Madagascar is a fascinating country and one of the few truly off the beaten track destinations left for the adventurous traveller, but if that wasn't enough of a reason why it should be on your bucket list, here are 13 more...
Lemurs are probably Madagascar’s most famous residents, with over 100 endemic species having been identified by scientists. It’s possible to glimpse these amazing creatures in most of Madagascar’s national parks – many of which also run projects to protect lemurs and their habitats in the face of deforestation and other human encroachment.
Madagascar’s capital is one of the most charismatic and interesting of Africa’s cities. It provides a focal point for visitors to experience the fusion of traditional Malagasy culture and French colonial influences, evident in its 17th century royal palace and chic street cafes.
Not only is Andasibe-Mantadia National Park a place of stunning natural beauty, it’s also home to the Indri – the largest known species of lemur. Most of Andasibe-Mantadia is covered with dense rainforest, which provides cover for a further 10 species of lemur as well as many other rare species of flora and fauna.
Untouched by Tourism
Despite a steadily increasing level of tourism, Madagascar still retains an element of genuine adventure for those who visit. The roads are often unpaved, Wi-Fi can be temperamental at best and the bureaucracy can be frustrating, but this shouldn’t put anyone off - it's all part of the experience.
While perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to destinations as far off the beaten track as Madagascar, luxury hotels and boutique accommodation is starting to appear in the country. Hotels like Anjajavy, Constance Tsarabanjina, Miavanna, Manafiafy and Soleil de Tsingy provide visitors with a taste of luxury.
Baobab trees are synonymous with Madagascar and yet another example of its fascinating variety of flora. There are six species found in the country, the most impressive being the Grandidier Baobab which can grow to a staggering 30m tall.
The small island of Ile St-Marie, just off Madagascar’s north eastern coast, is home to one of the world’s only pirate graveyards. Rumoured to have been the location of the half-mythical settlement of Libertalia – an egalitarian pirate utopia – the area was a haunt for pirates throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Find out more in our blog post here.
Long considered an arduous journey by travellers, Madagascar is now more accessible for those seeking its beauty and culture. Air France, Turkish Airlines, Kenyan Airways and South African Airways all offer regular flights into Antananarivo – although direct flights from London are still some way off.
Madagascan cuisine is surprisingly delicious, anyone expecting unimaginative and bland fare will be sorely disappointed. Old Malagasy styles and ingredients, such as zebu meat, coconut, rice, spices and cassava, combine with French colonial influences to make each mealtime a delight.
Two thirds of the world’s species of chameleons can be found in Madagascar – that is, if you can spot them!
Hiking in Isalo National Park
With spectacular scenery like this, Madagascar should be at the top of every hiker’s bucket list. Our Africa specialist’s personal favourite is Isalo National Park in the south of the country. Here the adventurous hiker can not only soak in views like the one above but also catch glimpses of the dozens of species of lemur, birds, reptiles and frogs.
There are many different ethnic groups living in Madagascar, many directly descended from the first permanent human arrivals nearly 2000 years ago. All have their own customs and beliefs, and on our Wild Frontiers tours we organise meetings with groups like the Mikea – a group of traditional hunter gatherers - and the Zafimaniry people - recognised by UNESCO for their wood carving abilities – in a sensitive and educational way.
Tsingy National Park
The stunning rock formations of Tsingy National Park are arguably one of the standout geological features anywhere in Africa. The breath-taking limestone ‘forests’ are formed as a result of the gradual erosion by groundwaters over thousands of years.
The incredible array of wildlife extends far beyond Madagascar’s shoreline, its coast is teeming with marine life including sperm whales, humpbacks, blue whales, dolphins and orca.