FW: birding with Lyn Mayr Madagascar 97

To: "'BIRDING AUS'" <>
Subject: FW: birding with Lyn Mayr Madagascar 97
From: Isom John <>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 1997 06:47:49 +0200
Apart from a couple of areas, Madagascar is not too difficult and you 
don't need to pay the earth.

John Isom, Johannesburg

-----Original Message-----
From:    [SMTP:
Sent:   Tuesday, April 15, 1997 2:00 PM
To:     Isom John
Subject:        birding with Lyn Mayr Madagascar 97

Dear John

Many thanks for this referal, it is greatly appreciated. Please find 
to follow this year's birding itinerary.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information, we 
will be delighted to be of assistance to you.

Kind regards

Rita Griessbach

Group Tour Madagascar

In 1996 renowned birder, lecturer and tourleader Lyn  Mair escorted a 
very successful group tour around Madagascar. They cleaned up the list 
as far as groups go, enjoying quality sightings of many rarely seen 
endemics !
With 110 endemics and another 25 shared with either the Comoros or 
Aldabra, 'lifer's galore' await birders visiting this mini-continent 
with its diverse climatic/floristic zones. Besides the birds, we'll 
 see extraordinary mammals such as lemurs;  reptiles such as numerous 
chameleons, colourful frogs and bizarre invertebrates. And the various 
forests are as fascinating, since Madagascar's botany is exceptionally 
diverse. We'll see rare palms, orchids, baobabs, pachypodiums and 
diverse scenery during this unforgettable two week holiday.
Lyn Mair completed a birding course with Ian Sinclair in 1982 at Natal 
University. She first travelled to Madagascar, also with Ian Sinclair, 
in 1993, after which she visited the Masoala peninsula independently. 
In December 1994 she met Tony Soper (BBC) on the World Discoverer and 
was contracted to work with renowned Madagascar expert Hilary Bradt on 
an RSPB cruise from South Africa to Madagascar and other western 
Indian Ocean islands such as Aldabra and the Seychelles. The cruise 
involved several stops along the Malagasy coastline from where Lyn and 
Hilary would take the group inland to reserves. Since then she has 
also travelled as a tourleader / lecturer with Noble Caledonia and 
with Hilary Bradt as birding lecturer on a BBC Wildlife tour. On the 
latter tour she co-led a group of 110 passengers, the route being from 
Amman (Jordan) to the Seychelles, Aldabra and Madagascar. Lyn also led 
groups into the Jozani forest, Zanzibar in 1995. Lyn has been birding 
in numerous African countries including Malawi, Kenya, Gabon and Ivory 
With Lyn's experience and knowledge, as well as the expertise of 
Unusual Destinations and their Malagasy ground operators, you will see 
most of Madagascar's compellingly unique endemics. Spring (October to 
December) is the best time for birding on Madagascar. Most birds are 
breeding so locating elusive species is easier. This applies to rarely 
seen lifers such as mesites, flufftails, emu-tails and the beautiful 
ground-rollers. Seriously weird birds such as the Asitys and Sunbird 
Asitys will be in breeding regalia, sporting near-fluorescent facial 
wattles. Forests resound with the loud calls of conspicuous Couas and 
the diverse Vangas, both firm favourites with birders.
You'll also have the opportunity to see some of the world's rarest 
birds, such as the majestic Madagascar fish eagle, a definite sighting 
at Ampijoroa forest station where it coexists with raptors like the 
Madagascar Gymnogene, Madagascar goshawk and banded kestrel. Others 
are severely threatened, like the Appert's greenbul, just about 
confined to the 21 000 ha Zombitse forest.  Expect to see other 
rarities such as the Humblot's heron, Madagascar plover, Yellowbrow 
oxylabes and Yellow-bellied sunbird-asity, all of which are best found 
with the help of an experienced birding tourleader.
The itinerary involves first visiting 'Perinet', a montane rainforest 
sanctuary for the apelike Indri lemur, which put this reserve on the 
map.  Perinet's specials include red-fronted Coua, Madagascar 
Woodrail, dusky greenbul and the coral-billed nuthatch Vanga. Look for 
passerines such as the green jery, brown newtonia and the newly 
described cryptic warbler.
Then we embark on an overland stint to Ranomafana National park, which 
sprang into prominence in 1986 with the discovery of the golden bamboo 
lemur. But lemurs aside, this is where most rare rainforest-dependent 
birds can be seen. With luck, a 3 night stay in Ranomafana will reveal 
endemics such as the collared Nightjar,  4 species of 
rainforest-dwelling ground roller; velvet and Sunbird Asitys; 
grey-crowned greenbul, the 3 Oxylabes; grey and brown emutails and 
Pollen's Vanga, to name but a few. Night strolls should reveal various 
species of nightjar, owl and a variety of reptiles, frogs and 
nocturnal mammals.
>From Ranomafana, we leave the eastern domain for the semi-arid south 
where our first stop is the impressive 'ruiniforme'mountains of the 
Isalo National Park. Here, the scoop is the localised Benson's rock 
thrush. (Look for white throated rails and cuckoo rollers).
>From Isalo we continue to Zombitse Classified Forest to see Appert's 
greenbul, giant and crested Couas and thamnornis warbler. Finally we 
reach the semi-arid south-west coast, where we will enjoy birding in 
the 'spiny forests' of the Ifaty area. These unworldly forests harbour 
rare endemics like the sub-desert Mesite, long-tailed ground roller, 
LaFresnaye's Vanga and Archbold's newtonia. Other southern 'specials' 
are  running and Verreaux' Couas and the Littoral rock thrush. The 
remarkable botany  here is dominated by numerous species of Euphorbia, 
the spiny 'Didiera' trees and bloated baobab, pachypodium, uncarinia, 
moringa and hildergardia species.
Finally we visit the top birding hotspot in the threatened western 
tropical dry deciduous forests -  Ampijoroa Forest Station. Again 
you'll note the unique and diverse wildlife here, (mammals, reptiles 
and birds are abundant).  Specials include the White breasted mesite; 
 Coquerel's and redcapped coua; Schlegel's asity and the highly 
localised Van Dam's Vanga.  Many rate Ampijoroa as their single most 
rewarding locality for Malagasy wildlife. In all,this will be a 
wonderful trip to an extraordinary destination.
Fly from Johannesburg International airport to Antananarivo, the 
Malagasy capital.
Flight Johannesburg - Antananarivo with Air Madagascar MD723 0955/1405 
On arrival, our English-speaking Malagasy guides will meet and assist 
the group with formalities and transfer us to the famed 'Perinet' 
rainforest reserve (Analamazaotra), 3 hours by road to the east of the 
capital.  Overnight at the upmarket Vakona Lodge. Bring a torch and 
rain gear as those who wish can be taken on a night stroll to see 
nocturnally active wildlife.  (Dinner)

