Orchids of Madagascar
Madagascar is one of the most incredible places on earth; it is the diversity hotspot with a very high proportion of endemic flora and fauna, including 1000 different orchids.
The tour starts near the capital Antananarivo (Tana) which currently can be reached via Paris, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Mauritius, Addis Ababa, Reunion, or Nairobi.
We first take a short internal flight to the coastal city of Tulear (Toliara) in the SW. Here we are met by our drivers / guides and explore some of the dry coastal forest. We then head back towards Antananarivo on the famous Route National 7. On the way we will see the Isalo massif with its amazing rock formations and dry forest, explore the vast Ranomafana rainforest reserve and travel through the picturesque Highlands. We will then pass Antananarivo via the Anjazorobe reserve to make our way to the orchid (and lemur)-rich rainforests around Andasibe.
Participants should see many different lemurs, chameleons, weird and wonderful insects,and a good number of orchids in flower.
November is the beginning of the rainy season when everything comes to life, the lemurs have babies and orchids begin to bloom. Most importantly it still enables easier travel and offers comparatively pleasant weather. Flowering times depend on several factors but during the last OCA trip we saw around 90 different orchids in flower, including Aerangis, Aeranthes, Angraecum, Aeranthes, Benthamia, Bulbophyllum, Cymbidiella, Cynorkis, Eulophia, Eulophiella, Gastrorchis, Goodyera, Jumellea, Lemurella, Oeonia andPolystachya. Some of the succulents will also be in flower in the South. Unlike otherparts of the world orchids in Madagascar are few and far between so travelling to find them is essential.
This trip will explore Madagascar in relative luxury, with 4WD vehicles, a driver/guide for each and accommodation in comfortable lodges or hotels with private facilities.
Dates & Prices
- Dates: 31 October – 21 November, 2024
- Price: $6800 per person (double accommodation)
- Single Room Supplement: $800 (total $7400)
- Deposit: $1700 per person. Due by Mar 1. (Refundable up to this date). Since there is a very limited number of spaces, interested participants should send their deposits to the OCA as soon as possible to reserve a spot on the tour. Your spot on the tour is only reserved when your deposit is received, and the order of the deposits determines acceptance. No exceptions!
- Activity requirements: Due to the demanding physical requirements of the trip, all participants should be in good health and physical condition. The OCA reserves the right to limit participants due to health or fitness reasons.
- Final Payment due: May 15, 2023. This early date is necessary as we have to prepay the accommodation for the tour in order to reserve it.
- Price includes: internal airfare, ground transportation, drivers, guides, meals, hotel accommodations, entry to parks and reserves
- Not included: Round trip airfare to Madagascar from home country, entry visas, travel insurances, beverages, personal items, tips. A communal purse will be created to cover tips for hotel porters, reserve guides, etc., plan on $150-$200 (in cash).
- NOTE: Luggage allowance for the internal flight is 20kg for checked luggage and 5 kg for cabin luggage. Excess luggage is approximately $10 kg, but may not be allowed. Please pack accordingly, i.e. 1 carryon less than 5kg, and 1 suitcase no more than 20 kg.
- Cost does not include first night accommodation at the Radisson in Antananarivo as this hotel does not allow group reservations. Details will be sent to participants. Hotel nights prior to or after the tour are also not included but can be arranged with our tour agency, or separately.
- Currency: Currency exchange is best completed at the airport. The currency brokers are quite fussy about the money, so bring crisp new $20 bills. Usually you can exchange Euros, Pounds, and $US but few if any other currencies. There are very few ATMs in Madagascar, and it is possible your ATM card may not even work when you find one! Credit cards (Visa is apparently preferred) are accepted at some of the resorts, but otherwise are not widely used or accepted. Make sure that you alert your credit card company about international travel.
- Conservation Donation: A donation based on the profit (~$1000 per person) is donated to the Orchid Conservation Alliance. The Orchid Conservation Alliance is a 501(c)3 organization, and for USA residents, the donation may be tax deductible. A formal acknowledgement letter with the exact amount donated is sent to each participant at year end.
- Leaders: Johan and Clare Hermans
- Group Size: Minimum of 6 and a maximum of 10 (plus the 2 tour leaders)
Day 0 Arrive in the capital Antananarivo. Met at the airport and overnight at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront near Antananarivo. Flights from Nairobi, Mauritius, Reunion, Addis Ababa and Istanbul arrive in the afternoon, those from Paris and some from Nairobi arrive late at night.
Day 1 Day at leisure in Tana, trip to the old royal palace in Ambohimanga or elsewhere.
Day 2 Internal flight to Tulear in the SW, to be met at the airport by our drivers/guides. Overnight Les Dunes seaside hotel.
Day 3 Visit Reniala spiny forest and explore locally, overnight Les Dunes.
Day 4 Drive to Ranohira with a visit to the Zombitse reserve, at the junction of the western and southern vegetation zones where Aerangis and other orchids may be in flower. On the way see the Sapphire town of Ilakaka and the iconic Bismarckia Palms. Overnight Le Jardin du Roy, within the Isalo sandstone mountains.
Day 5 Exploring Isalo National Park, spectacular rock formations with succulent plants including flowering Pachypodium and Eulophia. Overnight Le Jardin du Roy.
Day 6 Drive to Tsaranoro in the foothills of the Andringitra Massif, stopping at Ambalavao the centre for Antaimoro paper-making and Anja Park, home to Ring Tail Lemurs. Overnight tbc
Day 7 Visit Tsaranoro forest near the camp or Anja Park. Overnight Betsileo Country Lodge.
