Ranging from beautiful beaches to rainforest and wildlife to gigantic rock formations, Madagascar is one of the most diverse places on earth, and it’s safe to say, your adventurous craving will be fulfilled. So, if you are ready to board the plane to Madagascar, we are sharing everything about the wildlife, what is Madagascar famous for, the location, and how to enjoy this island to the fullest!
It’s safe to say that Madagascar seems like a land far-far away but with 4th largest island in the world deserves everyone’s attention, especially with the amazing wildlife and dose of nature.
But first: the location of Madagascar and it’s wildlife.
This island harbors one of the most significant yet unique ecosystems. For instance, it’s located off the African east coast and has 3000 miles of coastline, which is loaded with coastal reefs, dry forests, rainforests, deserts, and so much more which inculcates the diverse wildlife. It is isolated from the mainland, and do you know 90% of the animal and plant species originate from this island and cannot be seen anywhere else in the world?
Having said that, Madagascar has become the biodiversity hotspot while ring-tailed lemur and zebu remain the two national animals of this island. If you want to enjoy the enriched wildlife of this island, there are protected areas and national parks spanning all over the country.
However, Masoala National Park is the biggest destination since it has mangroves, marshes, rainforests, and flooded forests. Having said that, you will be able to find birds, frogs, geckos, and lemurs in the park.
In addition to these, there are various wonderful yet weird creatures, including mongooses, turtles, insects, frogs, sharks, baobabs, orchids, birds, and palms!
If you click on the picture below, you can see where Madagascar is located on Google maps.
What are the best times to travel to Madagascar?
Cyclones do happen in Madagascar from late December to March because then it is the wet season. So I would think that it probably is better to avoid this period in time.
Because of this, I think that it is best to travel to Madagascar between the months of April to mid-December.
What to do in Madagascar?
Now that you are aware of the amazing wildlife this place has to offer. If you are wondering, what is Madagascar famous for, let’s see how you can enjoy the true essence of this island!
1. Watch The Lemurs
While there are hundreds and thousands of different animals on this planet, lemurs are the most iconic animals. There are over one hundred species as well as subspecies of lemurs on this island, and all of them are endemic. What’s most surprising is that they range from the size of a small pygmy mouse to the size of huge indris. The ultimate way of watching lemurs is to visit the national park.
So, in my opinion, if I would need to answer just one question on what is Madagascar famous for, I would definitely choose these specific animals!
For instance, you can visit the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park for the larger lemurs, while Ranomafana National Park has over 12 species of lemurs, including the golden bamboo lemur (they are endangered, by the way). Also, if you visit the parks, keep your eyes out for civets, fossa, and tenrecs.
2. Swim Around With Whale Sharks
It must sound scary to have an encounter with the biggest fish in the world, right? However, if you visit Madagascar during September and December, you can swim around Nosy Be’s northwestern island and swim around these whale sharks. During this time, the behemoth fish will gather around blooming plankton for feeding and are easy to spot from the land.
In fact, even with their huge size, sharks are docile and won’t post any harm to humans. Having said that, you can sign up for a shark snorkeling trip but don’t forget to look out for dolphins, manta rays, and turtles.
Have a look at this fantastic video below, where you can see someone swimming with whale sharks in Madagascar.
3. Mesmerize Some Baobabs
The African folklore is known for its enriching baobab trees as they are intricately woven, and in the previous eras, people would depend on these trees’ products for surviving. In fact, these trees are known as the tree of life and have an enormous size, going up to 46ft. This island is home to six different types of baobab trees and is seen all over the island.
However, if you want to be mesmerized by the real essence of baobabs, you can visit the Avenue of the Baobabs. It is located in the Menabe region and has over 25 trees stringing out along the dirt road. The majority of these trees are measured over 100ft, so who wouldn’t want to check out these enormous trees?
4. Travel To Antananarivo
This is the Malagasy capital, founded by the Merina’s King during the 17th century, and it’s enriched with history. Commonly known as Tana, this place is the capital for French colonialists during the 19th century and 20th centuries. As for now, this place remains the center of economic and political power, but there is so much to explore.
