnight. Dinner is on own arrangement.

Night in Ranomafana

Ranomafana National Park

Ranomafana means ‘hot water’ in Malagasy. This is due to the hot springs found in the area. Ranomafana National Park is one of the most picturesque national parks in Madagascar.

This Madagascar National Park covers a mountainous area of 415 kilometres. The park is set at altitudes that range between 800 and 1,200 metres in a vast tract. It is comprised more of dense rain forest.

Madagascar Birding Tour

The rare golden bamboo lemur was discovered here in 1986 by Dr. Patricia Wright. This led to the area gaining National Park status. Ranomafana now provides a protected environment for these endangered animals. It is one of the island’s most accessible and appealing stops on any itinerary.

There are some 30 endemic species of bird that are isolated to the region around Ranomafana. They include, but not limited to, the Henst goshawk and endangered crested ibis. We also have velvet asity and Rufous-headed ground roller.

Day 6: Ranomafana National Park – Ranohira

Today on this Madagascar birding tour, you will be up early for breakfast. This will be followed by early departure for a 7 hours’ drive to Ranohira .

En route, the Madagascar birding tour visits the Anja community forest. You will be here to observe the ring-tailed lemur. This reserve is a fine example of a successful ecotourism initiative. This is led by the local community. This site is home to several species of orchids and succulent plants. There is a colony of ring-tailed lemur easy to observe her.

Entrance fees and guide charges are directly transferred into a local fund. This is to build clinics, schools and promote rice technologies. Lunch will be on own account. Proceed to Ranohira and upon arrival check into your hotel for overnight.

Night in Isalo

Day 7: Ranohira – Isalo National Park

Today your Madagascar birding trip sets out to discover Isalo National Park. Start the day with breakfast before you leave for a trek through the runiform massif. You will be here to observe the Benson rock-trush and Madagascar cuckoo-roller. We also have white-throated rail among others.

You need picnic lunch boxes on account. Return back to your hotel in time for overnight.

Night in Isalo

Isalo National Park

This Madagascar National Park was established in 1962. The Isalo National Park is located approximately 700 km southwest of Antananarivo. It protects 815 km² of sandstone massif eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges. These ridges are known as “runiformes” and feature wild forms, impressive gorges and canyons. There are tiny stalagmite pinnacles.

The far Wild West reminiscent of the landscape, is dominated by rugged massive. They rise up from the flat surrounding grassy plain. This attracts hikers from the whole world. They gather here to admire the sweeping colours of this Jurassic scenery. The climate is dry tropical with warm temperatures all year around.

Wildlife in Isalo National Park

Wildlife here is not as prominent as in other parks of the country. There are still a couple of species worth to look out. They include Ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs and sifakas. Isalo is home to 14 nocturnal lemurs hide in dense vegetation along the streams.

The park homes also approximately 80 species of birds. They include the rare Benson’s rock-thrush, the knob-billed duck or the crested ibis. We have 35 of reptiles and several endemic frogs.

The flora is indeed more interesting than the fauna. There are several local endemic plants. Among these are 500 species which are found within Isalo. They include the elephant´s foot and some rare palms and aloe species.

Day 8: Ranohira – Zombitse National Park – Tulear

Another day of Madagascar birding tour that begins with an early breakfast. This will be followed by an early departure to the dry forest of Zombitse National Park. It will be a 1-hour 30m minutes’ drive.

Zombitse National Park is home to endemic birds. They include Appert’s greenbul, crested coua, white-browed owl. After a short hike through the park, we continue to Tulear which is 2 hours’ drive away.

Along the way you will visit of the arboretum Antsokay  wher you will also stop for lunch on own account. The arboretum Antsokay is a botanical garden of more than 900 plant species. The plant species are endemic to the great south of the island.

Proceed to Tulear and upon arrival, check into your hotel. This is booked on bed and breakfast in time for overnight.

Night in Tulear

Zombitse National Park

This park lies between Isalo National Park and Tulear. Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park is unique in that it is the transition zone. This is between the dry forests of the south and west and the humid forests of eastern Madagascar. It is one of the youngest parks in Madagascar, founded in 1997.

The park is divided into three forested sections. They consist of deciduous forest, savannah and marshland. Unfortunately, centuries of deforestation from slash-and-burn agriculture have devastated the area. It is a somewhat plant-devoid plateau inhabited by cattle herders.

In Zombitse you have a chance to see the Verraux Sifaka, brown lemurs and ring-tailed lemurs. There are special bird species within the park.

Day 9: Tulear – Anakao – Tsimanampetsotsa National Park – Anakao

After breakfast, your Madagacar birding tour enjoys a transfer by boat to Anakao. You’ll drive to Tsimanampetsotsa National Park a 150 minutes ride on bumpy road.

Tsimanampetsotsa National Park is of biological importance especially for its waterfowl. Among the 112 species of bird, some are endemic such as the Madagascar plover or Perigrime. But the main attraction is of course the flamingo colonies. You will enjoy your picnic lunch charged directly in the park.

