Madagascar is an interesting mixture of African, Asian and Arabic influences. You will find rice fields and pulled rickshaws (called pousse-pousse here), a colourful animal world filled with monkey species and chameleons, plus a beautiful culture with deep-rooted local customs. The nature is very diverse, from jungle and semi-deserts to beautiful white beaches. The possibilities are endless in the fourth largest island in the world. Below you can find the Madagascar travel tips from Frank, our travel specialist who has been living there for years.
Madagascar tips – Spotting indris and lemurs in Andasibe
Andasibe lies in the east of Madagascar and is the first stop for many travellers after the capital Antananarivo. Here you will find the national park Andasibe-Mantadia (also known as Périnet), where the largest lemur in the world lives: the indri-indri. Andasibe is also home to an island of lemurs, including the brown lemur and the dancing sifaka. Excursion possibilities also include a night safari where you can spot tree frogs, chameleons, geckos and giraffe beetles. Spend the night in a wooden hut overlooking the rainforest, surrounded by nature.
Sailing through creeks and lagoons
The Canal des Pangalanes consists of a long chain of lakes, creeks and lagoons connected by canals. Along the way, you can enjoy the quietness and space. Your hotel’s name translates to ‘dream place’ in the local language and the comfortable bungalows are located on a peninsula in the nature reserve. You can sail with a typical pirogue through the overgrown channels to see how fishermen put their nets out and how the local life unfolds along the banks.
Madagascar tips – Culture in Antsirabe
The charming town of Antsirabe is located on the National Route 7, the main road that runs south from Antananarivo. There is a special guesthouse here called Résidence Madalief, which is part of a Dutch foundation that helps orphans and single mothers in Madagascar. Near Antsirabe you can go mountain biking through the beautiful rural area, where you will no doubt meet some of the residents.
Step into another world
Madagascar is divided in two by a high ridge: while the east side is very green and wet because of the Indian Ocean, the west is dry and warm because of the African winds. The Tsaranoro Valley is located in the fertile east and you can walk through a sacred forest here that houses a colony of lemurs. Or you can do a more challenging hike to the higher peaks. You will find many bright green rice fields here; precisely this contrast in scenery makes Madagascar so special.
Madagascar tips – Allée des Baobabs
The Allée des Baobabs is a perfect avenue of baobab trees in a beautiful spot in the wild west of Madagascar. The landscape resembles the Australian Outback, with red earth and sparse vegetation. Dozens baobab trees suddenly appear on either side of the dirt road – a magnificent sight. It might seem as the most photographed place in the country, but at the same time it will feel as if you are totally off the beaten track. The best time to visit the Allée des Baobabs? During sunset, when the majestic trees stand out against the red-pink sky.
Relax on the beach of Ifaty
After all these attractions and activities, it’s time for some rest and relaxation. Ifaty, on the southwest coast, is the ideal place to do just that. By way of a sandy coastal road you will reach the village, which has a beautiful wide sandy beach. It’s a great place for both beach lovers and adventure seekers, who can explore the ‘spiny forest’ with its prickle trees and jar baobabs, or go with a guide on a quad trip. In the mood for something calmer? Try your hand at snorkelling or go looking for migrating whales off the coast.