October 9th - 24th, 2016
Join Dan and Tanya as they venture to the exotic island of Madagascar. Experience the extraordinary natural diversity that Madagascar has to offer, from their various species of lemurs (over 40+ species!) to the exotic chameleons and frogs that reside there. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and features over 150,000 unique flora and fauna species which can’t be found anywhere else on the planet! Nature lovers and photographers must experience this incredible dream destination!
2016 Ultimate Madagascar Photography Tour I Travel Plans
Can you believe 80% of Madagascar’s plants and animals exist only on this island? Many of you have this trip on your bucket list—now is the time to be adventurous and explore a part of the world many do not have the opportunity to visit!
Here is a quote from Andrew Solomon, a writer for Travel & Leisure. Love it!!
“There is nothing dangerous or threatening in Madagascar. On mainland African safaris you have to stay in a vehicle, because lions will eat you and hippos will trample you and rhinos and buffalo will charge. In Madagascar, the animals will only look at you with wide-eyed wonder. In most of Africa there are poisonous snakes and frightening scorpions, but in Madagascar there is nothing venomous. The Malagasy are the nicest people in the world, thrilled that you have come so far to visit. You go there for the lemurs, the island’s odd primates, who are shy and mild but untroubled by your visit, and the people are the same. There’s something miniature and unspoiled about life in Madagascar.
The world’s fourth-largest island is another Galápagos, called by some ecologists “the eighth continent.” It broke off from Africa’s eastern coast some 160 million years ago and developed in isolation; 80 percent of Malagasy plants and animals are endemic, and it rivals Brazil in its biodiversity. The bizarre flora and fauna seem to be the result of a mad collaboration among Dr. Seuss, Jim Henson, and God. Humans have been here for only 2,000 years, and though they have eliminated some species, they haven’t dominated nature; there’s simply too much of it and too few of them.”
This trip is for the Explorer that can handle remote travel, heat and humidity, schedule changes, and loves to travel on the unbeaten path—not being a typical tourist. Please read through the whole itinerary and Helpful Information tab above to understand what this trip entails. We’ve included many domestic commercial and private charter flights to help ease travel around the island. There are pools at the hotels to enjoy after a long day of shooting, and beverages are included! If you get along with others, want adventure, and can “go with the flow” when needed, we welcome you to join us in Madagascar!
Sunday, October 9
If flying from Johannesburg, arrive in Madagascar’s capital city, Antananarivo (also called Tana), today and transfer to a nearby hotel. Spend the day relaxing and recovering from jet lag. Overnight Relais des Plateaux
Monday, October 10 (B, L, D)
If flying via Paris, arrive early AM today. Flight to Morondava this afternoon. When we get to a small beach town on the delta of the Morondava River on the west coast, we’ll take a little time to settle into our hotel before loading into 4x4s for an adventure to Baobab Alley. The giant baobab trees are an 800 year-old legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived here. Over the years, as the country’s population grew, the forests were steadily cut down, leaving only the baobab trees which the locals preserved for religious reasons. Overnight Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest
Tuesday, October 11 (B, L, D)
At sunrise, before breakfast, take an early morning walk on the beach to view local fisherman going out on their boats with handmade sails. Photograph locals in town and at fisherman’s wharf. Enjoy some free time midday to take a swim at this beautiful resort or walk through town. Overnight Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest
Wednesday, October 12 (B, L, D)
Today we’ll head out to a nearby reserve to look for chameleons and lemurs along with some time to photograph a nearby village. Baobab shoot tonight with optional evening light painting of these mammoth trees and star trails. Overnight Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest
Thursday, October 13 (B, L, D)
Fly to Bekopaka and transfer to our hotel in Bekopaka village. An afternoon visit will bring us to Petit Tsingy, a labyrinth of limestone and viewpoints over impressive pinnacles. Overnight Soleil des Tsingy
Friday, October 14 (B, L, D)
