One visit and you will
see why Madagascar is regarded as the world’s number one conservation
Madagascar is like no place else on earth.
It barely qualifies as part of Africa: the two are separated by
hundreds of kilometres of sea and 165 million years of evolution
– long enough for Madagascar’s plants and animals to
evolve into some of the weirdest forms on the planet.
Nowhere else can you see over 70 varieties of lemur, including one
that sounds like a police siren, the world’s biggest and smallest
chameleons, and the last stomping ground of the elephant bird, the
largest bird that ever lived.
Near Ifaty in Southern Madagascar you will see forests of twisted,
spiny ‘octopus’ trees and in the west, marvel at the
bottle-shaped baobabs, especially the Avenue du Boabab near Morondava
and be on the look out for the carnivorous pitcher plant found around
Ranomafana, there are over 60 varieties of them.
The people are no less interesting: arriving here
some 2000 years ago along the Indian Ocean trade routes, they grow
rice in terraced paddies, and speak a language that has more in
common with their origins in Southeast Asia than with the African
continent. Their culture is steeped in taboo and magic, imbuing
caves, waterfalls, animals and even some material objects with supernatural
attributes. Hill peoples live in traditional multistoried brick
houses with carved balconies and, in some areas, dance with their
dead ancestors in the ‘turning of the bones’ ceremony.
Throw in pirate history, coastlines littered with shipwrecks, great
regional cooking, some of the world’s longest place names,
and unfailingly polite and friendly people, and you’ll experience
a refreshing take on the overused ‘unique’ tag.
The main highlights of Madagascar are:
Stunning primary rainforests - wander
through these amazing forests
Rare creatures and plants - including Lemurs, Indri
Beautiful beaches - great for families, honeymoons
and relaxing holidays
Diving - some wonderful diving and many undiscovered
and rarely dived sites
Fishing - some of the worlds best and most challanging
fishing is available around the coast
Breathtaking unique landscapes - mountains, valleys,
Photographers dream - dramatic landscape, beautiful
people, rare animals
Because of the large size of Madagascar Island and
the relatively poor conditon of the roads connecting parts of the
Island it is nearly impossible to see everything in one visit (unless
you have several months to spare), so here are some ideas of where
to visit Madagsacar for various interests
Ile St Marie
Ile St Marie - beach style
Nosy Be - beach style
Montagne d'Ambre - active walking style
Nose Be - Sakatia islands area
For Rainforests Lemurs and Chameleons
For Landscapes / culture
Ways to visit Madagascar
Fly in Package one destination:
Fly straight to your destination and explore that area.
Most relaxing way to visit the Island ideal for families and honeymoons.
Top suggestions for this type of holiday to Madagascar:
Fly in Package multiple destinations:
Take several flights between locations spending a few days at each.
More expensive than staying in one place plus the extra effort of
unpacking and repacking each time you move but you get to see more
of a variety of the country, ideal if you want to see as much as
possible in a short time.
Top suggestions for this type of holiday to Madagascar:
Nosy Be - Montagne d'Ambre - Andasibe
River trip - Morndava - Tulear
Take a Madagascar Safari
Many companies (local and international) run trips around parts
of Madagascar, some are reliable some are not, catering for a selection
of budgets and areas.
This is an ideal way to see a good deal of the variety Madagascar
has to offer with a guide to explain everything for you and look
after all the details of the trip.
Self drive tour (most vehicles come with driver
- see Car hire section).
Hire a vehicle and explore some of the country, you will need to
be quite adventurous for this choice.
If time is no object (and cost to a degree) then this can offer
the ultimate experience of Madagascar, visit places well off the
beaten track and get to locations which are inaccessable by plane,
meet the people and sweat the sweat of remote Madagascar life itself,
but accommodation and food away from major towns is basic to non
existant so be prepared to feature in your own version of survivor
(only joking but it can get rough).
Flights into / around Madagascar
All international flights arrive in the capital Antananarivo
(generally shortened to 'Tana')
From Tana you can fly to most major places on the island, these
flights are not cheap but if you fly with Air Madagascar
into the country with these flights prebooked
they are discounted by 30%. One of the cheapest ways to do this
is to fly to Johannesburg in South Africa and then to book your
flight from Johannesburg to Madagascar with Air Madagascar as part
of your Madagascar package.
Self driving around Madagascar is possible but not easy, firstly
the roads although improving are not in great condition combined
with large distances it makes driving around much of the island
time comsuming dusty and bumpy!
Most vehicle rental companies will not rent you a vehicle without
including a driver, this is a very good idea as the local drivers
are familiar with conditions, road regulations, local driving habits
and times needed for journeys.
All the companies we use for vehicle rental include drivers in the
rental price along with all the drivers accommodation, meals and
drinks - if you do rent a vehicle in Madagascar check that
the drivers meals and food is included otherwise the cost
can rise very quickly.
The other thing to look out for is whether fuel is included
or not, different companies have different policies also you can
often get a price including and excluding fuel, (which is expensive
The best way to have a 'self drive' tour of Madagascar is to take
one of our pre-arranged self drive tours that have been worked out
to cover as much as sensibly possible and include vehicle rental,
driver (with his meals and accommodation), and all your accommodation.
Have a look at our Self drive Itineraries