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Madagascar without MadAir


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Madagascar September 2018

13/9 Fly GDG-Tana

14/9 Road to Andasibe-Mantadia

3 nights Vakona Forrest Lodge

1 night Relais des Plateaux Tana

18/9 Fly Tana-Anjajavy

4 nights Anjajavy

22/9 Fly Anjajavy-Tana   Tana-GDG


We leave home at 2.30am for early flight to Paris

Then after a shortstop we fly Air France Paris-Tana

We had been warned Tana airport will be chaotic but it was very smooth flowing and out with bags in less than an hour. Then a 15min transfer to Relais des Plateaux hotel in Tana. The room is a bit basic but we arrived at midnight & leave at 8am next morning


See link below for the sound of an Indri - One of the worlds most unusual calls IMG_7276.JPG.655524045eb4c057a3a4b62e5a5edc50.JPG


                                        Singing indri lemur - YouTube

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Waking up to the sound of the Indri is, without doubt, a wake-up call you remember forever :)

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Looking forward to another Madagascar trip report, thanks 

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After Breakfast we are picked up by Manny & Bruno driver & guide for drive to Vakona lodge Anbasibe. The first hour or so is very slow through the chaotic traffic of Tana which must have some of the world’s worst traffic jams.

As we get to the outskirts we pass and stop to look at brick making. This is done by getting clay from the riverbank and moulding into brick shapes and then firing with charcoal to harden.  This seems to be with varying levels of success. There are also lots of rice paddy fields. All the work seems to be done by hand not a tractor in sight.


The road has a lot of worn out potholed sections and mad drivers overtaking at whim.  We stop at Fruits of the Forest restaurant which is just before Andasibe Nat Park. As we sit down at the table Indri start calling. What a sound.  The food is very good & the cold beer even better!


It is only half an hour drive to the lodge from here & we are pleasantly surprised at the quality of the lodge and rooms.  We sit on the veranda outside our room which overlooks the lodge building & lake.  Tonight we go on a guided night walk into village forest. We see Woolly lemurs, Mouse Lemurs, and a few different chameleons, including  Leaf tailed and a baby Parsons chameleon







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This morning we have breakfast at 6am before an early start to drive to Mantadia. On way we stop at the village and walk through it.  Most of the buildings are very basic. The road to Nat Park is a dirt track but it is dry today. When we arrive it is surprisingly quite busy.


The guided walk is into rain forest sometimes on paths sometime just through it looking for Lemurs. At times the walking is tough and fast trying to get to where Lemurs are calling. We see Indri and better still hear them calling just above us.  We also see Diademed Sifakas. Later we hike up to a lookout point but this is a bit tame and not what we expected. I think the guide was more worn out than us. 





Diademed Sifaka


Vakona forest lodge

                                                                        Back at the lodge we sit on decking by lake seeing a Malachite Kingfisher catch a fish.  Later we have another good evening meal at lodge.




Madagascan Malachite Kingfisher 

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Today the plan is to visit Andasible Nat Park. This is meant to be the busier park but a lot less people about than yesterday.  We again see and hear Indri & Diademed Sifakas. After walk in park we go back to Fruits of the Forest restaurant for another good meal cost 30,000 arrays. This is about £12 for the 2 of us with beer & pudding.


Then it’s a drive back to lodge to obtain tickets for a canoe ride near Lima Island. We decide not to visit the island as it has caged animals on it. The canoe ride is very peaceful gliding through the canals. We see Bamboo lemur & Brown lemur, then we beach on an island & Ring tailed lemur jump on canoe & onto our heads!  Not really wild but free.













Mascarene Martin 




Madagascan Bulbul




Edited by NSY
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We leave at 9am for a forest walk in the village reserve before lunch & then drive to Tana. In reserve we see Indris & Brown Lemurs. It is great to hear the sound of Indris again.  There are a group of UK volunteers building footpaths through forest one of them from Rochdale.  


We also receive an e-mail today to say the Golden Retriever pup we are on a wait list for had been born.  So it is only right that we name him Indri  

Once we get to Tana it is gridlocked, cars & people everywhere.  The driver takes a short cut through supermarket car park & a petrol station. We eventually get to Relais des Plateaux at 6pm. It is a much better room today in a newer section of hotel

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It’s an early start again leaving hotel at 6.30am for airport. Then a 2 hour flight in an 8 seat Cessna 208. Over the last few years Madagascar has been on the list of places to visit but put off by stories or flight changes & cancellations by Air Madagascar. When TA told us about the private plane Anjajavy hotel uses to fly guests from Tana in we decided to give it a try,



                                                                        On the flight we have views of the hilly centre of the island showing the slash and burn in action. There are lots of large rivers about.



