Working for birds in Africa

Visiting

Fri, 01/18/2013 - 19:05 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

Birding AfricaBirdfinders, Birdquest, Birding EcotoursCactus Tours, Field Guides, Rockjumper, Safari Consultants, Safariwise and Sunbird operate tours to Madagascar.

Responsible Tourism

You can find some tips on responsible tourism for travellers visiting Madagascar.

Logistics

Madagascar is a poorly developed country with an infrastructure to challenge even the most independent of birders. One way to see the numerous avian endemics is on a commercial birding tour, and many visitors opt for this hassle-free option, though the country can also be easily birded by well-prepared small groups that arrange their logistics through a reputable local operator. Independent birders with sufficient time may also be able to cover most of the sites by using public transportation in the form of informal buses, known locally as “taxi-brousses”. An internal air network converts 12-24 hour marathon road journeys into 1 hour flights - highly recommended for those not on a tight budget. Malagasy and French are the official languages, though French is only widely spoken in urban areas and most of the guides in the main tourist areas also speak English.

Air Madagascar, Air France and Inter Air have flights into Madagascar. Air France flies direct from Paris. Air Madagascar flies from both Johannesburg (South Africa) and Nairobi (Kenya), while Inter Air flies from Johannesburg. The airport departure tax is always included in the price of airline tickets.

Sea travel is possible, but it's not as easy as you might expect. Cargo boats from Mombasa (Kenya) or Zanzibar (Tanzania) often travel to the Comoros islands from where several ships travel to Toamasina (Tamatave) in Madagascar. Boat travel from South Africa is surprisingly infrequent. You'll need to ask around in Durban, try the Port Authority. If you're aiming to leave Madagascar by boat, it's best to head to Toamasina (Tamatave) and enquire at the port.

All foreign visitors require a visa.

Safety

Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following website or your own local embassy site for the latest safety and travel information: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Links

Anyone considering a trip to Madagascar would be well advised to view the Madagascar Travel website. This site is full of practical information about travel, health, visa requirements, places of interest, a large section covering each of the national parks and much more.

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