8 Best Places for Photography in Madagascar 

madagascar photography locations

Madagascar boasts some of the best tropical forests in the world for watching and photographing wildlife, mainly because the wildlife is relatively accessible and easy to track down, and because the forests are safe to wander around in.

Wildlife photography in most tropical forests (particularly rainforests) can be challenging, as the canopy is high, and species are elusive.

madagascar wildlife
Forest night walks can be particularly rewarding in Madagascar. Species like this lowland streaked tenrec are generally seen after dark.

In Madagascar, the contrary is more often true, as wildlife can be viewed at relatively close distances, especially the island’s charismatic lemurs, in locations where they have become habituated.

Madagascar is also arguably the best place in the world for night walks as there are so many visible nocturnal species, especially lemurs, as well as frogs, reptiles, including sleeping chameleons, and some small mammals like tenrecs.

These subjects provide rich pickings for photographers willing to put in the time after dark.

The three major regions on the island, the eastern rainforests, western deciduous forests, and southern spiny scrub forests, are vastly different from one another and are each home to an array of species unique to those habitats.

A visiting photographer should look to visit at least one example of each during a first trip. These are my top picks.

Read more: How to Plan a Photography Trip to Madagascar

Eastern Rainforest Areas

The eastern rainforests are perhaps the most exciting region as they support the greatest diversity of animal and plant species.

These rainforests are dense, and the slopes they grow on are often steep, so tracking down mobile species like lemurs can be physically challenging and tiring, especially when carrying heavy kit.

Read more: Rainforest Photography – A Guide to Equipment

1. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and Surrounds

Andasibe is arguably Madagascar’s premier rainforest location, with the national park and several NGO and community conservation reserves in the immediate vicinity.

It is the place to photograph indri, with several habituated groups in the area.

Read more: Rainforest Photography – A Guide to Lighting

Location, access, and terrain

Andasibe is 23 km east of Moramanga and approximately 140 km east of Antananarivo (4-5 hours by road).

madagascar wildlife lemur
The spectacular indri can be seen leaping through the trees in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and several nearby forest sites. It pays to be mobile when following groups, so don’t carry lots of heavy gear.

The area features primary and secondary mid-altitude montane rainforest, often hilly with little flat ground. Some slopes are steep and difficult.


Indri, diademed sifaka, black-and-white ruffed lemur, brown lemur, red-bellied lemur, eastern grey bamboo lemur, eastern woolly lemur, furry-eared dwarf lemur, hairy-eared dwarf lemur, and Goodman’s mouse lemur.

Read more: How to Photograph Fast-moving Mammals

Other species

Pitta-like ground roller, scaly ground roller, red-fronted coua, blue coua, Parson’s chameleon, short-horned chameleon, mossy leaf-tailed gecko, painted mantella (frog), and giraffe-necked weevil.

Best season to visit

Accessible all year, the best times for wildlife are September to December and April to May.

madagascar photography trip
Arguably the most beautiful of all lemurs, the diademed sifaka is one of the highlights in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. This shot was taken with a 200-400mm lens.


Several lodges and hotels cater to all budgets. Good quality guides are available from the Association des Guides d’Andasibe, Association Mitsinjo, and Association Tambatra.


There is the potential to see 10 or more lemur species, plus a large variety of birds, reptiles, frogs, and invertebrates.

In addition to the main reserves, visit the adjacent Mitsinjo Forest, V.O.I.M.M.A. Community Reserve, and possibly Maromizaha Forest. A minimum of three or four days/nights should be devoted to the area.

2. Masoala National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Masoala has it all: glorious rainforest, fabulous wildlife, golden beaches, and warm blue seas.

Read more: Rainforest Photography – 8 Top Tips for Stand-Out Images

Location, access, and terrain

A peninsula in the far northeast, to the east of Maroantsetra and forms the eastern coastline of the Bay of Antongil. All accessible wildlife and tourism areas are on the western coastal side of the park, reachable by boat from Maroantsetra.

