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Madagascar: The Eighth Continent

Madagascar: The Eighth Continent

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Published by Zegrahm
Join Eco-Expeditions on an in-depth exploration of Madagascar for a unique African wildlife safari across the length of this Indian Ocean Island. Home to a striking array of fascinating wildlife and the friendly Malagasy people, Madagascar is a living laboratory of evolution with creatures and plants found nowhere else on the planet. Each trip is led by an expert naturalist, a master at revealing the wonders of Madagascar—the "eighth continent" including many species of lemurs, chameleons, frogs, and birds on this in-depth Eco-Expedition.
Join Eco-Expeditions on an in-depth exploration of Madagascar for a unique African wildlife safari across the length of this Indian Ocean Island. Home to a striking array of fascinating wildlife and the friendly Malagasy people, Madagascar is a living laboratory of evolution with creatures and plants found nowhere else on the planet. Each trip is led by an expert naturalist, a master at revealing the wonders of Madagascar—the "eighth continent" including many species of lemurs, chameleons, frogs, and birds on this in-depth Eco-Expedition.

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Published by: Zegrahm on Mar 22, 2010
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We’re thrilled to make our return to fascinating Madagascar, a country so biologically rich that French botanist Philibert Commerson hailed it as “the naturalists’ promised land.” The combination of unusual botanicals, colorful birds, singular land animals, and genuine Malagasy welcomes makes this one of our most favored destinations. More than 160 million years ago, Madagascar separated from the east coast of Africa to become the world’s fourth-largest island. Over the subsequent millennia, its isolation gave rise to striking biodiversity—one unrivaled by any landmass of comparable size. Not only diverse, the flora and fauna of Madagascar are, in large part, unique to the island; 90 percent of all forest flora is endemic and includes more than 10,000 plant species. More than half of the 250-plus bird species are found nowhere else, and Madagascar is also home to more than half of the world’s chameleon species. Yet despite its size, array of species, and proximity to Africa, it remains one of the leasttraveled regions on earth—its treasures are uncovered only by a fortunate few, among them Eco-Expeditions travelers. During nature walks and boat excursions, we’ll search for the myriad of exotic plants and animals that exist only here—carnivorous pitcher plants; baobab trees; 1,000 kinds of orchids; multi-colored mantella frogs; chameleons, including panther and pygmy stump-tailed, which, at just over an inch, is one of the smallest vertebrates on the planet; and a number of sought-after birds—ground-rollers, Amber Mountain rock thrushes, pratincoles, Madagascar malachite kingfishers, and sickle-billed vangas. Even among Madagascar’s varied and matchless wildlife, one animal bears iconic status— the engaging lemur. These arboreal acrobats, oldest of all surviving primates, are a special highlight of our journey and supremely photogenic subjects. During our expedition we visit such acclaimed reserves as Périnet, Berenty, Montagne d’Ambre, and Nosy Mangabe watching for representatives of the 49 species of lemurs. Dawn will find us in the forest awaiting the haunting call of indris, the largest lemur species. Nocturnal spotlighting excursions may reveal brown mouse, greater dwarf, or woolly lemurs. We also hope to view ring-tailed; crowned; sifakas, which can leap 30 feet or more from branch to branch; dwarf microcebus, no bigger than a mouse; and, with luck, bat-eared aye-ayes, rarest of all lemurs. From mountain highlands laced with stunning waterfalls to the shores of the Indian Ocean… from lush, primary rain forest to ghostly stands of baobab trees and the bizarre spiny desert… and from gently flowing rivers to rice paddies and coffee and vanilla plantations, we’ll enjoy adventure in its truest form. Throughout our journey we meet the lovely Malagasy people whose warmth and friendliness make this remarkable experience truly unforgettable. Madagascar is one of my favorite places on Earth and I look forward to sharing this multi-faceted natural wonderland with you. Warm regards,

Jonathan Rossouw

Madagascar Mantella Frog


Depart the USA on your independent overnight flight to Johannesburg.


in at the Relais du Masoala, then board a boat to explore a nearby river delta and the private forest reserve of Andrifotra. Malagasy fishermen pole their canoes past verdant rice paddies thronging with egrets and raiding flocks of Madagascar red fodys. We may also encounter a male panther chameleon—in his breeding condition he is a sure contender for the title of “world’s gaudiest reptile!” A spotlighting excursion after dinner will hopefully reveal some of Maroantsetra’s lesser known, but no less spectacular, creatures such as bizarre tomato frogs and lowland striped tenrecs, small hedgehog-type creatures. Overnight at our hotel.

