Safari & beach holidays in Madagascar
Warm and crystalline waters that borders kilometers of the white sandy coast of Madagascar will make take relax for a day or an hour in the cool shade of the palm trees and then head for the many lagoons around. Total disorientation awaits you in a setting of shamed colors. The beaches of Madagascar also offer a multitude of activities to do alone, with family or friends. Diving, snorkeling, surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, and many cruises in dhow or sailing are offered.Sainte Marie is an authentic place that is preserved from mass tourism. It is a real haven of peace. It is very appreciated by the inhabitants of the capital because of its proximity and its idyllic setting made up of beautiful beaches and fishing villages. You will enjoy the calm and tranquillity for an unforgettable trip.
Top attractions to consider while traveling to Madagascar
Swim with the Whale Sharks in Nosy be Madagascar
Well- known worldwide for the white sand beaches, Nosy Be is the main tourist area of Madagascar. But the “Island of Perfumes” has also a unique and wealthy seabed. In the depths, the whale shark Madagascar is the king here. Every day during or 3 months of the year, you can come to Nosy Be to meet with the biggest shark in the world… Contrary to appearances, the beast is completely harmless: the whale shark feeds on small-size preys such as plankton and krill. Also seaweeds, small shellfishes, small squids, or fishes less than 10cm long (mackerels…). The safety instructions are given mostly to protect them, not the divers! During briefings before diving, the teams explain how to behave underwater in order to limit the impacts of your observation on the animal. After all, isn’t he very kind already to let you swim on his side? 110 individuals have been observed this year inside the bay.
You must hurry, the moment is very furtive: the silhouette of the shark appears only a few centimeters away from you. The shark can be up to 9 meters long… I let you imagine the immensity of the beast when swimming on his side! However, he never stays for long. You can still try to follow him, but it will be very hard.
The species is endangered, hunted in Asia for its flesh and fin. In Madagascar, the guides try to protect them by counting the population inside the area. At the end of the 3 months staying on the surface, the shark disappears at more than 2000 meters deep… Nosy Be is one of the few places in the world where you can watch him, with respect to his environment. Another whale species along the coasts, earlier in the year: the humpback whales Madagascar.
Take a Stroll in La Corniche under the palm trees
Mahajanga in Madagascar is all about the picturesque La Corniche. The beautiful promenade along the beach is lined up with palm trees and street food carts. Taking a stroll under the shade of palm trees in the evening is counted among the best things to do in Madagascar. Soak in the goodness of the sun and feel the freshness of the sea breeze brushing your skin while you nibble on the local Malagasy delicacies from the food carts.
Hiking and caving in Ankarana National Park. (Tsingy national park)
The Ankarana National Park is best known for the Tsingy that lie here, a very rare natural phenomenon. They are large grey limestone rock formations, created by millions of years of erosion. The buds are pointed and razor-sharp. Under the Tsingy there is a whole different world: deep caves full of bats and crocodiles.
The word Tsingy means “walking on your toes” and has its origins in the 17th century. At that time, a civil war was raging in Madagascar. The local tribes flee to the caves under the Tsingy. They only came out at night to walk to their village for food. They walked for miles tiptoeing over the razor-sharp points, and so the name Tsingy was born.
Wildlife Tour and safaris in Madagascar
Wildlife-wise, Madagascar must be one of the most extraordinary destinations in the world for those interested in natural history. There is a vast range of ecosystems to explore: wet rainforest, dry tropical deciduous forest, and the unique spiny forest found only in Madagascar’s far southwest. In addition, there are also coral reefs and stunning white sand beaches to enjoy along the coast, plus unique stone forests known as stingy and fascinating cultures to discover.
Nearly all of Madagascar’s staggering biodiversity is found nowhere else on the planet and much of it is sadly threatened with extinction. Wildlife highlights undoubtedly include the mysterious nocturnal aye aye, iconic ring-tailed lemur, the beautiful sifaka family, huge tail less indri, tiny mouse lemurs, charismatic fossa, both giant and miniature chameleons, camouflaged leaf-tailed geckos, colorful frogs, and its fantastically varied endemic birds.
Scenic Road Trips to Fort Dauphin Madagascar
Fort Dauphin the city at the end of the world, offers an exceptional change of scenery. Nestled at the foot of the Saint Louis’ peak, the city and its regions offer incredible walks in breath-taking sceneries. You will discover many historical and cultural sites to visit with your family.
