Tours in 2017 & 2018

My obsession with plants has led me to travel extensively in many parts of the world looking at both gardens and plants in their natural habitat. These plant hunting and garden visit tours have included such places as India, New Guinea, Fiji, New Caledonia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, France, England, Ireland, Crete, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, New Zealand and Pacific North West USA.

In 2017 / 2018 I will be leading tours to France and Madagascar. Please see details below.


In this Madagascar Flora & Fauna Tour, visit one of the world’s botanical and zoological hotspots with Stephen Ryan, who will be making his fifth trip since the 1990s. Stephen is a renowned horticulturalist, writer and lecturer with a life-long love affair with the plants and animals of this unique land. This, the world’s fifth-largest island, has a higher percentage of endemic species than any comparable land mass. It has plant species, genera and even families that grow nowhere else on earth. Madagascar also has many unique native terrestrial mammal species, including such iconic and endearing creatures as lemurs. The exact number of species isn’t known, as new ones are regularly discovered. However, 86 have been described, from the tiny Madam Berthe’s Mouse Lemur – the world’s smallest primate at about 30 grams – to the Indri, one of the largest living lemurs, that can weigh in at 9.5 kilogrammes. Chameleons can be as small as WEB-gecko-madagascaryour little fingernail or as big as a kitten. Many do change colour, although not as dramatically as the cartoons would suggest. The Leaf-Tailed Gecko is possibly the world’s most perfectly camouflaged lizard – until it moves you won’t believe it’s there. This is the land of the world’s largest moth, the Comet Moth, that can measure 20 centimetres from antennae to tail, and who wouldn’t love a Tomato Toad or a Giraffe-Necked Weevil with a neck five times longer than its body? We will see amazing scenery from the dry canyons and buttes of Isalo National Park, where John Wayne would have felt at home, to the pristine rainforests of Maroantsetra with its orchids and giant bamboos eaten by Madagascar’s equivalent to the Panda, the Bamboo Lemurs. This land’s unique plants and animals are not its only charms. As the last major habitable land mass to be settled by humans, the history, culture and customs unique to the Malagasy people will fascinate all who experience it.

This tour is limited to 16 Participants and currently has limited availability



Tour Highlights

Explore Madagascar’s rich and unique wildlife habitats, venturing into exquisite national parks and reserves ranging from semi-tropical rainforests, succulent and spiny thicket,
rocky landscapes of the central west and the spectacular mineral forest (karst spires) of the Tsingy de Bemaraha.

  • Learn about Madagascar’s fascinating blend of Austronesian and East African cultures.
  • View the spectacular Avenue of the Baobabs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Get up close with Madagascar’s unique lemur and hear the call of the Indri across the Andasibe rainforest.
  • Enjoy invigorating walks in Andasibe-Mantadia, Ranomafana and Isalo National Parks, while searching for lemurs, chameleons and strange insects in the forest.
  • Make an excursion to Masoala National Park and the island reserve of Nosy Mangabe home to the White-Fronted Brown Lemurs and Black-and-White Ruffed Lemurs, Leaf-Tailed Geckos and several species of chameleons

WEB-Red-tailed_Sportive_Lemur,_Kirindy,_Madagascar_2PDF itinerary & reservation application
Madagascar 2017

For more information on these tours including a full day by day itinerary, map, image gallery, hotels and physical endurance rating please visit:  The Flora and Fauna of Madagascar tour page at ASA

