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One hundred and sixty-five millionyears ago the huge prehistoricsuper-continent of Gondwanalandbegan to break up. As the new continentsembarked on their slow, inexorable driftstowards their present locations, the islandof Madagascar was left isolated in an ever-widening ocean. This isolation allowed theisland's prehistoric fauna and flora freerein to evolve in their own unique way and,today, over 80% of all Malagasy wildlife isendemic, occurring nowhere else on Earth. Perhaps the most familiar, and endearing,of these endemic creatures are the lemurs,one of the very first primate families toevolve and one that is now restricted toMadagascar. This 14-day tour focuses onthem (offering an alternative to our popularand successful 23-day tour), and will takeyou lemur-watching in several of theisland's very best wildlife reserves,including Isalo, Ranomafana, Andasibeand the bizarre spiny deserts around Ifaty.Whilst the lemurs will no doubt take centrestage, you can be assured that thesupporting cast of birds, reptiles and otherwildlife will not be ignored. Our holiday begins with a flight toMadagascar's capital, Antananarivo,known colloquially as 'Tana'. From here wehead south through the terraced hillsidesof the Hauts Plateaux to the lush highlandrainforests of Ranomafana National Park,spending one night in Antsirabe en route.Ranomafana is a beautiful mountainousreserve enveloped in lush rainforest. Thisis one of Madagascar's newest nationalparks, established to protect the rareGolden Bamboo Lemur and its closecousin the Greater Bamboo Lemur. We willbe based here for three nights whilst weexplore the network of forest trails insearch of a wide variety of lemurs andother wildlife. Species to look out forinclude the beautiful Milne-EdwardsSifaka, plus Red-bellied and Red-frontedBrown Lemurs, Lesser Bamboo Lemur, thenocturnal Eastern Woolly Lemur and, iffortunate, maybe even the rare GoldenBamboo and Greater Bamboo Lemursthemselves. This is also a great place tosearch for the wonderfully camouflagedleaf-tailed geckos together with a variety ofchameleons and other reptiles. Birds tolook out for include Pitta-like GroundRoller, Brown Mesite, Pollen's Vanga andYellow-bellied Sunbird-asity. From Ranomafana we continue south tothe sandstone massif of Isalo, stopping onthe way at the small reserve of Anja toenjoy the troops of Ring-tailed Lemurs thatlive there. The Isalo massif has beenfashioned by the wind and the rain intospectacular gorges and gullies. Fringingwoodland at the foot of the massif is hometo Verreaux's Sifakas and Ring-tailedLemurs, whilst in the dry rocky hillsidesthat span into the surrounding countrysidethe bizarre Pachypodium roselatum('Elephant's Foot') and other unique plantsmay be found. En route to Ifaty we will stop at ZombitseNational Park, home to Hubbard's SportiveLemur and a variety of birds that includesthe endemic Appert's Greenbul. Once onthe coast we will spend two nights at Ifatyto give us the time to exploreMadagascar's most unique habitat, thespiny desert. Here huge Bottle Baobabsand bizarre 'Octopus trees' create afascinating habitat that is home to GreyMouse Lemurs and the beautiful Long-tailed Ground Roller. For our grand finale we journey back toTana and then east to the rainforestreserves of Andasibe (Mantadia andAnalamazaotra). Here we will enter theforests at dawn to listen to the eerie criesof the beautiful Indri, the largest and mostvocal of the lemurs. It is a trulymesmerising experience to stand in theforest at first light listening to the differentIndri families calling to one another fromthe tree-tops, a sound which, once heard,is never forgotten. We will spend threenights at Andasibe to fully appreciate thesight and sound of the Indri, and the otherlemur species present; these are likely toinclude Brown Lemur, Black-and-WhiteRuffed Lemur and Diademed Sifaka, and,if very fortunate, we may even catch aglimpse of the bizarre Aye-aye. Althoughsightings of this nocturnal lemur are on