Birding on the eight continent, covering almost every endemic bird and dozens of lemurs in some of the most unique habitats on Earth! Unlike most other tours, we start in the beautiful Masoala National Park where Helmet Vanga, Short-legged Ground Roller and Scaly Ground Roller are common! This gives us more time to focus on remaining species such as Pitta-like Ground Roller and Rufous-headed Ground Roller when we explore the forests around Antananarivo, setting us up nicely as we move across the island sampling every habitat type before reaching the coast where Long-tailed Ground Roller and Sickle-billed Vanga highlight the last day of the main tour. In the end, we will have seen close to 100 endemic birds! There is also the chance to join the leader for lots of optional spotlighting excursions in search of lemurs and reptiles!

Ankarafantsika Extension

On the north-west coast of the island we will search for Schlegel’s Asity, hoping to marvel at the magnificent luminescent wattles of a male! The highly localized Van Dam’s Vanga and White-breasted Mesite are two other important targets here, plus several other endemics not possible on the main tour.

Next dates

1-16 October 2024

Tour length: 16 days

Group size limit: 7


Joshua Bergmark and a local leader

Spaces available

Ankarafantsika Extension

16-20 October 2024

5 days

Group size limit: 7


Joshua Bergmark and a local leader

Spaces available

Day 1: Evening tour start in Antanarivo

Day 2: Today we take a morning flight to Maroantsetra and then travel by speedboat to our ecolodge on the remote Masoala Peninsula, where we will stay on the coast surrounded by pristine tropical rainforest.

Days 3-5: We are the only bird tour company to include Masoala National Park in our main route on Madagascar, for the simple reason that this beautiful forest has amazing birdwatching, and a very high density of what is probably the most exceptional bird on the island. Few could argue that Helmet Vanga with its stunning black and orange plumage combined with that huge turquoise bill is certainly one of the world’s most unique and evocative birds!

Additionally, the forest-floor specialist Scaly Ground Roller and arboreal puffbird-like Short-legged Ground Roller are common here, along with the restricted-range Bernier’s Vanga, sneaky Brown Mesite, plus both the attractive Red-breasted Coua and Red-fronted Coua. We will have our first taste of more widespread forest species such as the forest-dwelling Madagascar Ibis, France’s Sparrowhawk, Madagascar Wood Rail, Rainforest Scops Owl, Madagascar Spinetail, Velvet Asity, White-headed Vanga, the fabulous Crossley’s Vanga and Long-billed Bernieria. We may also see one or two of the scarcer species like Madagascar Sparrowhawk, Banded Kestrel, or if we are exceptionally lucky the Endangered and cryptic Madagascar Serpent Eagle. Several mammals and lemurs are possible here, with the most exciting being the endemic Red Ruffed Lemur, White-fronted Brown Lemur, Scott’s Sportive Lemur and Moore’s Avahi. NOTE: On every possible night during this tour we will provide the option of spotlighting in search of the many amazing lemurs, reptiles and insects which inhabit Madagascar. With plenty of long drives, there are ample opportunities to catch up on sleep in the car!

Day 6: This morning we will return to early to Maroantsetra before flying back to Antananarivo and commencing the drive to Andasibe. We’ll stop and look for Madagascan Pratincole at the Mangoro River before reaching our lodgings this evening.

Day 7-8: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (formerly known as Perinet) protects some of the richest rainforest in Madagascar. The park shares many species with Masoala and Ranomafana, but several of these are much easier to see here! The curious Nuthatch Vanga is one such bird, in the past considered a true nuthatch but is really a remarkable example of convergent evolution. Madagascar Owl and Collared Nightjar are both species we have chances of seeing either at day roost or while spotlighting. The lovely Broad-billed Roller and White-throated Rail are quite common in this area, while in nearby areas of marshland we will search for Madagascar Rail, Madagascar Snipe, and Madagascar Grebe. Other enticing endemics here include Blue, White-headed, Chabert, Tylas and Red-tailed Vangas, Ward’s Flycatcher (now thought to be a vanga), Greater and Lesser Vasa Parrots, the turaco-like Blue Coua and the striking Velvet Asity. The list of additional endemics is long, but includes Malagasy Bulbul, Crested Drongo, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Souimanga Sunbird, Malagasy White-eye, Malagasy Brush Warbler, Madagascar Magpie-Robin, Madagascar Wagtail, Common Newtonia, Nelicourvi Weaver, Malagasy Coucal, Spectacled Tetraka, Madagascar Cuckooshrike, Malagasy Turtle, Malagasy Kingfisher, Malagasy Green Sunbird, Madagascar Cuckoo, Green Jery, Madagascar Spinetail, Forest Fody, and Malagasy Kestrel. Most of these can also be seen at Ranomafana.

