Things to do in Madagascar

Boasting miles of verdant landscape with pretty beaches, wild and beautiful rainforests, and scenic towns and ports, Madagascar offers some lovely attractions for those who choose to visit this inspiring and unique land. With a number of reserves and national parks boasting a variety of magical wildlife, including the famous lemurs, Madagascar's unique creatures and botanicals have earned the island the title 'the eighth continent' and visitors will be enchanted by the beauty of this mysterious land. Madagascar is not easy to get around and sightseeing can be challenging as a result, but with a little effort travellers can reap exciting rewards.

Head to the town on Antsirabe to view the volcanic lakes of Andraikiba and Tritriva, or relax in the therapeutic thermal baths; visit Ile Sante Marie for some of the best whale watching opportunities, to wander through herb gardens and enjoy the scents of vanilla and lemongrass, or to take a spooky tour of the pirate cemetery; explore Toamasina to see some fantastic architectural wonders as well as the popular Jardin D'Essel and the Parc Ivoloina.

For active travellers, water sports abound off the island, including scuba diving, swimming, snorkelling and canoeing, to name a few; while landlubbers can enjoy the plentiful walks and hikes through the many reserves Madagascar offers, while viewing some of the most fascinating birds and animals on the planet.

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park photo

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park situated in the eastern rainforests is Madagascar's most popular reserve for good reason. The park contains unique wildlife, including 13 specie…

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park situated in the eastern rainforests is Madagascar's most popular reserve for good reason. The park contains unique wildlife, including 13 species of lemurs, more than a hundred bird species and fauna and flora unique to the area. Andasibe has two sections. The more accessible of the two is the Indri Special Reserver. Here, visitors can take a hike at dawn to hear distinct siren-like Indri call over the misty and observe the lemurs in their natural habitat.

The second section of the park, Mantadia, has a greater variety of wildlife and a more challenging trail for the adventurous. Night hikes allow guests to see a whole new side of the forest as nocturnal animals emerge. Hikes in the park range from three to six hours. A local guide is required for entry into the park. Private tours need to be booked in advance.

Transport

The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is easily accessible from the capital Antananarivo. A three hour drive along the Route National 2 will bring you to the reserve.

Opens Open daily 6am-4pm

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga photo

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is the ruined remnant of the 15th century Madagascan kingdom. Located just 12 miles (20km) from Antananarivo, the Hill features a ruined royal city, s…

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is the ruined remnant of the 15th century Madagascan kingdom. Located just 12 miles (20km) from Antananarivo, the Hill features a ruined royal city, several royal tombs and numerous holy sites. This spiritual attraction is widely lauded as the premier symbol of the cultural identity of the Madagascan people. It is still a place of worship to both locals and foreigners. Set in lush green countryside overlooking a rice paddy, visitors can explore the burial grounds, historic village and palace complex. The palace itself houses artefacts which include gifts from Queen Victoria.

Website whc.unesco.org/en/list/950

Opens Open daily 6am-6pm

Ranomafana National Park photo

Ranomafana National Park

Explore the lush and misty rainforests of the Ranomafana National Park, with its rare species of flora and fauna, and unique wildlife. This UNESCO World Heritiage is home to 12 spe…

Ranomafana National Park

Explore the lush and misty rainforests of the Ranomafana National Park, with its rare species of flora and fauna, and unique wildlife. This UNESCO World Heritiage is home to 12 species of lemurs and an incredible selection of indigenous birds. Visitors can explore the park on its numerous trails and hikes, escorted by guides that can call the animals using a series of clicks and whistles. There are also jungle waterfalls and pools to cool off in after a long day trekking through the humid jungle.

