A Naturalist’s Guide to Madagascar with Charlie Gardner - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2020)

Curious and other-worldly, Madagascar is full of surprises and extraordinary creatures. It has people, wildlife and landscapes found nowhere else on earth and a culture far removed from any of its near neighbours.

Journey Overview

Curious and other-worldly, Madagascar is full of surprises and extraordinary creatures. It has people, wildlife and landscapes found nowhere else on earth and a culture far removed from any of its near neighbours. On this fascinating journey you’ll explore the island nation and its flora and fauna with a wildlife expert who knows the destination and its inhabitants like the back of his hand. Still largely untouched by tourism, Madagascar is astonishing. You’ll be amazed by its rainforests, its clear blue seas, white beaches and spiny forest habitat. Your Guest Host grew up in Africa and around the Indian Ocean and caught the wildlife bug at an early age. He has been fascinated by the natural world ever since and makes an engaging companion on this incredible journey of discovery.

Your Guest Host

2017-HostedJourney-Madagascar-Host.jpg#asset:13547:urlGrowing up in Africa and around the Indian Ocean, Dr Charlie Gardner caught the wildlife bug at an early age and has been fascinated by the natural world ever since. Charlie has worked as a scientific advisor for WWF as well as Madagascar National Parks and the award-winning marine conservationists Blue Ventures. He completed a PhD in 2014 and has published some 50 papers on Madagascar’s wildlife and its conservation, including the discovery of several new species unknown to science. He has appeared on wildlife documentaries and assisted with the filming of Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series ‘Madagascar’. Engaging and passionate about Madagascar, Charlie makes the perfect companion on this incredible journey.

Journey Highlights

  • Plenty of time to spend with your engaging Guest Host and hearing firsthand about his fascinating life and the work he does in a small group limited to 10 guests
  • Enjoy more time sightseeing and optimal comfort with privately chartered flights
  • Seek out rare species on escorted wildlife outings by day and night
  • Tick off several varieties of lemur and chameleon in the country’s finest national parks
  • Hike through 500-year-old baobabs in the Sacred Spiny Forest, one of the oldest on the planet
  • Experience the culture of the unique Atandroy tribe, one of the most traditional in Madagascar
  • While away a lazy afternoon swinging in a hammock at your beachside eco-lodge
  • Watch local fishermen paddling pirogues on the ocean from your secluded tropical retreat
  • Combine wildlife, culture, rainforest and beach at Manafiafy

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Antananarivo.

On arrival into the hilly Malagasy capital you are met by A&K and transferred to your hotel in the embassy district of Haute-Ville (upper town). This part of the city is a tangled assortment of steep, partly cobbled streets, red-tiled rooves and pastel-coloured houses with a lovely cool climate. After time to settle in, your Guest Host, Charlie Gardner, will introduce himself and give you a briefing on the adventure ahead over welcome drinks and dinner.
Hotel Colbert | Meals: D

Days 2-4: Andasibe | Protected Rainforest Reserve.

Head east out of the city today east to Andasibe through a panorama of rice fields, redbrick houses and roadside stalls selling seasonal fruits and vegetables. Andasibe is a stunning rainforest park comprising two protected areas - the Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia National Park. Perinet is world famous for its population of Indri, which is the largest living lemur species. During your stay take a guided night walk in the forest surrounding the reserve. Look out for a variety of nocturnal lemur: mouse lemur, white footed sportive lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur, as well as the woolly lemur.

Spend a day in the 810-hectare Perinet Reserve in search of the comical 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 another 11 species of lemur to spot as you wander through the rainforest. You may find a troop of grey bamboo lemur, common brown lemur, Diademed Sifaka and black and white ruffed lemur. Birdwatchers should look out for the velvet asity, blue coua and nuthatch vanga and many more endemic species. Perinet is also home to many reptiles, invertebrates, and some of Madagascar’s thousand orchid species.

Visit Mitsinjo Forest Reserve, a private reserve operated by a local NGO funding reforestation, community education and Madagascar’s first amphibian captive-breeding facility. See a stunning array of wildlife and help protect indigenous flora in a planting programme.

Another highlight is your visit to Lemur Island which protects a number of habituated lemurs. There are four species to see: bamboo lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur, brown lemur and one diademed sifaka.
Mantadia Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 5: Antananarivo | Sprawling City of Hills.

Return to the capital and, this afternoon, explore the historic upper town with your guide. Visit the Queen’s Palace and the newly built photography museum which showcases historic images of Madagascar and the capital.
Hotel Colbert | Meals: BLD

Days 6-8: Ifotaka | Sacred Spiny Forest & Ancestral Tombs.

This morning take a private charter flight to Mandrare River Camp in the far south of the island, a classic tented safari accommodation offering majestic views over the Mandrare River. The next three days are spent exploring this extraordinary area. Venture on foot into the Sacred Spiny forest which has the highest percentage of endemic plants in any habitat in Madagascar and is dominated by the distinctive thorny octopus tree. In addition to some extraordinary wildlife, including Verreaux sifaka, chameleons and ground boa constrictor, the forest is also filled with 500-year-old baobabs and the ancestral tombs of the local Antandroy tribe, one of the most traditional in Madagascar. You’ll be introduced to their culture and customs before sundowners on the river bank.

