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Author Topic: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?  (Read 1779 times)

shadowblade

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Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« on: December 11, 2019, 10:46:36 am »

Just to put it out there, I'm currently arranging a wildlife and nature photo trip to Madagascar and am looking for anyone interested in joining, to make it more interesting and cut down costs. It will run from late September to mid-October, in time for the orchids to flower in the rainforests of eastern Madagascar and for baby lemurs to be born and be carried around by their mothers. Current intention is to go in 2020, but, if that proves to be too soon to get enough people on board, I might go in 2021 instead.

Since wildlife is most active at the cooler times of the day, there will be plenty of early starts for sunrise wildlife walks, as well as late-afternoon and night walks. Accommodation may be basic-to-mid-range, but the objective is adventure and wilderness, not luxury.

Wildlife walks are accompanied by guides and naturalists (mandatory in most places) able to assist in tracking and spotting wildlife - always a challenge with the better-camouflaged or well-hidden species.

The aim is to spend more time, and better times of the day, in the parks and wildlife reserves than the tours offered by more general tour companies, while being no more expensive on a per-day basis. In particular, it should work out much cheaper than typical trips advertised as 'photography tours', which will often be $10k for 12-13 days.

This isn't a typical 'photo trip', accompanied by a photographer running constant tutorials on how to use a camera, with frequent sessions to compare photos, discuss editing, etc. It's also not a normal 'holiday-style' trip you might book from a non-photo tour company, which place more emphasis on comfort and convenience and less emphasis on being at places at the right time of the day for the best photo or viewing opportunities (more time to observe wildlife in its natural habitat and less simply ticking off a checklist of species). Presumably, you know how to operate your own equipment, or can figure it out between now and the time of the trip. The aim is simply to get you to the right places, at the right times, with a naturalist who's experienced at tracking and spotting animals, so that you can then do your own thing, at a much lower price than a typical 'photo tour'.

Intended itinerary is:

Day 1 - Arrive Antananarivo.
Day 2 - Drive Antananarivo to Miandrivazo
Day 3 - Drive to Kirindy Forest Reserve, a dry scrub forest that offers the best chance to see the fossa, Madagascar's biggest predator Night wildlife walks in Kirindy..
Day 4 - In Kirindy.
Day 5 - Drive/ferry/4WD to Bekopaka, the base for exploring the Tsingy rock formations.
Day 6 - Early morning tour of the Small Tsingy - plan to arrive in time for sunrise photos, before the crowds get there. Afternoon tour in the river gorges of the Manambolo River.
Day 7 - All-day visit to the Great Tsingy, again intending to arrive early for the best light and to avoid the crowds and heat.
Day 8 - Drive back to Morondava, stopping at the Avenue of Baobabs for some late afternoon and sunset photos.
Day 9 - Early start to visit the Avenue of Baobabs again for sunrise photos. All-day drive three-quarters of the way across Madagascar to Ranomafana National Park, a rainforest area with diverse reptile, amphibian and lemur species, as well as natural springs. Night walk in Ranomafana.
Day 10 - Wildlife walks in and around Ranomafana.
Day 11 - Early morning wildlife walk in Ranomafana. Drive to Ambalavao.
Day 12 - Early morning visit to Anja Community Reserve, when the local ring-tailed lemurs are most active. Anja hosts a large population of ring-tailed lemurs among a rocky landscape. Although wild, these lemurs are used to human visitors and are comparatively easy to photograph. Continue driving to Isalo National Park, near Ranohira. Sunset photos at the 'Door of Isalo'.
Day 13 - All-day visit to Isalo National Park.
Day 14 - Drive from Isalo to Ifaty, north of Toliara.
Day 15 - Visit the Reniala Spiny Forest and desert tortoise reserves near Ifaty. Rest of the day at Ifaty, a beach town on the Mozambique Channel.
Day 16 - Drive to Toliara. Flight back to Anatanarivo.
Day 17 - Drive to Andasibe, an east coast rainforest area close to Antananarivo.
Day 18 - Sightseeing around Andasibe
Day 19 - Drive and take a boat to Palmarium Reserve at Ankanin'ny Nofy, home to a large number of wild, but well-habituated, lemurs of many different species, as well as an island reserve that is home to the rare, nocturnal aye-aye lemur. Often considered one of the best places to photograph lemurs.
Day 20 - All day at Palmarium Reserve.
Day 21 - Return to Antananarivo by boat and vehicle.
Day 22 - Depart any time, or continue on extensions to Berenty Reserve and/or northern Madagascar. (Day 22 of the main tour and Day 1 of an extension are the same day)

Extension to Berenty Reserve:

I'm going to separate out the trip to Berenty Reserve as a extension to the trip, rather than lumping it in as part of the main trip, since it adds a fair bit of expense and a bit of time, for those who only have 3 weeks.

