Our Guide to
A remote wilderness and one of a kind destination
A Madagascar holiday is a truly unique experience. Madagascar was marooned from the mainland over 165 million years ago. It has forged its own evolutionary path thanks to its geographic isolation from the rest of the world. Madagascar carries its unique cargo of flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth. Of the 200,000 wildlife species, 80% are only on Madagascar, now that’s impressive.
Madagascar is often referred to as the “Eighth Continent” due to its size and isolation. Did you know it is the fourth largest island in the world? The predominant interest is of course in its lemurs, chameleons, frogs, birds and butterflies.
On a Madagascar holiday you can also experience white sand beaches, coral reefs, dreamy archipelagos of islands not to mention breathtaking rainforests, unique limestone formations and mass baobab trees. Less known is the diversity of cultures here and something many of our guests find absolutely fascinating and surprising.
Madagascar’s most famous resident is the lemur and there is a massive diversity of species you can spot by day and night from the smallest mouse lemur to the large and impressive Indri.
Home to half the world’s chameleon species (150 world wide, more than 70 found here), Madagascar holidays get you close to these multi-coloured creatures famous for elastic tongues, bulging eyes and camouflage ability.
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More on a Madagascar Holiday
Facts and figures are not for everyone. So we will keep this brief and interesting, mixing up some statistics and our take on Madagascar.
Where is it and what should one expect?
This world renowned island nation sits approximately 2,000 kilometres off the south east coast of Africa. It is one of the most visited countries on the continent and for good reason – it’s naturally beautiful, an island paradise with spectacular beaches and endless activities on land and water. It continues to offer a sensational African beach holiday finale to any wildlife safari.
Madagascar is a natural wonder that is home to 5% of all known flora and fauna. It’s an adventure destination as infrastructure is not nearly as developed as mainland Africa. You go on a Madagascar vacation to immerse in mother nature, trekking through unique rock formations, swimming in waterfalls and coming close to playful lemurs. Beyond wilderness and wildlife, Madagascar’s culture is equally diverse and unique. You find rice paddy fields encircling the city, more Asian than African colourful street markets and various churches and architecture. Madagascar is a melting pot of cultures with African, Indian and Arabic descent.
Madagascar also has an ancient king, a system of spiritual taboos that govern traditional life across the island and many sacred sites. You will hear ‘fady’, it’s the system of taboos and as you travel through the various regions, what becomes clear is just how difficult this concept is to grasp for visitors.
It’s easy to overlook the tropical island beauty of Madagascar as the natural and cultural intrigues attract your attention. Madagascar beach holidays offer colour, vibrancy and insight into local life. Women adorn themselves in multi coloured ‘lamba’ sarongs, fisherman hauling their catch out of dugout pirogue (canoe) and walking up the beach and coral reefs come to life with fish, turtles and more. Lemurs can be found too right on coastlines, in mountains, forests and beyond the mangroves in tangled forests.
Madagascar is a natural wonder that is home to 5% of all known flora and fauna. It’s an adventure destination as infrastructure is not nearly as developed as mainland Africa. You go on a luxury island Madagascar vacation to immerse in mother nature, trekking through unique rock formations, swimming in waterfalls and coming close to playful lemurs. Beyond wilderness and wildlife, Madagascar’s culture is equally diverse and unique. You find rice paddy fields encircling the city, more Asian than African colourful street markets and various churches and architecture.
It’s easy to overlook the tropical island beauty of Madagascar as the natural and cultural intrigues attract your attention. Madagascar beach holidays offer colour, vibrancy and insight into local life. Women adorn themselves in multi coloured “lamba” sarongs, fisherman hauling their catch out of dugout pirogue (canoe) and walking up the beach and coral reefs come to life with fish, turtles and more. Lemurs can be found too near the coastline, beyond the mangroves in tangled forests.
Top 5 Madagascar holiday highlights
- Paradise for wildlife lovers, this mega diverse country boasts more than half the world’s chameleons and dozens of species of lemur. Just don’t expect the mainland Africa safari animals like lions and giraffes.
- Birding in Madagascar is exceptional and one of the most elusive bird species in the world, the long tailed ground roller can be found here.
- World heritage sites here are worth visiting, Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (a 500 year old burial site), the rainforests of Atsinanana (home to rare primate and lemurs) and the Tsingy de Bemaraha reserve (a sea of limestone pinnacles and cliffs).
- Island luxury has arrived to Madagascar thanks to the 2017 opening of Miavana on Nosy Ankao. Accessed only by helicopter it offers exclusive luxury Madagascar accommodation, marine safaris spotting turtles, whales and dolphins plus scuba diving and fishing. Other properties on other islands offer equally beautiful experiences.
- Rainforest and natural hot tub in one. Ranomafana is a national park rich in lemurs and hot springs. You don’t dip in the springs, instead cross the spindly bridge over the gushing river just at the village and you’ll reach a line of hot tubs in little rooms!
Best time to visit Madagascar
Madagascar sees two primary seasons, dry and wet. The dry season runs April to October, June to September with winter in the highlands dropping to 5 degrees at night and rising to 20 degrees in the day time.
The rainy season runs November to March with cyclonic risks anywhere between January and March. During this time roads can be difficult in remote areas due to poor infrastructure (dirt roads riddled with potholes).
The best time of year for a Madagascar holiday is generally when it is dry and cooler, usually April to October. Just keep in mind rainfall varies greatly due to the different areas and vast geographical diversity.
Conservation in Madagascar
Madagascar has suffered greatly from deforestation over the years and the remaining forests are crucial homes to thousands of its endemic species. Yet the population is on the rise and political unrest has seen cuts to funding in conservation. Some $700 million dollars in international funding across 500 projects has been received since 1990 and whilst it has seen protection of land in some areas, other projects never got off the ground thus conservation outcomes have not been impressive.
Success in Madagascar conservation will come down to education and understanding. Communities are being consulted and assisted to alter traditional farming techniques to reduce impact on the environment. Eco tourism is seeing standards of living for locals improve and employment increase plus of course the protection of greater tracts of Madagascar’s land.
Our tourism partners have implemented their own tactics to contribute to wilderness and wildlife protection and develop sustainable projects and employment for local communities.
Malagasy people are very friendly and yet predominantly poor. To give back, why not spend time at Akany Avoko when you are in Antananarivo. It’s home to over 100 homeless kids who are taught life long skills and their crafts are available to purchase from a little shop.