Through the years, I’ve visited some pretty remote places. However, until now Madagascar had not been one of them, although it sat high at the top of my “would love to see” list. Two weeks ago I finally took my first trip to this unique island country in the Indian Ocean – visiting the capital and northern part of the island. With just a 3 hour flight from Johannesburg, I was in another world. Stops included:
- Antananaarivo (capital, located in central Madagascar)
- Diego Suarez
- Amber Mountain National Park
- Ankarana Reserve
- Nosy Be and nearby islands
At first I had mixed feelings. Much of what I saw (both lush and mountainous rainforests, white sandy beaches and warm sea, traditional culture, rare plant and animal species) could be seen in other countries (e.g. Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mozambique, Malawi). But then I realized… how utterly unique it is to see such a mix in one country- and that’s just with a visit to the north!
And of course, there are the lemurs. And the fact that Madagascar is home to 80% of endemic fauna and flora.
What I especially loved was experiencing a variety of terrain and seeing local culture largely untouched by commercialism and mass tourism. Such a rare encounter these days.
I loved that Madagascar is still very wild and untrodden, and VERY off the beaten path. However, that means that the infrastructure, especially for tourism, is limited and in some places, nonexistent. A few of the most visited places (Antananarivo and Nosy Be) do have some 4* accommodation options but most of the less trodden and, in my opinion, more interesting destinations offer very basic accommodations (but always great food on offer!). Also, distances between the national parks & reserves are often significant with pot-holed roads and limited internal flights. But that just adds excitement to the overall experience!
So… for those who love nature, who seek out locales that are still quite untamed, who don’t mind simple accommodations and are up for adventure, my guess is that you will love Madagascar! For myself, I can’t wait to go back and explore other parts of this unique country- Isalo Massif, Morondava, Ranomafana…!
We’ve got a GS small group trip to Madagascar in the works so be sure to get in touch with us if you are interested! For those preferring an adventure on your own, we’re happy to set that up for you as well. Just email us and we’ll get started on your Madagascar adventure!