Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, desert, hiking and diving: Madagascar is a dream destination for outdoors enthusiasts – half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions.
Madagascar is unique: 5% of all known animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. The island's signature animal is the lemur of course, but there are many more weird and wonderful creatures and plants: baobabs, insects, sharks, frogs, orchids, palms, birds, turtles, mongoose. The list goes on. Much of this biodiversity is under threat, from climate change and population pressure, giving each trip a sense of urgency but also purpose: tourism can truly be a force for good.
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. There are sandstone canyons, limestone karsts, mountains, fertile hills cascading with terraced rice paddies, forests of every kind – rain, dry, spiny – and a laterite-rich soil that gave the country its nickname of 'Red Island'. With 5000km of coastline, the sea is never very far, turquoise and idyllic in places, dangerous in others.
For those who relish an adventure, Madagascar is a one-of-a-kind destination: the off-road driving is phenomenal, there are national parks that only see a few hundred visitors a year, regions that live in autarky during the rainy season and resorts so remote you’ll need a private plane or boat to get there. There are also more activities than you'll have time for: hiking, diving, mountain biking, kitesurfing, rock-climbing, you name it. Oh, and there are plenty of natural pools, beaches and hammocks on which to recover, too.
Madagascar has been populated by successive waves of migrants from various corners of the Indian Ocean. It is unlike anywhere else in Africa or Asia. There are fantastic sights to discover this unique history, but also numerous opportunities to meet local people via village stays, long-distance trails, festivals, taxi-brousse (bush taxis) and Friday night discos.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Madagascar.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Madagascar.