madagascar ring tailed lemur spiny forest

Spiny Forests of Southern Madagascar Extension

Explore one of the Most Unique Ecosystems in the World


Explore the otherworldly spiny forest of southern Madagascar, where 95% of the plant species are endemic, and stay in a luxurious safari-style tent nestled in an ancient tamarind grove on the Mandrare River. From here, visit the sacred ancestral forest of the local Tandroy tribe in search of lemurs and rare plants, sip a sundowner amid towering baobab trees while watching local tribal dancing, and visit the famed Berenty Reserve for up-close encounters with the friendly ring-tailed lemurs and sifaka lemurs who dance along the footpaths.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Antananarivo / Mandrare River Camp

From Antananarivo, fly by a scheduled charter flight (2-3 hours) to southern Madagascar and land at an airstrip near Mandrare River Camp, a charming property inspired by the luxury tented camps of East Africa. The camp’s off-the-beaten path setting in a remote part of southern Madagascar gives you access to the spiny forest, one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Your activities here are flexible. Whether you want to rise early in search of rare birds or take a sunset walk through the spiny forest to spot mouse lemurs and chameleons, you will be guided by outstanding naturalists. We describe a sample itinerary here, but your activities can be adjusted to fit your individual preferences. Settle in and enjoy the magnificent views over the Mandrare River. Around 5 pm, depart for a guided night walk, a fantastic way to see diurnal lemurs as they bed down for the night and the nocturnal lemurs beginning their travels in the eerie and prehistoric “spiny forest.” Overnight at Mandrare River Camp…BLD
Approximate flying time: 2-3 hours

Note: Scheduled charter flights depart on Monday and Thursday only. Return flights are on Tuesday and Friday only. This extension requires a minimum 4-night stay.

 View Lodging
Day 2
Spiny Forest / Sacred Forest of the Tandroy Tribe / Mandrare River Camp

This morning, cross the Mandrare River from camp and head out to look for ring-tailed lemurs and Verreaux’s sifaka in a beautiful gallery forest. (Depending on the river depth, you will walk or take a boat across the Mandrare River to reach this largely deciduous forest.) Inquisitive groups of ring tailed lemurs and the always entertaining Verreaux sifaka are the highlights of this excursion. After lunch and an afternoon to relax or swim in the pool, take a late afternoon walk to a “sacred forest” that holds the ancestral tombs of the Tandroy tribe, one of Madagascar’s most traditional groups. You’ll learn about the fascinating Tandroy culture on a visit to their local village. Return to camp for sundowners (drinks) on the Mandrare River. Overnight at Mandrare River Camp…BLD

 View Lodging
Day 3
Berenty Reserve

After breakfast, spend the morning in search of rare and exotic birds and diurnal lemurs. After lunch, depart for Berenty Reserve, a small private park that preserves a third of Madagascar’s remaining tamarind forest. Berenty is an absolutely superb place to see a variety of lemurs, from friendly ring-tails to acrobatic sifakas, known for their death-defying tree leaps and the sideways hops they use to get around on the ground. Be ready for surprise encounters with white sifaka lemurs as they “dance” across your path. Many of the lemurs at Berenty are exceptionally tame, and there are wonderful photographic opportunities. Berenty’s fantastic birdlife includes grey-headed lovebirds, crested and giant couas, Madagascar bulbuls, and the bright red and yellow sparrow-like fodys. Return to camp in time for dinner. Overnight at Mandrare Camp...BLD
Approximate driving time: 45 minutes each way

 View Lodging
Day 4
Mandrare River Camp

After a cup of tea or coffee, head to the Spiny Forest for a sunrise walk. As the sunlight breaks through the octopus trees, search for the many endemic birds such as crested coua, a variety of vangas, and the running coua. Head back to camp for a sumptuous breakfast followed by a visit to the local market (on Thursdays and Saturdays). After lunch at camp, spend a relaxing afternoon watching life along the river from your tent terrace. In the late afternoon, depart for sundowners among the baobabs as the sun sets. In the evening, the local villagers may come and perform traditional dances, accompanied by singing and music. Overnight at Mandrare River Camp…BLD

 View Lodging
Day 5

After breakfast at the lodge, transfer to the airstrip for a 20-minute flight to Ft. Dauphin, then fly 2 hours to Antananarivo. Connect with homeward-bound flight...B


Length: 5 days
Cost From: $3390  
Arrive: Antananarivo, Madagascar
Depart: Antananarivo, Madagascar
Lodging: 4 nights luxury safari-style tent
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Photography, Birding
Trip Level:

Easy to moderate nature walks, some rugged road travel