Madagascar – also known as the ‘great red island’ is reckoned by scientists to be a living laboratory of evolution. The world’s fourth-largest island is home to a kaleidoscope of rare species of lemurs, primates, chameleons and birds. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Madagascar’, you’ll know just how endearing lemurs can be. They’re the superstars of Madagascar, with many different species to look out for.
The Malagasy people are renowned for their friendliness – whether you’re in a city or a tiny village, you’ll be made to feel welcome. They have a fascinating cultural heritage, with Arabic, Indian and African influences present in the language, food, and music.
With a diverse topography of terraced rice fields, natural wonders, untouched rainforests, unique geology, jagged coastlines, pristine beaches, and giant baobabs, there’s no shortage of sites to see in Madagascar.
- Search the lush forests for any of the 111 species of lemurs in their natural habitat.
- Explore amazing rock formations, spectacular canyons and natural swimming holes at Isalo National Park.
- Photograph the giant baobabs near Morondava at sunset.
- Visit the largest example of a tsingy forest on earth in the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Immerse yourself in the culture of the Malagasy people on a boat excursion on the Mandrare River.
- Explore the lush rainforests and white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean at Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest.
- Pamper yourself on the island of Nosy Ankao with the chance to spot turtles, whales and dolphins, along with scuba diving and fishing.
Located in the center of the island on a rocky ridge, Antananarivo is the biggest city in the country with approximately 1,4 million inhabitants. Founded in 1625 by King Andrianjaka, Antananarivo was already a major city before the colonial era. The city is a mass of buildings including Royal palaces, the French residency, the Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals, several stone churches, as well as schools, hospitals, courts of justice, and other government buildings. The streets around the market are always colorful and crowded.
ANDASIBE-MANTADIA NATIONAL PARK
Madagascar’s most accessible rainforest reserve due to its proximity to Antananarivo, Andasibe’s forests sing with the sounds of frogs, reptiles, birds, and the Indri, the largest living lemur.
Morondava gains you access to the Avenue of the Baobabs, a natural avenue of massive baobab trees that offer spectacular photo ops, especially at sunrise and sunset. Also nearby is the Kirindy Forest, home to lemurs and carnivorous, catlike fossas.
TSINGY DE BEMARAHA NATIONAL PARK
Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park is a labyrinth of limestone comprised of countless razor-sharp spires and pinnacles that can only be accessed by a series of rope bridges and walkways. Located in northwest Madagascar, the area is surrounded by undisturbed forests, lakes and canyons, making the area worth the journey.
Travel to the southern region of the island to see the Spiny Forest where 95 percent of the plant and animal species are endemic to this area. Adapted to their dry environment by preserving water in the swollen ‘cacti’ leaves, they are actually more woody than succulent. Mandrare River Camp is the perfect base from which to explore the forests in search of countless endemic plants, lemurs, and chameleons or walk through the spiny forest at sunset, and take a boat ride to the village to learn about the life and traditions of the Tandroy people.
AMBER MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Madagascar’s oldest national park protects acres and acres of montane rainforest, orchids, waterfalls and Sanford and Crowned lemurs, as well as hundreds of reptiles and birds.
ISALO NATIONAL PARK
An adventurous journey to Isalo National Park reveals a rugged landscape of impressive gorges and canyons, grassy plains, waterfalls, over 500 endemic species of plants. Not to mention Ring-tailed lemurs, brown lemurs, sifakas and 14 nocturnal lemurs which hide in dense vegetation along the streams.
Nosy Be is a paradise of pristine beaches, clear water, and air filled with the aroma of the ylang-ylang vanilla plant. Located off the northwest coast of Madagascar, one can find luxury resorts with opportunities for scuba diving, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing.
If you didn’t think luxury could get any better, travel by helicopter to the largest of the five islands located off the northeast coast of Madagascar – home to the luxurious Miavana – to see how truly pampered one can feel. Unexplored coves fringed by white sand beaches and sprawling coral reefs with the chance to spot turtles, whales, and dolphins, not to mention a world of lemurs and chameleons bringing the forest alive.