If your over-riding thoughts of Madagascar are lemurs and more lemurs then it’s time to think again! While these unusual endemic primates are widespread across the country, this Indian Ocean island actually offers far more than that, and the rapidly improving road network and tourism infrastructure is making it an increasingly popular destination for those wanting something just that little bit different.
Antananarivo, the capital, is built on hills that take you and the buildings continuously up and down. It has tiny, colourful houses with pointed or triangular roofs, while the city is particularly beautiful at sunset, as everything acquires an orangey hue, making everything seem even warmer. From the central highlands of the island, you can branch out in any direction taking in the verdant and hilly rainforests of the eastern highlands, or the drier and rockier southern terrains, and perhaps finish with perfect beach luxury on the isolated north-west coast.
The fourth-largest island in the world is home to 5% of the world’s plant and animal species, of which more than 80% are endemic to Madagascar. This includes some of the 32 species of lemur, including the ape-like Indris with its unique and unusual call, the mongoose-like fossa, the largest carnivorous mammal on the island, the nocturnal aye-aye and tenrec (spiny hedgehog) and some of the most amazing amphibians and bird-life that you will ever see.
Staying in comfortable 4-star accommodation, and being driven around by knowledgeable and local private guides, you will also gain insight into the interesting Malagasy customs and cultures of this former French colony. Ancient tribal traditions are still widespread, including the spiritual ‘turning of the dead’ when relatives are removed from the family tomb and their lives celebrated with festive ceremonies of singing and dancing, before being returned to their burial place.
The translation of the word safari is actually journey – so for a ‘safari’ like no other, Madagascar is the place to be – unique wildlife, spectacularly diverse scenery, beautiful beaches, history, culture and tradition.