This stunning island lying off the coast of mainland Africa, boasts a wealth of natural marvels unique to its shores. Only recently has The Great Red Island started to finally come to terms with its potential. Yes, this means untainted experiences a-plenty; however, the lack of infastructure means the best experiences are a little tricky to find. Our list of the the top things to do in Madagascar outlines its unmissable gems.
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Combining the forests of Mantadia with the Analamazoatra Reserve, this national park is famed for the howling calls of indri lemurs. Alongside the indri, other intriguing species of lemurs reside here. These include the lesser bamboo, rufous, mouse, greater dwarf and the eastern wooly.
The primary forest consists of two protected areas: the Analamazoatra special reserve and the Mantadia national park. Venture through the park on one of its five trails, for lush forests and waterfalls blanketed with astounding fauna. Yes, the lemurs may grab the limelight, yet they share the park with over 100 species of bird, and a dizzying array of amphibians.
The intriguing wildlife, pleasant climate, and close vicinity to the capital, make it the perfect introduction to Madagascar’s breathtaking biodiversity.
Île Sainte Marie
Once a haven for smugglers and pirates, this narrow island is the definition of a tropical paradise. Still relatively untouched by human interference, Île Sainte Marie is lapped by turquoise waters filled with exotic marine life. The Island’s wondrous reefs serve as playgrounds to dolphins, moray eels and vibrant schools of curious fish.
After snorkelling, hike into the rich forests and rolling hills. Make a visit to the world’s only pirate cemetery, or hunt for local lemurs in the thick undergrowth. Further quench your thirst for adventure by grabbing a quad bike to reach undisturbed coves dotting the shores.
Avenue of the Baobabs
Emblematic of Madagascar’s unique natural beauty, the intriguing baobab tree’s bizarre branch formations appear to be rooted in the heavens above. Of the nine species of Baobab in the world, seven are only found in Madagascar. These bulbous trees, also known as Adansonia, reach up to 30 metres in height and can grow 11 metres in width. Although these Madagascan elders can live up to 800 years, recently they have been threatened by deforestation. Thankfully, this led to The Avenue of the Baobabs gaining conservation status from the Ministry of Environment and Forests In 2014. Now 25 baobabs tower over the crimson road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. Iconic, and completely free to visit; a walk down this avenue is unmissable.
Ranomafana National Park Hot Springs
Sitting on the bed of the Namarona river, the hot springs of Ranomafana put jungle themed spas to shame. Head out at dawn for a guided trek in search of the achingly cute bamboo lemurs. After, cross a bridge over the grand river to find a line of hot tubs in little rooms. Sink into these tubs of steamy water, while relaxing to the sounds of the jungle, for a genuine slice of tropical bliss.
Go whale watching
Witnessing the world’s largest creatures crashing though the Indian Ocean is a truly breathtaking experience. Due to its warm coastal waters large pods of humpback whales pass by the Madagascan coast every year. Recently In 2016, around the islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Iranja, the incredibly rare omura whale was even spotted in a pod of over 80 whales – the largest on record. However, even in Madagascar seeing these elusive giants is no mean feat. Many recommend heading here around June to September, as this is when humpback whales migrate off the northeast coasts to mate and give birth.
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