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White-eared jacamar

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White-eared jacamar

White-eared jacamar from Amazon Peru


The White-eared Jacamar is the geographically more widespread of the two species that comprise the genus Galbalcyrhynchus, which is restricted to western Amazonia. The other species, the Purus Jacamar (Galbalcyrhynchus purusianus), substitutes the White-eared Jacamar to the south of its range. As its name suggests, the White-eared Jacamar’s most striking plumage feature is the conspicuous white ear coverts-patch, and this instantly distinguishes the present species from its only congeneric. Both species are otherwise chunky-bodied, broad-winged, and short-tailed jacamars, with overall reddish-chestnut plumage. The White-eared Jacamar ranges from southern Colombia south to northeast Peru, and east through western Brazil, at least as far as the confluence of the Rio Solimões with the Rio Purus. It inhabits lowland primary forest, both terra firme and seasonally flooded areas, and is usually easily seen due to its liking for clearings and other semi-open areas, often beside rivers and streams.

Ranitomeya Imitator Varadero

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Varadero morph

This is another lowland form of imitator, first discovered in 2004 by Craig Greenhalgh on a lowland trek across part of Peru. This species is strange in that it occurs in close proximity to the yellow-striped lowland imitator with no major barriers separating the two morphs. And as is apparent, the two morphs look nothing alike. This infers that the frog has undergone strong local adaptation, either due to mimicry, sexual selection, or a combination of the two. In 2005, we were able to find this frog in very high densities in old secondary/young primary forest breeding in some sort of Heliconia, as well as in tree-holes. This morph was heavily smuggled from 2006 to present, although it is now legally available through imports from Understory Enterprises. This morph appears to be a mimic of the “orange-and-blue” fantastica morph.

Sparkling Violetear Hummingbird

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The sparkling violetear hummingbird (Colibri coruscans) is widespread in highlands of northern and western South America, including a large part of the Andes (from Argentina and northwards), the Venezuelan Coastal Range and the Tepuis. It occurs in a wide range of semi-open habitats, even in gardens and parks within major cities such as Quito, and is often the commonest species of hummingbird in its range. The sparkling violetear is most abundant near coniferous or evergreen eucalyptus forests. It is highly vocal and territorial.

The sparkling violetear is the largest violetear at 13 to 15 cm (5–6 in) long. Male birds weigh 7.7 to 8.5 grams (0.27 to 0.3 oz) while females weigh from ounces 6.7 to 7.5 grams (0.24 to 0.26 oz). This hummingbird resembles the green violetear, but that species generally prefers more humid habitats, is obviously smaller and lacks the distinct purple-blue chest-spot and chin of the sparkling violetear. According to it has the smallest mean blood-air barrier thickness (0.183 µm) and the highest mass-specific respiratory surface area in birds (87 cm²/g).

Sparkling violetears are solitary and aggressive. Birds declare their territory by singing. The birds sing much of the day, and (in different parts of their range) sub-groups develop their own calls. Breeding seasons vary by region. Birds in Venezuela mate from July through October. Birds find mates at leks, areas where groups of males try to attract a female to mate. After mating, the male was once believed to leave all nesting responsibilities to the female. However, according to reports, male sparkling violet-ears were seen twice caring for their young. The mother lays two eggs in a tiny, cup-shaped nest made of twigs and other plant material. Eggs hatch in 17 to 18 days. The young fledge in three weeks.

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw

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blue and yellow macaw

Blue-and-yellow macaw photographed in Ecuador

The Blue and Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) or Blue-and-gold Macaw is a member of the macaw group of parrots. This bird breed in the wet tropical rainforests of South America from Panama south to Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Though classified as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN, the Blue and Yellow Macaw is considered an endangered species in Trinidad. The Blue and Yellow Macaw is often famous to be one of the most trainable and intelligent birds of these parrots and considered the most beautiful of all parrot species.

The Blue and Yellow Macaw has blue wings and tail, black chin, golden under parts and a green forehead. Their beaks are black and really strong for crushing nuts. The naked face is white, turning pink in excited birds and lined with small black feathers. There is little variation in plumage across the range. Some birds have a more orangey or ‘butterscotch’ underside color, particularly on the breast.

The Blue and Yellow Macaw measures around 34 – 36 inches in length from the tip of its head to the tip of its tail making them one of the biggest parrots in the world. It has a wingspan of 41 to 45 inches and weighs between 900 and 1300 grams.

The Top 10 Nature Parks to Experience Madagascar’s Incredible Wildlife

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The ones you should not miss in a Madagascar Safari Tour

A jewel of the western Indian Ocean, the Island of Madagascar holds the World record in endemic species. Its treasures are conserved and protected by natural parks and reserves across the country. We gave our local naturalists the task of selecting the top 10 Nature Preserves in Madagascar to help you plan your dream wildlife adventure.


ring-tailed lemur madagascar tour

Ring-tailed Lemur

The Berenty Reserve

This small private reserve lies 56 miles west of Fort Dauphin in the unique spiny forest, also known as the spiny thickets. The De Heaulme family created it 70 years ago to protect 618 acres encompassing spiny forest and dry tamarind gallery woodland along the Mandrare River. The reserve is home to six species of lemur including the beautiful sauntering ring-tailed lemurs and “dancing” Verreaux Sifakas. You will also be able to observe the largest colony of Madagascar fruit bats in the south. Take a cultural break and enjoy a riveting museum depicting the life of the local tribe, the Antennary, and a re-built Antandroy village.