© Jonathan Rossouw


Arrive Johannesburg International Airport and walk to the InterContinental Sun Hotel, located outside International Arrivals. The afternoon is at leisure. This evening we gather at our hotel for a welcome briefing followed by dinner and overnight.


After breakfast at our hotel, return to the airport for the flight to Tana. Upon arrival we transfer to the Hotel Colbert and overnight.


Today we set out with our local guide on a speedboat ride across the emerald-green Antongil Bay to the Masoala Peninsula for a full day’s exploration. The peninsula encompasses one of the finest tracts of primary forest, rain forest, and coastal forest in the country as well as four protected marine areas. Ten species of lemurs are found here, including red-ruffed and eastern fork-marked lemurs. We also have the opportunity to spot tenrec and mongoose, as well as the rare serpent eagle and Madagascar red owl. Return across the bay for dinner and overnight at our hotel.



This morning we depart for our flight to the sleepy coastal town of Maroantsetra. We check White-footed Lepilemur

We embark on another early boat ride across Antongil Bay for a morning excursion to the island of Nosy Mangabe. Past visits to this area have been sensational, with magnificent black-and-white ruffed lemurs visiting our picnic table. Be sure to bring your macro lens for some exciting photographic opportunities of the peculiar leaf-tailed geckos, tree frogs, or perhaps even a Madagascar ground boa. We also hunt for the world’s smallest vertebrate—the thumbnail-sized chameleon, Brookesia minimi. Following lunch we cross over to Farakaraina, which offers us our best chance to see the endangered aye-aye, the world’s largest nocturnal primate. We return to Maroantsetra for dinner and overnight at out hotel.


After breakfast we explore the bustling Maroantsetra market, with vanilla pods



Diégo Suarez / Montagne d’Ambre / Montagne d’Francais

an ne l



h eC iqu b am

Maroantsetra Masoala Peninsula Antongil Bay Nosy Mangabe


Antananarivo (Tana)
anne m Joh to/fro sburg

Périnet Reserve / Mantadia National Park

In d i an Ocean

Today we visit Mantadia National Park, situated at a slightly higher altitude and endowed with lush, mossy forest. Home to lemurs rarely encountered around Périnet, such as the rare and spectacular diademed sifaka, the area also offers excellent sighting opportunities of the red-bellied lemur and gray bamboo lemur. In the early evening we embark on a walk to look for nocturnal wildlife. With luck, our spotlight will catch the eyeshine of the diminutive brown mouse lemur, greater dwarf lemur, or even the larger eastern avahi (or woolly lemur). We return to the Vakona Forest Lodge for dinner and overnight.
DAY 10


Tropic of Capricorn

Berenty Reserve

Fort Dauphin

drying in the sun and a bewildering variety of fish. Return to our hotel for lunch before departing for the airport and our flight to Tana. From here we drive to Périnet Reserve, one of the wildest and densest rain forests on the planet. We arrive at the Vakona Forest Lodge for dinner and overnight.

This morning includes a visit to Lemur Island on the grounds of the Vakona Forest Lodge before departing on our return drive to Tana. En route we stop at La MAP NOT TO SCALE Mandraka Nature Farm and enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing to our hotel for check-in. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at Hotel Colbert.
DAY 11



Our day begins at dawn as we await the morning call of the indri—the largest of all lemurs. One of its Malagasy names is babakoto, referring to the ancient being that first separated the ancestors of lemurs and men. Each animal sings in its own voice, so the echoes and re-echoes tell each group where every indri is located on the hill. Both eerie and haunting, its call is never to be forgotten. Other primate species we may find include common brown lemur and small-toothed lepilemur. Reptiles are especially well represented and we hope to find short-horned chameleons stalking insects, or an iridescent Madagascar tree boa basking in the sun. Birding is equally spectacular with endemics such as Madagascar paradiseflycatcher and the brilliant blue vanga. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

Following an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for our flight to Diego Suarez. Upon arrival we set out to explore Montagne d’Ambre National Park, a mountain paradise replete with waterfalls, pristine forests, endemic birds, and close encounters with


Madagascar Magpie-robin

© Jonathan Rossouw

are also on the lookout for gray-headed lovebirds and the bizarre sickle-billed vanga. Returning to the airport we fly to Tana, connecting with our onward flight to Fort Dauphin, an isolated paradise squeezed between rolling green hills and sparkling blue sea. Transfer to the Croix du Sud hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAYS 14 & 15

© Shirley Metz


Red-fronted Brown Lemur lemurs. During our visit we hope to see and photograph crowned lemurs, Sanford’s brown lemurs, ring-tailed mongoose, and a wealth of birds, including the highly localized amber mountain rock-thrush. We return to Diego Suarez for dinner and overnight at the Hotel La Note Bleue.
DAY 12

