Must see attractions in Western Madagascar

  • Top ChoiceSights in Morondava District

    Allée des Baobabs

    One of Madagascar's most recognisable images, this small stretch of the RN8 between Morondava and Belo-sur-Tsiribihina is flanked on both sides by majestic Adansonia grandidieri baobabs. Some of the trees here may be 1000 years old, with huge, gnarled branches fanning out at the top of their trunks – it’s easy to see why they’ve been nicknamed ‘roots of the sky’.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Parc National Bemaraha

    Parc National Bemaraha

    If you visit one place in western Madagascar, make it Parc National Bemaraha. A Unesco World Heritage Site, its highlights are the jagged, limestone pinnacles known as tsingy and the impressive infrastructure – via ferrata (mountain route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders and bridges), rope bridges and walkways. Guides are compulsory and cost Ar75,000/135,000 per half/full day for up to four people.

  • Sights in Boeny Region

    Parcs Nationaux Baie de Baly et Tsingy de Namoroka

    This isolated park is home to that peculiarly Malagasy landform, the tsingy, a dense forest of jagged rocky pinnacles interwoven with deep canyons filled with streams and trees. It's a bit like visiting the more famous Parc National Bemaraha, but without the crowds. Trails weave among the rocks, and rope bridges cross the canyons.

  • Sights in Boeny Region

    Grottes d'Anjohibe

    This series of subterranean rooms and galleries, some of them the size of buildings, are among Madagascar's most impressive. Stretching over 5km, and adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, the caves are penetrated by shafts of light from passageways and holes in the ceiling, giving an eerie feel. However, the stunning natural swimming pools (admission Ar20,000) of deep emerald-green are the main attraction. Each is framed by luxuriant vegetation and ravinala palm trees fanning their leaves like parading ostriches.

  • Sights in Parc National Ankarafantsika

    Parc National Ankarafantsika

    Ankarafantsika (130,026 hectares) is the last strand of dry western deciduous forest in Madagascar. Its excellent wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities make it one of western Madagascar's most popular and rewarding parks. There are at least eight species of lemur and 129 recorded species of birds, including the rare Madagascar fish eagle and the raucous sickle-bill vanga. There are also more than 70 species of reptiles such as small iguanas, a rare species of leaf-tailed gecko and the rhinoceros chameleon.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Majunga (Mahajanga)

    Cirque Rouge

    Dramatic Cirque Rouge is one of western Madagascar’s most famous sights. This amphitheatre of eroded rock is tinted in a rainbow hue of colours, including red, pink, ochre and white – for the full effect, arrive late afternoon and stay until sunset. A stream runs along the bottom of the valley and through a small ravine down to the sea (a lovely 10-minute walk).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Réserve Forestière de Kirindy

    Réserve Forestière de Kirindy

    This reserve, 60km northeast of Morondava, covers about 12,500 hectares and is a protected area that's popular with scientists and travellers for its amazing wildlife. Kirindy is one of the few places in Madagascar where you are very likely to see the fossa ( Cryptoprocta felix), the country’s largest predator, a puma- or dog-like creature with oversized ears and a strangely elongated body. There are also eight lemur species, the giant jumping rat and numerous bird species.

  • Sights in Majunga (Mahajanga)

    Baobab Tree

    At the T-junction with Ave de France, there is an enormous baobab tree (circumference, 21m!) thought to be well over 700 years old. It is considered fady (taboo) to touch it.

  • Sights in Parc National Kirindy Mitea

    Parc National de Kirindy-Mitea

    Not to be confused with the Réserve Forestière de Kirindy, the deliciously remote 72,200-hectare Parc National de Kirindy-Mitea, which surrounds Belo-sur-Mer, is one of Madagascar’s newest parks and it's well worth the effort to get here. The main draw at Kirindy-Mitea is the birdlife – 58 species in total, 18 of which are endemic to the region – although there are also nine lemur species, as well as reptiles.

  • Sights in Boeny Region

    Mahavy-Kinkony Wetland Complex

    The Mahavy-Kinkony Wetland Complex incorporates a diverse and fragile ecosystem consisting of marine bays, river, delta and 22 lakes, including Madagascar’s second-largest, Lac Kinkony. The reserve is also home to dry deciduous and gallery forest, savannah, marshland, mangrove, caves and lots of wildlife. It gained temporary protection status in 2007. The primary reason to come to Lac Kinkony, however, is the 143 species of birds. And it's the only place where all of western Madagascar’s waterfowl species can be seen.

  • Sights in Boeny Region

    Parc National Baie de Baly

    Best known as the home of the critically endangered ploughshare tortoise, this remote park has dense dry, bamboo and mangrove forests, sand dunes and beaches, lakes and rivers. In addition to eight lemur species (Decken's sifaka and brown lemurs are most commonly sighted), the beaches are nesting grounds for green, hawksbill, Madagascar big-headed and loggerhead turtles. The four circuits through the park take from one to six hours; the longer circuits usually include a pirogue (traditional dugout canoe) ride.

  • Sights in Majunga (Mahajanga)

    La Corniche

    Majunga is all about the Corniche, the palm-lined promenade bordering the sea made up of Blvd Poincarré and Blvd Marcoz. In the evening residents come here to enjoy a stroll under the setting sun, sip a soft drink or nibble kebabs from numerous street carts. During school holidays (July to September) it has a fair-like atmosphere, with makeshift (and slightly scary-looking) Ferris wheels, horses to ride and families at play.

  • Sights in Morondava District

    Baobab Amoureux

    Providing inspiration for many a Malagasy wood sculptor, these two A grandidieri baobabs have twisted themselves into a perfect embrace, earning them the sobriquet of 'Baobabs in Love'. The entwined lovers are around 3km off the Morondava–Kirindy road, just north of the Allée des Baobabs – look for the Kivalo signpost. It's worth visiting before a sunset visit to Allée des Baobabs, or as a detour on your way between Morondava and Réserve Forestière de Kirindy or Belo-sur-Tsiribihina.

  • Sights in Katsepy

    Katsepy’s Lighthouse

    About 8km southwest of Katsepy, Katsepy’s Lighthouse has sweeping views of Bombetoka Bay and Mozambique Channel. It’s a hot, two-hour walk to get here from Katsepy. Otherwise you can charter a taxi-brousse to take you there and back (Ar50,000, with 30 minutes at the site).

  • Sights in Majunga (Mahajanga)

    Lighthouse

    Guides ships in from Pointe de Sable. It's an icon of Majunga's coastal skyline.