Thanks to the movie that shares its name, the world is now familiar with the adorable native residents of the island nation of Madagascar. In this remarkably vast and unspoiled island, the lemur population alone encompasses over 70 different species, alongside numerous other unique wildlife and plant species that have evolved independently from the external world. While the tourist infrastructure remains somewhat undeveloped, meaning you won't come across a Starbucks, this is precisely why you should consider a visit to this land of abundance before it becomes a mainstream destination.
Andasibe National Park: This park, designated as a World Heritage Site, is divided into two sections: Mantadia and Analamazaotra, with the latter being the more frequently visited part. Analamazaotra is the habitat of Madagascar's largest lemur, among a dozen other lemur species, and it boasts remarkable biodiversity, featuring over 100 bird species, as well as chameleons and various reptiles.
Ifaty: Positioned along the coastline, Ifaty is a sought-after destination for birdwatchers. It is situated near the country's largest lagoon and protected by a vast coral reef, making it an excellent spot for diving and snorkeling adventures.
Isalo National Park: Regarded as one of Madagascar's most stunning parks, Isalo National Park boasts breathtaking landscapes, verdant forests, high plateaus, and arid desert expanses. This park is home to 77 bird species, 70 percent of which are endemic to the region.
Nosy Be: Located about 90 minutes north of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, Nosy Be is a sizable island and a favored beach destination. It's accompanied by smaller islands off the coast, offering a tranquil atmosphere ideal for relaxation, snorkeling, swimming, and diving – a perfect retreat after exploring Madagascar.
Ranomafana National Park: Encompassing approximately 40,000 hectares, this park showcases rainforest-clad hills and a profusion of wildlife. Long renowned as one of Madagascar's premier attractions, it serves as a home to lemurs, chameleons, and a variety of other animals.
When to go / useful information
When to go
If you're planning a visit to Madagascar, it's advisable to steer clear of the period from January to March, unless you have a penchant for heavy rainfall and potential cyclones.
On the other hand, any time outside of these months is generally suitable for a visit. However, it's widely regarded that the absolute best months to explore Madagascar are April, as well as September through November.
Currency Malagasy ariary
Language Malagasy, French
What makes it special: The island harbours lush rain forests, tropical dry forests, plateaus and deserts. Its more than 3,000 miles of coastline and over 250 islands are home to some of the world's largest coral reef systems and most extensive mangrove areas in the Western Indian Ocean. Madagascar is perhaps best-known for its lemurs—of which nearly 100 different species and sub-species live on the island—and for its massive baobab trees. The island is also home to the Tuléar reef, the world's third-largest coral reef system, making Madagascar one of the top scuba diving destinations in Africa.
Weather: From January to March, which is the cyclone season, the east coast is particularly vulnerable, but all coastal areas can be affected. For pleasant temperatures and fewer visitors, consider visiting during April, May, November, and December. The high season falls in July and August, as it coincides with European school holidays. During this period, Madagascar experiences its winter season with balmy daytime temperatures and cool nights. Additionally, there's a surge in high-season activity around Christmas and New Year.
Social customs: Malagasy people are known for their exceptional hospitality and warm welcome, characterized by a refreshingly open and direct communication style. When strangers meet for the first time, a handshake is the customary form of greeting. However, when meeting a friend, the customary greeting involves three kisses on the cheek.