If you want to savor the attractive colonial architecture, opt for the Haute-Ville, and don’t forget to check the museums and art galleries to get yourself a cultural fix. On top of everything, you can soak up the surroundings while enjoying the fresh produce stalls at the Analakely Market. Lastly, you must get your hands on some street food since it’s popular for the culinary delicacy or opt for French dining in top-notch restaurants.
5. Opt For Scuba Diving
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner who is trying to dive down for the first time or you are an experienced scuba diver; there is an extensive range of scuba diving options available on this amazing island. Madagascar has a coastline spanning over 3000 miles, so you won’t be far from the ocean, but the southwest coastline has the third biggest coral reef system if you want to enjoy the beauty of the ocean.
This reef system has over six thousand marine species, and some of them are unique to this island. For those who don’t know, Nosy Be is the ultimate destination for divers, and you can also hire charter boats are diving liveaboards. On top of everything, the island has ideal conditions with pleasant water temperatures and reliable visibility. Also, there are bucket-list animals, such as manta rays, whales, sharks, and dolphins.
6. Eat Some Local Cuisine
It doesn’t matter where you go, don’t forget to savor the flavor of local cuisine. This is because the Malagasy dishes have seafood and meat served with rice and vegetables for those who want to enjoy delicious food. The food hardly has some spices, but there are no compromises on the flavor. To begin with, we suggest that you try Koba, which is a banana leaf filled with rice, peanut, and banana paste.
In addition, Romazava (the beef stew) and Kabaro (curried coconut and lima beans). If you are visiting the coast, you can opt for fresh seafood options and make sure to grab some Ranovola for its acquired flavor.
7. Visit Stone Forests
It’s no secret that Madagascar is a homage to unique scenery, but nothing is better than the limestone karsts that you can see at the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.
According to research, the limestone seabed was pushed in the upward direction around 200 million years ago, which resulted in a huge plateau.
However, over the course of time, this plateau eroded, which led to the formation of a thick forest of jagging limestone that’s integrated with impenetrable forests, canyons, and waterfalls.
Also, if you didn’t have the fill of lemurs from the park, you might even see some here because 11 species of lemurs are native to this area. In addition, there are hundreds of mesmerizing botanical species, birds, and reptiles.
8. Spot The Endemic Birds
In Madagascar, there are more than 280 bird species on this island, but there is significant endemism which makes it an enriched birding destination. Out of these 280 bird species, 100 of them are exclusive to this place. If you want to spot the endemic birds in their natural habitat, there are three regions to look out for, such as the deciduous forest, the eastern rainforest, and the southern spiny bushes.
On the other hand, if you are on a tight schedule, get yourself a ticket to Ranomafana National Park to look at the sunbird-asity and ground roller. However, for birding, it’s best to visit during early summer or late spring as birds are most active during these seasons.
9. Visit Pristine Beaches
If you are still wondering, “what is Madagascar famous for?” we hope you don’t forget about the pristine beaches of this island. Ranging from azure-colored waters to white sand and an abundance of palm trees, it’s one of the most beautiful islands of the Indian Ocean. To be precise, some of the best stretches are seen on the outlying islands of the northwest.
For instance, you can visit Tiny Tsarabanjina for the crystal seas and deserted sandy harbors. The island can be accessed through boast, but there are private beach bungalows for everyone who wants to treat themselves with some luxury. On the other hand, you can visit Ile aux Nattes for its tropical heaven, while Anakao beaches are perfect for kite-surfing and regular surfing.
10. Watch Some Whales
If you have the ticket for Madagascar during July and September, head to the northern islands to witness the whale migration that happens annually. For instance, you will be able to watch hundreds of whales on this idyllic island while they slap around their huge pectorals.
Have a look at this nice video of whale migration in Madagascar to get a preview of what you might see!
My Final Conclusion.
So, are you ready to board the next flight to Madagascar? I would surely like to!
I hope that you got an answer to the question: ” What is Madagascar famous for”? If not, please leave a comment below or join me on my social media channels below. If you would like to chat about Africa, you can also join my Facebook group on the continent.
I wish you happy travels!