Madagascar flows from lush forests, sweeping canyons to arid crimson plains. Teeming with breathtaking biodiversity, this relatively unknown African country is home to its own unique gems. Our list of the the top things to do in Madagascar, brings you the very best of the Great Red Island.
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Combining the forests of Mantadia with the Analamazoatra Reserve, this national park is famed for the howling calls of indri lemurs. Alongside the indri, other intriguing species of lemurs call this park home: lesser bamboo, rufous, mouse, greater dwarf and the eastern wooly. The primary forest consists of two protected areas: the Analamazoatra special reserve and the Mantadia national park. The five trails within the grounds take you on a journey into the heart of nature. Venture through ush forests and waterfalls, blanketed with astounding fauna and wildlife. Over 100 species of bird, a dizzying array of amphibians dwell in this reserve. The pleasant climate of the park, and close vicinity to the capital, make this one of the top attractions of Madagascar, and a perfect way to sample its natural splendours.
Île Sainte Marie
Once a haven for smugglers and pirates, this narrow island is the definition of a tropical paradise. Still relatively untouched by human interference Île Sainte Marie, is a myriad of turquoise waters filled with exotic wildlife. Thatched beach huts lining its pristine coast, full of grand coral reefs. These serve as playgrounds to dolphins, moray eels and vibrant schools of curious fish. Leave the pleasurable confines of the beach to hike into the rich forests and rolling hills. Visit the world’s only pirate cemetery, or hunt for local lemurs in the thick undergrowth. Feed your thirst for adventure by grabbing a quad bike to reach untainted coves off the beaten track.
Avenue of the Baobabs
Emblematic of Madagascar’s unique natural beauty, the intriguing baobab trees and bizarre branch formations appear to be rooted in the heavens above. Of the 9 species of Baobab in the world, 7 are only found in Madagascar. These bulbous trees, also known as Adansonia, reach up to 30 metres in height and can grow 11 metres in width. These Madagascan elders can live for 800 years. Unfortunately, in recent years, they have been threatened by deforestation. The Avenue of the Baobabs gained conservation status from the Ministry of Environment and Forests In 2014. Over 25 baobabs tower over the crimson road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. Iconic, and completely free to visit, a walk down this avenue is a top thing to do while visiting this enchanting country.
Ranomafana National Park Hot Springs
Ranomafana means hot water in Malagasy (the main language of Madagscar), and yes, this means the park hot springs. Sitting on the bed of the Namarona river, these points of relaxation put tropical themed spas to shame. Head out at dawn for a guided trek in search of the achingly cute bamboo lemurs. After, cross a bridge over the grand river to find a line of hot tubs in little rooms. Sink into these blissful tubs of piping hot water, while relaxing to the sounds of the jungle.
Go whale watching
Marvel at the majesty of world’s largest creatures crashing through the Indian Ocean. Whale watching, wherever it may be, is a truly breathtaking experience. Seeing these elusive giants of the deep is no easy task, the months of June and September are your best bet. Numerous pods of humpback whales flock to the warm waters of Madagascar during the summer.
In 2016, around the islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Iranja, the incredibly rare omura whale was spotted in a pod of over 80 whales – the largest on record.