Verreaux's Sifaka Dancing Lemur of a Madagascar Tour

Verreaux’s Sifaka (Dancing Lemur)

The Nahampoana Reserve 

Formerly named the Garden of Acclimatization, the Nahampoana Reserve covers 123.5 acres and is located east of Fort Dauphin. Hiking trails wind through the many exotic plants that can be found on the island, including the Madagascar Pitcher Plant, Lemon Eucalyptus, and young Baobab Trees. Visitors will also enjoy the Triangle Palm Tree, which is unique to the Fort Dauphin area. Every lemur species native to the south of Madagascar lives in this park. Other exciting animals in the park include chameleons, tortoises, crocodiles and a wide variety of birds.


Fossa Kirindy Madagascar Safari

Fossa-Kirindy-Madagascar Safari

The Kirindy Reserve

Privately managed by a Swiss company, the Kirindy Reserve lies 31 miles northeast of Morondava. This protected area holds one of the most threatened habitats in Madagascar, the dry deciduous forest. Dominated by majestic baobab trees and a 46-foot high forest canopy, here you will find the giant jumping rat, the smallest known primate that hops like a miniature kangaroo, seven species of lemurs, and one of their main predators, the fossa. The remaining species here are nocturnal, such as the rare Coquerel’s giant mouse lemur, and five other lemur species. This magnificent forest also hosts several bats, tenrecs, mongooses, and over fifty reptile species. The flora is also quite unusual and contains several locally endemic plant species including baobabs that reach unbelievable heights.


Indri Indri Berenty Madagascar Tour

Indri Indri – Andasibe – Madagascar Tour

The Andasibe & Mantadia National Park

Southeast of the capital city, we find the Andasibe National Park, which is divided into two areas: the smaller Analamazaotra Special Reserve and the much larger Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Andasibe-Mantadia contains a dense humid forest covered with moss, fern trees, and more than a hundred orchids species blooming between September and January. Deforestation and graphite mines have been a threat to the conservation of this area. The special guest here is the Indri Indri Lemur whose call can be heard in the early mornings and late afternoons. They are the largest living lemurs reaching up to 3 feet tall and are unique in being the only lemur with a short tail. Among the many unique reptiles in this national park, you will find the Madagascar tree boa.


Black Lemur Madagascar Tour Nosy Be

Black Lemur – Lokobe NR – Nosy Be

The Lokobe National Park

Found on the island of Nosy Be, the Lokobe National Park covers around 28.5 square miles of the Sambirano Forest. This humid evergreen forest is the last remaining natural habitat for the endangered black lemur. In this reserve, you can also find other nocturnal lemur species such as the gray-backed sportive lemur. Endemic birds such as the Madagascar pygmy kingfisher or the Madagascar Long-eared Owl can also be found here. Palms are the most widespread plant species as well as some precious woods. Keep your eye out for the rare black lemur; the females are particularly gorgeous with their deep red fur.


Tanikely Marine Reserve Nosy Be Madagascar Tour

Tanikely Marine Reserve

The Tanikely Reserve

Located in the south of Nosy Be, this island is a dream destination for biologists, underwater photographers and travelers with its untouched white beaches and beautiful weather. This tiny island is a wonderful diving spot where you can observe thousands of reef fish, sea turtles, and leaf fish of all colors. Between November and December, whale sharks feed near the island, while humpback whales can be seen migrating through the area during July and August.


The Tsingy de Bemaraha Natural Park

tsingy madagascar safari

Tsingy de Bemaraha Natural Park

The spectacular mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha stands on the western coast of Madagascar. This protected area of 608 square miles has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO since 1990. Tsingy is Malagasy means “walking on tiptoes” and the nearly impenetrable labyrinth of limestone needles justifies this name. Canyons, gorges, undisturbed forests, lakes form the reserve and mangrove swamps with an astonishing richness of fauna and flora. Reaching this park involves a rough ten-hour drive, and in the park, the trails are difficult and demanding. It is recommended that you have hiking experience.


The Ranomafana National Park

Ranomafana National Park Madagascar Tour

Ranomafana National Park

Situated in eastern Madagascar, the Ranomafana (hot waters) National Park lays over a mountainous terrain of dense forests. This is the habitat of the endangered golden bamboo lemur, which was discovered by Dr. Patricia Wright in 1986. Wildlife is rich in this park, with many unique bats, mongoose, and bird species to be seen. The threatened crested ibis is one of the beautiful birds you might come across.

Apart from that, there is a wide array of reptiles, butterflies, and spiders. Prepare to be impressed by the flora in the Ranomafana National Park with its pretty orchids and medicinal plants.


