Reasons to Visit
Madagascar is fringed by stunning coastline and tiny islands. The beaches of Madagascar are beautiful, untouched and undeveloped. Here turquoise waters meet white sandy shores and they are the perfect place to relax after an adventurous time exploring the mainland and its magnificent wildlife.
The birdlife is remarkable on Madagascar with chances of seeing over 100 endemic species. The coua family, vanga family and Madagascar red fody are to name but a few. With striking plumage and sweet song they are a special feature of this diverse island.
Over 90% of Madagascar’s chameleons and frogs are endemic and are found all over the country. They range from giants like the Parson’s chameleon that can reach 60cms to some the size of a fingernail, and found in every colour under the sun the variation that can be seen is staggering.
Lemurs are the star attraction in Madagascar, and their endearing behaviour and abundant energy will keep everyone entertained. From the largest indri and its haunting eerie cry, to the smallest nocturnal mouse lemur with its huge amber eyes make each species so unique and fascinating.
The rainforests of Madagascar are a real treasure trove of exceptional and unique flora and fauna. Here you will easily find lemurs, chameleons and frogs hidden away and the diversity of species found here is overwhelming. All exploring is done on foot on the trails that weave through the forest.
The reefs around Madagascar are home to bright colourful fish and vibrant corals. From the beaches you can explore with fins and snorkel to discover more of this countries magnificent wildlife.
Whale watching off the east coast of Madagascar between July to September is something not to be missed. These giants swim close to the shores of Ile Sainte Marie and make for a great spectacle.
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Africa and The Indian Ocean
Our country specialists have travelled the length and breadth of Madagascar - here are a few of their favourite things to do
165 million years ago Madagascar broke free from Africa and drifted 400 kilometres out into the Mozambique Channel. Geological forces thrust up dramatic mountain ranges along the spine of an island a thousand miles long.
Isolated from the rest of the world, there were no large predators: here wildlife evolved on its own distinct path. Of Madagascar’s 200,000 species, more than 80% are endemic.
The most famous are the lemurs. This is the place to hear the eerie wail of the indri echo across misty rainforests and see sifakas leap across ochre earth. Walks through the forests will reveal more than lemurs though. Pushing past wild ginger ferns and over buttress roots you will see a kaleidoscope of chameleons, frogs and butterflies. Birds screech in the trees and uncharted insects march through the leaf litter.
Man arrived late: only 2,000 years ago, on small boats from Indonesia. Today, there are many different tribes, each with their own languages, beliefs and customs and each amongst the most spiritual you’ll find anywhere.
Finally, Madagascar is surrounded by a halo of small islands. The beaches are long and sandy with pirogues moored in the shallows. Kick off your walking boots, lie back and watch the frigate birds soar overhead.
Antsirabe is a small spa town roughly half way between Antananarivo and Ranomafana. The cool, clear air of the high plateau makes Antsirabe an attractive stop on the route to the south. A visit to the thermal baths is also worth a visit.
Isalo National Park is home to some of Madagascar’s most stunning scenery, and is a sacred place for the Bara tribe, whose burial sites are marked by mounds of tiny stones placed in crevices in the rock face.
Andasibe covers an area of montane rainforest at altitudes between 930 metres and 1,040 metres. It is the best park for the indri, the largest lemur, and two of the 62 resident groups have been habituated, making them easy to see.
Masoala National Park is Madagascar’s largest park and one of its least visited. Primary rainforest covers a range of mountains and drops down to the deserted beaches of Antongil Bay where hump-backed whales come to breed and calve.
Amber Mountain National Park is home to huge strangler figs, quinine trees and enormous birdsnest ferns, as well as several lemur species. Joffreville, just 4 kilometres from the park gate, is a relaxing village to wander around to catch a flavour of rural Malagasy life.
Ankify is a small fishing and farming village on the north-eastern tip of Madagascar. The area is known for having a number of plantations – cocoa, vanilla and ylang ylang. On either side of the village there are a number of sandy beaches behind which some small simple hotels have been built.
Ile Sainte-Marie is a sleepy island off Madagascar’s east coast, ringed by deserted beaches, traditional fishing villages and just a handful of small lodges. As well as a colourful history of piracy in the old days, it now boasts some of the best whale watching in Africa.
One hour by boat southwest of Nosy Be, at low tide Nosy Iranja is a single island but splits into two as rising waters cover the connecting white sandbank. The islands are an important breeding site for hawksbill turtles and scientists are currently working on a turtle monitoring project.
Nosy Komba is a beautiful island a few kilometres away from Nosy Be, placed on the map for its population of habituated black lemurs. There are numerous deserted coves to explore as well as paths that lead through tavy farms and into the hills where you will find birds, chameleons and black lemurs.
Idyllically remote on Madagascar’s northwestcoast, Anjajavy is reached only by air. Wildlife is prolific and walks through the forest reveal chameleons, frogs and spore of bush-pigs and the elusive fossa. There are two diurnal lemur species, the common brown lemur and Coquerel’s sifaka, both of which are easily seen.
12 hours (Antananarivo via Paris)
Air France & Kenyan Airways
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
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Further reading:Tours in MadagascarWhen to GoItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout MadagascarCountry Guides
Other countries in Africa:BotswanaKenyaMalawiMauritiusMozambiqueNamibiaRwandaSouth AfricaTanzaniaThe SeychellesUgandaZambiaZanzibar ArchipelagoZimbabwe
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