We depart the hotel after breakfast for the three-hour drive to Berenty. Along with Périnet, Berenty is another of Madagascar’s most celebrated reserves and one of life’s great experiences in the natural world. For photographers, Berenty is a visual feast— ring-tailed lemurs show no fear and seem to pose just for you, while the gibbon-like Verreaux’s sifakas are just an arm’s length away from the camera lens. Birding is also phenomenal, and past trips have recorded such specialties as Madagascar sandgrouse, white-browed owl, and the stately giant coua. Spend the next day exploring the reserve including an evening walk. Dinners and two overnights at the Berenty Lodge.

DAY 16

We depart overland for the Ankarana Special Reserve this morning, renowned for its dramatic landscapes: karst pinnacles, or tsingy; deep forest-filled canyons; a labyrinthine cave system with the only known cave-dwelling crocodiles on the planet; and a vast network of underground rivers. Wildlife is profuse in this park and we have excellent opportunities to encounter multiple lemur species such as crowned, Sanford’s brown, and northern sportive lemurs, as well as birds typical of dry forest such as the strange white-breasted mesite and the Torotoroka scops-owl. The reserve is also known for its rich diversity of reptiles including leaf-tailed geckos. We return to Diego Suarez for dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 13


After an early breakfast we return to Fort Dauphin in time for our flight to Tana. Transfer to the Hotel Colbert for check-in and lunch. In the afternoon we visit Lac Alarobia, a private sanctuary which protects large numbers of breeding herons and egrets. Its central island, teeming with Madagascar squacco herons and egrets in breeding plumage, provides a truly memorable spectacle. During our visit we are also on the lookout for such endemics as Madagascar’s wagtail, white-eye, and malachite kingfisher. Our farewell dinner and overnight is at our hotel.
DAY 17



This morning we visit Montagne d’Francais, where we can see and photograph the red-barked Suarez baobab, perhaps the rarest and most impressive of the six species of baobabs endemic to Madagascar. We

After breakfast we can relax or embark on a shopping expedition to the local artisans’ market. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to the airport for your flight to Johannesburg, and continuing independent flights to the USA.
DAY 18


Arrive in the USA and connect with flights homeward.


1. RESERVATIONS: 25% of the expedition fare, along with a completed and signed Reservation Form, will reserve a place for you on this Eco-Expeditions (ECO) program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is also due at this time. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars. Credit cards accepted for deposit only. 2. CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY: Notification of cancellation of this program and any independent travel arrangements must be received in writing by ECO. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply: • 120 or more days prior to departure: $300 per person • 60 through 119 days prior to departure: 50% of expedition fare • 59 days prior to departure through day of departure: 100% of expedition fare Some air fare may be nonrefundable. Once an expedition has departed, there will be no refunds from ECO for any unused portions of the trip. The above policy also applies to all extensions and independent travel arrangements made in conjunction with this program. 3. TRIP CANCELLATION AND INTERRUPTION INSURANCE: We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance as protection against an emergency that may force you to cancel or leave from an expedition while it is in progress. A brochure describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your reservation. 4. SHARE POLICY: Accommodations on all ECO programs are based on double occupancy. If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, a roommate will be assigned to you whenever possible. When pairing roommates, we will always pair participants of the same sex. All shared accommodations are nonsmoking. If it is not possible to pair you with a roommate, you will be required to pay a Single Supplement. Please note that single accommodations are limited and cannot be guaranteed throughout. 5. MEDICAL INFORMATION: Participation on an ECO program requires that you be in generally good health. It is essential that persons with any medical problems and related dietary restrictions make them known to us well before departure. We can counsel you on whether the expedition you have selected is appropriate for you. The tour leader has the right to disqualify any participant at any time during the tour if he/she feels the participant is physically incapable and/or if a participant’s continued participation will jeopardize either the individual involved or the group. There will be no refund given under these circumstances. 6. LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS: Luggage size and weight limitations for both checked and carry-on luggage, imposed by the airlines or as an operational requirement due to type of aircraft, will apply for flights to/from/within this program. Specifications will be provided with pre-departure materials. 7. CURRENCY FLUCTUATION AND FUEL COST INCREASES: In order to keep rates as low as possible, we do not build into the trip fare an allowance to cover possible increases from currency fluctuations or fuel costs. Therefore, as currencies do fluctuate around the world and fuel-cost increases may occur, it may be necessary for us to initiate a minor rate surcharge at any time before departure if there are exceptional cost increases beyond our control. 8. ITINERARY CHANGES & TRIP DELAY: Itineraries are based on information available at the time of printing and are subject to change. ECO reserves the right to change a program’s dates, staff, itineraries, or accommodations as conditions warrant. If a trip must be delayed, or the itinerary changed due to bad weather, road conditions, transportation delays, airline schedules, government intervention, sickness, or any other contingency for which ECO or its agents cannot make provision, the cost of delays or changes is not included. 9. ITINERARY CANCELLATION: ECO reserves the right to cancel an itinerary before departure for any reason whatsoever, including too few participants or logistical problems such as strikes, wars, acts of God, or any other circumstances that may make operation of the trip inadvisable. All trip payments received will be promptly refunded, and this refund will be the limit of ECO’s liability. ECO is not responsible for any expenses incurred by trip members in preparing for the trip, including nonrefundable or penalty-carrying airline tickets, special clothing, visa or passport fees, or other trip-related expenses. 10. PARTICIPATION: ECO reserves the right to decline to accept any individual as an expedition member for any reason whatsoever. 11. LIMITATIONS OF LIABILIT Y: This section defines ECO’s responsibility with respect to all of our trips, including extensions and independent arrangements. Please read it carefully. ECO, its Owners, Agents, and Employees give notice that they act only as the agent for the owners, contractors, and suppliers providing means of transportation and/or all other related travel services and assume no responsibility howsoever caused for injury, loss, or damage to person or property in connection with any service resulting directly from: acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays, expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, thefts, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, terrorism, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or changes in transit or hotel services over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the passengers. As described in item 7 above, all prices are subject to change. As described in item 9 above, in the event that an expedition must be cancelled, ECO is not responsible for any personal expenses incurred by trip members in preparing for the program. On advancement of deposit to ECO, the depositor acknowledges that he/she has read and understands the above recited terms and conditions, and agrees to be bound by them.

