Situated in the Indian Ocean off the coast of southern Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fourth-largest island and widely thought of as the ‘Eighth Continent’. Having broken free of the African mainland around 165 million years ago, it is understandably culturally and geographically very different than anywhere else on the planet. Madagascar is one of the world’s last undiscovered corners, with unique flora and fauna and hugely diverse terrain. It takes a special type of traveler to adventure to Madagascar, here are ten types that should add this fascinating country to their bucket list…
Madagascar is a paradise for nature lovers. The rain forests are home to a wide variety of plant species, many of which are endemic to the island. The unique baobab tree is especially a highlight. This region is fantastic for bird watching, it’s home to around 280 known species! There are also many other fascinating and diverse creatures like chameleons, frogs and primates. It’s a can’t miss experience for any safari lover.
Stay: Mandrare River Camp – The Mandrare River Camp has six tents and offers a luxury camping experience, with a strong focus on local culture and the natural environment. From here, you can easily explore the Ifotaka community forest with its population of ring-tailed lemurs.
2. Active Families
Madagascar isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s rugged, remote, exciting and perfect for families that like to stay active while on vacation. There’s rainforest trekking, snorkeling, hiking, village visits, sailing and whale watching.
Stay: Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge – Located near the Southern tip of Madagascar, Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge offers superb accommodation and a chance to explore the area, including mangroves, lemur forests and the wild south coast.
3. Diving Enthusiasts
Surrounded by the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is the ideal place to view marine life and bright coral reefs. Aside from vibrant tropical fish, you can swim alongside sea turtles and if you go during October-November you might even get to glide side-by-side with a massive whale shark. This is sure to be an unforgettable experience for any diver.
Stay: Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina – Tsarabanjina is a tiny, lush volcanic island with wonderful white sandy beaches, abundant coral and untouched marine life. The diving, fishing and snorkeling here are hard to beat. With just 25 thatched bungalows, this is a real Robinson Crusoe island with a very relaxed atmosphere.
4. Interested in Tribal Culture
The traditionally nomadic Antandroy people have many unique beliefs and rituals (trust me, you want to google their burial ceremonies). They are known for their colorful woven fabrics, taboo (fady) practices, dance and distinct music featuring whistles, flutes and box mandolins. African culture lovers won’t be disappointed by witnessing these people’s fascinating traditions and make sure to visit the weekly market where you can find a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home with you.
Stay: Mandrare River Camp – Guests here awake to the sound of the local Antandroy tribe singing as they fetch water from the river and you can easily explore the Spiny and Gallery Forests which are home to troops of ring-tailed lemurs and Verraux sifakas, as well as tribal tombs.
5. Lemur Lovers
Madagascar is world-famous for its lemurs. Second to only Brazil in its number of primate species, these cute, silly creatures are exciting to catch a glimpse of. Every lemur fanatic must visit Lemur Island in Andasibe National Park, where there’s a good chance of curious and playful lemurs leaping onto your head and shoulders. It’s a very special and photo-op worthy experience.
Stay: Vakona Forest Lodge – Vakona Forest Lodge is located close to the national park in its own small reserve. For close-up lemur viewing the lodge has its own ’Lemur Island’ where you can feed the friendly creatures as they jump on your shoulders. There is also a crocodile farm and a menagerie of birds and reptiles.
6. Something Totally Unique
If you’re looking for a completely off-the-beaten-track vacation, look no further. Madagascar is unspoiled and very few have ventured here. This under-the-radar locale offers so many extraordinary experiences, you won’t know which story to tell your friends and family once you return home. You can bet you’ve never experienced anything like Madagascar before.
Stay: Tsara Komba – Tsara Komba Lodge is an authentic, natural paradise comprising six spacious chalets built in keeping with the local surroundings. Each lodge has a deck overlooking a beautiful beach with the mainland in the distance.
Private, romantic and relaxing, Madagascar is an up-and-coming honeymoon destination. Luxurious, comfortable accommodations combined with wonderful white sand beaches and breathtaking sunsets, provide the backdrop for an idyllic and memorable couple’s getaway.
Stay: Anjajavy Le Lodge – Anjajavy Le Lodge is a luxurious lodge 120km north of Majunga, on the northwest coast of Madagascar. The hotel is situated on a peninsula and each of the rooms is positioned to allow for stunning ocean views. Lemur viewing from your room is a highlight!
8. A Super Exclusive Experience
Ultra-luxury, privacy, wild beaches, exceptional service and world-class spas await in Madagascar. Very few have explored the “8th continent” so you’ll be able to claim you did it first and in complete style.
Stay: Miavana – Located on Nosy Ankao, an unspoiled island off the northeast coast of Madagascar, Miavana is an ultra-luxurious lodge. There are fourteen one, two and three-bedroom villas strung along the western side of the island, from your frontdoor, you can step right onto the powder-soft sand and enjoying spectacular Indian Ocean sunsets. This is not simply an exquisite beach lodge on an untouched island, it offers all the adventures you’d expect on a safari, with wildlife, activities and adventures galore – something which truly sets it apart as a destination.
9. Check off your bucket list
Have you already done and seen it all? Madagascar is the ideal next place to check off your far-flung destination bucket list. It’s a rare, diverse, hidden gem, and must be added to every seasoned traveler’s to-do list. It’s unlike anywhere else you’ve ever been before.
Stay: Princesse Bora Lodge – A tarmac road leads from the small airport to the resort but peters out into a dirt road almost immediately afterwards. Herein lies the beauty of Ile Ste Marie. If you want to see Madagascan life as it is really lived the island represents an (almost) untouched outpost, left behind the mainland in a slow-paced time warp. Get into low gear as soon as you arrive by traveling to the lodge in their zebu chariot!
10. Adventure Fiends
Madagascar is made for exploring. It’s remote, rugged and largely untouched by civilization, where new plant and animal species are being uncovered daily. You never know what you might encounter and uncover. It’s great for travelers with an open-mind and a good sense of humor. Be prepared for surprises while in Madagascar, whether that’s a zany, unexpected last-minute flight change or venturing deep into the unspoiled rain forests, expect the unexpected.
Stay: Le Soleil de Tsingy