Immerse yourself in the culture, natural beauty and wildlife of this corner of south-eastern Madagascar as you explore forests, lakes and coastline and the unique flora and fauna including endemic birds and various species of lemurs. You will also have the opportunity to experience local life on visits to tribal villages, markets and community projects.
Depart Heathrow on Ethiopian Airlines for your overnight flight to Addis Ababa.
Morning arrival and connecting flight to Antananarivo. You will be met and taken to Le Palissandre Hotel, a delightful property perched on the slopes of a hill with stunning views and facilities which include gym, spa and swimming pool.
This morning you will be taken to the airport for your two hour flight to Ifotaka. Upon arrival you will be met transferred to Mandrare River Camp. Settle into your tent and enjoy the majestic views over the Mandrare River. Around 5pm you will depart for a night walk in the Forest of Zenavo. This is a fantastic way to see diurnal lemurs bedding down, and the nocturnal lemurs begin to wake in the eerie and prehistoric Spiny Forest. You can hope to spot sifakas and sleeping white-foot sportive lemurs, then once the sun has set, two mouse lemur species, sleeping birds, chameleons, owls and now active sportive lemurs.
After breakfast you will head out to the stunning Sacred Gallery Forest to the south of the camp. Depending on the river depth, you will walk or take a boat across the Mandrare River to reach this largely deciduous forest. Inquisitive groups of ring tailed lemurs and the always entertaining Verreaux sifaka are the highlight of this excursion. Return to camp for lunch and a relaxed afternoon by the pool. In late afternoon, head for a walk through the Sacred Spiny Forest filled with the ancestral tombs of the local Antandroy tribe, as well as an extraordinary array of flora and fauna, unique to the spiny forest. Your English speaking guide and a tracker from the local community will give you an introduction to Antandroy culture and customs. Your visit is followed by sundowners on the Mandrare River banks.
After a cup of tea or coffee head to the Spiny Forest for an early morning walk. Witness the sunlight break through the octopus trees while looking out for the many endemic birds such as crested coua, a variety of vangas and the running coua. Head back to camp for a sumptuous breakfast followed by a visit to the local market (on Thursdays and Saturdays) or the local village to meet the fascinating Antandroy tribe. Lunch will be served at the camp followed by a relaxed afternoon watching life along the river from your tent terrace. At 5pm, depart for a sundowner amidst the baobabs. Watching the sun set and moon rise with a view across the Baobabs to the mountains beyond is a magical experience. In the evening the local village may come to perform beautiful traditional dances, accompanied by singing and music. Song and dance is at the heart of Antandroy culture and is used to accompany the major rituals and events of everyday life.
After breakfast depart for a day trip to the stunning Lac Anony. This salt water lake is separated from the Indian Ocean by a series of large sand dunes and is home to Greater Flamingos and a variety of salt water birds. The lake is a two hour drive from the camp. On arrival, walk along the lake shore to a beautiful picnic spot. Then scale the 70 foot high sand dunes for an incredible view of the surrounding area and go for a swim the lake. Return to the camp in time for dinner.
This morning take a short flight to Fort Dauphin (30 minutes) where you will be met by a vehicle and guide from Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge and continue by vehicle to the lodge (2 ½hrs). Manafiafy, also known as Sainte Luce, is a beautiful sandy bay, fringed with forest covered mountains and wildlife rich mangroves. Upon arrival check into your bungalow and later head for a night walk in the coastal rainforest. Explore the last untouched block of coastal rainforest in southern Madagascar to spot some of the five species and three sub-species of lemur, over 80 bird species, over half of which are endemic, and an abundance of geckos, chameleons and other reptiles present in the forest. You may also see nocturnal lemurs leaping through the trees, Madagascar Scops Owl, satanic leaf-tailed geckos and other masters of camouflage. Return to the Lodge for dinner.
After breakfast, head to the Stitch project and local woodworking shop to interact with the local Antanosy community. Stitch was created by the NGO Azafady to provide local women with sustainable livelihoods by training them in embroidery, English and business skills. Embroidery is a traditional Malagasy skill which the women have used to make beautiful purses, belts, and more. This afternoon, head to the nearby mangrove network for birdwatching and photography. Ideal for botanists, landscape photographers and adventure seekers, this 40 km network stretches from Manafiafy to Fort Dauphin with the magnificent Anosy mountain range in the backdrop. Today you will be exploring the mangroves by motorboat. Endemic birds include the Madagascar Malachite Kingfisher, Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, Madagascar Harrier Hawk, Madagascar Crested Ibis and Blue Coua.
Before breakfast, take a sunrise walk in the coastal rainforest where you can hope to see groups of red-collared lemur foraging for food as they leap through the rainforest canopy. The red-collared lemur is endemic to south-eastern Madagascar, lives in groups of up to 20 individuals and is active largely at dawn and dusk. This is a great time for birding, some species to see are Crested Coua, Giant Coua, Hook-billed Vanga, Lesser and Greater Vassa Parrots. Return to the lodge for a well-deserved breakfast. Relax until your late afternoon excursion to see Madagascar’s largest bat, the Flying Fox, roosting in a nearby community forest, then filling the sky at dusk as they fly off on search of food. Return to the lodge for dinner.
Morning at your leisure. Whale watching (15th June – 15th November) and deep sea fishing are available at an extra cost. Manafiafy is one of the best places to see hump-back whales in Madagascar with regular sightings of mothers and their calves. After lunch, head to Manafiafy village. Manafiafy is a lovely Antanosy village with traditional wooden houses and pirogues lining the beachfront. Learn about the local customs and interact with the fishermen and their families. End your day with a sundowner overlooking Manafiafy bay from a rocky outcrop offering stunning views of the area.
After an early breakfast, drive back to Fort Dauphin (2.5 hours), transfer to the airport for your flight back to Antananarivo (2 – 3 hours). You will be taken to Le Palissandre Hotel for an overnight stay.
You will be taken to the airport for your flight to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines.
Connecting flight to Heathrow on Ethiopian Airlines.
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