Wenzel Madagascar November 2019

Morondava, Madagascar

MC
3 reviews
Nov 14 - 21, 2019
Group size: 1 - 5
Wenzel Madagascar November 2019
Morondava, Madagascar

3 reviews

Nov 14 - 21, 2019
Group size: 1 - 5

About this trip

Madagascar is often referred to as the “Eighth Continent” and its exceptional fauna and flora have evolved over millions of years of isolation. This legendary uniqueness is nowhere reflected better than in its birds, and the island hosts no less than five endemic bird families however the wonder of Madagascar extends well beyond its avifauna, and seeing and photographing the amazing lemurs will be a major focus of this tour. However, we do not neglect the colourful chameleons, lizards, snakes, frogs and fascinating flora of this appropriately named “laboratory of evolution”. Virtually every plant and animal on the island is endemic, but sadly, most are threatened by continued habitat destruction, thus making Madagascar one of those “must-visit-soon” destinations.

Your Photographic Highlights

  

  

Day 1, 14th November: Arrival in Antananarivo

                     After arrival in the bustling capital of Antananarivo, or “Tana” as it is more commonly known, you will be met by an ORYX representative and driven to your hotel. 

The grounds of the hotel are home to a small selection of wildlife, and dedicated searching may reveal a colourful chameleon in a bush, or a Red Fody singing in a tree (a bird species endemic to Madagascar). 

During daylight hours (please note this is very much dependant on actual arrival time), you may embark on your first photography excursion, the venue being Lake Alarobia. 

Travelling from your hotel into the city, one cannot help being struck by the uniqueness of the Malagasy culture, which is a strange mixture of African and Asian influences reflected in the landscape and architecture. Lake Alarobia, a private sanctuary set within the city protects large numbers of ducks and egrets from persecution. The small lake literally teems with waterfowl. 

The lake also supports a fantastic assortment of egrets that roost or breed in the sanctuary, including a few splendidly adorned Malagasy Pond Heron and Dimorphic Egret. There are many willing photography subjects in amongst the large numbers of waterbirds, and you will have an interesting time photographing the hordes of roosting and squabbling birds.

Overnight Relais des Plateaux

Day 2, 15th November: Flight Tana to Morondava ; visit Baobab Alley in the afternoon.

Today you will fly to Morondava . The hotel is located at Nosy Kely on the beach of Morandava, 30 minutes’ drive to the mythical Baobabs Alley.

Flight Details: – Tana/Morondava – TZ 702 12H20/13H20

The baobab, also called “reniala” (“mother of the forest”) in Malagasy, is a 100% secular Malagasy tree. There are eight species on earth and six of them are endemic to the island. The baobab constitutes an important reserve of water which allows it to tolerate extreme climatic conditions.Because of its trunk filled with water, the baobab is also called “bottle tree”. This set of a dozen trees presents a landscape of a rare elegance. Most of these baobabs are more than 800 years old, a legacy of the dense forests that have flourished on the island a long time ago.

You will have the opportunity to spend some time in the late afternoon admiring the beauty of this natural phenomenon and taking photographs as the sun dips below the horizon.

**The rooms at Palissandre Côte Ouest are smart, and are air-conditioned, which is most welcome**

Overnight Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest

Day 3, 16th November:  Morning in Baobab Alley, then drive from Morondava to Kirindy - Afternoon Walk + night walk in reserve

In the morning you may visit the famous Avenue of Baobabs. This astonishing landscape, with roughly a dozen Grandidier’s Baobabs about 30 metres in height (and lining a dirt road), draws travellers from around the world. After a morning in the Baobab Alley you will drive from Morondava to Kirindy. 

Kirindy is a private reserve in the south-western part of Madagascar and protects approximately 100 square kilometres of one of Madagascar's most threatened ecosystems: dry deciduous forest. The forest was previously utilized as an experimental sustainable timber harvesting operation, however this has fortunately left no major imprint on the area. 

This reserve is well known for its variety of lemur species such as Verreaux’s Sifaka, Red-tailed Sportive and Red-fronted Brown lemurs, while you also stand a chance of viewing the rare Narrow-striped Mongoose. Arguably the most sought-after species in the dry deciduous forest of Kirindy is Madagascar’s largest predator, the Fosa. You will focus a lot of your attention on the Fosa in an attempt to view and photograph this, the largest and most famous mammalian carnivore on mainland Madagascar! 

   

A special at Kirindy is the Giant Jumping Rat, however as this species is strictly nocturnal, your chances of seeing this species are therefore very slim. Arguably the most sought-after species in the dry deciduous forest of Kirindy is Madagascar’s largest predator, the Fosa. You will focus a lot of your attention on the Fosa in an attempt to view and photograph this, the largest and most famous mammalian carnivore on mainland Madagascar! 

**Please note that your accommodation at Relais du Kirindy is clean and comfortable, but is more basic than that at Morondava (Palissandre Côte Ouest). There is a pool at Relais du Kirindy, however kindly note that rooms here are not air-conditioned**

Overnight Relais du Kirindy

Day 4 , 17th November : AM in Kirindy Forest, back to Morondava after lunch in Kirindy. PM photographing Baobab Alley

You will spend the morning in Kirindy Forest enjoying nature and photography in natural morning light.

