In this exotic author’s tour during the Christmas holidays, we will be able to see the nature and wildlife of the mysterious Madagascar Island, which separated from India about 88 million years ago, during the breakdown of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. Since then, the unique flora and fauna of the island have been formed in conditions of complete isolation. As a result of this segregation, 90% of the plant and animal species that inhabit the island are found nowhere else in the world. People appeared on the island relatively recently, although the opinions of scientists about the time when the first settlers arrived differed. Surprisingly, this island drifted close to the east coast of Africa. Madagascar is one of the world’s largest islands on Earth (4th by the area) – and only here we can see unusual long-tailed curious lemurs, mammals that belong to primitive primates, they are sometimes also called semi-monkeys. Only here we will be able to observe the funny Madagascar aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascarensis), which in appearance can be compared with an animal from a fairytale. This is only one modern species from the family. Also only on this island, travelers can find many endemic species of phlegmatic chameleons.
We will visit the best national parks of this island with untouched nature that speaks for itself, take a walk along the fantastic alley of baobabs, get acquainted with the life of the local communities, swim in the Indian Ocean, enjoy wonderful fruits and admire the magnificent landscapes of this tropical island!
Day 1. December 24 – Sunday.
Day of arrival in Tana (Antananarivo). Accommodation in a hotel in the city center. Christmas evening. Introduction of the group members at dinner with each other and with our guides. Christmas night in the tropics.
Day 2. December 25 – Monday.
In the morning, after breakfast and gathering at the hotel, visit the bird sanctuary, Tsarasaotra Park. We can observe there following species: White-faced Whistling-Duck, Black Heron, Malagasy Pond-Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Malagasy Kingfisher, White-throated Rail, Madagascar Swamp Warbler, Malagasy Brush-Warbler, and other bird species. Then flight to Toliara (former Tulear) and lunch after arrival. Check-in for three nights at a hotel on the first line in Mangily town.
Day 3. December 26 – Tuesday. In the morning before breakfast, an excursion to the “spiny forest” with endemism in the flora of more than 95%. In addition, we’ll be able to spot baobabs there. If we are lucky, we’ll hope to see the following bird species: Madagascar Harrier-Hawk, Running Coua, Crested Coua, Thamnornis, Subdesert Mesite, Long-tailed Ground-Roller, Archbold’s Newtonia, Red-capped Coua, Subdesert Brush-Warbler. Also in the “spiny forest,” we will be able to detect some species of snakes, geckos, Madagascar iguanas, and many other representatives of the fauna of “cold-blooded” animals. Photo 3029. On the way from the forest to the hotel, we will stop at a nursery where two extremely rare globally endangered species of radiated and spider tortoises are bred. In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to soak up at the beach. And in the evening we will organize a night excursion to the “spiny forest”, full of rustles, night voices, and shadows of the night inhabitants of the woods. We hope to see several species of lemurs, including the Reddish-gray mouse lemur and Petter’s sportive lemur, Lesser hedgehog tenrec – a close relative of Eurasian hedgehogs, Torotoroka scops owl, and much more.
Day 4: December 27 – Wednesday.
In the morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we will go to see a rare passerine bird – the red-tailed vanga. This bird belongs to the Vangidae family, which is endemic to Madagascar. After birdwatching, we will visit the botanical garden, which has a large collection of succulent plants, as well as other endemic plants collected from all over the island. After lunch, we will have free time, which everyone can use at their choice.
Day 5: December 28 – Thursday.
After an early breakfast, we check out from the hotel and drive to the Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park. Many interesting bird species of Madagascar can be observed in the park, including several species of Madagascar cuckoos (Giant Coua, Coquerel’s Coua), Cuckoo-roller, Lesser Vasa Parrot, rare Appert’s Tetraka, Long-billed Bernieria, endemic Stripe-throated Jery, Rufous Vanga, White-browed Owl – endemic to Madagascar. Besides, we will be able to see local lemurs -Verreaux’s sifaka and Hubbard’s sportive lemur and many other interesting species of animals and plants. After observations in the park, it will take us 3 hours to get to our next stop – a wonderful hotel located near the Isalo National Park. Here we will stay for 2 nights. If we have time after the move, we will walk through the picturesque surroundings around the hotel.
Day 6: December 29 – Friday.
After breakfast, we will head to the Isalo National Park for the day. Among the interesting birds in the park, we can see the Malagasy Turtle-Dove, Malagasy Coucal, Madagascar Hoopoe, Madagascar Bee-eater, Malagasy Kestrel, Malagasy Paradise-Flycatcher, Madagascar Lark and other species. The park is also home to the Verreaux’s sifaka and the ring-tailed lemur or catta lemur. Here we can also spot local endemic species of snakes, lizards and frogs, such as bright Malagasy poison frogs (Mantella sp.) and the graceful day geckoes (Phelsuma genus). After a long day filled with interesting sightings, we will meet the sunset at the Windows of Isalo.