Fort Dauphin is also called “Tolagnaro.” It was occupied by Europeans in the 17th century and served as a trading post. It has been baptized in honor of King Louis XIV. It is also where the very first population left to settle in the Reunion Islands. Nestled in a promontory at the foot of the Saint Louis peak, Fort Dauphin offers breath-taking scenery among other spectacular ones in Madagascar. You will discover many historical sites dating from the colonial era, including Sainte Luce, a fishing village with its long beaches bordered by casuarinas and palm trees, on a forest background. But you can also visit the Fort-Flacourt, the remains of an ancient bastion, the museum of Anosy (retracing the colonial history), or the Fort of the Portuguese. There are a lot of places to discover and visit.
Explore Amber Mountain National Park Madagascar
Montagne d’Ambre (Amber Mountain) National Park is located around 30 km south of Diego Suarez. It was established in 1958 and protects a total surface of 185km². This massif rises from the surrounding dry region forming an isolated stretch of montane rainforest covering an area of 18.200 hectares and lying at altitudes between 800 and 1.470 meters. The park offers great biodiversity: a huge tropical forest with endemic fauna and flora, luxuriant vegetation, and many waterfalls and volcanic lakes. The climate is perfect, the cool air refreshes after the heat of the lowlands. The dominant ethnic groups are the Sakavala and the Antahkarana.
A big number of animal species inhabit the National Park. To begin with, 25 species of mammals, among them 6 carnivores such as the ring-tailed mongoose and the fossa, and 8 lemurs: Sanford’s brown lemur, crowned lemur, lesser bamboo lemur, and are five species of nocturnal lemurs. Besides these forests are the home of 75 different bird species (35 of which are endemic and even locally endemic, like the Amber Mountain rock-thrush ), 60 reptiles, such as tiny stump-tailed chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos and snakes, 35 frogs, and more than 40 butterflies.
The flora is very reached as well. The three principal ecosystems (montane rainforest, mid-altitude rainforest, and dry deciduous forests) give shelter to more than one thousand different plants.
The best time to visit the Park is between September and November. It will rain from time to time but the warm temperatures make all the animals active, so the chances of seeing them increase enormously. You should avoid a visit while the cyclone season from December to March.
Tours and safaris to Analamazoatra Special Reserve
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park includes two distinct areas in terms of terrain and activities available, covering a total of 155 km² (60 miles²) east of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo. The Special Reserve of Analamazoatra (also known as Andasibe National Park) was established in an effort to preserve the Indri lemur species and was later extended into what came to be Mantadia National Park. Because both reserves occupy the same forest, they are commonly referred to as Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.
The northern area of the park (Mantadia) is considered to be more exclusive and receives fewer tourists. It contains varied trails that tend to be more rugged, which may be attractive to the adventurous and experienced hiker. Altitudes range from 900 to 1250 m (2953 to 4101 ft). Mantadia tends to have a very humid climate. The park is made up of dense rainforest, housing a variety of wildlife species, including over 80 amphibians, 15 mammals including the Indri (the largest species of lemur), 50 reptile species including chameleons and leaf-tailed geckos, and over 100 bird species including the Madagascar wagtail and the Madagascar serpent-eagle.
Visitors to Andasibe-Mantadia should be prepared for very damp conditions. In addition to rain jackets, high rubber boots are also recommended as leaches are common here and like to attach to exposed skin. The true highlight of this area is the ability to see the largest lemur, the Indri. Its haunting cries echo above the drenched canopies and add an element of mystery to any trek. Be prepared to have a sore neck, as these guys tend to stay near the tops of the trees and make the visitors work for their viewings.
Mantadia National Park is home to various plant species, most notably the orchid and the poinsettia, which grow to enormous heights in this damp, temperate climate. The park also contains the Sacred Waterfall as well as natural pools, giving hikers an opportunity to refresh and cool down.
The park is easily accessible from Antananarivo by car. The trip takes approximately three to four hours, depending on road conditions. Part of the journey is on dirt roads.
When to visit Mantadia National Park
Although the park is open year-round, visitors should always expect rain. The average annual rainfall is about 1700 mm (5.5 ft). It typically rains over 200 days per year, with the wettest months being January through March. September through November tends to be drier. The average temperature is about 18 C (64 F), with warmer days beginning in November when temperatures will reach 27 C (80 F).
The Royal hills of Ambohimanga Madagascar
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, in the Madagascar highlands about 20km north of Antananarivo, is closely associated with the Merina people, who trace their origins back to a phase of immigration from Indonesia perhaps 500-600 years ago. Their appearance, culture, and livelihood pattern, including the terraced rice-paddies that provide their staple food, show strong affinities with traditional life in Indonesia. The royal city and burial site bears testimony to the social and political system which has existed in the Malagasy highlands since the 16th century.
