There are fewer species of birds in Madagascar than in Ecuador or in South Africa. But about 130 out of the 250 species recorded on the island, are country or regional endemics, meaning that they can only be seen here. So Madagascar is an essential destination for any travelling birders. Its endemic birds include the large and beautiful ground-rollers, the odd mesites, sparkling asities, and a diverse range of vangas.

Most birding tours run between late September and December. This is the period when ground-rollers are calling, making them much easier to find. However, birding tours will be rewarding at any time of the year, and the Austral winter (May to September) is worth considering for those who struggle in hot temperatures.

Essential sites for birders are: the Andasibe area, Ranomafana NP, Zombitse-Vohibasia NP, and the Tulear-Ifaty area. You can find most of Madagascar’s endemic birds in a two-week tour that visits these sites.

Adding Ankarafantsika NP to an itinerary gives birders chances to find several western specialties.

Masoala and Marojejy NPs hold the amazing Helmet Vanga, and Masoala is good for Bernier’s Vanga.

Keen birders may want to seek out rare and little-known birds like the Sakalava Rail at Lake Kinkony, the Madagascar Pochard and Red Owl in the remote north, and the mysterious Red-tailed Newtonia in Andohela NP.