Madagascar Photography Tour
Capture the unspoiled beauty of Madagascar during a photography workshop
Madagascar is unlike anywhere else – it is truly stunning, amazingly diverse, and largely unspoiled. It’s also endlessly photogenic and a wonderful setting for a photography workshop. A huge island off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar offers dense jungles, long mountain ranges, remarkable mangrove forests, and untouched white sandy beaches. It has some truly iconic landscapes, such as iconic the famous and hugely photogenic baobabs at Morondava. On top of this, Madagascar is home animals species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, like the lemur and several species of chameleon. During this Madagascar photography tour, we’ll explore all of the country’s highlights, and we’ll get you to the right places at the right time to get the perfect images. Expect to have unique landscape, wildlife, and cultural photographic opportunities, as well as an incredible travel adventure!
Throughout the trip, you’ll be guided by two professional photographers, who will provide tutoring along the way. The photographic guidance will be tailored to your level, making the photo tour suitable for photographers of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned photographer, you can expect to sharpen your skills and come home with an incredible portfolio. A rewarding and unique photography tour!
- Have an adventurous photography holiday that mixes amazing food, exotic locations and stunning scenes to photograph
- Enjoy a great variety of landscape photography opportunities, including the iconic Baobabs at Morondava and the mountainous landscapes of inland Madagascar
- Explore the idyllic and tranquil white sand beaches of the west coast
- Photograph Madagascar's iconic wildlife; lemurs and chameleons
- Explore portrait photography when meeting welcoming local communities
- Learn about astrophotography while photographing the starry night skies
- Receive photographing tutoring by two professional photographers throughout the trip, allowing you to hone your skills and leave with a great portfolio of images
- Where Madagascar
- When May 17 - June 2, 2018 (2019 dates TBA)
- Focus Landscape, wildlife, culture
- Workshop Leaders Emil von Maltitz & Nick van de Wiel
- Price EUR 5930
- Photography Level Required Suitable for photographers of all levels
- Group Size Max. 7
Madagascar is one of those truly remote locations that few people consider visiting. This is surprising considering it’s size. From North to West it stretches some 1580 kilometers long and East to West, 570 kilometers wide (covering 590,000 square kilometers). The central spine of the island is dominated by a mountain range covered in the remnants of what was once dense rain forest. These mountains descend sharply on the east side to a narrow coastal plain while on the west there is a broader dry plain covered in savanna. We will be traveling in the drier western plain with its grass savannas and dry ’spiny deserts’.
Like southern Africa, Madagascar’s seasons are essentially the opposite of Europe and North America’s. The rainy season coincides with the northern hemisphere’s winter. Traveling in May means that we will be traveling at the tail end of the rainy season. We have chosen to do this for a reason; dramatic cloud filled skies and more interesting sunsets and sunrises. The savanna also takes on a lush green colour compared to the significantly drier winter (which incidentally tends to have smoggy skies due to the prevalent use of fire for cooking and clearing of fields).
- Day 1: Arrival in Antananarivo You'll arrive in Tana in the afternoon, where we'll meet you and take you to your hotel. Here, you'll meet the team and the other photographers.
- Day 2: Tana - Miandrivazo A very early breakfast and departure before daybreak. At this early hour, crossing Antananarivo - infamous for its traffic jams - should be a breeze. The first 80 km is all curves, winding through the hills of the Highlands. Here we plan to stop and look across the valleys on some of the interesting rice paddies and farm workers as they head to fields for the morning. The low-hanging mist that is common at this time of year makes for some excellent photographic opportunities. At Antsirabe we'll leave the National 7 road, towards the West. Villages are now further and further apart and the hills become more barren. Miandrivazo marks the place where we descend from the Highlands to the coastal plains. The rivers now flow wide and slow and make for a sesational view as we dine overlooking the floodplain.
- Day 3: Miandrivazio – Morondova Our first real morning on tour starts with an early morning shoot near the wide shores of the Mania River, potentially with a pirogue trip to photograph on the water. We'll return for breakfast at the lodge before the drive to Morondova and the Renala Hotel. Morondova is only about 3 hours drive from Miandrivazo, which means for some time behind computers before setting out to the fabled Allee de Baobab (Baobab Alley), which is about half an hour’s drive from Morondova. We'll shoot the alley until dark, before heading back to Morondova and the fabulous Chez Alain restaurant.
- Day 4 : Allee de Baobab to Belo sur Mer One of the best times to see the famous alley of baobabs is in the pre-dawn light, long before villagers wake up and tourists arrive. For this reason, we'll set out early to the baobabs in order to photograph these incredible giants under the night sky and a panolpy of stars. After our morning shoot we'll head back to Morondova for a quick breakfast before setting out to Belo de Sur. Belo is small village surrounded by vast flat salt plains. Here we'll be able to shoot in the late afternoon as light plays out across the flat white expanse, or wander out to where the shore meets the shallow estuary system that feeds the salt flats.
- Day 5 : Belo to Manja This is a long but interesting travel day, heading towards Maja, where we'll stay overnight.