Later drive back to Anakao and upon arrival, check into your hotel. This is booked on bed and breakfast for overnight.

Night in Anakao

Tsimanampetsotsa National Park

Tsimanampetsotsa National Park is named after its spectacular lake and main park highlight. It is located in the southwest of Madagascar. This is not far from the coast and approximately 90km south of Tulear. This park comprises 430 km² of spiny forest and wetlands.

This area was already protected in 1927 due to its biological meaning. 90% of the flora and fauna is endemic! It is a habitat for water birds, and became a National Park in 1966. These water supplies are basic both for humans and for animals and plants.

Tsimanampetsotsa means “lake without dolphins” in Malagasy. It lies in the most arid zone of the island, which receives only around 300 mm rain each year.

Landscape in Tsimanampetsotsa

Apart from the lake itself, there are two main landscapes inside the park. A calcareous plateau covered with dense xerophilous thickets an endemic spiny forest. There are also huge baobabs and banyan trees, and the sand dunes along the coast covered by a grassy blanket. The park also has many caves and sinkholes, which are the result of an underground stream.

Tsimanampetsotsa is a birders paradise. More than 100 species are here within the park. They include pink, greater and dwarf flamingos forming big colonies on the lake. There also are 5 coua species, Archbold´s newtonia, Madagascar plover and red-shouldered vanga.

Day 10: Anakao – Nosy Ve – Anakao

Enjoy your breakfast before your Madagascar birding trip leaves for a pirogue ride to Nosy Ve. This will be to observe the Paille en Queue.

Nosy Ve is a nesting site of this rare birds. Picnic lunch on own account based on seafood on the beach. Enjoy a pirogue ride back to Anakao in the afternoon for relaxation. Overnight will be at your hotel booked on bed and breakfast.

Night in Anakao

Day 11: Anakao – Tulear – Ifaty

After breakfast, your Madagascar birding tour embarks on an hours of speedboat transfer. You will be going to Tulear. Upon arrival you will drive for one hour on some bumpy road to Ifaty. Along the way, you will have a stop at the Honko community reserve.

Enjoy birding along the edge of the mangrove and reeds that offers a great place for bird watching. The site offers the opportunity to observe a variety of wetland birds in the region. They include the little grebe, Little Bittern and the Black Heron. Others are purple heron and Madagascar kestrel.

Lunch on own account will be en route with check in and overnight at your hotel in Ifaty. This is booked on bed and breakfast basis.

Night in Ifaty

Day 12: Ifaty – Tulear – Tana

The last day of your Madagascar birding tour that starts with breakfast. Your Madagascar birding trip will then visit the spiny bush of Reniala Baobab forest. You will be here to observe the long-tailed ground roller, Lafresnaye’s vanga, subdesert mesite.

After lunch which is on own arrangement, you will be transferred to the airport. This is in time for the flight from Tulear to Tana in time for your international flight.

———- End of 12 Days Madagascar Birding Tour Safari ———-

12 Days Madagascar Birding Trip Costs:

What is included in the cost of 12 Days Madagascar Birding Trip?

  • Car and fuel with a driver
  • Madagascar birding guide during the whole tour
  • Accommodation booked on bed and breakfast basis
  • Park entrance fees and local guide fees
  • Speed boat t and all boat fees

12 Days Madagascar Birding Tour Price excludes:

  • Your lunch, dinner and drinks during the whole tour
  • All the domestic flights
  • All your international flights

What to Carry on the 12 Days Madagascar Birding Tour?

  • Light and a few heavy clothings for evenings
  • Closed, comfortable shoes
  • Sun protection like sun cream, hat
  • Insect repellent
  • Binoculars

The Madagascan Birdlife

Some of the World’s most fascinating and endangered birds are endemic to Madagascar. For its size and taking into account its profusion of habitat types, Madagascar has relatively few bird species. There are only about 285 bird species in Madagascar.

However, Madagascar holds more endemic genera (37) than any other African country. Its 120 endemic species include 5 endemic families, (2 have representatives in the Comoros) and 1 endemic subfamily. Another 25-odd species belong to interesting genera unique to the Western Indian Ocean islands.

Madagascar Birding Tour

To see the bulk of Madagascar’s birds, your Madagascar birding tour need to visit at least 1 site in each of the island’s 3 chief climatic/floristic zones. They include the eastern rainforest, southern spiny bush and western tropical deciduous forest.

Each of these holds its own complement of endemics. In addition, a select band of birds is dependent on the island’s dwindling wetlands. Be sure to include certain more accessible marshes, lakes and estuaries in your Madagascar birding tour itinerary.

Transitioning to Zombitse

Most birders on Madagascar tour will also visit the transition forest of Zombitse National Park. During a stay of 2-3 weeks on the Madagascar birding tour, you should be able to tick off most of the sought-after lifers. There are also a remarkable array of mammals, reptiles, frogs, invertebrates and the fascinating flora.

