Wild Madagascar

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Straddling the Tropic of Capricorn in the southwestern corner of the Indian Ocean and molded by almost 100 million years of biological isolation, lies the strange and wonderful land of Madagascar.  Here, in the world’s only remaining lemur stronghold, acrobatic sifakas make dazzling leaps with grace and ease, vociferous indris howl plaintively like humpback whales, and big-eyed nocturnal mouse lemurs—the world’s smallest primates—snooze the day away in a hollow tree.  Throughout the forest, spiny tenrecs snuffle blindly in the leaf litter while rainbow-colored chameleons—with tongues longer than their bodies—stalk their prey with camouflage and stealth.  The island is home to most of the world’s chameleon species—some a meter long, some no longer than a matchstick.
On the world’s fourth-largest island—Madagascar is roughly the size of California—the terrain can change dramatically in only a few dozen miles.  Dry spiny forests transition to lush humid rain forests and tropical savannahs will surrender to cool forested highland plateaus.  With more than 3,000 miles of coastline and over 250 islands, Madagascar is home to one of the world’s largest coral reef systems and dynamic mangrove habitats.  For millions of years, life on Madagascar evolved with little competition.  The monkeys, cats, jackals and hyenas that doomed lemur ancestors on the African continent never made it to this magical island.  Today, Madagascar is one of the most unique—and most endangered—ecosystems on the planet.  The growing human population, slash-and-burn agriculture, and a host of other environmental stresses threaten to eradicate this great wildlife treasure.  Many of the island’s species teeter on the brink of extinction.
 
We photograph at Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, one of Madagascar’s newest parks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Because of its unique geography the area is a hyper-photogenic landscape of stunning karst formations—highly-eroded needle-like limestone pinnacles jutting nearly 200 feet in height.  Cut through with a wild labyrinth of canyons and gorges, and filled with an improbable assortment of plants and animals, Tsingy was formerly almost impossible to access, but can now be explored by a series of wooden walkways.
 
Later, in the highlands, we visit the Peyrieras Madagascar Exotic Reserve, a private endemic animal collection where we can pose and photograph a spectacular variety of chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos, frogs, snakes and insects.  At Perinet Reserve, we are up with the sun to catch the dawn chorus of hefty panda-patterned indris, we shoot at Lemur Island—home to several photogenic lemur species, we search for sleeping chameleons on a nocturnal walk, and we photograph as many of the wildlife wonders as we and our guides can find.  
 
Photographer at baobab tree in MadagascarA visit to the Avenue des Baobabs produces iconic images of these colossal trees at sunrise and sunset. Here, baobabs up to 800 years old tower in isolation—a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar.  We photograph stunning tropical beaches, vibrant outdoor markets and lush forested waterways.
 
To cap off our discovery of Madagascar’s wonders, we travel through dry spiny forest landscapes with weird and wonderful “Dr. Seuss-like” flora to Berenty Reserve where white-furred sifakas skip across the red earth and ringtail lemurs clamber for bananas. Tiny lepilemurs peer sleepily from their nests in hollow trees as we walk by.
 
Photographing Madagascar is a unique experience that requires a keen sense of adventure—Madagascar is a third world country by any stretch of the imagination.  It operates on “Madagascar time” schedules.  Roads are poor.  It is often hot and humid.  Fady—taboos believed to be enforced by supernatural powers permeate the Malagasy culture.  But, unlike other tours that spend days driving from location to location we counterpoint these inherent shortcomings by flying on commercially scheduled and privately chartered airplanes between most long distances and stay in the best available accommodations as we travel.  At midday there is often time to relax, swim in the hotel pool, or download your photos.
 
Join our intrepid group on this amazing Madagascar photo tour and shoot the fascinating array of endemic flora and fauna, all of which combine to make for a truly exceptional photo safari!  Time is growing short to see one of the world’s truly unique natural spectacles. 

Tour Itinerary

Day 1  
Depart from home.

Day 2 (Sep 22)  
Arrive in Antananarivo or “Tana,” the capital of Madagascar, from Paris, Johannesburg or Nairobi.  It is highly recommended to arrive in Tana one day early to recover from jet lag and have time to rest.  (D)

Day 3  
This morning we fly by private charter to Bekopaka, the small village at the entrance to Bemaraha National Park.  An afternoon excursion delivers us to Petit Tsingy (Malagasy for “walking on tiptoes”) where we photograph a stunning labyrinth of needle-shaped limestone formations from breathtaking viewpoints.  (BLD)

Children in field in MadagascarDay 4   
Today’s exploration features Tsingy of Bemaraha, “The Grand Tsingy,” named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. The Tsingy of Bemaraha is known for its exceptional landscape of limestone karst pinnacles, an extensive cave system, a network of underground rivers, and a large undisturbed dry deciduous forest, and is home exceptionally large number of endemic species of plants and animals.  (BLD)

Day 5  
We enjoy another morning of photography at Petit Tsingy.  Following lunch we fly by private charter to Morondava.  We drive to our hotel—our base on the Nosy Kely beach from which we commute to photograph “Baobab Alley” at sunrise and sunset on Day 6.  (BLD)

Day 6
After an early breakfast we depart for a sunrise photo shoot at the Avenue des Baobabs throughout the kilometer-long road we can enjoy different views and create photogenic compositions of the towering Reniala—the “mother of the forest”—Malagasy for Grandidier’s Baobab.  During the time of our visit the baobabs have dropped their leaves exposing their graphic trunks and branches.  In the afternoon we continue on to Kirindy National Park, famous for giant jumping rats and habitat for seven species of lemur and a number of endemic reptiles.  We return for a sunset shoot at Baobab Alley this evening.  (BLD)