The fortified Royal Enclosure is positioned on the top of a rounded hill overlooking the rice paddies and surrounded by the ‘sacred’ forest. The enclosure has seven entrances, and a huge circular stone used to be rolled across each entrance at night. One of these can still be seen. Inside the compound, the centerpiece is a large double-story wooden building with elaborately decorated balconies that was the home of the great king Andrianampoinimerina, who reigned from 1787 to 1810. A central courtyard is shaded by two giant fig trees and nearby a sacrificial stone is still used as a place for rituals.
Spot the Lemurs in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park Madagascar
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park with its 154 km² encompasses two distinct areas: the small Réserve Spéciale d’Analamazaotra (popularly known by the old French name of the nearby town and railway station, Périnet) in the south next to Andasibe village; and the much larger Parc National de Mantadia to the north. Both parts belonged to the same humid forest, but because of human activities are now divided into two. The park was created in 1989. Due to its closeness to the capital and the good road condition all year round almost all visitors to Madagascar will choose to come here to follow the Indri call, which is the star of the park.
All the visitors within a mile of the park can hear the peculiar call of the indri very early in the morning until noon and again in the late afternoon. Indris (called Babakoto in Malagasy) is the largest living lemurs at all reaching up to 1 meter. Andasibe is the best place to observe the Indris given that there are a couple of families habituated to humans. It lives in small groups and cannot survive in captivity. There are several legends trying to explain its origins since it is considered a sacred animal in the whole of Madagascar. Nowadays it is endangered due to deforestation and agricultural activities next to the reserves.
Apart from the Indri, another 13 lemur species inhabit these forests, such as woody lemur, grey bamboo lemur, diademed sifaka, brown lemur, red mouse-lemur, red-bellied lemur, black and white ruffed lemur, and even aye-aye.
Go Trekking in Isalo National Park
Isalo National Park is one of Madagascar’s most visited natural parks and is located in the country’s southwest. The climate here is dry so you can visit year-round without having to worry about huge downpours. The park itself is made up of a savannah and desert landscape with huge canyons and hidden oases. Visitors to Isalo will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views and some of Madagascar’s most iconic wildlife, the lemur.
When you visit Isalo National Park, you will most likely get a chance to see the ring-tailed lemur. Arguably Madagascar’s most famous animal, some of the ring-tailed lemurs here are very used to people so you can see the troop up close. Madagascar has some of the highest biodiversity on the planet and hiking in the red and yellow landscape of Isalo National Park is a great way to experience some of that.
Enjoy a swim at Kimony Beach Madagascar
Kimony Beach, also known as Kimuni Beach, is a nice long stretch of sandy beach just seven kilometers north of Morodava. Near the airport of Morondava, a red sand road diverts from the main street and leads through fields and palm groves. After about five kilometers the sand road turns into an old cobblestone road, passing a large open plain with mangroves. The scenery is like something out of Africa where one might expect lions or zebras passing in the distance.
Kimony Beach is a very deserted beach. There is just one small village nearby, but no shops or restaurants. Fishermen come and go in their pirogues, whilst their wives and kids await their return in the shade of the few bushes along the beach.
Enjoy A Picnic at Lake Alaotra Madagascar
Lake Alaotra, the largest freshwater lake in Madagascar, is with an average depth of 1-1.5 m a very shallow water body. Freshwater marshes are the dominant natural vegetation and mainly consist of reeds and papyrus
The rich flora and fauna include a number of locally endemic species such as the Alaotra gentle lemur which is the world’s only primate found exclusively in wetlands; the Durrell mungo which was only discovered in 2004; and the Madagascar pochard Due to its ecological peculiarity, the high biodiversity and the high proportion of locally endemic species, Lake Alaotra, and its freshwater marshes have been included as a Ramseur area since 2007.
Visit the largest crocodile farm in Madagascar
Crocodiles lazily bask in the hot mid-morning sun, raising their core body temperatures and awaiting a chance to feed.
There are 6,000 crocodiles at the farm, the largest in the Madagascan capital, and located conveniently close to Ivato International Airport. The French owners have another farm 300 kilometers away from Antananarivo capable of holding up to 12,000 crocodiles.
But not all is well in Madagascar’s crocodile industry. In 2008 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), banned the export of crocodile skin and products from this island nation.
