Africa

Madagascar

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There’s no place on Earth quite like Madagascar. It’s the fourth largest island in the world, and best known for its incredible array of endemic wildlife. Since the island was cast adrift from the African mainland 165 million years ago, many unique species have evolved independently of their ancestors – among them the lemur.

Ringed by golden beaches, blessed with a stunning range of habitats, and rich with the culture of the ancient Malagasy people, Madagascar makes for an enthralling destination.

When it comes to biodiversity, the island is one of a kind, with a glut of national parks providing visitors with a cross-section of the island’s many ecosystems.

Places To Visit

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Antananarivo, or Tana, as the Malagasy generally refer to their capital, is worth a day or two of exploration for its magical mix of French colonial architecture and tropical backdrop. The Zoma market, one of largest in the world, is a must-see, as is the Rova (Royal Village).

Just three hours or so from the capital is the Antasibe-Mantadia National Park, whose lush montane forest is famed as the home of the yodelling Indri, a large tailless lemur that resembles a panda thanks to its black and white fur. Another popular national park is Montagne d’Ambre, situated at the northern tip of the island and criss-crossed by broad trails which cut through the temperate montane forest.

Most popular of all is Perinet, where some of Madagascar’s best guides are on hand to help track down the nine species of lemur found within the park. The Berenty Reserve is the best place to experience Madagascar’s famous ‘spiny forest’, a peculiar world of giant cactus-like trees that provide a refuge for ring-tailed lemurs.

One of Madagascar’s newest and most challenging national parks is Marojejy, where adventurous travellers are rewarded with a showcase of biodiversity. A wide range of different habitats here support dozens of unusual species of reptiles, birds and amphibians, along with the rare silky sifaka lemur.

For the largest remaining tracts of virgin rainforest, head for the Masoala National Park, a tropical wonderland of hanging vines, giant-buttressed rainforest trees and babbling brooks that run down to white-sand beaches.

Local Weather & Useful Info

Weather

Capital
Antananarivo

Currency
Malagasy Ariary

Languages
Malagasy (related to Malay) and French

Best combined with
South Africa

Flying Time
13-14 hrs

Fly To
Antananarivo via Johannesburg

Time Zone
GMT+3

Travel Details
Visa is required for British passport holders

Health Risks
Malaria, bilharzia, hepatitis

Hotels

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North West Madagascar
Anjajavy L’Hotel