Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean is the world’s second largest island country and is known for lemurs, baobabs, surreal landscapes, lush rainforests and beautiful beaches. It has a diverse range of flora and fauna and about 90% of all its plant and animal species are endemic.
Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo (also known as Tana) has a cool climate and is a hub of Malagasy culture and traditions. Tana is dotted with colonial buildings and the imposing royal palace complex, Rova of Antananarivo offers a great view of Tana’s cityscape. Marche Artisanal de La Digue – a popular market, the UNESCO listed sacred site of Ambohimanga, the hilltop Andafiavaratra Palace – once the former residence of one of the Prime Ministers of Madagascar and Botanical and Zoological Garden of Tsimbazaza are notable landmarks.
From Tana, you can arrange a trip to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park – a UNESCO protected area comprising two different parks – Analamazaotra and Mantadia. While the former is more accessible and offers good walking opportunities, the latter is known for its thick forests.
Lemurs and baobabs are the most recognized symbols of Madagascar. While you can encounter lemurs in any of its national parks, for a glimpse of baobab trees, you should visit Avenue of the Baobabs – located southwest of Tana. Some of the trees here are older than 1000 years!
Isalo National Park is Madagascar’s most visited national park. It features deep canyons and stunning rock structures with lush vegetation and offers excellent hiking opportunities. Other notable national parks in Madagascar include Parc National de Masoala, Parc National d’Andohahela, Parc National d’Ankarafantsika, Parc National de Marojejy and Parc National des Tsingy de Bemaraha.
Being an island country, Madagascar is also home to several beaches and resort towns. Nosy Bay – an island located to the northwest of the mainland offers pristine beaches and is a great place for snorkeling, diving, sailing or fishing. Located on Madagascar’s east coast, Ile Sainte Marie (also known as Nosy Boraha) offers a similar experience as Nosy Bay but on a lower scale. Fort Dauphin and Anakao are the other coastal destinations that are worth visiting.
From mountainous thick forests to amazing white-sand beaches, Madagascar has everything you could ask for from an island country. Having split from the Indian subcontinent millions of years ago, it has evolved in relative isolation which makes it a unique destination in Africa.
About 90% of all plant and animal species in Madagascar are endemic to the island.