Madagascar is full of colourful contradictions and surprises that anyone with a taste for adventure - and more than a modicum of curiosity - will find beguiling
Madagascar's remaining rainforests ring to the calls of lemurs and exotic birdlife, 19th century colonial buildings crumble in plain site in its towns, 2 CV taxis ply the streets of Antananarivo and restaurants in the middle of nowhere serve home made foie gras as good as anything you’ll find in Dordogne.
While safaris to see Madagascar's lemurs are superb, visitors should be prepared for the fact that ecologically all is far from well. Madagascar hangs like the canary in the miner’s cage off the east coast of Africa and the plain truth is that the canary is sick. The rest of Africa - and those of us who love it - should be paying close attention. The cautionary tale is clear: this is what happens when the world turns its back on conservation. The country has lost an astonishing 80% of its rainforest in the past few decades and continues to struggle with profound levels of poverty. Nowhere has the influence of tourism – a rare force working to preserve the remaining forests – felt so vital.
Despite this obviously depressing reality, we would whole-heartedly recommend a visit to Madagascar for what it does still have. It has a remarkable propensity to charm its visitors and for families it is captivating. Enter the rainforest on foot and you will be enchanted. Whether by chameleons so brightly coloured they resemble the beaded trinkets for sale in Johannesburg airport or some of the world’s last Indris – intense and sombre looking lemurs the size of a child, with the ability to leap 7 metres in a single bound from tree top to tree top.
Take night walks to discover nocturnal animals or chameleons deeply asleep on the ends of branches, discover massive caves and landscapes that look like they came from a Hollywood set. Head to the coast and the turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and rich sea life are mesmerising. In August and September humpback whales migrate down the coast of Madagascar and are frequently seen. At Christmas time whale sharks can be found in the islands around Nosy Be, while manta rays and sea turtles are year-round residents.
We organise safaris to Madagsacar and would be happy to discuss possible itineraries with you - drop us a line to start planning
Posted by: Alex