Madagascar’s Masoala National Park

Female Bernier's Vanga, © Agami Photo Agency

Aye-Aye & Helmet Vanga Extension

Sept 15-23, 2024

Climbing Mantella © Dennis Van De Water

This tour combines well with our Madagascar: Unique Birds & Baobabs tour, Sept 23-Oct 15, 2024
Your place on this Venture is reserved when your completed registration form and deposit of $700/person has been received. Deposit may be made via the ‘book now’ button above, or by contacting the Ventures office. We accept credit cards for an additional fee (2.9% for MC, Visa, & Discover; 3.9% for AmEx), but you may also pay by bank transfer, cash, check, or money order (payable to ‘VENTURES BIRDING’) sent to PO Box 1095, Skyland, NC 28776. This Venture is limited to 12 participants.

Cost of Masoala Extension: $2,100 per person from Antananarivo. Price includes: All ground transportation throughout, all accommodation (note the night in Farankaraina Reserve will be tented; otherwise, mid-range) and meals, boat rides as noted in itinerary, entrance fees and permits, bottled water, trip information packet & eBird checklists, drivers, and service of at least 2 guides (one Ventures; one local). Not included: Round-trip airfare to Madagascar, local flights, excess baggage fees, visas for Madagascar, alcoholic and other beverages, gratuities, laundry, medical and travel insurance, and other items of a personal nature. Local flight costs should be around US $280-400, economy via Air Madagascar; we will book these, but will need copies of tour participants’ passports.

Join us for 7 unforgettable days of birding and lemur watching on the incredible Masoala Peninsula, an exceptionally unique region in northwestern Madagascar. Indeed, the region’s biodiversity is so unique from a global perspective that it has been inscribed into the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites for its biological importance. Two mega birds near guaranteed on this extension include Helmet and Bernier’s Vangas (both classified as Endangered), while we’ll also have a good chance of seeing the weird and wonderful Aye-aye. Among the ten lemur species present are three found nowhere else on Earth, namely Red Ruffed Lemur, Scott’s Sportive Lemur, and Moore’s Woolly Lemur. Because there is only one flight per week to the area, we’ll be spending a full week in Masoala National Park, where several night and day hikes will afford participants an abundance of time to enjoy and photograph the wildlife that call Masoala home. There will also be plenty of opportunities to relax on a nearby beach—snorkeling opportunities are excellent, and you’ll be able to rent equipment from our lodge on the beach—so do not forget your swimming suit!

We start our 9-day examination in southwestern Peru, the most species-rich region of the Amazon Basin, if not the world. We enter the Amazon in the town of Puerto Maldonado, located at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers. From here, we will take an hour-long boat ride to our lodge inside some of the most pristine tropical rain forests in the world. From our lodge we will visit an oxbow lake where we will likely see the prehistoric-looking leaf-eating Hoatzin, a bamboo forest to look for specialists of this unique habitat, and two scaffolding towers where we'll get an eye-level view of birds present in the Amazon Forest's canopy. We'll also explore several forest trails where we'll look for understory mixed species flocks that follow army ant swarms; these flocks may contain 30-40 (or more!) bird species. Perhaps the highlight of our Amazon trip would be a visit to the world's largest macaw clay lick where up to sixteen species of parrots congregate daily to forage for minerals! When we get back to Puerto Maldonado, we should have seen at least 250 to 350 bird species. A bonus is that the financial support to the region during our visit to the region would've made a meaningful direct impact on the native Amazonian community of Infierno and their ongoing conservation projects.

PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary involves a lot of walking, and as such require moderate level of fitness. We may encounter rain on any day, even during the longer hikes, so be sure to have rain protection for optics. It is also worth noting that most of the tour involves forest birding, so please dress appropriately, in dark/neutral clothing. Tour participants are of course welcome to opt out of any of the tour activities for any reason.

Some of the Birds We Hope to See

King Vulture, Harpy Eagle, Crested Eagle, Pavonine Quetzal, Hoatzin, Sunbittern, Green Ibis, Sungrebe, Horned Screamer, White-throated Jacamar, Masked Fruiteater, Thrush-like and Amazonian Antpitta, Purus Jacamar, Round-tailed Manakin, White-cheeked Tody-flycatcher, Peruvian Recurvebill, Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner, White-lined Antbird, Pheasant Cuckoo, Blue-and-gold Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Rufous-vented Ground-cuckoo, White-throated Jacamar, Scarlet-hooded Barbet, Rufous-fronted Antthrush, Cabanis Spinetail, Great Potoo, Long-tailed Potoo, and many more.

Other charismatic species we may encounter include the Endangered Giant Otter, Emperor Tamarin, White-fronted and Large-headed Capuchin, Black-capped Squirrel Monkey, Bolivian Red Howling Monkey, Peruvian Spider Monkey, Kinkajou, Collared Peccary, Capybara, Spectacled and Black Caiman, several Poison Frogs, and perhaps even a Jaguar if we're very, very lucky.