On the mammal front, we are likely to both see (and hear!) the famous Indri, the largest of all surviving lemurs. Diademed Sifaka, Common Brown Lemur, Greater Dwarf Lemur, Furry-eared Dwarf Lemurs and hopefully the handsome Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur are amongst the other species we will be on the lookout for.

Day 9: After some morning birding, it will be mostly a travel day on the slow Madagascan roads as we head south-west for an overnight stop. Driving through the open country, we will keep an eye out for Madagascar Buzzard, Madagascar Kestrel, Malagasy Black Swift, Madagascar Lark, Mascarene Martin, Madagascar Stonechat, Madagascar Cisticola, and Red Fody. We will have an early night tonight and leave predawn to make sure we reach the forest at Ranomafana for sunrise.

Day 10-11: Initially gazetted as a national park after the discovery of Golden Bamboo Lemurs here in 1985, Ranomafana is now known as one of the best forest birding destinations in all of Madagascar. Pride of place amongst our many targets here are the iridescent Pitta-like Ground Roller and furtive Rufous-headed Ground Roller, two of Madagascar’s most exciting birds for sure. There are many other endemic species here of course, so birding along the road we will be listening for Common, Green, Wedge-tailed and Stripe-throated Jeries, Rand’s Warbler, Cryptic Warbler, Madagascar Starling, Madagascar Cuckoo, and the striking Madagascar Blue Pigeon. Our first Cuckoo Rollers might be seen here as they give their dramatic aerial displays while calling wildly. Hitting the trails, we will be focused on Madagascar Yellowbrow, the chunky Pollen’s Vanga, Grey-crowned Tetraka, and the typically vocal Heenst’s Goshawk. At higher altitudes, the astoundingly iridescent Yellow-bellied Sunbird Asity can be found, while the less impressive Brown Emutail creeps at our feet! The list of additional species we may see here is long, but includes Madagascar Flufftail, Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk, Common Sunbird-Asity, White-throated Oxylabes, Hook-billed Vanga, Forest Rock Thrush and Dark Newtonia. In a nearby area of damp heathland, we will search in particular for the skulking Grey Emutail, as well as Brown-throated Martin, Madagascar Swamp Warbler, and Madagascar Mannikin. We will have another chance to find Madagascar Snipe and, if we are lucky, we will come across Meller’s Duck.

Several species of lemur have been studied here for many years, resulting in the animals becoming oblivious to the presence of humans and giving us the privileged opportunity of watching them, unafraid, at close range. We have a good chance of encountering Golden Bamboo Lemur, Greater Bamboo Lemur, Eastern Grey Bamboo Lemur, Red-fronted Brown Lemur, Red-bellied Lemur, Milne-Edwards’s Sifaka, Brown Mouse Lemur, and perhaps Eastern Avahi. Other mammals may include Eastern Red Forest Rat, Ring-tailed Mongoose and Fanaloka.

Day 12: After a final morning at Ranomafana we will start the scenic drive towards Isalo. Our first stop at Anja Reserve will allow us to admire some wonderfully tame Ring-tailed Lemurs, and then after reaching the Horombe Plateau we will be keeping an eye out for the uncommon Madagascar Partridge, and we may well also encounter the attractive Malagasy Harrier quartering the arid grasslands. Once at the dramatically beautiful Isalo Massif, an area of contorted limestone pinnacles surrounded by grasslands, we will look for “Benson’s” Forest Rock Thrush on the roof of our hotel!

