courtesy of Hal Gordon
• Wildlife • Parks & Reserves •
An outstanding introduction to the nature reserves and
wildlife of Madagascar, this 17-day expedition offers
travel enthusiasts an exceptional opportunity to become
acquainted with the cultural heritage, flora, and fauna
Here, on the fourth largest island in the world, isolated
from the African continent for 30 million years, is
a spectacular flora and fauna, unlike that found anywhere
else in the world. Ninety-five percent of the lemurs
and reptiles, 81 percent of the flowering plants, 98
percent of the palms, and many birds are simply found
The itinerary includes:
the charming capital city of Madagascar. Visit the
renowned Parc de Tsimbazaza and Natural History Museum,
explore the European District, and sample a pastry
at the Hotel Colbert in this captivating city of hills.
Reserve, on the sandy red banks of the Mandrare River,
an internationally acclaimed wildlife reserve in the
semi-arid south. Enjoy a profusion of ring-tailed
lemurs, sifakas, lepilemurs, and flying foxes, as
well as the unique spiny desert, couas, cuckoo-rollers,
vasa parrots, and other birds found only in Madagascar.
Be, Madagascar’s favorite resort on the Indian
Ocean. Enjoy coral and tropical fish, snorkeling and
swimming, and a special boat excursion to Nosy Komba
to see the sacred black lemurs.
National Park, an extraordinary landscape in the southwest
with dramatic sandstone ridges sculpted by wind and
water into intriguing formations.
Reserve, just a short distance from Antananarivo.
Look for the largest of the lemurs, the indri, noted
for its ear-shattering cries and agility in traveling
through the rainforest.
Also of interest will be the intriguing cultural heritage
of Madagascar, with antecedents from Indonesia, Arabia,
Africa, and Europe.
I hope you will join us, and discover the magnificence
and adventure of Madagascar in 2007!
Days 1/2 New York to Paris
International flight from New York’s JFK International
Airport to Paris, with direct connecting flight to Antananarivo,
the capital of Madagascar. A short drive will bring
us into “Tana,” a captivating city of hills
with the architectural ambiance of the French countryside
and rich color and beauty of the Malagasy people. Tana
Plaza Hotel (2 nights).
Day 3 Antananarivo
Our introduction to the natural and cultural heritage
of Madagascar will begin with tours of this fascinating
city, including the Queen’s Palace, the European
district, and the Parc de Tsimbazaza. The botanical
and zoological gardens and fine natural history museum
will offer a first look at the unique lemurs and flora
of Madagascar—the fourth largest island in the
Day 4 To Perinet & Mantadia National Park
Morning drive towards the eastern coast of the country
and port city of Tamatave. We will descend from Antananarivo
at an elevation of 4,500 feet on the central plateau
down the steep eastern escarpment to the humid rainforest
and farms near Perinet. Accommodations at Vakona Lodge
(2 nights), between Perinet and Mantadia National Park.
Days 5/6 Perinet & Mantadia
For the next two days, we will explore the outstanding
reserve known as Perinet during the French colonial
period, now known locally as Analamazoatra, and nearby
Mantadia National Park, home of the diademed sifaka
and black-and-white ruffed lemur. At Perinet, we may
see chameleons and will look for the largest of the
lemurs, the indri, noted for their ear-shattering cries
and agility in traveling through the forest.
As we explore the wooded ridges, shady creek bottoms,
and fern-edged lakes of Perinet, we’ll also look
for the brown lemur. This is another fine area to look
for some of the exciting birdlife of Madagascar: vangas,
couas, cuckoo-rollers, nightjars, and sunbirds. We will
return to Antananarivo in the afternoon of Day 6.
As we leave the lush beauty of Perinet, the rainforest
immediately gives way to heavily logged hills, camps
for charcoal production, and ragged red gullies swirling
with muddy torrents. We will also see eucalyptus or
pine forests planted to generate wood for future charcoal
production. Tana Plaza Hotel. B,L,D
Days 7/10 Nosy Be
For the next three days, we’ll enjoy this tropical
island paradise. We will fly to Nosy be on the morning
of Day 7 and have an island tour. We will enjoy comfortable
accommodations at the Vanilla Hotel (3 nights). Low
key and relaxing, Nosy Be has curving white sand beaches,
prosperous sugarcane fields, gnarled ylang ylang trees
(a source of perfume), and spread before us, the Indian
From historic Hell Ville, named for Admiral de Hell,
we’ll cruise to Nosy Tanihely, a tiny island crowned
with a lighthouse from which we can see flying foxes,
white-tailed tropic birds, terns, frigates, and more.