- Day 6 : Manja to Andavadoaka We'll set out early in the dark in order to make our way to an interesting stand of baobab trees for a picnic breakfast. This also allows us to see some of the interesting grassy hills that start to populate the landscape (a change from the flatness of the previous two days). We reach Andavadoaka on the coast at the end of the afternoon after first photographing an incredible stand of Fony Baobabs. The next few nights will be spent at the wonderful Laguna Blu Hotel with it’s phenomenal location along a shoreline of carved limestone features.
- Day 7 & 8 : Andavadoaka After several days of travelling the first morning shoot is entirely voluntary, although once photographers see the view outside their cabins they are likely to grab tripods and hurtle down to the shore. Our location is chosen for the diversity of photoshoots available within a relatively small area. We'll spend the time at Laguna Blu between photographing the local fishing village, the coastline, stands of baobabs and nearby ponds (when there is water in them) as well as the iconic spiny desert. Thanks to the time spent here, we'll also have the opportunity for some really interesting star trail and milky way photo sessions.
- Day 9: Andavadoaka - Ifaty After an early morning shoot we'll set out to an area north of Toliara. Todays track is relatively short but the segment near Befandefa is dreaded by all drivers : 30 km of soft sand. If you stop you’re stuck, if you change gears you stop and are stuck. But the scenery is worth it: mangroves, mudflats, saltpans, dunes, the blue lagoon, and fishing villages. We have chosen the rest spot for access to the incredible black mangroves that litter the sides of an enormous brackish water estuary system. Late afternoon and the following morning can be used to photograph these magnificent plants against azure like water and alabaster white sands.
- Day 10 : Ifaty - Isalo After an early morning shoot of mangroves followed by breakfast, we'll set out for Isalo. The goal is to reach Isalo around lunchtime so that we are able to explore the picturesque rocks around our accommodation. This is in order to catch the last light of day as it it lights up the rock features against a pink and purple sky. Along the way we'll also start to see a change in the villages and the people as we move into the Mahafaly and Antandroy territories. We'll cross the national park of Zombitse, a transition zone between the dry south and the land of Isalo, a formation of continental sandstone rocks.
- Day 11: Isalo National Park Isalo is known for its geological formation. Composed of eroded sandstone colored red/brown by iron minerals and green by lichens, this mountain massif offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. The rock seems to lie in waves of sandstone and quartz that light up in shades of orange, red and gold in the right lighting conditions. We have managed to team up with one of the most influential mountain guides in Isalo and are able to access the park in the early hours so as to reach some of the viewpoints for dawn light.
- Day 12 : Isalo - Ambalavao For those who feel like an early morning shoot there is the option of a dawn shoot amongst the incredible rocks around our accommodation. After breakfast, we'll head on to Ihosy, which is the capital of the Bara tribes who are shepherds of the iconic Zebu cattle that are a signature of the island. We pass through the huge “plateaux de Horombe” with its very spacious savannah. This is an excellent spot to view the typical Bara villages with their triple story structures and red mud plastered sides. While travelling across the plain we are also likely to see large herds of Zebu. The latter part of the drive is stunning as we climb into the mountainous interior of Madagascar. Along the way we will also pass the incredible “Bishop’s Hat” - a granite massif that rises like a Madagascan Ayre’s Rock from the grassland below. We'll try to take the day relatively sedately as there are quite a few interesting locations along the way. With luck we will also have a final sundowner shoot before entering the valley where our accommodation, La Varangue de Betsileo resides.
- Day 13 and 14: Ambalavao Betsileo and the larger town of Ambalavao are nestled in a cradle of magnificent granite topped peaks. In the morning, as the sun heats the surface of the earth, the valleys are commonly shrouded in mist and fog that swirls around the base of the mountains. This can make for some extraordinary photographic opportunities. Because of this, we have opted to spend three nights in Betsileo. The days are divided between visiting Anja park, the zebu cattle market and traders market in Ambalavao and exploring the valley for landscape images.
Anja park is a community run sanctuary that lies snug against the base of one of the enormous granite peaks. It is one of the best places in Madagascar to see and photograph the ring-tailed lemur. Unlike other parts of the country the people in the valley consider it fady (taboo) to harm the lemurs. As a consequence the lemurs of Anja have no fear of humans and it is possible to get right up close to them for photography.
The nearby town of Ambalavao offers the unique opportunity to photograph the zebu market; a large open area that once a week plays host to hundreds of zebu and dozens of farmers who haggle and trade. Nearby is also the frenzy and bustle of the weekly market, which is a trove of photographic opportunities. Naturally there are also the majestic mountains that surround the valley as well as the colourful mozaic of rice fields to keep the photographic eye busy, as well as time spent on Photoshop and Lightroom sessions.
- Day 15: Ambalavao - Antsirabe Today w'lle leave the South behind us and enter The Highlands. In the town of Fianarantsoa, it is considered a must for photographers to visit the shop of Pierrot Men, Madagascar’s most famous photographer. Although he travels and exhibits all over the world, you might just be lucky and meet him.