theincrease, and past Naturetrek groups havebeen lucky, Aye-ayes are still a rare andvery fortunate treat! We are sure to findplenty of birds, however, including Red-fronted Coua, Malagasy Pygmy Kingfisher,Rufous-headed and Scaly-legged GroundRollers and Velvet Asity, plus a range ofreptiles that could include such species asParson's Chameleon, BrevicornisChameleon or perhaps a Ground Boa. With the plaintive cries of the Indri stillfresh in our minds, we must reluctantlyreturn to Tana for our early morning flightback to London, leaving the uniquecreatures of this lost world far behind andreturning to the more familiar wildlife ofhome.Madagascar's LemursA 14-day holiday to the island of Madagascar in search of lemurs, birds and other special wildlife.Sunday 29th September - Saturday 12th October Cost: £3,895Sunday 6th October - Saturday 19th October Cost: £3,895Sunday 13th October - Saturday 26th October Cost: £3,895Sunday 20th October - Saturday 2nd November Cost: £3,895Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationANTANANARIVOANDASIBE(PÉRINET RESERVE)RANOMAFANANATIONAL PARKTAOLAGNARO (FORT DAUPHIN)BERENTYNOSY VEISLANDTULEARISALONATIONALPARKANTSIRABEINDIAN OCEANMADAGASCARIFATYFIANARANTSOAOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Tana.Day 2Antsirabe.Day 3/5Ranomafana.Day 6/7Isalo.Day 8/9Ifaty.Day 10/12Andasibe.Day 13Depart Tana at midnight.Day 14Arrive London.AccommodationSimple but comfortable hotels andeco-lodges. All rooms have privatefacilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade B. Easy to moderate daywalks only.FocusLemurs, other mammals and birds.LeaderCathy Harlow, Tony Williams, NickAcheson or Andy Harding.Single room supplement£550.Web quick search: MDG04181Diademed SifakaGrey Mouse Lemurs

Madagascar lies off the coast of eastAfrica, across the MozambiqueChannel, and straddles the Tropicof Capricorn. Separated from the Africanmainland for some 165 million years, theisland has developed in its own ecologicalniche and today possesses a unique andextremely diverse natural history. About80% of its plants, 40% of its birds andvirtually all of the mammals, reptiles andamphibians occur nowhere else in theworld. It harbours 34 known species ofchameleon (whereas Africa has only nine!),30 lemurs (primates unique to Madagascar)and seven baobabs (Africa has only one).Even now, new species are still beingdiscovered as biological survey workcontinues. Its exceptional biodiversity andthe disturbingly fast pace of environmentaldestruction make Madagascar a worldconservation priority.Madagascar enjoys an extensive network ofprotected areas, most of which are open tovisitors. Park fees go towards maintainingreserves, with some economic benefits tolocal people ensuring that Madagascar'stourist industry provides a good incentive toconserve its valuable ecology.Our holiday begins with a flight toMadagascar's capital, Antananarivo, knowncolloquially as 'Tana'. From here we headsouth through the terraced hillsides of theHauts Plateau to the lush highlandrainforests of Ranomafana National Park,spending one night in Antsirabe en route.Ranomafana is one of Madagascar's mostrecently designated national parks. Herewe hope to see our first lemur speciesranging in size from the large Milne-Edwards Sifaka to the tiny Rufous MouseLemur. If fortunate we may even glimpse aGolden Bamboo Lemur, a species endemicto the park and only discovered in 1986!We are also ensured of a wide variety ofexciting birds which we hope will includeYellow-bellied Sunbird-asity, Rufous-headedGround Roller, Brown Mesite andCrossley's Babbler. We next head south-west, across typicalhigh plateau scenery of rice paddies,villages and smooth granite mountains,known as 'Inselbergs'. We will visit IsaloNational Park, an eroded karstic limestonemassif. Here we will find several species ofthe bizarre Pachypodium('thick foot')plants as well as Benson's Rock Thrushwhich is confined to this site.Moving on, we drive to the coastal town ofTuléar and then complete our journey toAnakao by sea, passing