We’ll spend the day exploring the Tsingy of Bemaraha, named a UNESCO heritage site in 1990. The Tsingy of Bemaraha is known for its exceptional landscape of limestone karst pinnacles called tsingy (walking on tiptoes), along with an extensive cave system, a network of underground rivers, and a large undisturbed, dry, deciduous forest home to a wealth of flora and fauna. If we’re lucky, we may catch a glimpse of endemic rare species of lemurs, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and the many other creatures that exist only in this area of the world. Overnight Soleil des Tsingy
Saturday, October 15 (B, L, D)
Depart Bekopaka in the morning to fly to Berenty Private Reserve. The reserve is home to six species of lemur and has southern Madagascar’s largest colony of Madagascar fruit bats. The ease of observing ring-tailed lemurs and “dancing” Verreaux sifakas has turned this small protected area into one of Madagascar’s most popular destinations. Overnight Gite d’Etape
Sunday, October 16 (B, L, D)
We’ll spend the day wandering Berenty’s flat, broad trails and interacting with the friendly abundant wildlife. The many lemurs seem happy to pose for photos. Overnight Gite d’Etape
Monday, October 17 (B, L, D)
We’ll spend one last morning photographing the lemurs, chameleons, birds, and spiny plants in Berenty and then board our return flight back to Tana. This is a good night to regroup and get ready for the second half of our adventure. Overnight Relais des Plateaux
Tuesday, October 18 (B, L, D)
Today we’ll drive three hours by bus to the Peyrieras Madagascar Exotic Reserve. Numerous varieties of colorful butterflies and chameleons can be found here along with geckos, frogs, crocodiles, and bats. In the afternoon, we’ll continue on to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, approximately 1.5 hours. Tonight we’ll take a walk to spot nocturnal animals. Overnight Vakona Forest Lodge
Wednesday, October 19 (B, D)
Early AM visit to Lemur Island, where four species of lemur can be found, including the bamboo lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur, brown lemur, and the diademed sifaka. The afternoon is free for a swim or catch up on editing images. Night walk before dinner. Overnight Vakona Forest Lodge
Thursday, October 20 (B, L, D)
Grab your luggage—we’ll have an early breakfast on the bus this morning. There will be one last optional trip to Lemur Island and then off to Manambato.
Drive to Manambato (approximately five hours) and then take a boat (two hours) to Akanin’ny Nofy, the “nest of dreams,” also known as the Palmairum Reserve. We’ll explore this paradise situated on the shores of Lake Ampitabe, separated from the Indian Ocean by sand dunes. Indris, Coquerall sifakas, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, crowned lemurs, mouse lemurs, and black lemurs are the most notable inhabitants of this private reserve. Overnight Palmarium Hotel
Friday, October 21 (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we’ll head outside for a nature walk around the reserve with a local guide. Bring your camera to breakfast! Afternoon free time to hang out in the hammock on your deck or photograph around the lodge.
When night falls, we’ll take an excursion to seek out the very rare nocturnal aye-aye lemur. Overnight Palmarium Hotel
Saturday, October 22 (B, L, D)
Breakfast followed by a nature walk with a local guide. A full day to explore the wonders of Akanin’ny Nofy. Photograph the many lemurs, frogs, snakes, chameleons, geckos, and even iguanas that reside here Sunbathe on the beach while enjoying some of the locally made rum, or take a swim in the warm waters of Lake Ampitabe. Free time to photograph around the reserve, repack, and get ready for the travel day back to Tana. Night walking tour. Overnight Palmarium Hotel
Sunday, October 23 (B, L, D)
Early breakfast before departure by boat at 8:00am. Today we have a three-hour boat ride, lunch in Tomasina, and then we’ll take a flight back to Tana. Upon arrival in Tana, we’ll visit a nearby outlet to buy quality vanilla and spices to take home. We’ll also stop at a craft market to get last minute gifts including petrified wood items. Day room at Relais des Plateaux for guests departing this evening via Paris or overnight for guests flying home tomorrow via Johannesburg. Farewell dinner.
Monday, October 24 (B)
Flying via Johannesburg, depart this afternoon to arrive home on October 25th.
10 Guests Maximum
14 Days/15 Nights
EXPLORER RATE: 10,400
NON-EXPLORER RATE: ADD 1000
Prices per person based on double occupancy
Single Supplement: 900
All pricing in US Dollars
$1000 Per person due at time of booking
Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover, or check accepted
Deposits are non-refundable. If cancellations are necessary, we require this request in writing. We will do our best to resell your space. Only if we can resell your space, we will refund (minus deposit and discounts given to sell your space). No partial refunds are possible for unused services.