Day 7: December 30 – Saturday:
After breakfast, we check out from the hotel and move to the Tsaranuru Valley to a new place, located near the Andringitra National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site) with amazing panoramic landscapes. The transfer trip will take about 5 hours. The views there are just amazing! oto 4860 Photo 2802. We will stay for one night at the famous Catta Camp, where we will live in a neighborhood with ring-tailed or catta lemurs. Photo 2802
Day 8: December 31 – Sunday:
In the morning after breakfast, we will walk through the forest with Malagasy Coucal, Malagasy Bulbuls, sunbirds (Souimanga Sunbird, Malagasy Sunbird), Madagascar Magpie-Robin, Forest Rock-Thrush, and other interesting species. Besides, we will be able to observe different species of reptiles and amphibians, including Malagasy poison frogs, chameleons, and many others. Then we will move to Anja Park (2.5 hours), where we’ll have a chance to see its inhabitants such as the ring-tailed lemur or catta lemur and several species of chameleons. After observations in this park and lunch, we will drive three more hours to another national park – Ranomafana. The park was founded specifically for the conservation of bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur genus). Here we will stay at the hotel for 2 nights. We’ll have rest after moving. In the evening, we’ll celebrate the last day of 2023 and have a delighted New Year’s Eve dinner.
Day 9: January 1 – Monday.
After breakfast we will go hiking to Ranomafana National Park, where in the morning we will be able to watch birds: Blue Coua, Pitta-like Ground-Roller, Tylas Vanga, Red-tailed Vanga, Pollen’s Vanga, Nelicourvi Weaver, Madagascar Cuckooshrike, Madagascar Blue Vanga, as well as Golden Bamboo Lemur, Greater Bamboo Lemur, Red-bellied Lemur, Red-fronted Lemur, Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, Milne-Edwards’s sifaka. Interesting species of lizards live in the park including flat-tailed Madagascar geckos (Uroplatus sp.), Madagascar day geckos (Phelsuma sp.), and many other species. After lunch, we will rest at the hotel, and after dark, we will go on a night hike to see chameleons, frogs, snakes, nocturnal insects, grey mouse lemur, and pigmy mouse lemur in the flashlight.
Day 10: January 2 – Tuesday.
After breakfast, we will check out from the hotel and move to another place called Tana. It is a long road with stops at different places to observe birds, mammals, and other animals. On the way, we will stop by an amazing reptile park, where we will see a couple of dozen species of chameleons, amazing Madagascar geckoes (Uroplatus sp.), exotic frogs, and much more! Near the park, we will stop for lunch at one of the local restaurants. Photo 4162. We will also visit the lemur park near the city and walk around the city center. We will spend the night in one of the hotels in the city of Tana.
Day 11: January 3 – Wednesday.
After breakfast, we will check out from the hotel and drive to the local airport for a flight to Toamasina, and from there we will transfer by boat to Palmarium. Transfer to Palmarium will take 3-4 hours by car and 1.5 hours by boat. Upon arrival in Palmarium, we’ll stay in comfortable bungalows in the forest near the lake. Several species of lemurs, chameleons, and butterflies live on the territory close to bungalows. In this unique place, lemurs are not afraid of people and let them come close. And at night we will have an excursion to observe the most beautiful creature of Madagascar – the mysterious local funny animal (“arm-leg”) called aye-aye…
Day 12: January 4 – Thursday.
After breakfast, we will go to watch the lemurs. We will spend the whole day at the Palmarium with lemurs, where we can see and feed indri, black-and-white ruffed lemur, and other species up close. Photo 0699. Among the birds, we can see the endemic Hook-billed Vanga. And at night we will watch the gray mouse and eastern woolly lemurs.
Day 13: January 5 – Friday.
After breakfast and checking out from the hotel, we will drive to a place called Andasibe. This way we’ll pass firstly by boat (1.5 hours), and then 4 hours by car. Along the way, we will visit various local craftsmen shops. We’ll have lunch on the way. In the evening after dinner, we organize a night excursion into the forest to observe mouse lemurs, insects, frogs, chameleons, and other animals.
Day 14: January 6 – Saturday.
In the morning after breakfast, we will have an excursion to Analamazaotra Special Reserve. Here we can see many interesting bird species: Blue Coua, Madagascar Ibis, Red-tailed Vanga, Nuthatch-Vanga, Red-fronted Coua, Madagascar Green-Pigeon, and Collared Nightjar. We also will find wild indris and diademed sifakas. Then we will stop by Vakona Lodge, where tame lemurs live and there is a farm of Nile crocodiles. Photo 4021 In the evening one more excursion to the night forest.
Day 15: January 7 – Sunday – Day of our departure.
In the morning after breakfast, we check out of the hotel and collect all the necessary things – we are preparing for our departure back to Canada. However, before arriving at the airport, we will still have the opportunity to stop by the reptile park, where we will be able to see various species of chameleons, uroplatus, frogs, snakes, as well as Cocorell’s sifakas.
Departure day. Transfer to the airport. Flight home.
Photo credit by Ivan Leshukov.
For more information and/or to book this tour, please contact the travel agency directly at
YYT Travel Tours: 7851 Dufferin St., Suite 100, Toronto (Thornhill), Ontario L4J 3M4 Tel: 1.877.999.4768 or 905.660.7000 – TICO Reg: #4332359