Day 13: Driving further west, we will first stop at Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park, which protects a remnant of what was once a much more extensive forest. The extremely localized Appert’s Tetraka and astounding Giant Coua are our big targets here, along with Coquerel’s Coua, Madagascar Spinetail, Madagascar Hoopoe and Rufous Vanga. Sometimes the local guide knows where to find a roosting White-browed Owl or Torotoroka Scops Owl, and we have a good chance of seeing both the charismatic Verreaux’s Sifaka and Hubbard’s Sportive Lemur.

Nearing Madagascar’s arid west coast at Toliara where we will stay overnight, the beautiful Red-shouldered Vanga and Verreaux’s Coua will be at the forefront of our minds for the afternoon birding session. Other new species here may include Madagascar Buttonquail, Madagascar Green Pigeon, “Brown-capped” Red-capped Coua, Grey-headed Lovebird and Olive Bee-eater.

Day 14: Taking a short excursion by boat this morning to the island of Nosy Ve we will marvel at the breeding colony of elegant Red-tailed Tropicbirds and hopefully spot a Crab-plover or two along the shoreline. Then at the small fishing village of Anakao back on the mainland we will sip cold drinks at the beach-side bar and watch several localised but tame Littoral Rock Thrush before motoring back to Toliara. Some short visits to mudflats and saline lagoons in the area should produce Madagascar Plover, Humblot’s Heron, and Dimorphic Egret before we transfer into 4WDs for a short hop up the coast to our beachside hotel in Ifaty in time for some initial exploration in the afternoon.

Day 15: Our full day around Ifaty will see us concentrating on the spiny Didierea forest, walking along sandy trails through a landscape of unique and unfamiliar vegetation. The most sought-after birds of this habitat are undoubtedly the strange Subdesert Mesite and the attractive Long-tailed Ground Roller, but the striking Sickle-billed Vanga is always a favourite here too, with both “Rufous-vented” Crested Coua and Running Coua typically quite obvious. Other specialities of this habitat include Lafresnaye’s Vanga, Thamnornis, Subdesert Brush Warbler, Madagascar Nightjar, Sakalava Weaver, Archbold’s Newtonia, Madagascar Harrier-Hawk, and the uncommon Banded Kestrel.

Day 16: After a final morning of birding we will transfer back down the coast to Toliara for a flight to Antananarivo, where the main tour ends this afternoon.



Day 1: After an overnight in Antananarivo, we will drive to Beamilaka and arrive late in the evening. There are more chances today for Madagascar Partridge and Malagasy Harrier if we missed them on the main tour.

Day 2-3: The superb Ankarafantsika National Park protects an extensive area of plateau country with dry tropical woodland, while small gullies hold slightly moister forest. It is here that the beautiful Schlegel’s Asity can be found, and we will hope to marvel at the magnificent luminescent wattles of a male! The highly localized Van Dam’s Vanga and White-breasted Mesite are two other important targets here, and there will also be second chances to see the nominate Red-capped Coua, Torotoroka Scops Owl, and Banded Kestrel. This park also holds many lemurs, including the handsome Coquerel’s Sifaka, Common Brown Lemur, Mongoose Lemur, Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur, Grey Mouse Lemur, Western Woolly Lemur, Milne-Edwards’s Sportive Lemur and we might even find the rarer Golden-brown Mouse Lemur.

Not far from Ankarafantsika is Lac Amboromalandy, where an afternoon session will give us a good chance of encountering the Critically Endangered Madagascar Fish Eagle, the localised Madagascar Jacana, Malagasy Kingfisher, Malagasy Pond Heron, African Pygmy Goose, Allen’s Gallinule and Black Heron.

We will also visit the broad estuary of the Betsiboka River, where a short boat trip will allow us to search for two of Madagascar’s most endangered species, the endemic Bernier’s Teal and Malagasy Sacred Ibis, plus another chance for Humbolt’s Heron.

Day 4: Today we drive back to Antanarivo where the extension ends this evening.

Tour details

MAIN TOUR 2024: 
Cost: $ 8,100
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ TBC

Cost: $ 2,200
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ TBC

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels throughout.

Walking difficulty: Generally easy walking and roadside birding, with a few slightly longer forest trails.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.