- Day 16: Antsirabe Antsirabe is one of the largest cities in Madagascar. What makes it special is its position in the heart of the mountain chain that runs like a spine down the length of the island. Bisected by a large river and flood plain, the city is both historic and picturesque. Our plan for this last shoot location is to access some of the rice paddy system and photograph farmers and their livestock as they tend the fields in the early morning and afternoon. Classic images of Madagascar can be created in the environment, particularly as we haven’t quite reached the bustle and business of Antananarivo (which comes with other consequeces such as a world-weariness of camera toting tourists). Antsirabe still offers the quintessential Madagascan town without the trappings of the capital.
- Day 17 : Antsirabe - Antananarivo We'll arrive back in Antananarivo on the Friday allowing you to depart either on Friday night or any stage during the Saturday.
- Day 18: Departure You can books flights to leave on the 2nd June, or we can also help arrange a longer stay on the island. Shuttles are provided from Gassy Country House, so departure times are flexible.
May 17 - June 2, 2018 (2019 coming soon!)
Price: EUR 5930 per person sharing (please enquire about single supplement)
The price includes:
- All accommodation (on sharing basis)
- Three meals a day
- All ground transport
- Airport transfers
- Photographic tutoring
- Park entrance fees
- Bottles water
The price does not include:
- Travel insurance
The photographic opportunities during this photo tour will be diverse, and we will make full use of them all. We’ll explore landscape photography, wildlife photography, as well as portrait photography. You can expect to capture the following:
- The quintessential Madagascan animal, the lemur and chameleons
- The iconic Baobab’s at Morondava
- Picturesque mountains of the interior
- The idyllic and tranquil white sand beaches of the west coast
- Open and friendly faces of the Malagasy people
- Colourful patchwork rice paddies
Your Photography Workshops
Throughout this Madagascar photography tour, you’ll receive personal photographic tutoring that is tailor-made to your learning goals. Overall, you can expect tuition on the following:
- Creative Composition: The basics and beyond, such as The Element Approach, Balancing Composition etc.
- Basics to advanced techniques in digital landscape photography. There are two instructors (on groups of 5-6 participants) meaning that virtually all levels of photographer can be catered for.
- Workflow & digital asset management.
- How to create awe-inspiring astrophotography and star-trail images.
- How to create panoramic images.
- How to create time lapses (optional)
- Advanced composition for landscape imagery
- Post-production using Lightroom and Photo Shop
For this Madagascar photo tour, Nick and Emil recommend the following photography equipment:
- A digital SLR camera. We both shoot with full-frame cameras, but any interchangeable lens camera will work perfectly on the workshop including, crop-sensor DSLRs, the new breed of mirrorless cameras and Micro Four Thirds cameras will also work perfectly well. We don’t recommend using compact cameras because of their serious limitations or the 1” sensor cameras which don’t have the same tolerances for landscape photography that M4/3s and larger sensor cameras have.
- A good quality tripod, preferably one not made of plastic. We can help you choose a suitable one if you don’t already have a tripod.
- A wide angle lens (we use wide and ultra-wide angle lens as a matter of preference). For a full-frame camera we would recommend at least a 24mm lens or wider. Astrophotography benefits from lens as wide as 14mm. (APS-C lenses being at least a 16mm with a ultra wide of 10 or 11mm being good for astro).
- A telephoto zoom lens, such as a 70-200 or 70-300.
- A camera remote (cable release) or intervalometer.
- For anyone serious about getting into landscape photography, a filter set consisting out of graduated Neutral Density filters and a polarizer, is indispensable. For long exposures of the ocean we also highly recommend a full neutral density filter such as the Little and Big Stoppers from Lee. We strongly recommend investing in a set before arrival. Let us know if you need help choosing the right set.
- A laptop with editing software already loaded. Emil and Nick personally use Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop with Nik plugins.
- If possible, a lightweight telephoto lens such as a 100-400mm or 300mm f4 is a good idea as we will be spending some time trying to photograph Madagascar’s iconic lemurs. However, as much as a large 200-400mm f4 or 500mm f4 would be appreciated for the lemurs, it will be difficult to transport and carry (walking is involved). The new lightweight Nikon and Canon 100-400 zooms are ideal for this type of trip.
- A backup hard-drive for backing up images (it would terrible to travel to the Madagascar only to lose all the images if a laptop hard-drive crashes).
Emil von Maltitz
Emil von Maltitz is an internationally recognized South African landscape photographer and member of the International Environmental Photographers Association. He has been involved in photography for the better part of the last two decades. After completing his post graduate degree in anthropology, he opted to pursue his dream and turn his passion for photography into his career. Along with freelance commercial and assignment photography, Emil spends time running a number of photographic workshops. Well-versed and knowledgeable in the Adobe suites, Emil will be able to help and guide in photo-editing and several advanced photographic techniques during the workshop.
Nick van de Wiel
Nick van de Wiel is a specialised nature photographer and photographic guide based in St. Lucia, South Africa. Trained as a biologist as well as safari guide, Nick revels being in the bush, and if possible, with a camera in hand! Although he started of as a Wildlife Photographer, as his photography matured he moved more and more towards Landscape Photography. Although technically very able, both ‘in camera’ as well as with post processing, Nick is very focussed on the creative as well as meditative aspect of photography.