Maybe you don't know but, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, and is home to some of the most fantastic animals and unique landscape on the planet.
Uncover alien-looking sceneries, like the Avenue of the Baobs and the Great Tsingy. And top of that - for all the animal-lovers there are 33 species of lemur that live here!
Not far away from the East coast of Africa lies a magical island of Madagascar with panoramic mountains, lush rainforests, and unique wildlife – a hikers paradise.
From Antananarivo to Ifaty, from beautiful national parks, volcanic lagoons, hidden waterfalls, reptiles, lemurs, unusual Malagasy palms and bizarre baobab trees.
Friendly Bara and Betsileo people greet you as you hike through tiny and remote villages, cycle or canoe around this French-flavoured paradise.
The name Madagascar always contained part of a mystery, something of National Geographic documentaries. Exotic and remote.
- 80% of plants and animals in Madagascar cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
What to do
- Spend some time at the beach
Beach resorts are relatively new to Madagascar but are fairly developed on the islands of Nosy Be and Ile Ste Marie in the north part of the island and around Fort Dauphin and Tulear in the south. Ask locals for advice before dipping into the ocean on deserted beaches - some might have sharks
In numerous National Parks around the island, tracking lemurs is a main attraction. Sightings are easier in private reserves, where they're practically monotonous lying on the trees
- Walk the ‘Avenue of Boabs’.
It’s not usual that UNESCO recognizes a forest of trees, but near the town of Morandave, it’s easy to understand why.
Many of those majestic trees have spiritual significance - there are shrines and tombs.
- Enjoy the diversity of Madagascar fruits, vegetables, and spices at Analakely Market
Analakely Market in Madagascar’s is a perfect place to dive in into the richness and diversity of the country. Market benches are stacked high with vegetables and fruits, baskets overflow with beans and rice, and piles overthrow with black pepper, cloves, and chili peppers. Some of it you may recognize, much of it you may not. It’s colorful and delicious.
- Walk the terraced rice fields
The beautiful terraced rice fields in the country’s highlands were highly impressive. Everywhere you go in the hills, you’ll find the terraces and cascading rice pools similar to what you might see in China.
Death is a big thing in Madagascar. Funerals are rich, with plenty of sacrifices (usual food) and large tombs with ceremonial posts and carvings. Catch a funeral and you’re in for a feast, and there’s another chance a year later when the bones are excavated.
- Visit Analakely (Tana) city
The capital of Madagascar is a charming city in the central highlands that lies across a series of hills. Steep steps string between narrow, townhouses that rise high and tight to each other.
- Swim in an oasis waterfall
The waterfalls you’ll encounter along the walk in Isalo National Park are magnificent, and worth a shot and a dip. The lush green surroundings also provide a nice break from the sun and extreme heat.
- Explore the canyons of Isalo National Park
Madagascar’s landscape diversity shows itself across the country. I would suggest you visit at least one of many National parks. If you would hire a local guide he could show you the medicinal trees, elephant foot plants, wild silkworms, and fabulously camouflaged chameleons and stick bugs here.
Maybe even share some stories about local Bara tribe and their unique traditions which have been shaped by the area’s geology and landscape.
There are excellent reefs around the islands of Nosy Be and Sainte Marie in the north, and Tulear and Fort Dauphin in the south. There are many companies that offer diving tours.
Mountain bikes are easy and cheap to rent. That is a good way of reaching your range out without isolating yourself from your surroundings.
Zebu is the local humped cow that’s very nearly an ox, is widely worshiped. Their horns regularly highlight on Malagasy tombs, they're a sign of wealth. The meat is on all the best menus in restaurants as well.
- Learn French – but don’t get too fluent. The Malagasy are usually friendly but open up once they realize you’re not from France as most of them dislike their colonial lords.
Only the young people speak English
Transportation in Madagascar
- The most common Public transport is by taxi-brousse. These are minibusses with 15 seats. But most of the time is overpacked.
- Bus service MadaBus also has few routes, mainly between the major cities, but is much more comfortable.
- Renting a car can be expensive but this allows more freedom on your travel.
- Air Madagascar connects Antananarivo to major coastal areas around the island and discounts are available if you enter the country with the airline.
- Train service, FCE, runs between Fianarantsoa and Manakara on the east coast.
- Boat service are available along the west coast and to nearby islands.
When to go to Madagascar
Surprisingly the weather varies extremely across the island.
- The rain season tends to be from February to March
- During the winter months April-September - the country is dry
- September might be very windy in the south.
- The high tourist season is from August and over the Christmas
- December has the highest rainfall of the year.
- October-November promise to be fairly warm with little rain
so I guess this is the best time to visit Madagascar
- It's easy to purchase a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival at Antananarivo Airport. At the time of my visit in May 2018 the cost was €35. Although we were not asked for a copy of our return flight from Madagascar, it's good to have this on hand as we hear that sometimes immigration officials ask for it.
- In addition to the visa and immigration form, you'll need to fill out a health form. If you arrive from a country where yellow fever is prevalent, officials will check your Yellow Card to be sure you have a valid Yellow Fever vaccination.