Day 8 Drive to the Ranomafana rainforest, with roadside orchids stops. Overnight Setam Lodge, overlooking the National Park.
Day 9 Walk in Ranomafana National Park, home to 12 species of lemur including Red Fronted Brown lemur and Milne-Edwards Sifaka the most commonly seen, numerous endemic birds and several terrestrial and epiphytic orchids. Overnight at Setam Lodge.
Day 10 Walk in different part of Ranomafana National Park. Evening trip to see nocturnal lemurs. Overnight at Setam Lodge.
Day 11 Drive towards Ambositra, overnight Antoetra, Ivato River Lodge, amongst the Zafimaniry villages.
Day 12 Drive to Antsirabe, a spa town in the Highlands, explore on the way,. Overnight Couleur Cafe.
Day 13 Drive to Lake Itasy via the Kitsamby river forest, overnight Ampefy, Hotel Farihy.
Day 14 Drive to the Anjozorobe rainforest, overnight Akiba Forest Lodge, within the forest.
Day 15 Walk in the Anjozorobe forest reserve, to see orchids and other flora and fauna. overnight Akiba Forest Lodge.
Day 16 Drive to the eastern rainforests at Andasibe. Overnight Vakona Lodge.
Day 17 Visit Mantadia National Park, lemurs include Diademed Sifaka, orchids should include, Aerangis, Angraecum, Bulbophyllum, Cynorkis, Goodyera etc. Overnight Vakona Lodge.
Day 18 Visit Mitsinjo &/or Analamazaotra National Park, home of the iconic Indri and 10 other species of lemur and many birds and orchids. Overnight Vakona Lodge.
Day 19 Visit Maromizaha, Vohimana or other reserve to see Eastern forest fauna and flora. Overnight Eulophiella Lodge with its own private reserve.
Day 20 Visit Iaroka reserve. Overnight Eulophiella Lodge.
Day 21 Return to Antananarivo. Overnight Radisson Blue Hotel Waterfront or possibility of catching late night flight home.
Day 22 Tana, trip to the botanic garden and the city. Transfer to airport for afternoon flight home or late night flight. Radisson Blue Hotel Waterfront (book day room for afternoon flights)
Johan & Clare Hermans have been studying the orchid flora of Madagascar since 1990 and have travelled there extensively during 20 field trips. Johan is an Honorary Research Associate of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and they are both Research Fellows of the University of Vienna. They have written many articles and several books on the orchids of Madagascar and the Mascarenes.
Level of Activity and Accommodation
Walks in the reserves generally take 3 to 4 hours on a variety of paths, some slippery and narrow, others easy and flat but some can be climbing, and the order of the walks may change. A few treks are more difficult, but these will be optional. In general, a good fitness level and open mind will be required. Due to the small size of the group, alternate organized activities cannot be offered.
Car journeys will be a maximum of six to seven hours but most of the time these are followed by a few days in one locality. The roads are very variable in condition and can deteriorate during the February cyclone season so timings can only be approximate.
Travel will be in 4WDs which are essential to access several of the reserves via rough tracks. The vehicles, such as Toyota Land Cruiser, will be functional rather than luxurious. Each vehicle will have a driver/guide; the majority will be English speaking. We are aiming for a maximum of 4 people per vehicle, including the driver/guide and a maximum of 12 participants including Johan and Clare Hermans. Local guides generally speak some English.
Average daytime temperatures will range from 75°F in the Highlands to 90°F in Isalo and the evenings can be cool. Some rain can always be expected, especially in the rainforest.
Accommodation will be in comfortable, often chalet style, hotels and camps and porters will be available. Generally, you will eat well, the style of the food in most of the hotels is French inspired, the local diet is rice without much meat. Vegetarians can be catered for but there is likely to be a very limited choice in several of the Hotels.
Please remember that Madagascar is a poor developing country and roads, utilities and other facilities can be challenging. The Island has the full range of tropical diseases, it is also a high risk malarial area so anti-malarials are strongly advised. Immunisations and precautions will be required, please check with your Physician what you need. There is a very variable standard of health services, so it is best to bring enough of your own normal medications to last the trip.
There are no poisonous snakes on the Island but there are a variety of biting insects, leeches, and other irritants as part of the Madagascar experience. All participants are required to have full Medical Travel Insurance including an Evacuation Policy (a minimum of $50,000 value recommended). Further information and advice will be sent to participants prior to the trip.
Information and articles about the 2019 / 2023 OCA trip to Madagascar can be found on: Madagascar – Orchid Conservation Alliance
If desired, participants can make their own arrangements for pre or post tour trips to other parts of Madagascar, South Africa and elsewhere. ‘Sense of Oceans’ our tour operator in Madagascar (Sense of Oceans Madagascar) will be able to assist (contact email@example.com)
All participants are required to have a travel medical insurance policy with a minimum of $50,000 evacuation coverage. A travel cancellation policy is also advised, but that is up to the participant. If purchasing a cancellation policy, ensure that it covers COVID19 related events. All participants are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and will need to complete liability and medical information forms prior to the trip. Please bring proof of vaccination (in case it might be required by airlines, immigration etc.). Passport expiration date should be at least 6 months after arrival in Madagascar, and at least two blank pages are required in the passport. An entry visa is required (purchased at the airport upon entry, approximately $37).