You will notice more activity in the morning , as the Forest becomes alive with animals.  The Kirindy Reserve is a dry forest. You may find young rosewood, one of the precious woods in Madagascar that is today under perilous illegal export and undergoing massive illegal logging on the opposite side of the island. We may spend several hours exploring the forest, driving and walking among natural spotting or scenic spots.

Kirindy is also known for its interesting flora, numerous snakes (including Madagascar Ground Boa, Giant Hog-nosed and Spear-nosed snakes) and other reptiles, not to mention excellent woodland birding. 

After a successful mornings photography you will return to Morandava.  The afternoon will be spent at the Baobabs capturing the trees in the sunset.

**The rooms at Palissandre Côte Ouest are smart, and are air-conditioned, which is most welcome**

Overnight Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest

Day 5, 18th November:  Flight Morondava to Tana (13h55 - 14h55); drive to Perinet

   A morning flight :

Details: Morondava/Tana –TZ 703 13H55/14H55

This will take you from Morondava towards Tana, before heading down the escarpment to the famous Andasibe area, home to the famous rainforest areas namely “Perinet” Reserve and Mantadia National Park. 

Your accommodation for the next three nights is a comfortable hotel located fairly close the aforementioned reserves. Being so close to the forests means that wildlife is often right on your doorstep: fluorescent green day geckos scuttle on the outside walls of your chalets, and you may well be serenaded by the beautiful songs of the world’s largest extant species of lemur, the handsome Indri. 

This evening, you may embark on your first nightwalk, giving us the opportunity to practice your macro skills, which likely will be used extensively in the coming days!

Overnight Vakona Forest Lodge 

Day 6 & 7, 19th & 20th November : 

Perinet - AM & PM photography + night walk

Whilst in the Perinet area, you will make a special effort to see and photograph the reserve’s most famous resident: the huge, singing lemurs known as the Indri. A journey in search of these magnificent creatures is an incredibly experience, and if you are fortunate you will be treated to a close encounter with a family group, their eerie, whale-like howling echoing through the forest. Other lemurs you hope to see include Common Brown and Grey Bamboo lemurs, and you will also search known roosting sites for the nocturnal but inquisitive Eastern Avahi and Weasel Sportive Lemur.

   

The moist rainforest cloaking Madagascar’s eastern escarpment protects the richest assemblage of birds on the island, including many that are rare or poorly known. Over 100 of these have been recorded from within the small reserve of Perinet. Amongst the most sought-after of Madagascar’s birds are those of the five families endemic to the Malagasy region: the peculiar mesites, exquisite ground-rollers, Cuckoo-Roller, Malagasy warblers and the vangas. 

Some of these, such as the noisy Cuckoo-Roller and a number of the vangas are reasonably common and regularly encountered, whilst most of the others remain rare, local or elusive. 

Another “must see” member of the island’s fauna is the Giraffe-necked Weevil, a tiny red and black insect named for its unusually proportioned neck! In the evenings, you will embark on night walks. Nocturnal outings are a thrilling and indeed, essential part of any trip to Madagascar and Perinet is one of the best sites to search for the island’s night birds. Specialities here include Madagascar Owl, Rainforest Scops Owl and both Madagascar and the little known Collared Nightjar. 

   Although Madagascar is famous for the spectacular lemurs that have adapted to a daytime existence, a number of species of these primitive primates remain, like their African cousins the galagos, denizens of the night. You will search for and should find Eastern Woolly, Furry-eared Dwarf and the diminutive Goodman’s Mouse Lemur, and may also encounter some of Madagascar’s other evolutionary masterpieces such as the bizarre Lowland Streaked Tenrec. The island’s reptile and amphibian (“herp”) fauna is equally fascinating and you will be impressed by the plethora of colourful and bizarre frogs, chameleons and geckos to be seen on an evening’s stroll. In particular, you will search for the giant Parson’s Chameleon and two species of eccentric leaf-tailed geckos: the huge Uroplatus fimbriatus and the aptly named Uroplatus phantasticus. 

The eastern rainforests are brilliant for macro photography, with a multitude of subjects to choose from. Your ORYX guide will use his experience in the area, together with various flash and macro techniques to bring out the best in each participants photography!

Mantadia National Park lies a short distance from Perinet (just over 1 hours drive – note the road can be quite rough), protecting a large expanse of primary forest at a somewhat higher altitude. 

The tract of rainforest here is beautiful, with many emergent trees and a rich assemblage of birds, mammals and herps. Although Indris are more difficult to see here, their loud vocalisations are a frequent background sound, together with the unmistakable calls of the huge Cuckoo-Roller. Mixed flocks of vangas move through the trees, and closer to streams, the myriad calls of frogs form a distinctive symphony (Madagascar is particularly well endowed with frogs, with an estimated 500 species, of which a staggering 99% are endemic to the island!). An amphibian highlight is Baron’s Mantella, a spectacularly coloured forest frog. These small frogs call from well-covered recesses on the forest floor – often under mossy stumps, and with luck, your local Malagasy guide will be able to track down one of these beautiful frogs.