Snorkelers will enjoy brilliantly colored fish, coral,
giant clams, and long-spined urchins in the national
Nearby, we’ll visit Nosy Komba and the village
of Ampangarina. Here, the sacred black lemurs will welcome
us—photographers get ready! We’ll also keep
an eye out for kestrels, coucals, bee-eaters, sunbirds,
malachite kingfishers, drongos, paradise flycatchers,
We will also visit Lokobe Reserve, which includes the
remaining rainforest in northwest Madagascar.
We will return to Antananarivo on Day 10. Tara Plaza
Day 11 Antananarivo to Tulear & Isalo
Morning flight from Tana to Tulear, on the southwest
coast of Madagascar. We will then drive 200 kilometers
inland to Parc National de L’Isalo, situated on
a sandstone massif, and heavily eroded by wind and water
into fascinating formations. The southwest also has
Madagascar’s most interesting flora, including
spiny forests of plants only found in Madagascar, aloes,
and Euphorbia. Hotel Relais de la Reine (2 nights).
Day 12 Isalo National Park
Today, we will explore this delightful park on foot,
including a walk to the Piscine Naturelle, where a cave
overlooks a waterfall and natural pool for swimming.
Several lemurs are found in the park, including Verreaux’s
sifaka, grey mouse, ring-tailed, and brown lemurs, and
about 50 bird species. B,L,D
Day 13 Isalo-Tulear
Morning at Isalo. Afternoon drive from Isalo to Tulear
and overnight at Motel Capricorne. B,L,D
Days 14/16 Fort Dauphin-Berenty
This morning, we’ll fly to picturesque Fort Dauphin
in southeast Madagascar. We then drive west, climbing
a pass separating the humid east coast of Madagascar
from the drier west, home of the Antandroy people.
For three days, we will explore southern Madagascar
and Berenty Reserve, a superb wildlife reserve which
has attracted considerable international attention.
Here, the de Heaulme family established a reserve on
the bank of the Mandrare River to protect the woods
and their captivating inhabitants, the lemurs. Great
long rows of sisal line the red sands of the former
plantation, ending abruptly at the edge of one of the
most enjoyable and unique wildlife reserves in the country.
Rustic accommodations at Berenty Lodge (2 nights).
We’ll wake at dawn to begin to enjoy the lemurs’
antics and early chorus of birdlife. Just ahead may
be a half dozen ring-tailed lemurs, lined up with military
precision. Nearby, four sifakas may cavort in a tree,
dangling and stretching from one branch to another.
As we stroll down the trails, a troop of ring-tails
may lead the way, long tails waving this way and that,
before suddenly disintegrating into a frenzy of chase
Nearby, soft gray lepilemurs may peer down at us from
their daytime roosts, and hundreds of flying foxes cling
just under the forest canopy. Crested and giant couas,
cuckoo-rollers, vasa parrots, vangas, and harrier hawks
will also be of interest as will the butterflies and
On Day 16, we will return to Fort Dauphin, traveling
through a reserve which protects the world’s only
three-cornered palm. The bizarre woody and thorny plants
of the spiny desert are reminiscent of the Sonoran Desert
in the American Southwest, but composed primarily of
species unique to Madagascar. Now threatened by charcoal
makers, the spiny forest supports crested couas, hoopoes,
bushlarks, cisticolas, doves, and other bird species.
We will then fly to Antananarivo for our farewell dinner.
Late our evening flight to Paris. B,L,D
Day 17 Paris to Home
Arrive in Paris and take connecting flight to New York
for end of the expedition.
What to Expect:
An exceptional exploration of superb nature reserves
of Madagascar and its cultural heritage, led by an excellent
naturalist. Travel by VW combis, coach, and boat, with
daily outings of one to two miles on foot at a leisurely
pace suitable for natural history study; also swimming
and snorkeling. Binoculars are essential. Typically,
temperatures are in the 70’s to 80’s in
Madagascar with moderate humidity. Most of our time
is near sea level in Madagascar, though Antananarivo
is at 4,500 feet and it can be in the 50’s. If
any questions, please consult your physician. This expedition
will be an extraordinary experience for adventurous
travelers in good health who can enjoy some modest accommodations
and bumpy dirt roads for the chance to explore superior
environments in remote areas of the country. In Madagascar,
flight schedule and itinerary changes may occur over
which there is no control; be delighted if this is not
the case. (No smoking in vehicles, during lectures,
Are in first class hotels in Antananarivo and Nosy Be
with private facilities. At Berenty, Isalo, and Perinet,
we will stay in country-style lodges with private facilities.
These “best available” accommodations are
simple, fun, and certainly part of the adventure of
travel in Madagascar. All singles may have to be paired
with a roommate in remote areas.
Please call Bob Nansen at Betchart Expeditions Inc.
Telephone (800) 252-4910 or (408) 252-4910
Fax (408) 252-1444