The journey takes around two to three hours.

madagascar beach wildlife
A male panther chameleon in beachfront vegetation on the Masoala Peninsula. Because they are often approachable, chameleons make great subjects for photographing close-up with a wide-angle lens, here a 14mm.

This is the largest remaining area of coastal/lowland rainforest, with the forest often extending down to the shore.

The main trail network at Lohatrozona is rather limited in extent, and paths can be steep. Trails through the littoral forest at Tampolo are less steep.


Red-ruffed lemur, white-fronted brown lemur, Masoala sportive lemur, and Masoala woolly lemur.

Other species

Greater hedgehog tenrec, lowland streaked tenrec, helmet vanga, short-legged ground roller, scaly ground roller, red-breasted coua, Parson’s chameleon, panther chameleon, and leaf-tailed gecko.

Best season to visit

Wet throughout the year, it’s advisable to avoid the cyclone season (January to March). This location is best all-round from September to December.


Hotels in Maroantsetra can arrange boat trips with equipment and guides. Several lodges, of varying standards from good quality to rustic, are dotted along the coast.

madagascar birds
Bird photography in rainforests is rarely easy, but occasionally some individuals can be confiding, like this short-legged ground roller. Masoala is one of the best places to see this bird.

Read more: 7 Ways to Capture Character in Bird Photography


This area takes time and effort: a visit of at least three or four days is recommended.

Local guides from the Association des Guides Ecotouristiques de Maroantsetra (AGEM) are essential. Red-ruffed lemurs are relatively easy to see but challenging to photograph.

Read more: How to Photograph Nervous and Sensitive Animals

3. Ranomafana National Park

One of the premier wildlife tourism locations and a major centre for rainforest research based at Centre Valbio. Tourism access is limited primarily to two zones, Talatakely and Vohiparara.

Location, access, and terrain

Central southeast, approximately 65 km northeast of Fianarantsoa along Route Nationale 45 and 25, and adjacent to the village of Ranomafana. Excellent mid-elevation rainforest and higher-elevation

montane forest. The area is dominated by the Namorona River, with steep slopes (sometimes very steep) covered with a mixture of primary and secondary forest.

Sifaka madagascar
A female Milne-Edwards’s sifaka with an infant in Ranomafana National Park. This was photographed with a 300mm lens.

Read more: 10 Ways to Photograph Water


Golden bamboo lemur, greater bamboo lemur, eastern grey bamboo lemur, Milne-Edwards’s sifaka, red-bellied lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur, Peyrieras’s woolly lemur, and brown mouse lemur.

Other species

Spotted fanaloka (small carnivore), eastern ring-tailed vontsira (small carnivore), greater hedgehog tenrec, lowland streaked tenrec, eastern red forest rat, pitta-like ground roller, blue coua, Pollen’s vanga, brown mesite, yellow-bellied sunbird asity, O’Shaughnessy’s chameleon, blue-legged chameleon, mossy leaf-tailed gecko, satanic leaf-tailed gecko, painted mantella (frog), and giraffe-necked weevil.

Read more: How to Take Impacting Portraits of Wildlife

Best season to visit

Ranomafana National Park is most vibrant during the rainy season from December to March, but access and conditions are difficult.

Otherwise, the periods on either side of the main rainy season are most rewarding, April to May (when fruiting guava attracts lemurs) and September to November.

Read more: How to Photograph Wildlife in Extreme Weather


Several lodges, ranging from good quality to rustic, are located between the park entrance and the village of Ranomafana (approximately 7 km from the entrance).

There is a campsite and very basic accommodation and a snack bar at the park entrance.

There is an extensive system of well-maintained trails through the best wildlife areas in the main tourism zone (Talatakely), but many are on steep and often muddy slopes. The higher-elevation forest at Vohiparara also has a good trail network.

chameleon photography madagascar
Chameleons can be surprisingly difficult to find in rainforests during the day. Ranomafana is the best place to look for the blue-legged chameleon.


This area is particularly renowned for lemurs, although you may see some with collars. The higher-elevation forests at Vohiparara are also well worth exploring for Milne-Edwards’s sifaka and red-bellied lemur.