Radiated Tortoise

© Jonathan Rossouw

Ring-tailed Lemurs

Perhaps no other animal is as closely identified with its natural habitat as lemurs are with Madagascar. These arboreal primates are found only on the island, with a few introduced species present in the neighboring Comoros, and are today the best-known examples of Madagascar’s biodiversity. Lemurs are prosimians, the most ancient of the world’s surviving primates, and the story of their arrival and dispersal on Madagascar, as well as the extirpation of some races and precarious survival of the rest, provides an excellent look at the processes of island biogeography, speciation, and extinction. Roughly 40 million years ago, forebears of lemurs crossed from Africa to Madagascar. The means they used to accomplish this gave rise to a number of theories, including the existence of Lemuria, a now-sunken landmass thought to have once bridged Australia and India with Africa. The more likely, and now accepted, method is that lemurs rode across the strait aboard fallen trees or branches. Larger mammals—predators such as lions and dogs and competitors for vegetation such as giraffes, elephants, and apes—could not avail themselves of the lemurs’ mode of transport. Thus, the lemurs flourished on Madagascar while they vanished from Africa. Over the centuries the lemurs evolved into distinct species, today numbering 49, with differences in coloration and size. These species adopted different behavior and diet, allowing them to claim different ecological niches and lessen competition for food and resources. Some, such as the greater dwarf, are nocturnal, while other species are diurnal. Some species eat fruits and insects, and some feed on leaves and flowers. Most live in small groups ranging from four to twenty individuals; the brown mouse lemur, however, is a solitary forager, gathering in loose-knit groups to sleep. The indri is the largest extant species, weighing about 15 pounds and standing about two feet tall. Much larger lemurs used to roam Madagascar, though, including one species that may have weighed over 200 pounds. While having no natural predators and few competitors, these giant lemurs fell easy prey to the people who settled the island about 1,500 years ago. The arrival of humanity confronted lemurs with grievous threats to their existence— loss of habitat from logging and clearing of land for agriculture, hunting, and capture. At least 15 species have gone extinct, with ten species currently considered critically endangered, seven endangered, and 19 vulnerable. The government of Madagascar and conservation groups are working to preserve the remaining lemurs, but a great and concerted effort is required if these primates are not to join the ever-growing list of vanished species.