Date September 1, 2015: $5000 First Installment
Date June 1, 2016: Final Payment
Check only for first installment and final payment. Please make check payable to Natural Exposures and mail to:
810 N. Wallace, Suite E
Bozeman, MT 59715
- Meals where indicated (B = Breakfast, L – Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Beverages (wine, beer, water, soft drinks, coffee, tea) with meals
- Usage of cell phone to call home internationally (Wi-Fi will be available at some lodges)
- Park entrance fees
- Local guide fees
- Tourist levy
- English-speaking guide throughout trip plus local guides at some locations
- Internal flights, both domestic carriers and charter flights
- Transportation between locations by shuttle bus or 4×4 vehicles
- Arrival and departure airport transfers on scheduled itinerary days
- Accommodation indicated or similar + day room on final day of trip
- Bottled water throughout the trip
- International flights, departure taxes, visa fees (if any)
- Travel insurance or medical evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous personal expenses – laundry, spa, etc.
- Excess luggage fees
Flights to Book
October 9/10, 2016
Arrive Antananarivo (TNR)
Flying via Johannesburg: Arrive Oct 9 in the afternoon
Flying via Paris: Arrive Oct 10 early AM
October 23/24, 2016
Depart Antananarivo (TNR)
Flying via Paris. October 23 late evening
Flying via Johannesburg: October 24 any time of day
Emergency Evacuation Insurance
All guests MUST carry emergency medical evacuation insurance. It is required by our tour operators and the information will be collected prior to trip time. We recommend InsureMyTrip.com and/or Global Rescue (use code natexp).
Terms & Conditions
Natural Exposures cannot control nor is responsible for abnormal weather, natural disasters, or any other disaster that might affect the trip. Travel insurance should be purchased to cover any missed flights or medical problems that may affect/delay your travel. National Parks have the right to change our itinerary.
By booking a trip with Natural Exposures, you agree to the following CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY POLICY
Accommodations for 2016 Ultimate Madagascar Photography Tour I
October 9, 17, and 23 (day room or overnight on 23rd), 2-3 Nights
Relais des Plateaux, Antananarivo (4-star)
Located near Antananarivo’s Ivato Airport, rooms feature air conditioning, safe, hair dryer, Wi-Fi, and flat screen TV.
October 10- 12, 3 Nights
Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest Madagascar, Morondava
Located at Nosy Kely on the beach of Morondava, the Hotel Palissandre Côte Ouest Madagascar offers spacious bungalows with private terraces facing the sea. Find comfort and refinement in Malagasy tradition, scattered in a coconut grove. Bar, pool, spa, and restaurant available.
October 13 and 14, 2 Nights
Soleil des Tsingy, Bekopaka
Nestled at the heart of a well-preserved nature, the Soleil des Tsingy Hotel is the ideal base for an extraordinary stay in the Tsingy of Bemaraha. This hotel offers spacious, comfortable, cozy bungalows, an infinity pool, and a dramatic view of the Manatambo River.
October 15 and 16, 2 Nights
Gite d’Etape, Berenty Reserve
The only lodge in Berenty Reserve, Gite d’Etape’s traditional huts are designed to blend in with the surrounding nature. This is a great location to get up close and personal with lemurs and other Malagasy creatures.
October 18 and 19, 2 Nights
Vakona Forest Lodge, Andasibe
Discover the rainforest near Tana in a unique setting in the heart of Malagasy nature. Sit on the terrace of your bungalow and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
October 20-22, 3 Nights
Palmarium Hotel, Akanin’ny Nofy/Palmarium Reserve
Indulge in a magic experience with nature, rocked by the calming sounds of woods and waves. Each bungalow features a lake view terrace.
Helpful Information for 2016 Ultimate Madagascar Photography Tour I
For US citizens, your passport must be valid for at least six months at the time of entry and you must have three blank pages in your passport for the entry stamp. Visas are required for all foreign visitors and can be purchased at the time of entry with USD, Euros, or Malagasy Ariary. At this time, credit cards are not accepted.