Local guides are very knowledgeable and helpful. A minimum of three or four days is recommended, with at least two daytime excursions to Tanatakely and one to Vohiparara.

Western Deciduous Forest Areas

Although less diverse than rainforests, western deciduous forests contain a wealth of wildlife that can be easier to photograph, as the forests are ‘more open,’ and the terrain is often relatively flat.

madagascar photography locations
The beautiful Coquerel’s sifaka is approachable and readily seen in Ankarafantsika.

4. Ankarafantsika National Park (Ampijoroa Forestry Station)

This area combines accessible and varied lemur watching with the opportunity to see other mammals and a variety of birds and reptiles.

Location, access, and terrain

This national park lies on either side of Route Nationale 4, approximately 120 km southeast of Mahajanga (a two to three-hour drive). It’s also possible to drive directly from Antananarivo on RN4, but this takes 9 to 10 hours.

The terrain is made up of a mixture of deciduous forest and limestone plateau. The tourist zone (Ampijoroa) is centred in the Lac Ravelobe area.

This terrain is sandy and gently undulating. Trails on both sides of the road are wide, and walking is generally easy. Very good guides are available. It can get very hot.

Read more: Using Cameras in Tropical & Cold Environments


Coquerel’s sifaka, mongoose lemur, brown lemur, western woolly lemur, Milne-Edward’s sportive lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur, grey mouse lemur, and golden-brown mouse lemur.

Other species

Greater hedgehog tenrec, western big-footed mouse, long-tailed big-footed mouse, Madagascar fish eagle, Schlegel’s asity, Van Dam’s vanga, white-breasted mesite, Coquerel’s coua, Oustalet’s chameleon, rhinoceros chameleon, Madagascar ground boa, giant day gecko, and Henkel’s leaf-tailed gecko.

Read more: How to Photograph Snakes

Best season to visit

You can access this area year-round, but roads are more difficult in the wet season (January to March). During the austral summer, it can be extremely hot.

madagascar gecko
In contrast to cryptic leaf-tailed geckos, the days geckos (Phelsuma sp.) are generally brightly colored. This is the giant day gecko in Ankarafantsika.


At the park entrance, there is a large campsite with water, a small toilet block, and cooking facilities. There are also well-appointed bungalows (Gîte de Ampijoroa) with en-suite facilities overlooking Lac Ravelobe.

Close to the nearby (5 km) village of Andranofasika, you can find two modest lodges, each with six bungalows, and small shops for very basic supplies.

Read more: 4 Steps to Shoot Beautiful Lakes at Sunrise


Lemur photography is easy here, with both Coquerel’s sifakas and brown lemurs regularly in trees around the car park.

Trails on the west side of the road (Circuit Coquereli) are better for lemurs. You will also find a top birdwatching site, and this area is also good for reptiles. Spend at least three nights here.

5. Kirindy Forest

Part of the wider Menabe Protected Area, Kirindy is perhaps the most rewarding site in western Madagascar: wildlife is varied, accessible, and very visible, making this forest area ideal for photography.

This is a premier site for lemurs and other mammals, and the bird and reptile diversity is equally impressive.

Fosa Madagascar
The fosa is the island’s largest carnivore. Despite being widespread, it is rare and difficult to see. Kirindy offers the best chance to photograph this stunning creature.

Location, access, and terrain

Kirindy Forest is approximately 60 km northeast of Morondava, situated to the east of the road to Belo-sur-Tsiribihina, north of the village of Marofandilia.

From Morondava, the drive takes two to three hours.

The typical deciduous forest grows on sandy soils, often with dense understory. Three species of baobab are also present, including the Grandidier’s baobab, the largest in Madagascar. The terrain is mainly flat, with moderate undulations.

Read more: 8 Ways to Improve Your Forest Photography


Verreaux’s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, grey mouse lemur, red-tailed sportive lemur, pale fork-marked lemur, Coquerel’s giant mouse lemur, fat-tailed dwarf lemur.

