Madagascar is the oldest island on earth and is characterised
by its unique natural history. This great mass of land, in fact the
fourth largest island in the world, lies off the South-East Coast
of Africa and is home to 5% of the world's animal and plant
One species of particular interest is the lemur and indeed
Madagascar is famous for it. There are over 50 species native to
the island and living nowhere else in the world. Baobabs are
also emblematic of the island. There are only 8 species in the
world and 6 of them are endemic to Madagascar.
With the abundance of animal and birdlife on the island it is
not surprising there are some top class National Parks. Three of
the best are Ranomafana in the South-East, Isalo and Tsingy de
Bemaraha on the Western Coast.
Ranomafana means 'hot water' and is made up of rainforests,
cloud forests, marshes and high plateau forests and bisected by the
Namarona River which you can swim in during the summer months. The
golden bamboo lemur was discovered here but also shares the space
with 11 other different species of lemur.
Tsingy de Bemaraha is perhaps the most impressive of the
National Parks. It is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
and has unique geographical features - the tsingy. These oddly
named formations form a collection of 'tsingy' peaks and are
perhaps better described to those having not seen them before as a
forest of limestone needles. A series of walkways, ladders
and cable ropes run between the peaks and providing stunning
views. There is an abundance of flora, fauna which is home to
the red-fronted and brown lemurs as well as chameleons and collared
It's true that most travellers come to Madagascar to observe the
natural wonders but the beaches here are great too and can often be
overlooked. Nosy Be is the largest of a cluster of islands in the
Mozambique channel. A stay on Nosy Be wouldn't be complete without
a day trip to the nearby reef ringed island of Nosy Tamikely. Here
you will find a marine reserve perfect for snorkelling.
Off the East Coast of Madagascar lies Ile Sainte Marie, a cliché
of a tropical island with endless palm fringed beaches, white sand,
luxurious vegetation and the added bonus of being relatively
undeveloped. The picture perfect beaches are a great place to wind
down and between May and September to whale-watch.