Days 7–9  
We fly to Fort Dauphin and drive to Berenty—a private gallery forest reserve in the desert and the best place to shoot the iconic spiny forest and its wildlife inhabitants.  We photograph “dancing” Verreaux’s sifaka lemurs skipping sideways across the red earth. Also common are wild, but human-habituated, ring-tailed and brown lemurs.  Here they leap from tree to tree, sometimes landing on branches covered with thorns.  The ringtails beg for bananas and sun themselves clustered together in endearing family groups. We also photograph lepilemurs, radiated tortoises, and a collection of bizarre endemic plants such as the octopus tree with “tentacles” bristling with thorns, and the pachypodiums—spiny succulents commonly called “elephant’s foot” because of the bulbous trunk.  (BLD)

Day 10
Following breakfast we drive to Fort Dauphin for a return flight to Antananarivo. With time permitting, we visit and photograph a local Tana craft market in the afternoon. (BLD)

Madagascar frog on leafDay 11  
We drive eastward from Tana toward our destination of Andasibe‒Mantadia National Park.  En route we stop to photograph a private wildlife collection at the estate of famed wildlife biologist André Peyriéras, with access to as many as twelve species of chameleons, extraordinary leaf-tailed geckos, colorful frogs, bizarre predatory insects, dinner plate-sized moths and a good variety of butterflies.  Though the place is a bit run down, the photography opportunities here are very good.  We continue on to Andasibe. (BLD)

Days 12‒13  
Andasibe‒Mantadia National Park is one of the jewels of the Malagasy park system.  Its extensive rain forest trails provide access to several intriguing species of lemurs and a photogenic variety of other animals.  We visit Analamazaotra Special Reserve—commonly called Perinet.  This is the land of the indri, the largest surviving lemur that resembles a panda with a 20-foot leap.  Locally known as babakoto—usually translated as "ancestor" or "father—groups of indri “sing” from the treetops sounding like a pod of humpback whales.  We may need to walk off-trail to photograph them in the treetops.  Some of the largest and smallest chameleons live in Mantadia, plus amazingly camouflaged leaf-tailed geckos and wooly lemurs snoozing in the branches.  
 
Lemur Island allows for incomparable access to a number of lemur species, including the rare bamboo lemurs.  We can venture out at night to see dwarf and mouse lemurs, and hunt sleeping chameleons with their ghost-like night coloration and their tails tucked into tight spirals.  (BLD)

Sailboat on coast of MadagascarDays 14–16  
This morning we head to Manambato where we board a motorized canoe to Palmarium—Akanin’ny Nofy private reserve on the shores of Lake Ampitabe.  Akanin’ny Nofy translates from Malagasy as “nest of dreams,” and the area is definitely dreamlike. With sparkling white sand beaches lying against deep blue water, this peaceful and relaxing haven is home to lush forests, scattered orchids, strings of lakes and mangroves.  All these factors have made the reserve one of the most popular vacation spots in Madagascar—and a spectacular location for photographers.  Ten species of lemurs live in freedom in the reserve, including Coquerel's sifakas, black and white ruffed lemurs, crowned lemurs, mouse lemurs, black lemurs, indris and aye-ayes, plus a host of reptiles and amphibians.  This protected area is habitat to nearly 100,000 photogenic Ravenala madagascariensis, or “traveler’s palms,” endemic to Madagascar. At midday may enjoy a swim in the warm waters of Lake Ampitabe.  (BLD)

Day 17  (Oct 7)
After an early breakfast we have a 3-hour boat ride and lunch in Tomasina, followed by a return flight to Tana.  Dayrooms are provided at our comfortable hotel near the airport to rest before a late night transfer to the airport. (BLD)

Day 18
Depending on your flight schedule, you may depart late on Day 17 or in the early morning hours of Day 18.

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Wild Madagascar

Sep 21, 2018 - Oct 09, 2018


1. REGISTRATION
A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.

2. PAYMENTS, CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.
 
A deposit of $1000 per person is required. Full payment of the trip fee is due 150 days prior to departure date. We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:
 
If Written Cancellation is Received:                                        Cancellation Fee:
122 days or prior:                                                                        100% of deposit
121 to 91 days prior:                                                                    50% of entire trip fee
90 or fewer days:                                                                         100% of entire trip fee

Emergency evacuation insurance is REQUIRED for this tour. As noted in Section 3 below, we send a brochure for trip insurance to US and Canadian residents. The policy offered includes the emergency evacuation coverage required for this trip. Participants purchasing trip insurance on their own—that is, not through our office—should confirm that emergency evacuation is included in their policy.


No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

3. TRIP INSURANCE
Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

4. HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

5. CONTACT SCHEDULE
Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to info@photosafaris.com.

6. PHOTO SAFARI COSTS
Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

7. LOGISTICS
Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

8. RESPONSIBILITY
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Wild Madagascar
Highlights
  • Photograph one of the strangest assemblages of wild animals and peculiar wild habitats in the world
  • Explore prime lemur habitat at numerous private reserves—including Perinet, Berenty and Akanin’ny Nofy
  • Itinerary includes needle-like rock formations at remote, wild and superlative Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
  • Shoot a private endemic wildlife collection for close-up photography of colorful chameleons, geckos, frogs, snakes and amazing insects
  • Fly between distant locations—avoiding many of Madagascar’s notoriously bad roads
 
Sep 21 - Oct 09, 2018
Fee: $11,995 from Antananarivo, Madagascar
Deposit: $1,000
Limit: 10
 
Tour Leaders
 
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