Other species

Fosa, narrow-striped boky, giant jumping rat, white-breasted mesite, Coquerel’s coua, sickle-billed vanga, Oustalet’s chameleon, Labord’s chameleon, Madagascar ground boa, and Gunther’s leaf-tailed gecko.

Best season to visit

The marked dry season runs from May to October. Wildlife watching is best in spring and summer (September to April), particularly after rain.

Road conditions are difficult during wetter months, and temperatures are very high. In winter, forests may appear relatively ‘lifeless,’ and nights can be cold.


Within Kirindy, you will find a basic lodge with rustic bungalows and dormitories. There is a snack bar/restaurant that serves cool drinks and simple meals. There is also good quality lodge accommodation close by on the main road.

Paths through the forest are wide, and walking is flat and easy. Trails in a grid system make navigation straightforward. Local guides are available.


This is the best place to see Fosa (Madagascar’s largest carnivore) and, at night, giant jumping rats, plus six nocturnal lemur species.

During the day, Verreaux’s sifaka, red-fronted brown lemur, and delightful small carnivore narrow-striped boky are readily seen. Day trips and excursions are organized by several hotels in Morondava.

A minimum of two, ideally three/four days/nights is recommended.

baobab trees madagascar
The famous Avenue of Baobabs – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is seen on the way to Kirindy.

Some 14 km north of Morondava, on the way to Kirindy, is the famous Avenue of Baobabs (Avenue des Baobabs or Baobab Allé): well worth stopping at, especially for sunrise or sunset.

Read more: Golden Hour Photography: A Landscape Photographer’s Guide

Southern Spiny Scrub Forest Areas

This arid region is perhaps the most bizarre and unusual in Madagascar.

Vegetation is dominated by members of the Didiereaceae and Euphorbiaceae families, commonly referred to as the ‘spiny forest.’

running lemur photograph
One of the iconic images of Madagascar – a ‘dancing’ Verreaux’s sifaka. Berenty is the best place to see and photograph this behaviour.

The habitat and wildlife in combination can be spectacular for the visiting photographer, with some locations offering some of the most intimate wildlife-watching experiences Madagascar has to offer, particularly with two species the island is perhaps most famous for – the ring-tailed lemur and Verreaux’s sifaka.

Read more: Panning Technique – Conveying Motion in a Photo

6. Berenty Private Reserve

This is a private reserve surrounded by sisal plantations. It can feel rather contrived but offers tremendous lemur photography.

This is the place to see Verreaux’s sifakas ‘dancing’ across open ground and enjoy prolonged encounters with troops of ring-tailed lemurs.

Read more: Photographing a Species In-depth

Location, access, and terrain

Berenty Private Reserve lies the banks of the Mandrare River, approximately 85 km west of Tolagnaro and approximately 10 km north of Amboasary-Sud, a five-hour drive on a poor road from Tolagnaro.

Here, you will find an isolated patch of gallery forest dominated by tamarind trees. Adjacent are smaller parcels of spiny forest. The terrain is flat, and walking is very easy.

Read more: How to Use Focus Stacking for Landscape Photography


Verreaux’s sifaka, ring-tailed lemur, Petter’s sportive lemur, Grey-brown mouse lemur, and grey mouse lemur.

Other species

Lesser hedgehog tenrec, giant coua, hook-billed vanga, white-browed owl, Dumeril’s boa, and warty chameleon.

Best season to visit

This private reserve is accessible year-round. September to October is good for baby lemurs.


Comfortable bungalows with a restaurant adjacent to the reserve. A network of wide paths and trails covers the gallery forest and spiny forest area. Guides are provided.


Day trips from Tolagnaro are possible, but a stay of at least two or three nights is recommended.

bird photography madagascar
Keenly sought by birdwatchers, the long-tailed ground roller is one of several rarities that can be photographed at Ifaty.

7. Ifaty Forests

Although unprotected, the spiny bush near Ifaty is ‘otherworldly’ in places and of great interest, ideally suited to photography. This is a renowned area for birdwatchers and succulent enthusiasts.

Location, access, and terrain

Ifaty Forests lies 30 km north of Toliara on a good road.