Isalo National Park Madagascar Safari

Isalo National Park

The Isalo National Park

Located southwest of Antananarivo, the Isalo National Park protects 315 square miles of sandstone wildly eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges featuring primitive forms, impressive gorges, and canyons.

Here the flora is more impressive than the fauna; several local endemic plants, such as the elephant’s foot, have been discovered among the 500 species, which are found in Isalo. While the wildlife is not as prominent as other parks of the country, there are still many species worth seeing, including the ring-tailed lemurs and the brown lemurs. Keep your eyes peeled for the many species of birds, such as the rare Benson’s Rock-thrush and the knob-billed duck.


sakalava weaver Madagascar Tour

Zombitse & Vohlbasia Natural Park

The Zombitse & Vohlbasia Natural Park

Based in the southwest of Madagascar, the Zobitse and Vohlbasia Natural Park covers 140 square miles of dry forest, marshes, and savannahs. This park personifies the biggest environmental threat in Madagascar, deforestation, with only a patch of protected forest remaining amongst the devastation. The patch gives shelter biodiversity divided into three different sections: Zombitse, Vohibasia, and Vohimena Isoky. Zombitse-Vohibasia acts as a transitional zone between the dry and humid forests of Madagascar. As with all of the countries beautiful parks, there are many lemurs, bright birds, and picturesque orchids.

Madagascar’s natural parks reserve the most endemic, rare and remarkable wildlife. Every day brings new fauna and flora encounters, it seems never to end! In most of the parks, wildlife is not afraid of humans, making your experience rich with animal encounters. There is no other place in the world like Madagascar for natural history expeditions and wildlife photography.

Download the Madagascar Safari Tour Booklet
The best of these parks
are included in
NPE’s award-winning
Madagascar Expedition:
the ideal Madagascar safari tour

Download the Madagascar Expedition Booklet now!

Guest Review by Julie Adamik

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Julie Adamik:

“We’ve been on four expeditions with NPE and are looking forward to our fifth –Wild Mongolia! NPE goes above and beyond to make sure your expedition exceeds your expectations. We love the small groups, unique accommodations and surprise features. We get to see things and do things not usually included in other tours. Outstanding local guides and the best expedition leaders in the business!”

Julie Adamik has been a guest on Patagonia, Madagascar, Peru, Ethiopia and is registered to join Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Pantanal Expeditions

Tiger-leg Monkey Tree Frog (Phyllomedusa Tomopterna)

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Tiger-leg monkey frog amazon peru wildlife

The tiger-leg monkey frog (Phyllomedusa tomopterna) is an attractive and interesting species native to the Amazon Rainforest.

These amphibians nocturnal and sleep all day long, but at night they wake up and spend their time searching for food, and vocalizing if male.

In many ways, their behavior and care is similar to the more familiar Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas).

Males grow to between 1.5 and 2.0 inches, while large females may reach nearly 2.4 inches in length.


The Yaks from Mongolia

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Mongolia Expedition Yak Wildlife

Yak is a close relative of buffalo and bison. Yaks are divided into two species: domestic and wild. These two vary in size and appearance. Wild yaks inhabit alpine meadows and steppes of central Asia. Yaks are very appreciated because of their fur, fatty milk, meat and dung (which is utilized as a fuel). Unfortunately, number of wild yaks is decreased due to habitat loss and extreme hunting. Wild yaks are listed as vulnerable.

The male wild yak can weigh up to 2200 pounds and is 6.5 feet high at the shoulder. Females weigh about a third of that. Their horns can be 20 (females) to 40 (males) inches long and grow out from the sides of the head and curve upward. Their tails are bushy.

Did you know?
– Yak polo, played on yaks instead of horses, was pioneered in Mongolia a decade ago.
– In Mongolia yak milk is fermented in a leather pouch and distilled as a “milk wine” called archi.

Pygmy Marmoset, the smallest monkey in the world!

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Pygmy Marmoset Smallest Monkey Pantanal Amazon Wildlife

The pygmy marmoset is a small New World monkey native to rainforests of the western Amazon Basin in South America. It is famous for being the smallest monkey and one of the smallest primates in the world at just over 3.5 oz. It is commonly found in evergreen and river edge forests and is a gum-feeding specialist.

Most of the pygmy marmoset population live in stable troops of two to nine individuals that includes a dominant male, a breeding female, and up to four successive litters of offspring. They communicate using a complex system including vocal, chemical, and visual signals. The female gives birth to twins twice a year and the parental care is shared among the group.

The Madagascar Hoopoe

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Madagascar Hoopoe bird wildlife

The Madagascar Hoopoe (Upupa epops marginata) is endemic to Madagascar, where it inhabits subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is usually considered a separate species to the Hoopoe due to its vocalisations and small differences in plumage but is otherwise similar to the rest of the species.

The hoopoe is a medium-sized bird, 9.8–12.6 in long, with a 17–19 in wingspan.

The diet of the Hoopoe is principally composed of insects, although small reptiles, frogs and plant matter such as seeds and berries are sometimes taken as well. It is a solitary forager which typically feeds on the ground.