Untamed and largely untrammelled, Madagascar offers the adventurous traveller stunning landscapes, unique wildlife and intriguing encounters. What are you waiting for?
Adrift in the Indian Ocean, the size of France but with about ten main roads, Madagascar is one country where you can really escape the influence of the modern age and escape to remote communities scarcely touched by the outside world. Increasingly it is being discovered by naturalists and anthropologists as well as those who value its remote beaches.
A stunning 90% of Madagascar’s flora and fauna are endemic, found nowhere else in the world. These are protected in National Parks where rugged hikes are needed to track rare species and in private reserves where, to appeal to the French market, the lemurs are fed from the table and almost tame.
All this and natural beauty too. Straddling climate zones Madagascar has rocky wastes of spiny desert, patches of montane and tropical forest, intensively-farmed cool highlands and vanilla-scented lowlands basking in year-round warmth. Life continues offshore: cross the golden-sand beaches and join the lateen-rigged wooden fishing boats: below the surface are little-dived coral reefs and big pelagics.
Family of ring tailed lemurs (Shutterstock)
Madagascar is a dream for nature lovers, a veritable festival of wildlife, and Lyn Hughes knows just how to make of the most of it and the people who can help you. Lemur sightings guaranteed!
Mark Stratton went in search of one of the island’s more enigmatic residents, the Aye Aye. It’s a lemur too, but rather ugly... Staring eyes, ratty teeth, big ears and a long skeletal middle finger – but Mark discovers that they do have their charms.
While many travel come to Madagascar for the wildlife, its landscapes are dramatic too. A trip through Baobab Alley, preferably at dusk, is a must. As is visiting the strange limestone formations in the Bemaraha Mountains. Nick Middleton recommends staying overnight so you can witness the sun rise over the Manambolo canyon.
A festival of wildlife in Madagascar – Lyn Hughes
In search of Madagascar’s Aye Aye – Mark Stratton
Finding Neverland, Madagascar – Nick Middleton
Zebu cart through Baobab Alley (Shutterstock)
With only ten main roads – we use the term ‘main road’ loosely – getting around Madagascar is an adventure in itself. Our very own Wander Woman Marie Javins spent over a month traipsing across the island and recounts her trails and tribulations – from buying craft from local villagers and searching the streets of Antananarivo for mysterious lemur lamps through to early morning treks to see lemurs in Andasibe. She reveals exactly what it is like to travel in Madagascar on a budget. And how it may just be the best journey you’ll ever make.
In praise of Lemur lamps – Marie Javins
The art of finding craft in Madagascar – Marie Javins
When lemurs attack – Marie Javins
The Karma chameleon of Andasibe – Marie Javins
The power of two in Madagascar – Marie Javins
Heading off to market near Tulear (Shutterstock)
Madagascar is a melting pot, a vibrant mix of Indian, African and European cultures. Capturing the chaotic colour of Malagasy life could well be the biggest challenge you face on your visit. (Well, that and getting a clear shot of a lemur.) Thankfully, Steve Davey is on hand with advice on capturing colour on camera. Be bright, be bold, and contrast, contrast, contrast!
If it’s inspiration you are after, then look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels in Madagascar.
Photography tips: capturing colour on camera – Steve Davey
Crowned lemur (Shutterstock)
Ready to start planning your trip? Our Madagascar travel guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by the Madagascar essential info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information. And we’ve rounded up the latest travel news from Madagascar too.
If you have a particular question about Madagascar, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about Madagascar. The answer to yours might already be there.
Madagascar Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team
Madagascar Essential Info – Wanderlust Team
Fishing boat at Nosey B (Shutterstock)
Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From live aboard diving tours of the remote northern islands to trekking and wildlife encounters, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.
Main image: Boabab Alley (Shutterstock)