A narrow coastal strip of spiny forest grows on flat sandy soil, extending north for around 180 km. It constitutes the global range of two threatened birds: the long-tailed ground-roller and the sub-desert mesite.

Spiny forest is dominated by octopus trees (Didierea madagascariensis and D. trolli), various Euphorbia and Pachypodium species, and two baobabs (Adansonia rubrostipa and A. za).


Not prominent or easily seen here.

Other species

Long-tailed ground-roller, subdesert mesite, Lafresnaye’s vanga, banded kestrel, sickle-billed vanga, olive-capped coua, running coua, spider tortoise, Dumeril’s boa, big-headed gecko, Oustalet’s chameleon, and antimena horned chameleon.

Read more: High-key Wildlife – How to Create a White Background

Best season to visit

Accessible year-round, birdwatching is best in the breeding season, which runs from September to November.


There are numerous good-quality coastal hotels. Local guides are imperative.

baobab and snake madagascar
Two species of baobab are a feature of the spiny forest at Ifaty. Here, a Dumeril’s ground boa is photographed with a close focus wideangle (17-35mm) and a trace of fill-in flash.

Read more: A Guide to Using Flash with Wildlife


A stay of at least two days is recommended. Get into the forest by 5 am; it is extremely hot by 8:30 am, and wildlife becomes inactive.

Also, visit the adjacent Reniala Nature Reserve – a small protected area that offers excellent birding and is easier to visit than the unprotected habitat. Nocturnal walks are worthwhile for reptiles.

Read more: How to Expose Wildlife Photos at Dawn and Dusk

8. Isalo National Park

This national park is an area of extensive, spectacularly eroded sandstone outcrops that create beautiful scenery, ideally suited to landscape enthusiasts.

There are lots of interesting succulent plants, such as, elephant’s foot plant (Pachypodium rosulatum) and locally endemic aloe (Aloe isaloensis), as well as troops of ring-tailed lemurs.

Location, access, and terrain

Isalo National Park lies in the central south region, north of Ranohira on Route Nationale 7. From the east, it is about 280 km (5 hours) from Fianarantsoa. From the west, it is about 240 km (4+ hours) from Toliara.

Access to the park requires a vehicle or walks from Ranohira. Sandstone eroded into huge outcrops and deep canyons create challenging walking conditions in hot weather.


Ring-tailed lemur and Verreaux’s sifaka.

Other species

Greater hedgehog tenrec, forest rock thrush, Oustalet’s chameleon, spiny-tailed iguanid lizard, and painted burrowing frog (only after rain).

Best season to visit

The national park is accessible year-round, although more difficult in the rainy season.

flowers madagascar
Unusual succulents and endemic plants within a spectacular landscape. This is a flowering elephant’s foot plant in Isalo National Park.


A wide range of hotels and lodges can be found at the southern edge of the park in and around Ranohira, ranging from budget to luxury. Park office and guides can be found in Ranohira.

There are treks and circuits to various parts of the park but drive to appropriate trailheads before beginning walks.


Though this area is not renowned for wildlife watching, it’s well worth making the effort to photograph ring-tailed lemurs clambering around on the rocks in a spectacular setting.

From August to early October, elephant’s foot plants are in bloom. A two-night stay is sufficient.

In conclusion

Madagascar is an incredible destination for any nature photographer, though there are many more things to see than many potential viewers might consider as they look to plan a trip here!

I hope this guide has given you some ideas on the places you’d most like to see in this magnificent and extremely biodiverse country – as I’m sure that after your first visit, you’ll be looking to plan many more afterwards to try to see it all!

Do your research carefully before you go, and enjoy the wonderful photography opportunities that await.

Visit Nick's website

An award-winning photographer and critically acclaimed author, Nick has been photographing wildlife and guiding tours for over 30 years and is known for his work in Borneo, the Amazon and Madagascar. His recent books include Handbook of Mammals of Madagascar (Bloomsbury 2023) and Madagascar Wildlife (Bradt 2023). Nick regularly contributes to international magazines and has twice been a category winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.

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