Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, beaches, desert, trekking and diving: Madagascar is a dream destination for nature and outdoor lovers – and half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions.
What a Wonderful World Madagascar is unique: 5% of all known animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. The remarkable fauna and flora is matched by epic landscapes of an incredible diversity: you can go from rainforest to desert in just 300km. Few places on earth offer such an intense kaleidoscope of nature. Making the best of it, however, can be challenging (and expensive): Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and its roads are dismal. But those who relish an adventure will come into their own: the off-road driving is one of a kind, and there are national parks that only see 100 visitors a year, regions that live in autarchy during the rainy season and resorts so remote you’ll need a private plane or boat to get there.
Turn to the Sea With 5000km of coastline, 450km of barrier reef and 250 islands, no stay in Madagascar would be complete without a few days on the island’s shores. Divers will revel in the choice of sites, from underwater ‘cathedrals’ to shipwrecks, and will relish the chance to see rays, whale sharks, reef sharks and many other kinds of sharks. Snorkellers will be awed by the sheer grace of turtles and marvel at the rainbow of colours displayed by corals and fish. For those keen to keep their heads above water, the idyllic beaches will prove hard to resist. And once you’ve swayed in your hammock to your heart’s content, you can join a local fisher for a pirogue (dugout canoe) trip, go sailing to explore nearby islands or board a whale-watching boat to admire humpbacks breaching – one of nature’s most majestic spectacles.
Of Life & Death Madagascar has been populated by successive waves of migrants from various corners of the Indian Ocean, each bringing their own customs and beliefs. This cultural melting pot has evolved into an intricate set of beliefs and rituals that revere ancestors’ spirits. For travellers, getting accustomed to the central role that death plays in everyday life is often an opportunity to reassess their own beliefs, and attending a famadihana (traditional exhumation and reburial) or a traditional circumcision ceremony can be the highlight of a trip. There is much history to discover, too, from the 12 sacred hills of Antananarivo to the pirate cemetery of Ile Sainte Marie and the vestige of Madagascar’s industrial revolution in Mantasoa.
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Madagascar travel guide
"Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, beaches, desert, trekking and diving, Madagascar is a dream destination for nature and outdoor lovers - and half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions." Emilie Filou - Lonely Planet Author
Famadihana: the festival of Turning the Bones in Madagascar
'after the "vary be menaka"' by S@veOurSm:)e. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Location: Hauts plateaux (highlands), Madagascar Dates: throughout winter (June to September) Level of participation: 2 - watch the Merina’s unique ritual - and join the attendant party.
Madagascar's magnificent coast
Madagascar - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Madagascar starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, and how much to budget.
Madagascar's wondrous wildlife (and where to see it)
Madagascar is well-known for its biodiversity; 5% of all animal and plant species known to man live here and only here (70% of the fauna and 90% of the flora are endemic). For travellers, admiring this modern-day Noah’s Ark is a highlight of a trip to the Red Island. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to do so.
Madagascar - Central Madagascar (Chapter)
In central Madagascar you’ll find a potpourri of delights: bustling market towns, small villages of distinctive two-storey mudbrick homes, a mountain stronghold of lemurs, the legacy of French colonialism, national parks and some of the best trekking Madagascar has to offer.
A complete exploration of the enigmatic island 'continent' of Madagascar
Lying adjacent to the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is home to stunning mountains, spectacular rainforests and white, sandy beaches. The island protects incredible numbers of endangered lemurs, rare plants and birds within its expansive national parks.
Top 10 ultimate places to see wildlife
In this excerpt from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Experiences, we share our top 10 places to see the world's most beautiful creatures in their natural habitats. 1.
Madagascar - Northern Madagascar (Chapter)
Activity junkies will be spoilt for choice, with everything from diving to kitesurfing, while all travellers will revel in the region’s diverse landscapes. The region also hosts Madagascar’s flagship cultural events, the Donia and Zegny’Zo: unique chances to discover Malagasy artists.