North West France

This tour currently has limited availability

Travel to France to explore the full range of French garden styles from medieval monastic gardens to grand Renaissance estates and intimate modern creations in five of France’s most beautiful and historic regions: the Île de France, Upper and Lower Normandy, Pays de la Loire and Centre. This carefully researched tour celebrates fine agricultural landscapes, exquisite unspoilt villages, lovely towns, majestic monuments and delicious local produce. We France Bois-des-Moutiers,-House-from-Gardenexplore the gardens, landscapes, and seaside that inspired Impressionist painters like Boudin and Monet at Giverny, Honfleur and Étretat, and Braque at Varengeville-sur-Mer; and in Le Havre visit the Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux – containing one of the most extensive collections of Impressionist
paintings in France. In addition to visiting a variety of private gardens we’ll attend the International Gardening Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire, featuring up to 30 themed gardens created by up-and-coming designers and internationally renowned landscape architects. We survey a rich variety of village architecture such as the pretty half-timbered houses of Normandy. We also visit medieval landmarks like Mont St-Michel and Le Mans Cathedral, as well as two of the greatest masterpieces of European textile art, the Bayeux Tapestry and the Angers Apocalypse Tapestry. Our visits to Buchy’s traditional village market and the charming farm of Domaine St Hippolyte in the Pays d’Auge allow us to savour local products including Normandy’s great cheese varieties (Camembert, Livarot, Pont l’Evêque, Pavé d’Auge), and tasty cider and calvados. We tour some of the loveliest of all châteaux, including Chenonceau, Cheverny and Villandry, as well as the grand royal establishments of Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau. France,-Loire,-Le-Jardin-de-Plessis-SasnièresWe drive through some of France’s most memorable countryside, from the Seine Valley to the coastlines and hedged meadows of Normandy, the manicured panoramas of the Loire, and France’s greatest forests that owe their existence to royalty’s obsession with the hunt. Accommodation includes the lovely Renaissance Château de Chissay in the Loire Valley, Château d’Augerville near Fontainebleau, and the Château Hôtel de Sassetôt – a grand 18th century palace, once home to ‘Sissi’ Empress Elizabeth of Austria.

21 days in North Western France

Overnight Rouen (5 nights) • Sassetôt le Mauconduit (2 nights) • Bayeux (4 nights) • Bagnoles-de-L’Orne (2 nights) • Le Mans (1 night) • Chissay-en-Touraine (3 nights) • Augerville-la-Rivière (3 nights)

PDF itinerary & reservation application:
Gardens, Villages & Châteaux of North Western France 2017

For more information on these tours including a map, image gallery, hotels and physical endurance rating please visit: Gardens, Villages & Châteaux of North Western France tour page at ASA



Stephen Ryan and Craig Lidgerwood lead this journey from the sparkling Côte d’Azur, through Provence, the Luberon Range and Avignon to the mountainous Cévennes. The finest gardens of the Côte d’Azur and Provence include the Clos du Peyronnet, Jardin de la Villa Fort France, Pavillon de Galon and Jardins d’Albertas. We also visit many private gardens by invitation: Nicole Arboireau’s intimate Jardin la Pomme d’Ambre, contemporary creations by Nicole de Vésian, the Jardin de la Noria by Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, the gardens of Mas Benoît designed by Alan-David Idoux, the atelier of tree sculptor Marc Nucera, and landscape designer Dominique Lafourcade’s gardens of the Abbey Sainte-Marie de Pierredon. A highlight in Saint-Rémy is Mas Theo, the private courtyard gardens La Carméjane, Ménerbesdesigned by Michel Semini for fashion magnate Pierre Bergé, lifelong companion of Yves Saint Laurent. Matisse and Picasso museums in Nice and Antibes complement Cézanne’s studio and his panoramic landscapes framed by Mont Saint-Victoire. We visit the Maeght Foundation with an exceptional collection of 20th-century works, chapels decorated by Matisse and Jean Cocteau, and at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat the charming private Villa Santo Sospir decorated by Cocteau for his friend Francine Weisweiller. We explore historic residences like Villa Grecque Kérylos, Villa Ephrussi and Avignon’s huge Papal Palace. Provence’s Roman heritage is explored at the Pont du Gard and in Arles, whose museum features a 31m long Roman boat discovered beneath the Rhône in 2011. We visit the antique market of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and the colourful food stalls of Uzès and savour haute cuisine at two gorgesdutarn-france-1680x720Michelin-star restaurants, Mirazur and La Petite Maison de Cucuron. Culinary delights combine at the Château de Brantes with an evening of classical music under France’s oldest magnolia tree. After scenic drives through the UNESCO heritage-listed Cévennes enjoying blooming wildflowers, chestnut groves and picturesque stone villages we cruise the spectacular Gorges du Tarn dotted with medieval castles.

Overnight Menton (8 nights) • Aix-en-Provence (3 nights) • Avignon (6 nights) • Florac (3 nights)

PDF itinerary & reservation application:
Landscapes, Art & Gardens of the Côte d’Azur, Provence & the Cévennes National Park

For more information on these tours including a day by day itinerary, map, image gallery, hotels and physical endurance rating please visit: Landscapes, Art & Gardens of the Côte d’Azur, Provence & the Cévennes National Park


Please contact Australians Studying Abroad by telephone on (0)3 9822 6899 or by email at for bookings and more information.



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