Forget the big travel agencies. If you want an unforgettable holiday and are interested in wildlife beyond the I have seen this or that species once and that is enough attitude, Fano is your man. I cannot praise him enough. He is a great guy and guide (he actually showed Nick Garbutt around – the photographer for the Bradt guide on Madagascar and of course his own books on Madagascan wildlife. He has also met Hillary Bradt). His organisational skills are fantastic and I am sure I wouldn't have had half the fun and picture opportunities without his knowledge and many contacts. Everywhere we went he knew people and they know Fano. When I asked for something at one of the hotels I was staying all they said was ask Fano. He knows the best local guides which is important if you want to see more than just lemurs. He speaks four languages fluently: Malagasy, French, English and German. His website is: www.madagascar-funtourguide.com.
Hotel St Antoine is a reasonable priced hotel with free wifi access and less than minute from the brilliant restaurant: .
Do the boat tour on the lake. You get to see crocodiles and many birds including if you are lucky the critically endangered fish eagle (although it might be a more common sight as there is a couple nesting at the lake).
Le Grenat hotel is a lovely place to spend a few nights. It's too new for the 2007 Bradt guide but it's only a ten minute drive to the park entrance, the cabins are nice and the food is simple but delicious. Even the tomato salad was great with fresh parsley and a tasty vinaigrette. Ask for Dolphin as your local guide.
Feon' ny Ala is a very nice place to stay – even if the beds are to short for the Rwandan basketball team – and the Chinese food is better than the Malagasy options on the menu (stay away from grilled zebu with wine sauce). One of the best local guides is Julian, who as Fano speaks four languages.
Order Ramazava in one of the restaurants. Although it's a quite simple dish consisting of zebu, chicken and something similar to our spinach it also has flower buds that makes your tongue tingle without burning it. I have been racking my brain trying to find a comparable experience but I don't think I had anything that is even remotely similar including space dust.
If you are a keen amateur or hobby photographer and cannot afford the big lenses hire one from www.lensesforhire.co.uk they delivered on time and the price for my Sigma 120-300mm plus Canon 1.4x converter, Manfrotto MN393 long lens bracket and delivery was under £20 per day.