   

Other photographic attractions in this scenically beautiful park include the vocal Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur and the elusive Diademed Sifaka (considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful lemur). Much of the photography in Mantadia National Park can be enjoyed from the wide road that runs up into the reserve, although seeing and photographing the lemurs and birds of the forest will require that you take to the steep and at times slippery trails through the rainforest. 

Overnight Vakona Forest Lodge 

Day 8, 21st November : Drive Perinet to Tana ,  lunch in Tana and depart 

Today is the last day of this incredible adventure, and after breakfast you will  make your way back to the capital city in the highlands of Madagascar.  (The drive takes approximately 3 hours. )

There should be time for lunch before checking in for your flight SA8253 14:45 17:10 to South Africa.

      

   

Your Accommodation

 

Relais des Plateaux

The Hôtel Palissandre Côte Ouest offers 30 bungalows built in materials from Madagascar : granite stone, palissandre wood and roof mokotry. They are spacious (32m2) and all have a private terrace with sea view. In each bungalow, you will find a very comfortable very popular in such a remote corner of Madagascar. The Palissandre Côte Ouest also offers a lovely pool located next to the bar and restaurant (whose head has worked in several great restaurants in Antananarivo). 

https://www.hotel-restaurant-palissandrecoteouest.com/en/

Relais du Kirindy

Relais du Kirindy opened in April 2017 and it is only 30 minutes’ drive from the Kirindy Forest, this is an excellent option for a stay in the area. 

There are 20 spacious Bungalows at the lodge, all of which are raised up on decks, decorated with the noble wood of Madagascar in warm tones and set a short walk from the main area of the lodge. 

The main part of the lodge is very stylish and reminiscent of a safari lodge, with a large pool and decking area as well as an open-plan lounge, dining room and bar area with the wide variety of fresh local food available. 

Relais du Kirindy is is fast establishing an excellent reputation amongst visitors to Madagascar as one of the best options on the mainland and is a very good option for one’s stay in this stunning part of the country.

http://www.relaisdukirindy.com/

Vakona Forest Lodge

Vakona Forest Lodge is located next to Parc National d'Andasibe-Mantadia, a three-hour drive from Antatanarivo, and offers simple accommodation in 28 rooms, some with a mezzanine sleeping area which are suitable for families.

Parc National d’Andasibe-Mantadia is an ideal place to see lemurs in the wild. Located just a three-hour drive from Antananarivo, the park offers the usual good standard of ANGAP guiding and there are several pathways one can follow for an easy walk to view the several species of lemur found here, including the indri. 

Vakona Forest Lodge is located close to the national park in its own small reserve. The lodge offers simple clean rooms with en-suite facilities and showers. The food is good and mainly French in style and the restaurant area has an outdoor terrace surrounded by a small lake.

Financial Arrangements

  

Cost includes:


  • All lodgings as per the itinerary;
  • All meals starting from dinner on Day 1 lunch on Day      8;
  • Entrance fees for excursions to Perinet, Mantadia      and Kirindy;
  • All transfers including airport transfers as per the      itinerary above;
  • Assistance of a English-speaking Malagasy guide      throughout the tour; 
  • Assistance of local Malagasy site guides at      Perinet/Mantadia and Kirindy;
  • All ground transport as per the itinerary above; 
  • Local lodge and guide gratuities; 
  • Bottled drinking water throughout; and
  • Services of ORYX photo tour leader Kirsten Frost      throughout.

Cost excludes:


  • Any flights;
  • Medical / travel / cancellation insurance;
  • Visa fees;
  • Any beverages aside from bottled drinking water;
  • Telephone calls,      laundry and items of a personal nature; and
  • Anything not mentioned      in in inclusives above


Your Organizer


MC
Marius Coetzee Photography t/a ORYX Photo Tours
3 reviews
WE ARE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN EXCEPTIONAL WILDLIFE, CULTURAL AND LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHIC TOURS TO SOME OF THE EARTH’S WILDEST AND MOST SCENIC DESTINATIONS, PASSIONATELY PREPARED BY PHOTOGRAPHERS FOR YOU.

Reviews

Fabulous trip, well organised and our tour leader and photographer Penny Robartes was excellent. Good accommodation and locations were also good. Learned a lot from Penny about photography and took some of the best photos I have ever taken. Saw lots of animals and birds. the local guides were also well informed, helpful and excellent overall. In summary this was an excellent trip and will certainly look to undertake further trips with Oryx.
We had a memorable trip to Madagascar We have just been there for a week but we had the impression being there for a month We saw so many great locations and species in different national parks And finally being on the western coast to Morondava with islands beach and baobab Allée was very special It was a great trip we would love to do again. Kirsten is a great guide ! Hotels were perfectly chosen and also the local guide was very good And the drivers were great what is very important on these difficult roads. Thanks to all Best Johannes
The camera equipment was great Kirsten gave me a simple but efficient introduction I could work with very good Thanks so much Best johannes

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