Tour dates: 25 July - 6 August 2019 (13 days)
Led by: Seng Mah and Lynn Gail
Number of guests: Minimum 6, maximum 10
Pace: Easy to Moderate, with some hiking along trails (about 30 to 40 minutes hike)
Sitting in the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean off the south east coast of continental Africa, Madagascar is a land steeped in human cultural history and geographical and ecological diversity, where the the modern world has yet to encroach on traditional beliefs and lifestyles of its 18 tribes.
Madagascar is home to flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world, such as the lemurs, rare birds and the majestic baobabs of Madagascar. It also boasts stunning landscapes that are unique to the island -- from dry forests, highland savannahs, sandstone stacks and deep rainforests. On this tour, you will meet friendly villagers, children and fishermen, who will warmly welcome you into their communities with dazzling smiles and gentle hospitality. By joining professional photographers Lynn Gail and Seng Mah, you'll embark on a journey of cultural and photographic discovery of the island and enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding travel and photography experience.
This is a tour that will appeal to the explorer, discoverer and photographer in you. It is an immersive tour that will bring you into intimate contact with the people, culture and environment of Madagascar.
Flying out of Mauritius, you arrive at Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, where you will be met by your guide and driver. You will board the mini bus with other guests for our drive into the highlands of Andasibe, home of Indri lemurs, chameleons and more. We overnight in Andasibe.
You'll spend a day in Andasibe exploring the rainforest in search of the unique Indri - a species of lemur found only in the wild (as they will not survive in captivity). You'll also have ample opportunity to look for chameleons in the rainforest with your guide. After a delicious lunch at the rainforest lodge, you'll visit Lemur Island, where lemurs which have been rescued from captivity live. These lemurs are used to human contact and make for a wonderful experience of interaction with these unique inhabitants of the temperate rainforest. You will also visit a small village to meet with the Betsimisarka tribe, one of the friendliest tribes in Madagascar.
In the afternoon, you will head bush to look for the world's smallest primate, the Mouse Lemur. The location is also home to a range of frogs and chameleons, so if you're a herpetologist, this will be a heavenly experience! You'll overnight in Andasibe.
Today you'll travel from Andasibe to Anatanarivo, the capital of Madagascar, stopping at highland villages to spend time with the locals and to photograph daily life in rural Madagascar. You'll enjoy a most unique and thrilling ride to your hotel in Antanarivo and complete your day with some downtime in the capital.
You bid farewell to the capital and head southwards towards Antsirabe, a town known for its colourful characters and even more colourful rickshaws. You'll enjoy a number of photographic stops en route, to view local craftsmen at work and to spend time at local markets and villages. You'll also have the opportunity to view and photograph beautiful rice terraces in the countryside en route to Antsirabe and local farmers ploughing the land with zebus. You'll overnight in Antsirabe.
A surprise awaits you in the morning as you join the group in exploring Antsirabe via a very traditional mode of transport. It's an experience that's full of colour and brimming with photographic opportunities. Have your camera in hand and your eyes peeled for interesting street life as you experience this unique mode of traveling about town.
We then leave Antsirabe and head for Ambositra, a town known for its beautiful and intricate wood carvings. You will be visiting the workshops where craftsmen cut out intricate patterns from wood using a hand-operated jigsaw. You will also attend a performance by the Betsileo people of Madagascar to gain an understanding of their complex and amazing culture. Your camera will be out all day as you photograph the culture and customs of the Malagasy people in Ambositra.
You will travel from Ambositra to Fianarantsoa, the capital of the Belitseo people and a world heritage site. The rest of the day is spent exploring Fianarantsoa, marvelling at the architecture and churches in the town. Best of all, you will also spend time with local children who are being looked after by the Herintsialonina Foundation, who will impress you with their English-speaking skills (they are taught English) and photogenic smiles.
