Madagascar: Endemic Wildlife and Amazing Landscapes

Located off the eastern coast of southern Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and a biodiversity hotspot—fully 90% of its plants and animals can be found nowhere else on Earth. On this 13-day journey led by Andy Williams and Lisa LaPointe, we’ll journey between a variety of landscapes—from ancient baobab trees to the surreal beauty of the tsingy (spiny) forest, and from rainforests to mountains, dry desert plains, and white sand beaches—and you’ll have the opportunity to photograph endemic lemurs, an assortment of rare birds, chameleons and other unusual reptiles, and other fauna. You won’t run out of photographic subjects! 

We've crafted our itinerary to comfortably cover the most ground possible, and to provide the greatest diversity of photo opportunities. Madagascar is a large country with limited paved roads and unreliable scheduling for commercial air travel, so we’ve chartered our own private flights to get us around safely and efficiently. Our accommodations are among the best and most comfortable available, and everything is all-inclusive, including gratuities for our excellent English-speaking local guides. 

Expect to be challenged and to learn a lot in this workshop. We’ll be looking for wildlife by day and at night (many creatures are nocturnal), and we’ll be photographing landscapes at daybreak, sunset, and even under night skies. Of course Andy and Lisa will be right beside you in the field, and later in the classroom for Lightroom post-processing instruction. We’ll also make sure to hold our signature image critiques. In addition to photographic instruction, your guides will teach you about the people, culture, ecology and conservation challenges of this unique destination.

This workshop can be combined with our Amboseli, Kenya safari for the opportunity to also photograph classic African wildlife on the mainland. 

Location:

Madagascar

Tuition:

$19,995

Dates:

October 9–21, 2021

Fitness Level:

Medium
Most of the trip is easy, but walking in Mantadia and on the Tsingy is a long hot day on uneven ground.

Availability:

Open For Registration
Limited to 8 Guests

Andy chose the best photo opportunities, and some “on the fly” changes were awesome! I learned a lot on this trip, the critiques and personal instruction were really good. Andy spends time with each guest and freely shares so much knowledge. Highly recommended!
— Ghislaine De Nul, Madagascar '18 and 5 other Muench Workshops

Itinerary and General Information

About the Wildlife: This workshop offers significant opportunities for photographing wildlife, and while we do our best to maximize our wildlife encounters—based on past experiences, local knowledge, and the current conditions—we need to impress upon you that the wildlife really is wild and that we don’t control it.

October 9, 2021: Arrive in Antananarivo, Madagascar. You will be greeted on arrival at Ivato airport by our English speaking guide, who will accompany you to your hotel in the upper town of Antananarivo. ‘Tana’—as the locals call it—has fascinating traditional architecture and a more Indonesian influence than the rest of Madagascar. Tonight we’ll meet for a welcome dinner to discuss the adventure ahead.

October 10, 2021: Antananarivo – Andasibe. We’ll head east to Andasibe, and a stunning rainforest park. The journey to Andasibe offers first-time visitors to Madagascar an introduction to rural life, with views of rice fields, redbrick houses and roadside stalls selling seasonal fruits and vegetables. The park itself consists of two protected areas, the Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia National Park. Perinet is famous for its population of indri lemurs, which are the largest living lemur species. This afternoon, we’ll visit the Mitsinjo community forest to meet some of the 7 groups of indri lemurs that call this 700–hectare reserve home. In the evening, we’ll go for a night photo walk where we hope to see and photograph nocturnal lemurs: mouse lemurs, white-footed sportive lemurs, fat-tailed dwarf lemurs, and the woolly lemur.

October 11, 2021: Andasibe. We’ll visit Perinet Reserve with a local guide in search of the indri. With a barely visible tail, black-and-white markings, and a surprised teddy-bear face, this lemur is one of the few animals in the world that cannot survive in captivity. There are also another 11 species of lemur to spot as we walk through the rainforest. We hope to find a troop of grey bamboo lemurs, common brown lemur, diademed sifaka and the black-and-white ruffed lemur. Birders should look out for the velvet asity, the blue coua the Nuthatch vanga, and many more endemic species. Perinet is home to many reptiles, invertebrates, and some of Madagascar’s many endemic orchid species.

