Nicknamed “the eighth continent,” Madagascar is home to some of the Earth’s most unique flora and fauna—from chattering, wide-eyed lemurs leaping through the rainforest to the majestic baobab trees that dot the landscape. Cameras in hand, we’ll delve into the island nation’s distinctly dazzling ecosystems, training our eyes to see interesting angles and our ears to hear the haunting, shrill call of the world’s largest lemur. In the company of a world-renowned travel photographer and a local expert in Malagasy biology, culture, and lemur behavior, we’ll paddle along a river in pirogue canoes, ascend to the top of a vast “stone forest,” and venture into the depths of the rainforest at night—all to catch a glimpse (and good snapshot) of these charismatic creatures and unique landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned semi-professional or a budding amateur, you can expect to learn new photographic storytelling tips and techniques each day. While our focus will be photography, the true magic of the trip will come from outside of our cameras—the flash of a tail in the branches above, a chat with a group of local vendors, the stoic near-smile of a slowly passing chameleon.
The total cost of this trip is $7,310. For those traveling solo, single accommodations can be provided, subject to availability, at an additional cost of $1,250. Please contact us to request a single room.
Our trip begins with a welcome lunch at 12 p.m. and a walking tour of Antananarivo on Day 2. We recommend you arrive to Antananarivo the night before, as flights generally arrive in the afternoon from Nairobi and Johannesburg, or in the late evening from Paris. A hotel shuttle will be there to greet you and whisk you to your rooms for a night of rest before our adventures begin. Our trip concludes on the evening of Day 14. If leaving Antananarivo directly after the trip, we recommend departing either on late overnight flights (around 1–3 a.m. to Europe), or the following day around 2–4 p.m. to African connections. Alternatively, stay an additional day in Tana and depart late the following evening. If you'd like to extend your trip, we’re happy to provide suggestions for things to do and see in the city on your own.
Travelers should feel comfortable walking three to five miles over the course of each day across hilly and forested terrain, climbing ladders up steep rock crevasses, crossing rivers in canoes and wooden barges, and remaining on their feet for long periods of time.
Keep in mind that Madagascar has little to no infrastructure outside of our scheduled stops, Madagascar’s western coast is thoroughly "off the grid," and most people don’t speak English outside of the hospitality industry. Travelers should be prepared to sometimes not have access to WiFi/internet and be aware that, in rare instances, electricity may not be available.
Photographers of all levels are welcome. However, a basic understanding of aperture, iso, and shutter speed is highly encouraged to get the most out of this trip. Your guide, Matt, will be providing instruction on how to create compelling photo stories and how to ‘see’ through the lens, tailoring individual lessons and portfolio advice to each traveler's skill level. Whether you're hoping to market a collection of images as a professional, or simply excited to document your adventures with captivating images, this trip will focus on elevating your ability to create travel stories. Photo instructions and goals will be a core part of each day, and we’ll hold image reviews every few days to track our progress. Matt will also make one-on-one time for each participant to ask questions and participate in portfolio/image reviews.
You'll need to bring a DSLR/mirrorless camera. If traveling as a couple or a pair of friends, at least one of you should have a DSLR/mirrorless camera. A medium zoom lens, a long lens (focal length of at least 200mm), and a tripod are highly encouraged if you wish to capture wildlife and the night sky. Film cameras are welcome in addition to your digital camera. A full list of recommended gear will be provided once you sign up.
Travelers without an interest in photography are still welcome, and will find ample enjoyment in the amazing flora and fauna of the trip, but portions of each day will be structured around photographic opportunities.
Temperatures vary across Madagascar, but September is generally considered one of the cooler and drier winter months for the Southern Hemisphere. Temperatures can climb as high as 90°F in the afternoon (though mid-80s is most common) and drop as low as 50°F at night. In Antananarivo and the west, we’ll see plenty of bright and sunny days—but in the rainforest of Andasibe, we’ll likely encounter brief but frequent rain showers.
Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated on our trip. If you have a severe allergy, please contact us to find out if this is the right trip for you.
Though not required by law for entry, the CDC highly recommends being up to date on your standard MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) shots. In addition, vaccinations for Hep A and Typhoid are highly recommended. Unless you’re traveling from (and spending more than 12 hours in) a country with risk of yellow fever transmission, a yellow fever vaccination isn’t required. Malaria can be a concern in remote regions, and you may want to consult your physician on Malaria prophylaxis such as doxycycline. If you decide to skip this, an insect repellent of at least 40% DEET is found to be effective along with clothing that fully covers your body. Please consult your travel physician for the best advice custom to your medical history.
For almost all nationals (except those of Burundi and Palestine) a visa on arrival is available for Madagascar. We do not recommend the e-Visa system, as it is less reliable. If you want to ensure a speedy process through customs, we recommend booking a seat near the front of the plane so you are one of the first to exit your plane and enter the queue.
Madagascar is a thoroughly remote island nation, and travelers should be willing to bring a sense of adventure on our excursions along the coast. A few days will entail long drives on rugged dirt roads, so for those who’d like a bit of additional support or padding, please bring a seat cushion or back support. There are no bridges in this part of the country, and we’ll have to make two river crossings by driving our SUVs onto wooden plank barges. Electricity will be available at all of our hotels, though it may be intermittent at times in Bekopaka, as the solar panels occasionally have to recharge. WiFi and cellular connections can be quite hit-or-miss.
Your participation directly helps lemur conservation efforts with a $100 donation to GERP. This local Malagasy organization works to protect lemur and sifaka habitats, relocates groups in distress, and researches lemur behavior to better understand these unique primates. In addition, by visiting remote communities, your dollars help stimulate smaller, local villages that survive on tourism and farming alone.