You will leave Fianarantsoa for Ambalavao, the last major town in the highlands of Madagascar. This trip has been scheduled to coincide with the zebu markets at Ambalavao, so that you can see the markets in full swing! It's a very colourful and lively event, with hundreds of zebus controlled by men with sticks. Lynn and Seng will be at hand to help you capture this amazing event with your camera.
You will travel from Ambalavao to Isalo in the south of the island, a striking landscape of granite domes and grasslands. You will stop at a lemur sanctuary to admire the ring-tailed lemur, which is Madagascar's national animal. This reserve also sports exotic bird species such as the Madagascar Hoopoe, Harrier Hawk, Madagascar Bee-eater, Crested Drongo and Madagascar White-eyes. Take your long lens with you and capture these native avians in the reserve.
This is a full day in Isalo, beginning with a trip out to the awe-inspiring Jurassic sandstone formations at the Isalo National Park. You will enjoy a photographic walk along the Namaza trail to view the wonderful wildlife and landscapes there, and embark on a hike to the natural swimming pools with their clear waters and surrounding breathtaking scenery.
The day is also spent with the native Bara Tribe of Isalo, where you will learn about their fascinating culture, their methods of rustling zebus and their ancestor worship ceremonies. You will also visit a massif at Isalo that is known to be a hotspot to find and photograph native bird species, including the Benson Rock Thrush, the Madagascar Buzzard, Button Quail, Love Birds and Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher.
In the evening, in time for sunset, you will visit to La fenetre de Isalo, a natural sandstone window, where you will photograph the landscape at sunset and enjoy a sundowner.
This is a day dedicated to nature photography as you travel from Isalo to Zombitse Reserve to look for the famous Verreaux Dancing Sifaka and Hubbard's Sportive Lemur, along with a host of bird species such as the very rare terrestrial Appert's Greenbul (which can only be found in this locality).
We then continue to Ifaty, where you will photograph the colourful tombs of the Mahafaly tribe and visit local villages to see local rum making and scenes of daily life in a Vezo tribe. You will be spending 2 nights in Ifaty, which will give you plenty of time to discover and photograph this wonderful region of Madagascar.
Your day at Ifaty kicks off with a wonderful boat ride on the Mozambique channel to a visit to the fishing village and experience and photograph life there. En route, we'll have a swimming stop, where you'll have the opportunity to dip into the clear, warm waters of the Channel. The afternoon will be spent at Reniala National Park, a delightful location for photographing the unique plant life of Madagascar, including the baobab and octopus trees. We'll pause for a sunset shoot of the iconic boababs, followed by a splendid dinner in the park itself, where you will be serenaded by local musicians and dances.
You'll farewell Ifaty and travel to Tulear, where you will board a plane to fly to Antananarivo. As this is your last night in Madagascar, you will enjoy a wonderful farewell dinner and be entertained by a well-known Malagasy band playing with traditional instruments.
You bid farewell to your guides and guests as you transfer to Ivato International Airport to fly home with brilliant memories and amazing images of your time in Madagascar.
Early bird discount: $400 off if you book and pay before 15 July 2018 -- so you pay only $8,890.
Normal price is AUD$9,290* twin share. Single supplement of AUD$925 if available if you would like to have your own room during the tour.
(* Please note: price may be subject to change in the event of substantial shifts in the AUD to EURO exchange rate and to changes to the cost of the internal flights outlined in the Tour Inclusions.)
Want to join us for a travel and photography adventure of a lifetime? Then send in the form below! Bookings for this tour are made through Cultural Connections Tours and Lynn Gail will contact you to organise your reservation and deposit. Note: A non-refundable* deposit of AUD$2100 will secure your place on this tour with the balance paid in two payments on 1 February 2019 and 1 April 2019. Payments can be made by cheque or EFT. Payments made by credit card (via Paypal) will incur a 3% transaction fee).
* Deposits are fully refunded if the tour is cancelled due to not attaining minimum numbers.