We arrive at Anjajavy international airport! A pickup truck with us sat in open back is the transport to lodge down dirt tracks. This is about a half hour drive. We are met at lodge by Cedric the manager who is very passionate about the conservation measures they have. After a 2nd breakfast we are shown to our villa.



This is a nice wooden villa with a veranda in a fantastic position behind a clear sandy beach & some way from main building so nice and quiet.

Not long after the local Coquerel ‘s Sifaka come & look in window to check us out




Coquerel ‘s Sifaka


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At 6am we meet guide whose name escapes me but he was very good for a birding walk.  After a 15min drive we walk down to a glade of Baobab trees. Some are the normal type but with dark coloured bark & others are grey & very tall.

There are eight types of Baobab trees in world seven are in Madagascar & six of those seen no place else.



We see lots of birds including a few endemic to Madagascar. We re-join truck for drive to near the airstrip to see more different types of birds.


Madagascan Paradise Flycatcher 



Dimorph Little Egret 


After a lazy middle of day missing lunch we have a swim in the Indian Ocean. Then we have booked a night safari, which is not as the leaflet described.  It involves a drive to a remote old house and we are shown how people lived and some still live with very little in a bamboo house. Then we go on a short night walk but only see a few eyes looking back at us. 

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Today we get up early and do a self-guided walk along shore via 4 sandy coves looking at birdlife on the way.  Once we arrive back a chalet after breakfast it is already very hot must be 95F or more









Sickle Billed Vanga 


Later we go on a sundowner cruise which is just us a boatman and a guide but it is very interesting going into river estuary by all the mangrove forest. This was in a fast motorboat not the traditional sailing boat expected. 


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Today we repeat yesterday’s early morning walk but set of a 6am & go further to 5 coves and then back cross country.  Again it is a very hot day.



Bird seen on clifftop walk. I have it listed as a Madagascan Bulbul but not convinced correct   



For afternoon tea we go into hotel garden area and are joined by Sifaka’s .







Brown Lemur





Our final sunset in Madagascar 

Coq sif.JPG

Edited by NSY
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The bird you have listed up above (annoying that there are no post numbers?) as Madagascar Bulbul is actually a Crested Coua! (Same bird you posted a few posts above that one--also a Crested Coua.) An endemic!


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Thanks janzin I had the photo labelled but did think it was incorrect, unfortunately my Madagascan bird book had been loaned out so could not recheck.

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Leave lodge at 9am for half hour drive to airstrip & fly to Tana in a 12 seat Cessna with cracked windscreen.

We then transfer to Relais des Plateaux again with a nice day room. Spend the day reading & eating.  At 10pm we have a minibus transfer to airport for flight back to France

That’s the TR completed for Madagascar, unfortunately it was only a very short trip, we would have loved to have longer and visited different areas of the country but we’re restricted to short times away.  It was definitely different than mainland Africa both in scenery and obviously wildlife.  We would love to go again and see other areas of this special island.


Highlights for us?  Well, definitely the lemurs and in particular the Indri, it was incredible to see them and more so to hear them!   We will never forget that sound and the moment of seeing them in the trees for the first time.  It was great to see the endemic birds, our identification is still in an early learning stage but hopefully we are progressing… The coastline at Anjajavy is quite spectacular and the nature reserve there was a fitting end to a wonderful trip.  In many of the places we visited it was so good to see how locals were involved and also by looking after the wildlife and the habitat this in turn was bringing them an income.

Travel to and from Madagascar was relatively easy both with flights and road transfers.


Hotel Relais des Plateaux is a good hotel near the airport. 

Vakona Forest Lodge was an excellent stop; comfortable, brilliant views and excellent food.

Anjajavy Private Nature Reserve – luxury in every sense of the word!  Just a few steps to the beach and the sea, fantastic clifftop walks, sifakas so close and lovely afternoon teas in the tropical gardens.

Guides were good and for us lazy English it was good they spoke our lingo!


Animals & birds seen

38 species of birds (21 Endemics)

8 species of Lemur/Sifakas

4 Chameleons

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On 3/26/2021 at 12:54 PM, NSY said:

We also receive an e-mail today to say the Golden Retriever pup we are on a wait list for had been born.  So it is only right that we name him Indri  


I hope Indri doesn't mimic his namesake and wake you with his haunting cry at crack of dawn every morning ;)


Many thanks for taking us back to Madagascar and to parts we didn't get to.

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