Madagascar: April 27 - May 13th, 2017 (17 Days)
Calao Life Experience has been organizing trips to the Great Island of Madagascar for over 20 years, covering almost every parts of the country.
This trip will cover the south and central part of the island. From Tana, the capital city, we fly south east to Fort Dauphin on the Indian ocean, then explore Lokaro Peninsula and Andohahela National Park with an interesting transition zone between the humid Anosy of the lakes and the dry Androy of the spiny desert, with unique and amazing endemic plants and trees, such as the octopus trees (Alluaudia and Didieracea), giant Pachypodiums, Euphorbiacea, medicinal plants… Home to endemic Maki lemurs, Sifaka (Propithecus sp.) Sportive lemurs hiding in tree holes and cute big eyed Microcebes…
From Fort Dauphin with fly to Tulear on the west coast, where we shall explore the great south in a 4x4, along the Mahafaly plateau bordering the Mozambique Channel, deep into the bush. Vezo fisherman villages; Nosy Ve island, nesting site for red tail tropicbirds; caves and sinkholes in limestone.
Back to Tulear, we drive inland across the big island, passing by the sapphire mine of Ilakaka, the sandstone formations and canyons of Isalo National Park, the artisanal village of Ambalavao – for the Antaimoro floral paper-, the towns of Fianarantsoa in the highlands, Antsirabe the old French town with thermal springs, local market and its colourful ‘pousse pousses’ (cycle rickshaw).
Finally our minibus drives down to the vast expanses of central west coast, where we marvel at the famous Avenue of the Baobabs, highly picturesque at sunset, before we reach the seaside town of Morondava. Fly back to Tana.
The trip is 18 days from Paris to Paris. However it is possible to join the trip directly in Tana, if you come from elsewhere.
North Pakistan (September 4th to 21st, 2019)
Pierre Constant has been familiar with Pakistan for the last 40 years having done ethnological research in the Kafir Kalash valleys of Chitral (1977-79), lead trips for “Explorator” in northern Pakistan (1984-85), and done 3 major treks in the Karakorum Ranges: Baltoro Glacier-K2 Base camp- Gondogoro La (2009), Snow Lake- Biafo Hispar Glaciers traverse (2013) and Shimshal-Manglik Sar (2016).
The proposed trip starts in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, from where we fly to Chitral, in the north west. From there, it is a jeep safari, which takes us for 3 days in the valleys of the Kafir Kalash tribe, up to northern Chitral where we cross the Shandur Pass and down into Gilgit Valley. We shall follow the legendary Karakorum Highway north into Hunza, visiting Karimabad, Nagar, Gulmit and Passu near the Chinese border. Back to Gilgit, we head east into Baltistan, following the gorges of the Indus River to Skardu, and discovering the fortified village of Khaplu, close to the Indian frontier of Kashmir. Eventually we backtrack along the Karakorum Highway to Chilas, then south over the mountains of the fabled Deosaï Plains, crossing the Babusar Pass into spectacular Kaghan Valley, with pine forests and turquoise blue lakes. Return to Islamabad.
17 days Paris to Paris. It is possible to join the trip in Islamabad.
Namibia: May 8th-31st, 2019 (23 days)
Calao Life has been leading trips to Namibia for 25 years. A geologist by university standards, Pierre Constant has a good knowledge of the geology of Namibia. As a naturalist and wildlife photographer, he is keen on the fauna and birdlife of this amazing country, with a great biodiversity.
The trip is made in a 4x4, for an anticlockwise tour of Namibia, to the north east, north west and along the coast all the way to the great south, returning through the interior. We shall pass by Waterberg Plateau, the Hoba meteorite, Tsumeb, Etosha National Park (2 days) and its fascinating wildlife, the Kaokoland of the Himba tribe –which women are half naked and covered in ochre and animal fat-, the pink purple volcanic landscapes of Damaraland, the stunning Skeleton Coast on the Atlantic - with the white sand dunes of the northern Namib, the pink granitic inselberg of Spitzkoppe, the old German colonial seaside town of Swakopmund, the awesome Goanikontes and Kuiseb canyons, the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, and the vast mountainous expanses of the great South, on the way to Lüderitz, the first historical port of Namibia. Return to Windhoek through the Tiras Berge Mountain Conservancy and the plateaus of the Great Escarpment.
17 days Paris to Paris. The trip can be joined in Windhoek.
Cambodia: February 8th-24th, 2019 (17 days)
Starting in Phnom Penh, our itinerary heads south to the coastal town of Kep and the old French colonial town of Kampot. From there we drive to Sihanoukville and take a boat trip to Koh Rong Samloen Island in the Gulf of Thaïland, where we spend the night. Back to Sihanoukville, we return to Phnom Penh, where we visit the Tamao Wildlife Centre for a collection of Cambodia’s fauna. Next day depart for Kampong Chnang on the Tonle Sap, the huge central lake of Cambodia. Visit a Vietnamese floating village in a typical fishing boat. Continue to Battambang, an old French town in the west of the country, for 2 nights. Discover 11th century ruins of Ek Phnom and Phnom Banan temple. Enjoy a ride on the traditional ‘Bamboo train’. Leave Battambang for a day cruise on a narrow river, bound for Tonle Sap and Siem Reap. Three full days in Siem Reap allow us to discover the amazing archeological site of Angkor Wat, and numerous temples spread over a vast area into the jungle. Along the northern side of Tonle Sap, we make our way to Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham and Kratie on the Mekong River. There, we enjoy a fun ride in a long tail boat to look for Irrawady River dolphins. The road takes us next to Ratanakiri, the hills of northeastern Cambodia, where we have walks to waterfalls in the jungle. Return to Phnom Penh, for a last night in luxury at the Raffles Hotel.