For the latest updates on Madagascar entry requirements, please visit the US Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
None required, but it is best to be up to date with your routine vaccinations and visit with your doctor before the trip to get vaccinations that may be needed. A yellow fever immunization is ONLY required for travelers who have visited an infected zone within six months of their arrival in Madagascar. Malaria prevention is recommended, particularly in the coastal regions. Additional suggested vaccines are listed below but please consult with your doctor.
- Hepatitis A and B (combo shot series)
- Routine vaccinations such as Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio
- Rabies, pre-exposure vaccination (optional)
There are a few airlines that fly to Madagascar.
You can fly from the U.S. to Paris through Delta, and then Paris to TNR via Air France. Both are affiliated and part of the SkyTeamalliance. Air France flies from Paris to TNR on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings and arrives early the next morning (an overnight flight). Return flights from TNR to Paris flights are on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. They leave just after midnight on these days. These flight recommendations are based on 2015 schedules.
You can also fly on Kenya Airways via Nairobi or South African Airways via Johannesburg. These flights normally arrive late morning or early afternoon.
There will be strict weight restrictions for our charter flights which we’ll have to abide by. If we wish to fly on charters versus driving the roads, we must follow the weight restrictions. We will be requesting luggage and camera gear weight from each guest prior to trip to calculate the weight for charter flights. We’ll have the opportunity to leave half of our clothes (if you wish to cut down on weight) in Antananarivo at the beginning of the trip. Halfway through the trip we’ll return to Antananarivo and can exchange for our clean clothes. Natural Exposures will do all they can to make it workable for guests. At times, our luggage will be transported on the tops of the 4×4 vehicles.
For our commercial domestic flights with Air Madagascar, luggage allowance is 20kg (44lb) checked, 6 kg (13.2 lb) of hand luggage. We must insist (like on all airlines!) to carry on camera gear. We will do our best to avoid checking camera gear, but bring a lock in case we have to a la carte. It costs about one Euro per kilogram over the luggage limit.
French and Malagasy are the primary languages. Our guide will speak English.
The currency now used in Madagascar is the Malagasy ariary (MGA), as opposed to the former Malagasy Franc (FMG). Madagascar is primarily a cash-driven country. New, unripped US dollars and Euro are often accepted. Visa is the only widely accepted credit card, though in most places it has limited usage. ATM’s are available at the airport to receive local currency, and very few, if any, will be available once we leave the city. No US or Euro coins are accepted in Madagascar, so this is not advised for tipping.
Madagascar is eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. During U.S. Daylight Savings Time (March through October), Madagascar is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time.
Madagascar boasts home to some of the richest and rarest biodiversity on the planet. Due to its isolation and strange geological history, about 3/4 of Madagascar’s known animal species are endemic, meaning they exist nowhere else on earth! Madagascar hosts 100% of the world’s lemurs and half of the chameleon species. While new species are constantly being discovered, there are many close to extinction too, including the silky sifaka, or “angel of the forest,” one of the rarest mammals in the world. Many decades of deforestation have brought about great loss of habitat for the unique flora and fauna; Madagascar has taken on a national commitment for its development to include preservation of its precious environment. Protected areas have been set up through the Madagascar National Park.
National Parks: Preserve both natural and cultural patrimony with interest for both the public and for scientists
Special Reserves: Protect specific ecosystems or particular endangered species
Strict Nature Reserve: For the conservation of specific ecosystems. Access is strictly forbidden without permission from authorities.
FADY OR TABOO
Taboos (locally known as fady) in Malagasy culture have helped to preserve Madagascar’s natural habitat. When a forest, plant, or animal is fady, nobody will touch it because of the fear of ancestors or God. Several areas of the island remain untouched because of this belief.
Meals in Madagascar are primarily based around rice and influenced by many cultures including French, African, Arabic, and Indian. The national dish is Romazava which is made from beef (zebu) and mixed greens sautéed with ginger tomato and onion. The various species of plants in Madagascar offer plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is advised to use only bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth.
We are not trying to “scare” anyone, but we want you to be prepared for this trip and we want to meet your expectations!