the largest barrierreef in the Indian Ocean en route. We willspend one night at the traditional 'vezo'fishing village of Anakao, from where wewill visit the nearby island of Nosy Ve. Here we can snorkel amongst the coralsand visit a colony of graceful Red-tailedTropicbirds, along with various terns and waders, which occasionally includeCrab Plover.Returning to Tuléar, we head north to Ifaty,our base for the next two nights whilst weexplore Madagascar's dry south-westerndomain, rich in plant-life and with thehighest proportion of endemic plantfamilies in the country. From ourcomfortable beach-front hotel we willexplore the famous Malagasy Spiny Forest,characterised by the cactus-like trees of theDidiereaceaefamily, where we will searchfor the elusive Sub-desert Mesite and thestunning Long-tailed Ground Roller,arguably the most beautiful ofMadagascar's many endemic birds.Next we will take the short flight to FortDauphin on Madagascar's south-easterntip and drive to Berenty, its most famouslemur reserve. Here we will stay for twonights allowing us plenty of time to enjoythe resident troops of Ring-tailed Lemursand the opportunity to see the celebrated'dancing lemurs', the Sifakas of Berenty,which come down to the ground to cross incrab-like hops between the trees. Berentyis also home to a wide variety of otherwildlife and during our stay we will be onthe look out for birds such as MadagascarCuckoo-falcon and MadagascarSparrowhawk and reptiles such as Austalatiand LateralisChameleons and perhaps thelarge Ground Boa. Next we fly north to the coastal town ofMahajanga, from where we transfer toAmpijoroa Forestry Station, part of thelarger Ankarafantsika Nature Reserve, for a2-night stay. The reserve protects some ofMadagascar's very best western dry forestsand is home to the Coquerel's Sifaka, abeautiful silky-white and chestnut lemur,together with Mongoose Lemur, WesternWoolly Lemur and the recently discovered(1998) Golden-brown Mouse Lemur. Birdsare equally plentiful and include Van Dam'sVanga, Schlegel's Asity, White-breastedMesite and the critically endangeredMadagascar Fish Eagle.We end our holiday with three nights atAndasibe (also known as Périnet) and theunforgettable experience of entering theforests at dawn to hear the eerie cries ofthe Indri, the largest and most vocal of thelemurs. We also hope to see this beautifulanimal during our stay, along withDiademed Sifaka, Grey Bamboo Lemur andRed-bellied Lemur. Birdlife is equallyabundant and should include MalagasyPygmy Kingfisher, Red-fronted Coua,Madagascar Wood Rail and Scaly GroundRoller. All these are a supporting cast,however, for they cannot hope to competewith the sound of the Indri at dawn, a fittingfinale to our tour and an experience toremember as we drive back to Tana tocatch our flight home.MadagascarA 23-day wildlife holiday in search of the unusual birds, plants and mammals of the forests of Madagascar.Tuesday 15th October - Wednesday 6th November Cost: £5,995Tuesday 29th October - Wednesday 20th November Cost: £5,995Outline itinerary Day 1 Fly Tana.Day 2 Antsirabe.Day 3/5Ranomafana. Day 6/7Isalo.Day 8 Toliara (Tuléar).Day 9 Anakao.Day 10/11Ifaty.Day 12 Fort Dauphin.Day 13/14Berenty. Day 15 Tana.Day 16/17Ampijoroa. Day 18Mahajanga. Day 19/21Andasibe. Day 22Depart Tana at midnight. Day 23Arrive London.AccommodationThe best hotels and lodgesavailable (some of these are fairlybasic), most with private facilities;camping at Ampijoroa. FoodAll included in the price. GradingGrade B. Day walks only. FocusBirds, mammals and plants. LeaderCathy Harlow, Andy Smith or NickAcheson, plus local guides.Single room supplement £895.Web quick search: MDG01182Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryANTANANARIVO ANDASIBE (PÉRINET RESERVE) FIANARANTSOA RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK IHOSY TAOLAGNARO (FORT DAUPHIN) BERENTY NOSY VE ISLAND ANAKAOTOLIARAIFATY ISALONATIONALPARKANTSIRABE MAHAJANGA AMPIJOROA INDIAN OCEAN MADAGASCARCoquerel's SifakaRing-tailed LemurLong-tailed GroundRoller