Holidays to Madagascar are best known for visits to see its enchanting lemurs, but it is also home to a huge number of animal and plant species, many of which are indigenous to this early breakaway from the world’s single landmass, Gondwanaland.
The natural history in Madagascar is rich beyond belief and the landscapes vary greatly, including arid, semi-desert regions, beaches fringed by rainforests and paddy fields clinging to sheer mountainsides.
Madagascar has been treated over the years by its colonial rulers, France, as a private garden: the 20th century has been kept at bay and the unspoilt people are delighted to meet visitors on holiday. Conservation has come only recently to the island, and although its unique diversity of flora, lemurs, chameleons and breathtaking scenery are under pressure, it still retains pockets of great natural beauty. Once these have been explored visitors can move on to countless beaches, unspoiled islands and more than 1000 kilometres of coral reef.
Madagascar Holidays - Travel Tips
- Generally the dry months are between April and October, but Madagascar encompasses a range of different climatic zones and the best time for a holiday in Madagascar will depend where you intend to go and what you intend to see.
- There is excellent whale watching off Ile Ste Marie between July and September.
- Infrastructure is limited, so holidays in Madagascar cannot be rushed, and plenty of time is needed to plan your visit.
Madagascar Holidays - A Personal View
My favourite memory of travel in Madagascar is riding a small motorbike on dirt tracks to the north of Ile Ste Marie to see if I could spot whales in the shallow waters. I scattered chickens as I put-putted through remote villages and in my head I looked like Clint Eastwood with the wind rushing through my (sparse) hair. Sadly, in reality, I probably more closely resembled Clyde!
Richard Smith - One of Aardvark's Madagascar holidays specialists
Madagascar Holidays - Ideas You Might Not Have Thought About
See the Sandstone Formations in Isalo NP
Isalo National Park is quite unlike any other place in Madagascar: Impressive gorges and canyons are cut through the Isalo Massif which rises up from the flat surrounding grassy plain. The remarkable sandstone landscape has been eroded into strange shapes and the whole area has feeling of great space and tranquillity. Rare plants, endemic succulents and the Malagasy silkworm can be found in this unique terrain.
A Miniature Madagascar at Anjajavy.
Arrive at the Bushhouse by Boat
The journey itself is a highlight of your stay at the Bushhouse. A scenic cruise along the Pangalanes Canal, through great lakes with beautiful green landscapes, sandy beaches and remote villages, brings guests to the rustic lodge which overlooks Lake Ampitabe, far away from the mainstream tourist industry.
Whale Watching from Ile Ste Marie
From June to September hundreds of humpback whales congregate to give birth and mate in the Sainte-Marie Channel between Ile Ste Marie and mainland Madagascar. The Princesse Bora Lodge offers guests the chance to accompany scientists and help collect data as part of the research programme which is run on site at the lodge. The whales are easily approachable and remain in the area for the time that the whale-calves take to grow-up, before returning to the icy waters close to the South Pole.
Explore Mantadia National Park
Mantadia National Park is a 10,000 hectare protected area of primary rainforest, world famous for its population of Indri Indri lemurs, the largest of the species. Mantadia is at a higher altitude than its more famous neighbour Andasibe and provides opportunities for adventurous exploration. Led by local guides cutting paths through the hanging vines, visitors are usually rewarded with excellent sightings of the many species of lemur living in the park.
This page was written by our Madagascar expert Richard Smith