18 days Paris to Paris. It is possible to join the trip in Phnom Penh directly.
Myanmar (November to April)
Calao Life Experience has been organizing trips to Myanmar since 1996.
Discover the east, west and central part of the country. From Yangon, where we visit the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda, Sule Paya and Bogyoke Aung San market, spending the night in luxury on the edge of Kandawgyi Lake. First we head east with our minivan to Kyaiktyo and the amazing ‘Golden Rock’ of the Mon Buddhists. Continue to Hpa-An in the hills, a picturesque village in a plain of limestone ‘inselberg’, hosting Karen, Buddhist temples and mosqs, on the banks of the Thanklwin River. Visit the colonial seaside town of Mawlamyne, and more Mon style ‘Payas’ and monasteries, on a ridge facing sunset.
Back to Yangon, fly to Nyaung U, location of the mind blowing Bagan Archeological site (9th-13th century), where we spend 2 days, to discover a selection of brick red temples of esthetic wonder.
Another flight takes us to Mandalay, from where we go overland in a minivan, through the mountains, to Kalaw and Aung Ban (tribal markets). Pass by Pindaya and its extraordinary cave of the 1000 Buddhas, before we reach Nyaung Shwe on Lake Inle. In a long tail motor boat, visit the fishermen villages on stilts, the floating gardens, the wooden Buddhist monastery of Nga Phe Chaung, cheeroot factory, the weaving factory and long neck Padaung women…
Back to Yangon and end of part one. For the extension, we fly to Sittwe (Rakhine state) in the north west, visit the small port on the Gulf of Bengal, then sail up the Kaladan River on a local steamboat bound for Mrauk U. Amazing Buddhist archeological site of the 15th-18th century, where we spend two days exploring on foot. Return to Sittwe and Yangon.
13 days Paris-Paris or 17 days (with extension)
It is possible to join the trip directly in Yangon.
Southern Australia: Adelaide to Perth - June 2nd-21th, 2018 (20 days)
Survey successfully completed in September 2017.
A traverse of South Australia from Adelaide to Port Augusta, followed by the contour of Eyre Peninsula to Port Lincoln and Ceduna, before crossing the Nullarbor desertic plain. The gigantic cliffs of the Great Australian Bight overlook the Southern Ocean, with its schools of wild dolphins, southern right whales and the great white sharks. The amazing caves and sinkholes of the karstic Nullarbor plain hide incredible underwater systems below ground. The Great Western Woodlands leads us to the fabled Outback of the pioneers (Kalgoorlie) and gold prospectors lured by riches. We shall then follow the coast from Esperance to Cap Leeuwin, crossing magnificent 'karri' forests of giant eucalyptus trees, Cape Le Grand and Fitzgerald River National Parks. Finally we come up the west coast, across the wonderful wine region of Margaret River where 'grands crus' are produced. Another area of splendid limestone caves, such as Mammoth and Ngilgi caves. Arrive in Fremantle, then Perth, capital of Western Australia.
It is possible to join the trip in Adelaide and leaving from Perth.
New Zealand: January 15th - February 5th, 2019 (22 Days)
Calao Life Experience has been organizing trips to New Zealand since 2001, covering almost every parts of North and South Islands
First part of this trip will be North Island, starting from Auckland the bustling capital, we make our way to the fascinating 'Glowworm caves' of Waitomo, then reach the Maori heartland of Rotorua, where we shall visit the volcanic wonderland of Waiotapu, its magic sulphur lakes and thermal springs. We move on to Bay of Plenty on the north coast, then head east to Gisborne and Napier, site of a devastating earthquake in 1931. Climb inland to the heights of Tongariro National Park, for panoramic walks. Down to Wellington on the south coast, we discover the fabulous Te Papa museum, on natural history and Maori culture.
Crossing Cook channel on the Interislander ferry, we arrive in Picton, on South Island. From Malborough Sounds to Golden Bay in the north west, we cross Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs. Reach Kaikoura on the east coast, a chance for cruise in search of albatrosses. Make our way to Christchurch, then passing by amazing turquoise blue lakes in the mountains, get to Mt Cook National Park. Down to Queenstown, on a beautiful lake for a steamer cruise. Discover Te Anau in Fiordland, with glowworm caves again. The rainforest of the west coast and a memorable cruise in the fjords of Milford Sound, to check on fur sealions and penguins.
Visit the beaches, cliffs and fauna of the Catlins, before we head up the west coast to Fox & Franz Glaciers, Hokitika, Greymouth and Shantytown of the early pioneers, the pancake rocks of Punakaiki. Visit the incredible karst environment of the Oparara Basin, with caves and underground rivers in the forest. Cross South Island back to Christchurch, from where we fly back to Auckland.
The trip is 22 days from Paris to Paris. However it is possible to join the trip directly in Auckland, if you come from elsewhere.