In the afternoon, we’ll go to a private reserve which is home to rescued lemurs. Species to be seen here include the bamboo lemur, the black-and-white ruffed lemur, the brown lemur and the diademed sifaka. Because it’s a private reserve for rescued animals, you’ll be able to interact with them!

Tonight we will have another night walk in the Mitsinjo forest, where we hope to see and photograph Goodman’s Mouse Lemur, Parson’s Chameleons, Uroplatus geckos, and more.

October 12, 2021: Andasibe (Mantadia National Park). Today we’ll drive to Mantadia National Park (1.5 hour drive), with a picnic lunch along the way. Some of the lemur species in this stunning park including the indri, diademed sifaka, grey bamboo lemur, red-bellied lemur and white-ruffed lemur. Here the trails are a bit more difficult, but the rewards are great—the forest is taller, wilder and less crowded than Perinet. There are an abundance of birds here as well, including the scaly ground roller, the pitta-like ground roller and the breasted coua. This is a naturalist’s paradise with many seldom seen species of mammals, reptiles and birds. We’ll have a picnic by the Rianasoa Waterfall before hiking back to the vehicle and returning to the lodge.

October 13, 2021: Andasibe – Antananarivo (by road) - Mandrare (By Private Air Charter). This morning we’ll make the reverse drive back to Tana and then connect with our private charter flight to Mandrare. We’ll be staying in a luxury lodge, where you can settle in and enjoy the majestic views over the Mandrare River. Late in the afternoon we’ll have a night walk in the Forest of Zenavo. This is a fantastic time to see and the diurnal lemurs bedding down, and the nocturnal lemurs beginning to wake. We’ll look for sifakas and sleeping white-footed sportive lemurs, then—once the sun has set—two mouse lemur species, sleeping birds, chameleons, owls and newly active sportive lemurs.

October 14, 2021: Mandrare. Early in the morning we will go to the Spiny Forest. We’ll witness the sunlight break through the octopus trees while looking out for the many endemic birds present in this area. After breakfast, we will head out to the stunning sacred gallery forest. Inquisitive groups of ring-tailed lemurs and the always entertaining Verreaux sifaka are the highlight of this excursion. Back for lunch and a relaxed afternoon reserved for image reviews or relaxing by the pool. In the late afternoon, we’ll head out for another session in the spiny forest.

October 15, 2021: Mandrare (Sifakas at Berenty & Baobab Sleep Out). We’ll depart very early for Berenty (by road, 45 minutes) with a picnic breakfast along the way. Berenty is a reserve founded in 1936 by the De Heaulme family, who own the surrounding sisal plantation. This is a huge protected area dominated by tamarind trees and the spiny dry forest, and we will photograph lemurs like the Verreaux’s sifaka, the brown lemur and the famous ring-tailed lemur. Berenty is a great place to see sifakas ‘dancing’ across the forest floor. In the afternoon, we’ll drive back to Mandrare and our special one-night luxury camp 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, local villagers may come to perform their 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. Tonight we will sleep under the baobabs in our very own mobile luxury camp.

October 16, 2021: Ifotaka - Tsingy de Bemaraha (By Private Air Charter)

This morning we’ll make the short drive to the airstrip for our private charter flight (2hours) to Tsingy de Bemaraha. On arrival at Amborondia airstrip, we’ll hop in 4X4 vehicles for the drive to our hotel. After lunch, we’ll visit the otherworldly pinnacles of the Petit Tsingy. You can take the Tantely circuit or the Andadoany forest trail depending on your level of fitness. You will spot some of the 53 bird species and 6 lemur species that make their home here and take in the fabulous views of the surrounding area.

