The Top 10 experiences of MadagascarSrinivasa Shenoy
Madagascar, called the 8th Continent, can be maddeningly confusing while planning a trip. The lack of good infrastructure (both roads and hotels) makes it a quite difficult exercise – if you have limitations on costs and time (don’t we all have that!). With restricted time, you may have to make choices depending on your individual preferences.
We have put down the list of the top experiences in Madagascar, which can assist you in making up your mind to visit and to plan a memorable trip to this tropical paradise.
Watch Lemurs in the wild
For many this is the main attraction! Encountering King Julien in person would be a bucket-list item. After all wild Lemurs are found only in Madagascar. With nearly 100 species, lemurs are found across the island – the best places to go to watch these charming primates would be the Andasibe – Matandia National park and the Ranomafana National Parks. Highlights would the ring-tailed lemurs in Ranomafana and the Indri Indri in Andasibe.
Discover exotic mammals, insects and chameleons
But then marketing hype aside, Lemurs are not the only animals worth sighting on this island; it is home to many unique and ‘weird’ animals and plants; the eerie-looking fossa (a cat-like predator), colourful and camouflaged chameleons (including the world’s smallest chameleon), oddly shaped insects (hissing cockroaches and the Giraffe Weevil), vivid frogs (Tomato frog), colourful birds (Blue Coua) – the list goes on. On the marine side, you will find graceful rays and turtles, several species of sharks, and humpback whales during the winter months.
Do remember that nearly 70-80% of the flora and fauna on Madagascar are endemic meaning that they are found only in Madagascar. So any animal, insect or plant / tree you see – it is highly probable that it is not found anywhere else in the world! That will be reason enough to go to Madagascar.
Sunset in the Avenue of Baobabs
The most iconic image of Madagascar has to be the Avenue of Baobabs. Go there in the evening! Standing amidst magnificent trees – some more than 800 years old has to be fascinating and humbling at the same time.
Whale watching in Ile St. Marie
The location of the mythical Libertalia – the Pirate city, Ile St. Marie offers the best opportunities for watching the Humpback whales on their migration route to the north in the channel between the main Island and St. Marie. You can watch these giants from the shores or go on a whale watching boat trip. You can also sight these magnificent mammals in the north including Nosy be.
Diving and marine adventures in Nosy Be and Ile St. Marie
One of the best places to dive and snorkel in the world. This is, if you decide that doing nothing on the idyllic beaches gets boring for you! Or if the dil maange more, go kite-surfing, parasailing, sailing the old style in Dhows …
Climb the Tsingy of Bemaraha and swing on the suspension bridge!
This UNESCO World Heritage (nature) site is one of a kind on this planet! Nature has carved these rocks into a forest. Don’t be deceived, there is an entire world of animals in this seemingly desolate place.
Boat /Canoe Trip on the Tsiribihina River
Why take the easy route by flight to Morondava – for the Baobabs and the rock forests? Adventure in your soul, experience raw Madagascar on a boat trip on the Tsiribihina river camping on river beaches on the way! For the more spirited, canoes are also options!
4X4 on any unpaved road in Madagascar interiors!
Cowards avoid the roads in Madagascar – they are the worst possible! But the bravehearts sing praises of the adventure and beauty of the roads in Madagascar – especially the RN 5 – where sights of cars floating away or stuck on broken bridges adds flavor to the fascinating beauty of nature.
Dhow or Canoe cruises (Catamaran or Sail boats for the less adventurous)
Catamarans and Sailboats are boring! Sail in the Dhow – ancient boats (of Arab origin) that will transport you back in time. Or for the more daring – try the traditional Sakalava canoes (dugouts). For the safety conscious, floating on a Catamaran can be an unforgettable experience as well – drink in the beautiful post card coastal beaches, make stops for diving or admiring the amazing seabed
With “only” 258 species of birds, it may sound less than impressive! But hold on, nearly 150 of them are endemic species. So, for Twitchers, if you have to complete the elusive world list, there is no option but to come to Madagascar!