Join Jim Zuckerman and fellow nature and travel photographer Jim Martin (who has been to Madagascar six times and wrote the first book on English on chameleons) on a special trip to Madagascar, one of the wonders of the world. We’ll see an amazing variety of strange and beautiful endemic animals in diverse and sometimes otherworldly surroundings, a world so strange it’s sometimes called the 8th continent.
It’s impossible to compress the Madagascar experience into a few paragraphs. Imagine an area about the size of California with tropical beaches, an otherworldly spiny desert, highlands with rock formations fit for Yosemite, rainforests, and karst formations bristling with sharp spires concealing some of the largest caves in the world. This is the land of the indri, a lemur that resembles a panda with calls like a humpback whale. This place is home to most of the chameleons of the world, from thumbnail-sized Brookesia to meter-long species that pluck birds out of the air with their tongues. Leaf-tailed geckos seem to melt into the bark and tomato frogs sit motionless like red buddhas. White sifaka lemurs skip sideways across the red dirt of the south while mouse lemurs, the world’s smallest primate, sleep through the day in the crook of a tree.
DAY 1, Sun. August 30. You arrive in the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo ('Tana') from either Paris or Johannesburg. This is the first official day of the tour, but it is recommend that you arrive a day early to recover from jet lag and to rest before the great photography begins. In the afternoon, we photograph in Lemur Park where habituated lemurs run free. This is a good time to practice capturing these beautiful primates with a medium telephoto lens. Overlight Hotel Relais des Plateaux. D
DAY 2, Mon. August 31. Today we fly to Maroantsetra, a town on the border of the largest wild lands on the east coast. Masoala Peninsula is a gigantic national park that still yields new discoveries. The area features leaf-tailed geckos, tenrecs (small mammals that resemble hedgehogs), mouse lemurs, panther chameleons, the Malagasy boa, and the spectacular tomato frog. We visit Farakaraina Forestry Station via small boat and stay out late for a chance to see the elusive aye-aye, an extremely unusual looking lemur. Overnight Hotel Hyppocampe. B L D
DAY 3, Tue. September 1. Today we take an early boat trip to the Masoala Peninsula and spend the day in the National Park, a true rainforest wilderness. From macro photography to wildlife photography, you will be captivated by the strange biodiversity of this region. Within this huge park many sensitive ecosytems are protected -- mangroves, marshes, coral reefs, coastal forest, and flooded forest. There are ten lemur species here including the flamboyant red ruffed lemur. Overnight Petit Relais. B L D
DAY 4, Wed. September 2. We spend another fruitful morning in the park, and after lunch we return by boat, stopping at Nosy Mangabe, a small island in Antongil Bay and a tropical rainforest preserve. The island is home to leaf-tailed geckos, the endgangered aye-aye, and white-fronted lemurs. Overnight Hotel Hyppocampe. B L D
DAY 5, Thur. September 3. We visit a local market for photography of the locals, and then we return to Tana. This is a good opportunity to look through the pictures you've already taken and share with the group your favorites and/or ask questions about some of pictures that might need some tweaking in Photoshop. Overnight at the Hotel Colbert/deluxe wing, Antananarivo. B L D
DAY 6 - 8, Fri. to Sun. September 4 - 6. We fly to Ft. Dauphin this morning and drive to Berenty, the best place to photograph the spiny forest and the dancing sifaka lemurs skipping across the red earth and leaping from tree to tree. We will also shoot lepilemurs, ring-tailed lemurs, radiated tortoises, and chameleons with their unique, independently moving eyes. This is a good change to practice photographing moving subjects with predictive autofocus as well as other techniques Jim will explain. Overnight Berenty (3 nights). B L D
DAY 9, Mon. September 7. We depart early from Berenty to allow enough time to visit Reserve du Nahampoana in Ft. Dauphin where we may shoot a chameleon catching a cricket. Here sifakas and ring-tailed lemurs wander through an extensive botanical garden, a completely different background after Berenty's near desert. Overnight Croix du Sud. B L D
DAY 10, Tue. September 8. We fly to Tana this morning, and then we continue on to Perinet (a three hour drive), one of the jewels of the Malagaasy park system. The biodiversity here is astonishing. The park boasts eleven species of lemurs along with many rare and endangered species. While the park is threatened by logging and other man-made activities, the photography is still beyond compare. Overnight Vakona Lodge or Andasibe Hotel. B L D
DAY 11 - 13, Tue. - Thur. September 9 - 11. During these three days, we visit Perinet, Mantadia, and Lemur Island. This is the land of the indri, the largest remaining lemur resembling a panda. It has a 20 foot leap, and groups of indri call from tree tops. They sound like a pod of humpback whales. Some of teh largest and smallest chameleons live here, wooly lemurs drowse in the branches, and leaf-tailed geckos redefine camouflage. Lemur Island allows for incomparable access to a number of lemur species. Overnight Vakona or Andasibe Hotel. B L D
DAY 14. Fri. September 12. We drive back to Tana in the morning, stopping enroute for photography at La Mandraka. This is the private estate of a biologist, and here we can shoot all kinds of insects, snakes, geckos, butterflies, chameleons, and frogs. We have a dayroom in Tana, and then most of us will depart for home on a late night flight for Paris.
Tour price: $8850 based on double occupancy. Includes all internal flights, 13 night's lodging, all meals per the itinerary, all ground transportation, entrance fees, boat trips, English speaking guide, two photographer guides, and photo instruction.
Single supplement: $1600
Not included: International airfare, visa, any airport taxes, beverages, alcoholic beverages, items of a personal nature.