Crocodiles are ubiquitous in the rivers that crisscross Madagascar, with one estimate showing there are about 30 individuals per kilometer of the river. Any crocodile with a back more than 45cm in length could be captured and killed, according to the norms.
Ile Sainte Marie – Whale Watching
One of the most amazing activities on Ile Sainte-Marie in Madagascar is a whale-watching tour of the beautiful animals that live part of the year near Ile Sainte-Marie, where you can see them well. In this blog, I will share our experiences with hotel Villas de Vohilava and the most amazing activity we did there: a whale safari in Madagascar!
Paragliding in Andanoka Madagascar
Spectacular landscapes, arrange and reliable scenes, large valley flat and clear to peaceful land on makes the paragliding a beautiful activity to do in Madagascar.
Mountain winds cycles clearly settled; allowing one to do many gaps daily, nevertheless avoid moon change and July-August periods while trade winds hardly blow Equipment Bearers, enthusiastic and admiring people.
Being still a brand new spot, hardly more than fifty pilots had the opportunity to fly amid Tsaranoro cliffs; they do all agree: these flights are unforgettable
As we try to increase the launching grounds (terracing, stone removing, and carrots.) to secure take-offs from any danger, allowing even beginners to swoop down safely. We currently have 3 launching grounds depending on the weather. Don’t worry; a local pilot will always be available to advise you on flights and gaps.
Island Hopping in Madagascar
Nosy be– With an area of 321 km2, Nosy Be is the largest of Madagascar’s offshore islands. It’s often billed in tourist brochures as the ‘Ile aux Parfums’ and, like the nearby Comoros Islands, is a center for the production of perfume essence from the ylang-ylang tree.
Nosy Komba – This is quite a popular destination due to its sheer beauty, black lemurs, and picturesque beaches. Explore the clean, private beaches and the primal forest that have magnificent plant species.
Nosy Sakatia – The Island is famous for its orchids and is also well known for its snorkeling opportunities.
Lokobe forest reserve– Lokobe Integral Reserve is situated on the south-east side of Nosy Be Island. It is the only protected area of the island and is not only known for its endangered black lemur but also for the beautiful Panther Chameleon.
Best places to stay in Madagascar while on Beach holiday
Ravintsara Wellness Hotel
Designed with relaxation in mind, the Ravintsara wellness hotel is set in a rainforest with its own private beach. Days can be spent exploring the island at large or choosing one of the hotel’s many ways to relax. Why not spend some time at the spa, have a cocktail at the bar, lie with a book on the beach, go gambling, go to the salon or try a delicious meal from the restaurant? A chef serves a selection of delectable local dishes as highlights before and after all the exciting adventures in Nosy Be and the surrounding archipelago.
If you’re looking for pristine beaches and unsurpassed relaxation then Constance Tsarabanjina is the place for you. Guests feel like they have the island to their own – the lodge radiating the very essence of romance. This luxury beach lodge offers fantastic diving experiences with majestic creatures such as whale sharks and manta rays. In the evening you can enjoy culinary highlights beneath an awe-inspiring star-filled sky. With a choice of sea-facing bungalows, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more perfect destination to share with the one you love.
Mandrare River Camp
With the goal of having very little impact on the environment and surrounding villages, the Mandrare river camp aims to empower the local community by creating jobs and supporting the local school. But that’s not the only reason why we selected it. This luxury tented camp – one of a very few in Madagascar – has the most beautiful untouched surroundings with a variety of activities and a rather special way of encouraging guests to experience the local cultures. You are invited to see the tombs of the great ancestors, experience the flora and fauna of the spiny forest, and are greeted by the elders before entering their ‘sacred forests’.
Manafiafy Rainforest Lodge
Nestled in the midst of untouched natural beauty, Manafiafy Rainforest Lodge invites you to escape the hustle and bustle of Madagascar’s more touristy areas. This eco-lodge is in complete tune with nature and offers luxury at its best. You are allocated a personal guide who makes sure you get an up-close look at Madagascar’s extraordinary flora and fauna. We picked this lodge as it is simply unique. Manafiafy Rainforest Lodge is well-known for its beautiful rooms, for its delicious food, and a variety of exciting activities. But it is the remote and stunning locations that make this lodge extra special.
Introducing the island’s first 100% solar-powered lodge, Eden lodge has been voted one of the world’s top 10 Eco Lodges. Set within the beauty of a protected nature reserve in the Nosy Be Archipelago, this lodge convinces with a unique experience. Baobabs are set on the beach and during the day, lemurs emerge from the forest. Besides having the opportunity to snorkel with sea turtles, in the right season, you can even witness them hatching or spot dolphins and migrating whales. This is eco-luxury at its best.