For those on Madagascar birding tour, the bird life of Madagascar is particularly very rich especially in species that exist nowhere else on earth. The forest of Madagascar still keeps marvelous secrets of the nature, including the bird life.

In the dry deciduous forest of the west or the evergreen wet rain forest of the east as well as in the spiny forest of the south-west, many endemic species can live only in the natural forest habitat and cannot be found in another human-modified habitats like the agricultural area or rice fields.

Birdlife of Madagascar

The bird life of Madagascar counts 282 species but two of them have been extincted recently according to scientists. 104 of them are endemic. Among the living 280 species, 208 live permanently in Madagascar and 72 are migratory.

The following families are endemic to Madagascar and can be seen on your Madagascar birding tour:

  • the Mesitornithidae family
  • the sub-family of Couinae
  • the family of Bachypteraciidea
  • the Leptosomidae family
  • the subfamily of Philepittenae
  • the Bernieridae family
  • and the Vangidae family

When to Go on Madagascar Birding Tour

The best time to go to Madagascar for birding tend to visit in the Malagasy spring and early summer. This is from the very end of August to December.

In the winter months of May to mid August, the rain forests can be very quiet. Many sought-after endemics extremely furtive. Also, in winter some of the more spectacular endemics like asitys, will be out of their impressive breeding regalia.

Madagascar Birding Tour

Madagascar safari lodges and hotels are fairly small at most of the birding venues. It is sensible to plan your Madagascar birding tour fairly long in advance. This will help you avoid any disappointment.

Places of Interest on Madagascar Birding Tour

Eastern Rainforest

These are now highly fragmented rainforest band known as the great Madagascar Sylva. It once covered almost all of humid eastern Madagascar. Here we have some impressive rainforest blocks remain intact today. These are situated several splendid National Parks which attract birders from around the globe.

Madagascar birding tour is best in the Austral Spring and early summer  that is end August to late December. Always be sure to enter the rainforest just before daybreak on your Madagascar birding tour. This is because then birding becomes really rewarding.

If it rains on your Madagascar birding tour while you’re in there, don’t be deterred! As the local saying goes, it takes a lot of rain to have a good rainforest flourishing and rainforest-dependent wildlife tends to be just as active during rainy spells.

Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest

These are the hot western lowlands of Madagascar. They hold the last few stands of tropical dry deciduous forest. Here, woods are much lighter and birding is rewarding year round.

Transition Forest

They straddle the RN7 national road between the Isalo sandstone mountains and the south-west coastal town Tulear. This is the transition forest of Zombitse, where western and southern forest types merge. The megatick in this very rewarding 21,500ha birding hotspot is the Appert’s Greenbul, which exists nowhere else.

Madagascar Birding Tour

On your Madagascar birding tour, you should also see a wide variety of other endemics, including Madagascar Sandgrouse, Madagascar Partridge, Giant and Olive-capped Couas.

You on the Madagascar birding tour, you will also find Lesser Vasa Parrot, Madagascar Hoopoe, Thamnornis Warbler, Common Newtonia, Common Jery, Long-billed Green & Souimanga Sunbirds and Sakalava Weaver. Zombitse makes for an ideal picnic stop. Nadagascar birding tour is excellent here and birding is excellent there all year.

Southern Sub-arid Thorn Thicket (spiny bush)

This bizarre habitat features an assemblage of bloated and thorny, drought resistant trees and plants. It varies considerably in appearance across the region. All the southern sub-desert endemics are concentrated in a small area along the south-west coast, from Ifaty Beach to St Augustin Bay. Birding in the semi-arid south is good year round.

Which Birds are we Looking for on This Madagascar Tour

The birds that we’ll look for include the roadrunner-like Long-tailed Ground Roller and the stunning Pitta-like, Scaly, and Rufous-headed Ground Rollers. Also on the list is the highly-prized Subdesert Mesite, the unforgettable Giant Coua, the astounding Velvet Asityand Madagascan Ibis, to name just a handful.

The Masoala Peninsula extension can generate the unbelievable Helmet Vanga, Brown Mesite, and Short-legged Ground Roller. Here you will also find the largest, and most bizarre, nocturnal lemur, the aye-ayeand a stack more.

Ankarafantsika National Park

One hundred and twenty nine species of birds have been recorded in the northwestern Ankarafantsika National Park. This is more than half of them endemic to Madagascar.

They birds include Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, the elusive Banded Kestrel, and the more easily observed Madagascan Fish Eagle. The latter can often be seen at Ravelobe Lake. The endangered Humblot’s Heron can also be seen at Lake Ravelobe.

Berenty Reserve is a haven for birdwatchers, boasting a high number of endemic species. With luck we might be able to find Madagascan Sandgrouse, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Torotoroka Scops Owl. The Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk is also available here.