Deciding where to go while on a Madagascar holiday could be a daunting task. It all depends on the length of your holiday and sense of adventure.
Madagascar is a large island located off the south-east coast of Africa. There are many beautiful places to visit in Madagascar however, and we have just highlighted a few to consider for first-time travellers.
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park in eastern Madagascar is a protected rainforest area. Andasibe-Mantadia includes the Analamazaotra Reserve which is home to the large Indri lemur, known for its distinctively loud calls and is really the star of the park. The park contains a rich biodiversity like rare orchids and ferns, as well as native species like the Parson’s chameleon. Trails wind their way past lakes and through dense forest. There are also trails that lead to natural pools, lemurs, orchids and waterfalls in both Andasibe and Mantadia to suit every physical condition and interest.
The animal diversity is unbelievable with 13 different lemur species, 15 other mammal species, 50 reptiles, including the peculiar looking leaf-tailed gecko, more than 80 amphibian species and more than 100 bird species.
The park is generally accessible all year, but September to January is when the orchids are in full bloom, which makes it a beautiful site at this time of year. Our recommendation for accommodation here is Vakona Lodge or Andasibe Hotel.
Anjajavy only accessible by air is located along the north-west coast of Madagascar on the Mozambique Chanel offering the best of both a beach paradise and wildlife. Lemurs can be seen frolicking a few feet away while sipping on a sundowner cocktail on the deck of your hotel room.
The Anjajavy Reserve is predominantly a 450-hectare dry deciduous forest with unique baobabs and other interesting, endemic plants. The wildlife is truly prolific and walks through the forest often reveal frogs, chameleons, bush-pigs and the elusive fossa. The common brown lemur and Coquerel's Sifaka are both easily spotted, while the Sportive and Mouse Lemurs can be seen at night.
Anjajavy Lodge offers luxury accommodation and is the perfect way to relax while soaking up the diversity of wildlife and immaculate beaches. The lodge offers water sports, fishing and some unbelievable excursions to the Anjajavy Reserve.
Ile Sainte Marie
Ile Sainte Marie, known today as Nosy Boraha is an exotic island off the east coast of Madagascar. It was once infamous as a hangout for treasure seeking pirates. There is even a pirate tour to be undertaken on the island depicting this history, including a pirate cemetery near the main town of Ambodifotatra.
Just off the southern part of the island lies Ile aux Nattes and Ilots aux Sables which are tiny idyllic islands with coral reefs, tropical sea fish and sea turtles, a snorkelling paradise. The rainforest on the main island boasts the beautiful Antanandava Waterfall and on the east coast pirogue boats lie afloat in Ampanihy's lagoon.
The top attraction is during July to September each year when you can watch humpback whales frequent the waters around the island to have their young. Princess Bora Lodge is our recommendation for luxury accommodation on the island. Here you can enjoy the splendour of scuba diving the clear turquoise waters and coral reefs of Sainte Marie.
Miavana Private Island, also called Nosy Ankao is a celebration of the extraordinary in these northern waters of Madagascar. It forms part of a private five-island archipelago in the very remote northern outskirts of Madagascar.
These untouched wild beaches and crystal clear waters offer luxury adventure including scuba diving, snorkelling, jet skiing, kite surfing, deep-sea fishing, fly fishing, helicopter flips and whale, dolphin and turtle watching. The "blue safari" in Miavana offers a life-changing experience to enjoy and explore all the marine life found in these waters. Lemur trekking is an exciting land based activity to enjoy.
The accommodation here is luxurious, offering exquisite cuisine and a 5-star spa.
Ifotaka Community Forest
Ifotaka Community Forest is in the most remote part of southern Madagascar and is untouched and wild with very few tourists venturing here. This makes it a truly authentic and worthwhile adventure. It covers a massive expanse of gallery forest and spiny forest.
The forest is also known as the Sacred Forest to the local Antandroy tribe as they have guarded their graves and have preserved the pristine wildlife areas for many decades. A guide can show you the hidden graves in the undergrowth and will also explain the traditions and rituals of their ancestry worship. The wildlife viewing is outstanding with 5 species of lemur, including Ring-tailed Lemurs and the Verreaux’s Sifaka. There are also many bird and reptile species.
Our selection of accommodation is Mandrare River Camp which is a luxury tented camp located on the banks of the Mandrare River. The camp offers authentic wildlife and cultural experiences. It consists of seven semi-permanent tents with a private terrace overlooking the river and all tents are fully en-suite. The cuisine and service are superb at Mandrare.
The camp also includes day and night walks, cultural visits to the local village and school, Antandroy traditional dancing and sundowners on the Mandrare river bank, and the local version of the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs.’
Madagascar is one of those lesser-known African destinations and is a truly magical place.