This trip is for the adventurous! All guests should be in good physical health and must be able to walk distances, go up and down stairs and boardwalks, and sometimes walk on uneven terrain, all in possibly hot conditions. Some walks will be optional. Guests also must be able to get in and out of a boat.
There will be a fair amount of transfers, either by 4X4 vehicles/van or chartered/scheduled domestic flights. We’re trying to avoid too many drives by taking flights, but when we do have to drive, the roads may be winding and rough with potholes. We suggest bringing motion-sickness medications if you have a tendency to get motion sickness. Luggage will be transported on the roof of vehicles at times. We have a 16-passenger bus for our group. When in 4×4 vehicles, we are planning for three guests per vehicle. Could this change? Sure, but this is the plan.
Lodging will range from five-star to “as nice as it gets” in rural areas. All will be clean and comfortable, but some are not fancy. Honestly, beds might be hard, Wi-Fi may be slow—you have to be a person that can deal with not everything being ideal. We tried to book the best accommodations available in the areas we’ll be visiting.
October and November are great times to visit; these months are considered the dry season before the rains in December. We could get some rain. It depends on the year and where we are on the island. It is not the cyclone season. It’s a good time of year to see baby lemurs, and it’s breeding season for all of you birders.
Overall, Madagascar is a safe and friendly country to visit. People are warm and welcoming. As with all travel, you do have to watch for petty theft, especially in city environments. While on my scouting trip I never felt scared or threatened; everyone was very inviting and smiled. Locals seem very busy working trying to make a living. As our local guide mentioned, people don’t consider themselves poor, they only live simple lives.
If you wish to stay in communication with home, we suggest bringing an unlocked cell phone and buying a SIM card at the airport. We can help you organize this; it is usually very inexpensive. We will also have a phone available for guests to use to phone home when needed. We’ll have Wi-Fi at some of the hotels – not always the best speeds but…
Make sure you bring enough batteries, memory cards, and hard drives with you; they are hard to find and very expensive in Madagascar. Dan will send you a list of camera gear he is bringing and provide suggestions on what to bring. A good backpack for your camera gear versus a roller bag is suggested.
We will send you a list of what to bring but pack light. Bring a headlamp and a strong flashlight for night walks. Bring a swimsuit for afternoon time at the pools. Bring closed-toe shoes for evenings and sandals for daytime. We will be at higher altitudes mid-trip, so bring a fleece, as it can be cool in the mornings. Shorts and t-shirts are appropriate during the daytime. I noticed very few (if any) mosquitoes or flying insects. Snakes are non-poisonous and so are most spiders. Lemurs are fun!!! They are curious!!! They will be the highlight of the trip. You will be surprised at how close you can get to them.
Voltage is 220. Plug adapters are the two-round plugs. Power outages are possible – another good reason to bring a flashlight.
It is suggested to bring $6 to $8 per day for the driver and $10 per day for the guide. Room staff suggestion is $2 per day, and 5% of a bill at a restaurant.
This trip is not for people that want the typical tourist tour—schedule changes and flight cancellations may arise—we’ll have to be prepared for anything and everything! We’re excited to be able to offer this trip, but you have to be ready to roll with the punches if things don’t always go as planned. We’ll do our best to offer you a seamless trip, but this is not always necessarily the case in Madagascar.
Have a question?
Have a question about this tour? We're happy to answer any queries you may have.
Testimonials from Natural Exposures' Explorers
"If you ever want to travel to another country and you want to go first class, travel with Natural Exposures. They are number one in showing their guests the best time ever in the classiest way. I would recommend Natural Exposures Tours to everyone. If you want to go in style, go with NE!"
Michelle Duggan, Massachusetts
"Tanya and Dan’s logistic skills provide a seamless photo tour where one can truly enjoy the experience. With unlimited photographic opportunities Dan’s instruction has taken my photography to a higher level."
Linda Henry, Oregon
"I just wanted to again thank you for a wonderful week of photography and relaxation away from the office. It was a really a good group."
Sue Wolfe, Texas
"What a trip
What a group
What a fabulous everything
To our next encounters with nature"
Maud and Leon Soriano, Florida