The best time to visit Ranomafana National Park is between August and December. The park office is located at the entrance to the reserve in the village of Ambodiamontana. This is where visitors will find the privately owned and eco-lodges to spend the night. Guided night walks are available to seek out the nocturnal animals in the reserve. Ranomafana is relatively well-developed for tourism and has comparably good facilities and infrastructure including a decent access road

Berenty Reserve photo

Berenty Reserve

The Berenty Reserve is a small private reserve set along the Mandrake River in Southern Madagascar. Its gallery forest and array of indigenous wildlife and birds, such as ring-tail…

Berenty Reserve

The Berenty Reserve is a small private reserve set along the Mandrake River in Southern Madagascar. Its gallery forest and array of indigenous wildlife and birds, such as ring-tailed lemurs, white-browed owls and giant couas make it an eco-tourist's dream. The de Heaulme family first formed the Berenty Estate to conserve the natural forest in the area. Through their efforts with the Tandroy tribe, more than 2500 acres (1000 ha) of forest has been maintained. For its relatively small size, the reserve has a remarkable variety of topographies, ranging from dry, open scrub, 'spiny' forests, and closed canopy jungles. Day visitors can enjoy a walking tour through the wilderness, while others can stay longer at the guest lodge. Get up close and personal with nature at the Berenty Reserver, where the semi-tame sifaka and ring-tailed lemurs often sit with guest as they eat.

Address Réserve de Berenty, Amboasary

Website www.madagascar-resorts.com/en/home/

Antsiranana Bay photo

Antsiranana Bay

One of the finest natural harbours in the world, Antsiranana Bay is a vibrant and cosmopolitan seaport located at the northernmost tip of Madagascar. Formerly known as Diégo Suare…

Antsiranana Bay

One of the finest natural harbours in the world, Antsiranana Bay is a vibrant and cosmopolitan seaport located at the northernmost tip of Madagascar. Formerly known as Diégo Suarez Bay, this tiny island is haven for nature lovers with wonderful lakes, rainforests and waterfalls to explore, and wildlife such as lemurs, crocodiles, and an array of indigenous birds. Visitors can relax at the quiet beach at Ramena, while others can take a boat to nearby Nosy Be to explore the lush inland areas. The bay has been the setting for some major historical events, such as the invasion of Madagascar by the Allied forces in 1942, to protect the territory from the Japanese after the surrender of France, and a submarine attack on the British fleet by Japanese submarines.

Avenue of the Baobabs photo

Avenue of the Baobabs

According to the Madagascan legend, the Baobab tree was planted upside down, so its roots are on top and its branches underground. There is no better place to observe these giant t…

Avenue of the Baobabs

According to the Madagascan legend, the Baobab tree was planted upside down, so its roots are on top and its branches underground. There is no better place to observe these giant trees than at the Avenue of the Baobabs. it is located in the Menabe region of Madagascar, along the road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina. This distinctive cluster of trees stands 100 feet (30 metres) high, each roughly 800 years old. The Avenue of the Baobabs is truly an escape into nature, unspolit as it is by mainstream tourism. It contains a simple picnic area and a baobab 'farm' where visitors can see the different kind of baobab saplings.

Amber Mountain National Park photo

Amber Mountain National Park

Madagascar's most famous park, Amber Mountain (Montagne d'Ambre) National Park is known for its array of colourful orchids found exclusively on the island. Located in the northern …

Amber Mountain National Park

Madagascar's most famous park, Amber Mountain (Montagne d'Ambre) National Park is known for its array of colourful orchids found exclusively on the island. Located in the northern part of the island, the mountainous park is predominantly tropical rainforest. The altitude and lush vegetation makes it pleasantly cool compared to the surrounding lowlands. Animal lovers will delight in the unusual animal species that inhabit the park like the blue-nosed chameleon and seven different kinds of lemur. The park is also a treat for bird lovers, with 75 different bird species, 35 of which are endemic. There are many waterfalls and some beautiful volcanic lakes to hike to. The trek to the Sacred Waterfall (Cascade Sacree) is one of the most popular.

Amber Mountain is one of the most accessible parks in Madagascar, with comparably good infrastructure including wide trails and camping areas as well as an in-park lodge. However, electricity is not always available, and the nearest banks and medical facilities are several hours away in the town of Antsiranana. The tracks and landmarks are well-maintained and signposted, making it easy to explore the park without a guide. In fact, it is the only park in the country where tourist can visit without the compulsory assistance of a guide.

The best time to visit the park is between September and November, when the animals are at their most active and are most easily observed.

Website www.travelmadagascar.org/PARKS/Amber-Mountain-National-Park.html

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