Another highlight is the stunning Sacred Gallery forest south of camp. Depending on water levels, walk or take a boat across the Mandrare River to reach the largely deciduous forest. Inquisitive groups of ring-tailed lemurs and the always entertaining Verreaux sifaka are the highlight of this excursion. A night walk in the Forest of Zenavo is a fantastic way to see diurnal lemur bedding down, and the nocturnal lemurs emerging in the eerie and prehistoric Spiny Forest. Look out for sifakas and sleeping white-footed sportive lemur and once the sun has set, two mouse lemur species, sleeping birds, chameleons, owls and the now active sportive lemur.

Wandering through the Spiny Forest on an early morning walk, see the sunlight break through the octopus trees and look out for endemic birds such as crested coua, a variety of vangas and the running coua. An encounter with members of the fascinating Antandroy tribe in the local village is a highlight.There’s plenty of time to relax in camp and sip sundowners amidst the baobabs as the sun sets and the moon rises.
Mandrare River Camp | Meals: BLD

Day 9: Manafiafy Beach | Remote Coastal Seclusion.

Fly to Fort Dauphin this morning on a private charter flight and travel north to Manafiafy Beach, a secluded tropical paradise. Also known as Sainte Luce, Manafiafy is a beautiful sandy bay, fringed with forest covered mountains and wildlife rich mangroves. Time this afternoon for a swim before cocktails as the sun sets over the bay.
Manafiafy Lodge | Meals: BLD

Days 10-11: Manafiafy Beach |Wild Coast.

Two days to do as you please. The lodge offers a wide range of wildlife and sporting activities which are all included: day and night walks in the rainforest to see five species of lemur, snorkelling in the bay and nearby cove, kayaking and scenic boat trips to the mangroves, boat trips to the nearby islands for a secluded picnic lunch, walks along long empty beaches and trips to the local village and school, supported by the lodge.

Your adventure concludes with a sumptuous farewell dinner on the beach complete with an Antanosy musical performance.
Manafiafy Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 12: Depart Antananarivo.

After an early breakfast, travel to Fort Dauphin airport for your private charter flight back to Antananarivo. Transfer to the international terminal for your onward flight.
Meals: B

Journey Details

Maximum Group Size: 10
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Tour Inclusions
All accommodation as detailed on a double/ twin share basis with private facilities; meals as specified; bottled water during transfers and touring; airport welcome; assistance with luggage and group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle/4-wheel drive; services of English speaking A&K Resident Tour Director; economy flights only if specified as included in itinerary, all entrance fees, planning, handling, operational and communication charges, all tipping.

Tour Exclusions
International flights not specified as included, visas, insurance coverage of personal loss, injury, illness or damages incurred during your trip; items of a purely personal nature such as drinks, laundry, dry cleaning, internet, fax or phone charges; transfers, sightseeing or meals not specified in itinerary; excess baggage charges.

Please Note
Accommodation Standards:
Accommodation in Madagascar is not luxurious. While the hotels used by Abercrombie & Kent in Antananarivo are of a solid 4-star standard, accommodation throughout the rest of the country is 3-star at best, from an infrastructure and service perspective. This is due to a genuine lack of choice and the relative under-development of Madagascar and its tourism industry. 

Note that in remote destinations, accommodation may be ‘off the grid’ and rely on solar power.  This can mean that the charging of some appliances (eg. hair dryers) may not be possible, and that room lighting may be dim compared to lighting powered by mains electricity.

We do request that guests understand in advance that the more basic nature of accommodation in Madagascar (which can sometimes be very atmospheric) can make for a unique, memorable stay. Please do note that at all times, Abercrombie & Kent endeavours to use the best accommodation available.

Transport and roads:
It is important to know that roads in Madagascar (outside main towns) are among the worst in Africa; often unsealed, poorly maintained, and bumpy.  This Small Group Journey uses charter flights to avoid three long road trips, however it will still be necessary to travel on a poor quality road between Fort Dauphin & Manafiafy. For this sector we use best-available and well-maintained four-wheel drives. 

There is no internet service at Mandare River Camp, nor at Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge, so this can mean several consecutive days with no internet connection on a visit to the south of the country. 

For further information please contact A&K and speak to one of our groups specialists. 

Tailor Made Travel with A&K
If scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer to travel privately, talk to your A&K travel specialist or your travel agent about creating the perfect bespoke journey for your, or a small group.  

Show Full Itinerary


Mandrare River Camp, Ifotaka Forest

A Naturalist’s Guide to Madagascar with Charlie Gardner - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2020)

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Manafiafy Lodge

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Mantadia Lodge, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

A Naturalist’s Guide to Madagascar with Charlie Gardner - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2020)

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Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Nov 8, 2020 - Nov 19, 2020
Price AU$15,990pp Single Supplement AU$2,540 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Call for Availability Enquire

Availability shown here is updated weekly and indicative only. Availability on any product or journey shown here is not specific to a category of travel and may not denote availability at the cheapest ‘From’ price. For real time availability, talk to your travel agent or call Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 851 800.


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