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Madagascar – A fine blend of cultures

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The island of Madagascar is a fine blend of African, Indian and Arabic – both in its people and in its evolutionary history, making for a multitude of Madagascar highlights that will both delight and inspire visitors. Ecologists refer to Madagascar as the “8th continent” as it has a unique mix of flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.

The people who live on Madagascar are just as interesting as their natural habitat. Arriving here from Indonesia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, all are united today in a common Malagasy culture and language.  The influence of the French and British colonial powers is still seen throughout the island.

Tourism here has a number of challenges as infrastructure and roads are still being developed and upgraded. As with many former colonial countries, Madagascar has seen uprisings, provisional governments, single-party rule and the threat of secession. Today, however the country is on a slow and steady economic and political growth path. Situated off the coast of Mozambique, it offers an African safari with a difference.

Points of interest

Antsiranana/Diego Suarez is the gateway to Montagne d’Ambre and Ankarana National parks.

Nosy Be is a popular tourist region. No visit is complete without a visit to 2 islands which are part of the Nosy Be Archipelago: Nosy Komba, whose main attraction is the black Lemur and the marine National park of Nosy

Tanikely known for its bird watching and snorkelling.

Ankara National Park is a popular reserve and consists of a small limestone massif. An ‘island’ of tsingy (limestone pinnacles), the reserve is known for its many lemur species as well as a wide variety of bird species.

Montagne d’Ambre National Park consists of the volcanic massif and is a good example of a rain forest.

Ile Sainte Marie is a 57 km-long island off the east coast that consists of lush vegetation intermingled with many small villages and exquisite beaches.

Fort Dauphin is a lively and popular town containing a vibrant nightlife and also known as the lobster capital of Madagascar.

Isalo National Park is where large eroded sandstone outcrops protrude from the relatively flat landscape in architectural formations. The bird life is interesting especially in the Canyon de Nymphs. A visit to Monkey Canyon, is recommended.

The “spiny desert” is a globally distinctive eco region with 95 % of the plant species endemic to this region.

Famous Baobab alley near Morondava  is where you will see some of the world’s tallest Baobab Trees.

Antananarivo (known as ‘Tana’) is the Malagasy capital and the centre of the Merina tribe – the Malayo-Polynesian decedents of the first Malagasy settlers.

Lemurs Park is situated in the central highlands and is a great for those on a quick trip and unable to see the lemurs in their normal habitat.

The Canal des Pangalanes is a collection of natural rivers and artificial lakes that stretches +- 600km along the east coast

Climate

There are 2 seasons: a hot rainy season from November to April and a cooler dry season from May to October. South eastern trade winds predominate, and the island occasionally experiences cyclones. Any time of year is fine for a visit except from January to March, when heavy rainfall in many areas can make some roads all but impassable and there is a high risk of cyclones in the east and northeast.