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“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.
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 as Madagascar is the world’s fourth-largest island.
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.” From lonelyplanet.com
The Island of Madagascar is believed to have been isolated for 65 million years and is the oldest island on earth. This has resulted in a natural history, which is unique, and home to over 200 000 species living in habitats from rainforest to deserts and from mountain tops to mangrove swamps. These include eight whole plant families that only exist in Madagascar, 1000 orchid species, thousands of succulents, countless insects, 350 frog species, 370 kinds of reptiles, and an entire branch of the primate family tree.
Our journey starts in the capital city of Antananarivo (Tana) and we head in a south westerly direction visiting places such as Antsirabe, where we visit workshops cutting semi-precious and ornamental stone. Ambositra is the wood carving centre of the island and Ranamofana – meaning ‘people from the forest’ – National Park is home to the Bamboo Lemurs and the Milne Edwards Sifaka. Night walks will reveal the fascinating world of the nocturnal creatures, such as mouse lemurs, chameleons, and frogs. En route to Isalo National Park we could stop for some local wine tasting and a paper and silk weaving workshop. Isalo is home to the Bara tribe and the weathered sandstone formations and native plant species, as well as Ring-tailed Lemurs, makes this area particularly rewarding. We spend a night on the coast at Ifaty, north of Tulear, where we have time to relax overlooking the Mozambique Channel and walk in the spiny forest, home to bottle Baobabs and the endemic long-tailed Roller. We fly back to Tana and then drive north to the Ankarafantsika National Park, where birds such as the Schlege’s Asity can be spotted, and we enjoy a boat ride on Lake Ravelobe to experience the aquatic life of Madagascar.
ACTIVE: We visit many reserves where vehicles are not permitted to enter. You will need to go on foot with your guide, who will show and discuss interesting wildlife, birds and plants. The walks required to get to these areas usually require an hour or two of hiking, sometimes over uneven terrain. You need to be able to take this sort of thing in your stride to fully enjoy the tour.
This is a Malaria area, and the SA Department of Health recommends prophylactic measures be taken.
2017 8 June
From 3 250 Euro per person sharing.
Single supplement 590 Euro
Price excludes return airfare from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Antananarivo, but includes the internal flight from Tulear to Antananarivo.