Berenty is a dry scrub reserve at the southern end of Madagascar, around 3 hours from Fort Dauphin/Tolanaro/Faradofay, which is populated by 3 lemur species (among other wildlife) and is one of the best place to see/photograph the 'dancing' Verreaux sifakas. Sifakas usually leap from tree to tree; however, the relative lack of large trees in the scrub forces sifakas to come down to the ground, where their usual sideways leaping motion is less efficient (but still fast), causing them to 'dance' across the ground in an awkward, sideways hopping motion.

Day 1 - Fly from Antananarivo to Fort Dauphin. 3-hour 4WD trip to Berenty Reserve
Day 2 (or days 2-3, if we decide on a 4-day trip) - Wildlife walks in an around Berenty Reserve.
Day 3 (or 4, if on a 4-day trip) - Drive back to Fort Dauphin. Flight back to Antananarivo.

Extension to northern Madagascar:

Possibly also arranging an extension to the parks of northern Madagascar, including the Red Tsingy and the island of Nosy Be.

If I proceed with both extensions (likely if going in 2021, unlikely in 2020) I'll likely arrange one extension before the main trip and the other after the main trip, so that anyone interested in going to both can do so, but anyone interested in only one or the other isn't left waiting around in Antananarivo while others go on the extended tour.

Anyone interested, post here or send me a message.
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Jeremy Roussak

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2019, 02:09:38 pm »

I'm definitely interested, but for me it would probably have to be 2021.

Jeremy
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2019, 12:40:50 am »

Sounds very interesting. Have wanted to go to Madagascar for a while. Iím a bit surprised at the price of flights. Itís a three hour flight from where I live and the cheapest I could find is about $700. Thatís twice the price to fly to Zanzibar which is the same distance.
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chez

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2019, 11:02:59 am »

Sounds very interesting. Have wanted to go to Madagascar for a while. Iím a bit surprised at the price of flights. Itís a three hour flight from where I live and the cheapest I could find is about $700. Thatís twice the price to fly to Zanzibar which is the same distance.

I can fly to Hawaii for less money than 500km north of me. It's all about supply and demand and not how far one flys.
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2019, 11:15:40 am »

I can fly to Hawaii for less money than 500km north of me. It's all about supply and demand and not how far one flys.

Yep, so it goes. Itís just that I know of many people going to Madagascar from SA and expected prices to reflect that.

Still I am thinking Madagascar might be nice. Iím not that into wildlife but the street and landscape opportunities would also be amazing.
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shadowblade

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2019, 04:02:08 am »

If anyone is interested in 2020, let me know. Aiming to start around September 26 or so, if it goes ahead (I'm going to the 'stan' countries in central Asia before that).

Although 2021 is looking more and more likely, given the difficulty finding people to come on a 3.5-week trip with less than a year's notice.
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praja343

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2019, 09:37:27 pm »

Would be interested in 2021 depending on cost. Also which stans are you going to in 2020? Uzbek, Kazakh and Kirghiz? I may be interested in that. Can you PM me?
Thanks.
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bwana

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2019, 10:59:53 am »

I'm headed to the stans in May. But am interested in Madagascar at some point , maybe 2021. What is your stan itinerary?

Stefan
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shadowblade

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2020, 03:06:10 am »

I'm headed to the stans in May. But am interested in Madagascar at some point , maybe 2021. What is your stan itinerary?

Stefan

2 weeks touring the area south of Bishkek - Song Kul, Sary Chelek, Toktogul, Kara Koyun and Tash Rabat, Chatyr Kol, possibly Kol Su, Eki Naryn, Arabel Plateau, Skazka Canyon, Jety Oguz, finishing in Karakol. Mostly driving and sightseeing here, with a bit of walking and horseriding, staking out photo spots and waiting for the right time.

Then heading out from Karakol and hiking from Jety Oguz to the Karakol Valley, up to Ala Kul, then over the pass to Altyn Arashan. I might also add a three-day hike through the Chelpek Valley. Then two days 4-wheel driving in the Sary Jaz area. Then back to Karokol, then back to Bishkek for a flight to Tashkent.

From there, I'll be heading to Tajikistan for a week of hiking in the Fann Mountains, then back to Uzbekistan for the usual Samarkand-Bukhara-Khiva route, then into Turkmenistan.

Finally, I'll be flying into Almaty and spending a few days photographing autumn colours in the Kolsai and Kaindy Lakes area. Then directly from Kazakhstan to Madagascar.

The itinerary involves a fair bit of jumping around, but I'm timing it for photo opportunities (wildflowers in the Kyrgyz Tian Shan, getting to the Silk Road cities after the summer tourist peak, autumn colours in Kazakhstan) rather than for any kind of a single, coherent route.

I'm still debating whether to add in a drive along the Pamir Highway.
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Peter McLennan

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Re: Madagascar wildlife photo trip - anyone interested?
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2020, 06:35:43 pm »

Wow.  That is some itinerary.
Safe travels!
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