If a trip to Madagascar isn’t on your bucket list, then it’s high time to consider this magical island. There is something for everyone. We have picked out the top five things to see and do in Madagascar, but of course, you don’t have to stick to one activity!
For the more active amongst you, Madagascar offers a wide range of water activities including diving and snorkelling.
The coral reefs around Madagascar have not suffered from the pollution that other locations have experienced which means there are several sites offering magical underwater experiences. The reefs have the highest coral diversity of the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and are famous for many indo-pacific fish species including clown fish, angel fish, trigger fish, surgeon fish and groupers. You may also see eagle rays, barracuda and reef sharks as well as sea stars, anemones and sea urchins. In season you can also see manta rays and whale sharks.
One particular highlight of the area is that you may get the chance to swim with the turtles.
Ile Saint Marie has a very colourful pirate history which means that wreck diving is also on offer, as several pirate ships sunk in the area.
The best areas for diving are Nose Be and Isle Sainte Marie on the east coast.
2. Whale Watching
If you decide to charter a yacht to be close to the best dive sites, you may also see Whales. Humpback Whales come close to Madagascar between mid-July and October. During the annual migration, they can be seen breaching and blowing in the channel that separates Madagascar from the mainland. The whales are quite large and can easily be seen from the shore, however, if you want a closer look, you can also get onto the water with a marine specialist to see them up close.
Madagascar is famous for its Lemurs. You will find 103 distinct types of Lemur from the large Indri Indri, to the tiny mouse Lemurs that you could fit into an egg cup. Interestingly Lemurs pre-date Monkeys, and you cannot find them anywhere else.
Because of its isolation, you will find many other forms of wildlife and flora on Madagascar. For example, it is home to 70% of the worlds chameleon species, 240 of its reptile species are unique to the island, and they even have 150 species of frogs!
Although you will only find 300 species of birds on the Island, nearly half of them are endemic, which makes Madagascar one of Africa’s top birding hotspots. The best areas to find specialist birds are Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and Ranomafana Park.
Also of particular interest are the islands orchids with over 1000 species, the majority of which can be found in the eastern coastal area. You will also see an impressive collection of palms, ferns and succulents.
Finally, Madagascar is famous for having over 300 species of butterfly and thousands of moth species – one of the largest being the yellow comet moth with a wingspan of up to 25cm!
If you are looking for a more restful time, the beaches in Madagascar are amazing. You will find miles of unspoilt palm-lined beach, together with some of the best seafood restaurants. The beaches are lovely with no resort hotels spoiling the views. However, you will see fisherman tending to their nets and launching their traditional dug-out canoes called pirogues. The freshly caught seafood is available to buy and includes oysters, crab and lobster.
If you enjoy walking, rather than being driven, Madagascar offers a range of experiences including rainforests and reserves. The steep terrain and many streams and rivers mean that building roads is not practical and many parks can only be explored using a network of trails.
Much of the wildlife and fauna described above can be seen while trekking, so it’s worth planning your trip with this in mind and selecting the places that are known for what you want to experience.
Ranomafana Park is known for its hot springs and even has a spot where you will find hot tubs that can ease away a hard day’s walking.
Regardless of whether you enjoy an active holiday, or a laid back relaxed holiday, or something in between, Madagascar has something for everyone.