Day to explore the neighbouring rainforest of Maromizaha, where many 
rare species not found in  Perinet, can be seen. Overnight stay at the 
Vakona Lodge (Full Board)
Morning in Perinet rainforest - mainly for the sake of seeing the 
Indri lemurs and other wildlife local to the central-eastern 
rainforest. Transfer back to  Tana and down to Antsirabe where we 
overnight at the smart Arotel.  (Full board).
Transfer to the National  Park of Ranomafana. This is one of the best 
rainforests for birding and many very rare endemics are easily seen 
here. We overnight at the rustic hotel Domain Nature. (Full Board).
Full day in Ranomafana. Hotel Domain  Nature. (Full Board).
Today we explore an area adjacent to Ranomafana, Vohiparara, which is 
particularly good for birds frequenting marshes in rainforest 
territory.  Hotel Domain Nature, (Full Board).
Today we drive across the island, passing through dramatically 
contrasting scenery to the Isalo mountains, located in the desolate 
south-western interior. (7 hour drive). We overnight at Madagascar's 
best hotel, the Relaise la Reine d'Isalo. One really just needs a few 
minutes to locate the Benson's rock-thrush which breeds on the hotel 
buildings. And the white-throated rail is resident in the hotel 
grounds. Hotel Relaise la Reine d'Isalo, (Full board).
After an early breakfast we drive to the Zombitse Classified forest (1 
hour), one of two remaining transition forests (where western tropical 
dry forest and the southern 'spiny bush' merge. After a few hours in 
Zombitse we continue to the southwest coast. (3 hours). After arriving 
in Tulear we continue 24km north to the Ifaty area, where spiny bush 
is spectacular.  Overnight at the upmarket  hotel  Lakana Veso. (Full 
board). This beach resort has the island's best scuba diving centre 
and a snorkelling trip is definitely on!
Early morning birding trip to the spiny forests. Within about two 
hours it is easy to see all the regional endemics of the sub-desert 
south.  In the afternoon, we'll go snorkelling around the magnificent 
coral reefs off Ifaty beach. Hotel Lakana Veso, (Full Board).

Transfer to Tulear airport from where we fly to Antananarivo. Transfer 
to the hotel Tana Plazza (new, upmarket). Balance of the day for 
sightseeing. (B&B)
Flight Tulear - Antananarivo with Air Madagascar MD593 1235/1425

Transfer to the airport and fly to Mahajanga. Transfer to the Tropical 
Hotel. Balance of the day for sightseeing in the area.
Flight Antananarivo - Mahajanga with Air Madagascar MD524 1150/1305
Early start: Transfer to the Ampijoroa forest station. Day for birding 
in this excellent example of western tropical deciduous forest. Many 
of the island's most threatened species live here. Organised camping 
at Ampijoroa's campsite, (Full board). (Chef and porter to accompany 
the reserve).
Birding in Ampijoroa. Transfer back to Hotel Tropical in the 
(Full board).
Transfer to the Mahajanga airport from where we fly to Antananarivo.
Flight Mahajanga - Antananarivo with Air Madagascar MD325 1250/1335
Transfer to the Hotel Tana Plaza. Balance of the day for shopping - 
organised excursion with guide. (B&B)
Transfer to the airport. Assistances with check-in and fly to 
Flight Antananarivo - Johannesburg MD722 0620/0850

Prices : (in S.A. Rands):
Price per person double/twin room sharing :     R 10.712.-- (minimum 12 
single room supplement :                        R   1.937.-

This includes : International and internal flights (ex Johannesburg), 
visa fees, accommodation on a full board basis throughout the tour 
except for the nights in Antananarivo which areB&B, all transfers and 
assistances, excursions to the reserves with transport and reserve 
permits, tourleader Lyn Mair and experienced, English speaking 
Malagasy guide throughout the tour.
Not included : dinners in Antananarivo only; international & domestic 
airport taxes; drinks, tips and personal expenses (laundry & telephone 
We shall supply a full list of things to pack. For more information 
please call on us at any time.

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