Wild Madagascar 2018 Trip Report

By Mike Byrne on Nov 19, 2018

Probably the most unusual aspect of our Madagascar 2018 tour was the broad diversity of our photographic subjects.  While we devoted significant time to photographing lemurs, we also had many opportunities to photograph rare and unusual reptiles and leaf geckos.  Added to that mix was some fabulous landscape photography at sunrise and sunset, great street and portrait photography at several markets, plus two nights experimenting with astral photography and light painting.
 
One of the highlights of our safari was the half hour we spent photographing a rarely seen fossa—a cat-like predator never before photographed during a Joseph Van Os photo safari!  Our guide spotted the 20-lb mammal just minutes after we arrived in Kirindy National Park and we were able to capture several excellent images as it moved through some sparse brush and basked in occasional sunbeams.
 
For me, the high point of our lemur photography occurred at Berenty Reserve, where one family of Verreaux’s sifakas (white sifakas) spent the early hours of each morning playing, wrestling, and chasing each other, all within the trees located just 100 feet from our lodge.  We photographed two young male sifakas chasing each other up and down and between several trees.  When one sifaka leapt up a tree, the other grabbed its tail and pulled it back down!  Priceless, and great for the group of us photographing the fun from just 20-30 feet away.
 
I always enjoy our stop at the Peyrieras Reptile Reserve for chameleons, leaf geckos and frogs.  This year one of our participants captured an outstanding image of a leaf gecko lying vertically along a tree trunk.  The gecko’s camouflage was so good you couldn’t really see it, but when looking at the image you couldn’t help but notice there was something there.  It’s a photograph with great depth and interest.
 
One night we were out photographing aye-aye (a great shoot, by the way) and as we were returning to our boat, the Milky Way was stretched out dazzlingly bright above the water.  I noted several palm trees that would make a good foreground and determined to return to the location the next night if the skies remained clear.  Alas, when we returned the following night the skies had quickly clouded over during the boat ride.  Still, we decided to set up a few shots and try some light painting.  Then, as quickly as the skies had clouded they cleared, providing us some spectacular compositions incorporating pink clouds, reflections, silhouetted palm trees and a brilliant Milky Way.  In one of my images I even caught a shooting star!
 
Wild Madagascar is probably the most challenging photo tour I lead.  But where else can you photograph dozens of unique animals and dramatic landscapes, with endless macro opportunities, astral photography, and some of the most photogenic (and photo friendly) people anywhere in the world?
 

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