Madagascar Tourism Guide: Madagascar, nicknamed as the Great Red Island (since the red clay soil dominates much of the central highlands) is the fourth largest island in the world.
So, where is Madagascar located? This island country, located off the east coast of the Indian Ocean, boasts of a unique ecological heritage leading scientists to refer to it as the “eighth continent” of the world.
It is fascinating that over 88 million years back this island was actually a part of India, before splitting and gradually becoming a part of the African continent, lying off the South East Coast of Mozambique.
Here’s a useful Madagascar tourism guide for all travelers with major attractions in Madagascar.
Madagascar Tourism Guide
How to reach Madagascar?
Madagascar is a well-connected destination, thereby boosting Madagascar tourism. Madagascar may be reached by air or by sea.
Many international airlines operate in this region with regular weekly flights to Europe and connection flights from neighboring countries of Africa and Asia. The international airport is located in Antananarivo, nearly 17km from the city.
Madagascar may be reached by sea using boat services. However, these rides tend to be very tedious and tiring. Cruise liners and passenger ships make a halt at the main port, Toamasino.
Jaunt Monkey’s Madagascar tourism guide helps you with the basics of Madagascar travels here.
Some basic facts you should know about Madagascar
Madagascar has a population of around 25 million (as per the 2016 census). The city of Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar. T
he natives generally speak in the Malagasy language. Along with Malagasy, French as well, has been declared as the official language of this former French colony. The local currency of Madagascar is the Malagasy Ariary (MGA).
Madagascar Tourism Guide: Major Attractions of Madagascar
Home to a diverse range of flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet, stunning coastline, sun-drenched, lush landscapes and a rich cultural heritage, Madagascar is the perfect adventure getaway for any tourist.
One may rightly say, Madagascar is “dramatic” in terms of geography, exhibiting jungles to arid savannas, dry forests, swamps, deserts, xeric scrublands, high peaks, escarpments, plateaus and lagoons. Madagascar, despite its size, has established a large number of National Parks, all of which are great tourist attractions. They are the highlight of Madagascar tourism.
Go Trekking in Wildlife National Parks
Some of the famous national parks include Ranomafana National Park, Isalo National Park, Amber Mountain National Park, Ankarafantsika National Park, Marojejy National Park, Zahamena National Park, Andohahela National Park and others. These national parks play an important role in boosting Madagascar tourism.
The Andasibe National Park, in eastern Madagascar, is home to the Indri, the largest living lemur along with 13 other species of lemurs and the Parsons chameleon which is the largest chameleon in the world.
Comprising of spectacular, dense rainforests, the Ranomafana (meaning ‘hot water’ in Malagasy, due to the hot springs present in the area), is one of the best national parks in Madagascar. Tourists are advised to carry a pocket-sized lamp for nocturnal visits at the national park.
At the Isalo National Park, the flora is more prominent than the fauna. This national park is picturesque terrain from sandstone formations to impressive gorges, deep canyons and grassland.
In the western part of Madagascar, you will notice prominent groups of baobab trees lining the dirt roads Menabe. These groups of trees are called as the Avenue or Alley of Baobabs. The baobab tree is the national tree of Madagascar. They are also known as upside down bottles or monkey bread trees because of their appearance.
Apart from the national parks on the island, there is small island reserve in Antongil Bay, in eastern Madagascar. The island is accessible by making use of small boats. It is part of a larger Masoala National Park complex.
While on the island, you will be amused to come across “the fossa”. The fossa is a giant jumping rat and it is the largest of the carnivores on the island. It is a big as a rabbit, and reminds you of a Jumping Jack.
Go Kayaking, Snorkeling or even Whale watching
Madagascar is just the place for all you adventure enthusiasts out there. As part of promoting Madagascar tourism, the Island offers a variety of adventure sports such as snorkeling, kite surfing, kayaking, surfing and diving. Tourists can experience seasonal whale watching as well.
The Island is wrapped around with a long coastline that is lined with series of palm trees. Traditional wood carved canoes may be found between the shaded trees or being rowed by fishermen out into the sea.
Visit Private Graveyards and Royal Palaces
Moving on from national parks and wildlife, Madagascar also has the world’s only pirate graveyard, situated on the island of Isle Sainte Marie. It is a place not to be missed.
Another place of interest is the Rova of Antananarivo, which is a monument of historical importance. It is a royal palace complex which served as the home of the sovereigns of the Kings of the Imerina in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the rulers of the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century.
Try out Madagascar’s Romazava
The food of the people of Madagascar does not disappoint either. The people of Madagascar are known to consume large amounts of rice with small portions of various meat, vegetable and sauce. Romaza is considered the national dish of Madagascar. It is a one pot dish, cooked with beef, pork and chicken diced into equal sized cubes, along with chopped onions, tomatoes, spinach and crushed garlic. This dish is generally eaten with rice, for lunch or dinner. Another popular dish is the Foza sy hena-kisoa – made from stir-fried pork and crab.
The food is prepared using fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown free of chemicals and pesticides. Even the meat products are fresh and not from factory farming. Tourists take delight in enjoying healthy, nutritious food during their stay in Madagascar.
Climb aboard the Viko-Viko
While you’re in Madagascar, don’t forget to take a ride on the La Micheline Viko-Viko train. Climb aboard this little French vintage railcar to take an amazing journey through the splendid mountainous jungles on the island of Madagascar. It mainly runs to promote and enhance Madagascar tourism, to showcase the raw beauty of the sun-drenched, dense jungles of Madagascar.
Do not miss Madagascar’s Island of Turtles
Another famous Madagascar destination is the Nosy Iranj, also known as the Island of Turtles. It is a single island that splits into two as the water rises over the connecting sand bank.
Though there are a lot more to visit and do in Madagascar, our Madagascar tourism guide has focused only on the major places to visit in Madagascar and major things to do there.
PLAN A TRIP TO MADAGASCAR RIGHT AWAY!
On the whole, Madagascar is a country that should be on every travel enthusiast’s bucket list. It is the perfect African safari tour and you won’t be disappointed. Even while it is one of the best African attractions, Madagascar is unique and a must visit in the continent.
After reading our Madagascar Tourism Guide, I am sure you are inspired to visit this Island world. Hahita anao tsy ho ela eto Madagasikara. (See you soon in Madagascar)
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com