Anjajavy (Relais & Chateaux)
Only accessible by charter plane, Anjajavy Relais and Chateaux, situated in the north-west of Madagascar, is the ultimate luxury when it comes to a Madagascar vacation. Guests enjoy uninterrupted sea-views from their rose-wood villas with the fresh breeze coming from the Mozambique Channel cooling you down at night. Choose from 7 little ‘creeks’ where you can spend the day relaxing on white sandy beaches, often all by yourself, with turquoise blue water stretching as far as the eye can see.
Facing a palm-fringed beach, the Princesse Bora on the island of Saint Marie is a luxurious, exclusive lodge that doubles as a haven of peace and romance. Hours in the day can be filled with a wide selection of activities such as whale viewing, snorkeling, and diving around glorious coral reefs. Meals are prepared with ingredients that are grown in the lodge’s surroundings and served fresh. We absolutely love this place because it’s comfortable, and you’ll spend more time enjoying the activities than sleeping in its amazingly large beds.
When it comes to catchphrases, Tsara Komba captures the essence of the lodge perfectly: “A caring, luxury Eco Lodge: A harmonious balance between the environment, the economy, and social protection.” Surrounded by tropical gardens, the lodge has a private beach for guests to enjoy, as well as a nature reserve nearby that boasts a variety of endemic plants, lemurs, chameleons, hummingbirds, parrots, and other marvels. Diving in the bay is excellent – encountering whales, dolphins, and turtles is not usual. The cuisine tastefully blends Eastern and Western spices, giving your taste buds a tantalizing experience.
Nature lodge situated just outside the magnificent rainforest of Montagne d’Ambre National Park. The large balcony of your spacious wooden chalet offers superb panoramic views that stretch from the bay of Diego to the Mozambique Channel and the Indian Ocean. Meals will ensure you sample local fresh cuisine, while an exceptional selection of local cocktails will turn any sunset into a memorable occasion. The restaurant at the lodge has a menu rich with local dishes that feature coconut, seafood, and other fresh produce from the garden and mountain nearby.
Pallisandre Hotel & Spa
Set in the heart of Tana, Pallisandre hotel and spa offers an unrivaled view of the city. Relaxation is guaranteed with a full spa on-site that features a gym, massages, facials, and other beauty treatments. The signature red brick simulates the rich artistry of the Malagasy people. The hotel overlooks the busy local market – ask your guide to take you for a stroll there! The hotel is centrally located and just a short taxi ride away from many of the excellent restaurants, or of course, you can choose to eat in the hotel’s own restaurant and enjoy a local rum tasting thereafter.
How to get around Madagascar while on Safari?
The best way to visit various parts of the country is on domestic flights. Air Madagascar has a good domestic network and serves 60 local airports. Antananarivo Airport is about 45 minutes from town and the journey can take up to an hour in peak traffic.
Car rental is not advised unless arranged with a driver and terms agreed upfront. Basic Taxis services are available for airport transport and around town – they can also be hired for the day with details discussed prior to departure. The road conditions in Madagascar are poor and infrastructure is basic. Many parts of Madagascar are sparsely populated and do not have tourist services. In Antananarivo it is very busy, maps are few and far between and most road and shop signs are in French.
Best time to visit Madagascar for spectacular holidays
Whilst Madagascar holidays can be enjoyed year-round, the principal wet season is from late December through to the month of March; often involving cyclones, it is probably best avoided! The best time to go to Madagascar is therefore between the months of April through to mid-December.
THINGS TO DO
|Diving safaris in Madagascar|
|Surfing safaris in Madagascar|
|Swim At Kimony Beach Madagascar|
|Boat Cruises in Madagascar|
|Spot The Lemur in Madagascar|
|Take A Stroll in La Corniche Beach Madagascar|
|Snorkeling tours in Madagascar|
|Bird watching safaris in Madagascar|
|Sailing tours in Madagascar|
|Swimming With The Whale Sharks in Nosy be|
|Island Hoping in Madagascar|
WHERE TO STAY
|Princess Bora Lodge|
|Time + Tide Mia Vana|
|Constance Tsara Banjina|
|Isalo Rock Lodge|
WHEN TO GO
|Best time for beach holidays in Madagascar|
|6 Days Madagascar Adventure & Honeymoon|
|6 Days Madagascar & Nosy Be Experience|
|9 Days Madagascar Eastern Tour|
|9 Days Madagascar Northern Tour|
|10 Days Madagascar Authentic Holiday|
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