Zegrahm & Eco Expeditions Director Jonathan Rossouw is a medical doctor by profession; however, his lifelong passion for wildlife led him to trade in his stethoscope for binoculars and take up a full-time career in the expedition travel industry. Since 1997 he has guided wildlife expeditions throughout the globe, and has gained experience with over 7,000 bird species and 700 mammal species in the process. Jonathan has co-authored birding site guides to Southern Africa and Madagascar, and his guidebook Where to Watch Birds in Uganda is widely acclaimed as one of the finest site guides ever published. Jonathan is equally enthusiastic about mammals and coral reef fishes as he is with his specialties, birds and reptiles; indeed, he has an infectious curiosity and passion for all aspects of natural history. This serves him in good stead as he leads travelers on expeditions to all seven continents and scouts new destinations for Eco-Expeditions.

Crested Coua

Madagascar’s climate varies noticeably from north to south, east to west, and from coastal to highland regions. As we travel through the island, expect it to be warm, with temperatures ranging from the 70sºF to low 80sºF during the day and dipping into the 60sºF in the early mornings and evenings. Slightly cooler temperatures are likely at higher elevations, including Antananarivo. Berenty, in the southeast, is drier than the rest of the island and can be very hot, with temperatures during the day reaching into the 90sºF. For most activities, a moderate level of exertion is required. Our itinerary includes walks and nature hikes, sometimes over uneven terrain, including some hilly areas. We will mail a complete list of recommended clothing, essentials to bring, and a suggested reading list to you approximately five months prior to departure. Participants will enjoy the remarkable opportunities this expedition offers if they travel with flexibility and a spirit of adventure and discovery.

192 Nickerson Street #200 Seattle, WA 98109 USA Tel: 206-285-4000 Toll-free: 1-800-628-8747 Fax: 206-285-5037 E-mail: zoe@zeco.com Web site: www.zeco.com

Cover photos: ring-tailed lemurs, tawny leaf frog, baobab, crested drongo © Jonathan Rossouw; Oustalet’s chameleon © Eco-Expeditions


Sanford’s Brown Lemur

NAME #1 (as it appears on passport)
(preferred name)

NAME #2 (as it appears on passport)
(preferred name)




o Share (roommate to be assigned) o Smokers

o Single

o Enclosed is a deposit check for $ o Charge the 25% per person deposit to: o VISA
Card Number Authorized Cardholder Signature
(Note: Credit cards accepted for deposits only)

(25% per person of the program fare)

o MasterCard

o American Express
Expires Date

I/We have read and understand the enclosed Terms & Conditions for this program, and agree to abide by them. SIGNATURE SIGNATURE DATE DATE

Please complete and return this Reservation Form with your deposit to:


MADAGASCAR: $9,280 per person, double occupancy; $1,780 single supplement* Limited to 16 expedition members. INCLUDED: All accommodations and group meals; group transfers; guided excursions as stated in the itinerary; entrance fees for parks, reserves, etc.; all gratuities; domestic air transportation within Madagascar as mentioned in the itinerary. NOT INCLUDED: Air transportation except as listed above; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/fax/telephone charges. AIR FARE: A tentative flight schedule is available upon request. Eco-Expeditions will contact you approximately 180 days prior to the departure of this program to finalize your flight plans. As of December 2008, the approximate economy air fare as listed in the itinerary is $2,075 for New York/Johannesburg/Antananarivo/Johannesburg/New York. All rates are per person, quoted in U.S. dollars, and must be paid in U.S. dollars. Rates and itineraries are subject to change. *A limited number of single accommodations are available.

Lex Hes will be the expedition leader on the 2010 departure, see his biography below. A past passenger once said about Lex: “We could go on for pages talking about Lex, what

an incredible man! He turned a really great trip into a “once in a lifetime” experience. He’s a walking fountain of knowledge and possesses a fantastic sense of humor.”

– Lex a naturalist and wildlife photographer, was born and educated in Johannesburg and has been involved in the world of wildlife for the past 25 years. Previously a guide at the world-famous Londolozi Game Reserve, Lex is now a popular freelance nature guide who imparts his wealth of knowledge of Africa’s ecosystems in an easygoing and friendly manner. He is an author and nature photographer with five books to his credit—the highly acclaimed Leopards of Londolozi; a children’s book called Bushschool; Attracting Birds to Your Garden in Southern Africa; The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals; and Wild South Africa, about the biomes of his native country. In addition to time spent in the Mpumalanga Lowveld and guiding visitors around South Africa, Lex has led tours to Kenya, Botswana, and Namibia. Lex will join our 2009 departure to Madagascar and will lead the 2010 expedition.
2010 TERMS & CONDITIONS POLICY CHANGE A $500 per person penalty fee will apply for any cancellations received 120 or more days prior to departure. Please note that our terms and conditions listed inside do not indicate this new policy, however it applies to all our expeditions operating in 2010. If you return this reservation form to our office with your booking you may want to make note of this policy change in the brochure.

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