October 17, 2021: The Grand Tsingy. After breakfast, we’ll go for a full–day exploration of the “Grand Tsingy.” The walk itself is an adventure: on tiptoe over the sharp roof of the Tsingy, crossing the high roped bridge, and meandering through pockets of dry deciduous forest. This unique site—a cluster of 50-meter high razor–sharp limestone peaks located about 20 km from the village of Bekopaka—is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Tsingy shelters a startling array of wildlife: 11 species of lemur (including Verreaux and Decken’s sifaka and red-fronted brown lemurs), 103 species of terrestrial and aquatic birds, 15 species of bats, 22 species of amphibians, and a variety of reptiles.

October 18, 2021: Tsingy de Bemaraha – Majunga (By Private Air Charter). Today we’ll drive back to the airstrip for our private charter flight to Anjajavy (2.5 hours). Anjajavy is located within a very large nature reserve on Madagascar’s northwest coast. Your villa has a private deck overlooking the ocean, and the surrounding forest is alive with lemurs, chameleons, malachite kingfishers and hummingbirds. Anjajavy is active in conservation measures, and has recently re-introduced 2 endangered endemic species: the giant land tortoise and the elusive aye-aye lemur. In the late afternoon we will depart for a night walk in the reserve to spot a variety of nocturnal lemurs. While the reserve’s show-stoppers are undoubtedly the charismatic coquerel’s sifakas, the hours of darkness also have their star performers. Weighing a mere 63 grams, Danfoss mouse lemurs scamper about in the shrubbery, and if you hear a strange squeal coming from the tree tops, then you have probably found a Grewcock’s sportive lemur. Other mammals to spot are the endemic tsingy tuft-tailed rat, Commerson’s leaf-nosed bat, or Madagascar’s largest predator—the rare and elusive fossa.

October 19, 2021: Anjajavy. This morning we’ll take a walk along the ‘Chemin des Crabes’ to see the fabulous birdlife, beautiful baobabs and of course, the famous hairy crab. Even if bird watching isn’t your thing, you can’t help but be enchanted by the kaleidoscope of colours and shapes of the reserve’s common birds, from the vibrant red fody and Souimanga sunbird to the exotic paradise flycatcher and sickle-billed vanga. Anjajavy is also one of the best places to spot the critically endangered Madagascar fish eagle, shy crested ibis, or rare Madagascar sacred Ibis. At the end of the walk, we will visit a small cave where you will find a fossilized lemur skull, stalactites, and sharks’ teeth. We’ll return to the lodge for lunch and a leisurely afternoon.

October 20, 2021: Anjajavy. This morning we’ll visit Moramba Bay, where we can photograph centuries old marine baobabs, sandy beaches, and small unusual mushroom-shaped islands. With the captain and a guide to assist, we’ll search for one of the rarest raptors in the world, the Madagascar fish eagle. If the water is clear you can also enjoy some snorkeling for 30 minutes before returning to the lodge.

October 21, 2021: Anjajavy –Antananarivo (By Private Air Charter) and Departure from Madagascar. Today, we’ll transfer to the airstrip for our private charter flight (1 hr 30 min) back to Tana. We will have lunch near the airport. Flights home can be scheduled for anytime after 3:00 PM today.

What’s Included

  • Double occupancy lodging (single available, just ask)

  • All meals during the workshop

  • All transportation (ground and private air charters)

  • All tips for drivers and guides

  • Photographic guiding and instruction from two pros

  • All park fees and permit fees

  • Image reviews, critiques and post-processing instruction

  • Fun, inspiration, and a great time!

Whats Not Included?

Travel to and from Antananarivo, Madagascar. Passport and visa fees, if any. Travel medical and evacuation insurance (required). Travel and trip cancellation insurance (recommended). Alcoholic beverages. Anything not listed specifically as included.

Payment Terms

Your deposit of $5,995 will hold your place in this workshop. A second payment of $7,000 will be due by March 1, 2021. Final balance payment will be due by June 1, 2021. Payments for this workshop are non-refundable and this is why we recommend trip cancelation insurance. All of Muench Workshops' other Terms and Conditions apply.

Additional Information

Endemic species, otherworldly landscapes, private small group, private air charters, two pros, and a great time. We’ll see you in Madagascar!