Madagascar is the most exciting biodiversity hotspot in the Indian Ocean. We’re all familiar with the iconic ring-tailed lemur, but there are more than 100 different kinds of lemur to see, from the teeny tiny (and wonderfully named) Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur to the whopping diademed sifaka. 90% of all the flora and fauna in Madagascar is endemic to the island.
Tourism is still relatively underdeveloped in Madagascar, so it’s a great location for an exotic adventure. The nature reserves are superb, especially if you have an interest in spotting lemur, orchids and birds. You can explore on foot, by 4x4 and often by boat as well, depending on the local terrain.
Madagascar’s marine reserves are just as thrilling as those on shore. In the Mafia Island Marine Park there’s world class diving and snorkelling, not to mention whale shark watching. In the Chumbe Island Coral Park there’s a pristine reef absolutely perfect for snorkelling and underwater photography.
The Malagasy capital, Antananarivo, is right in the centre of Madagascar, and affectionately known to the locals as Tana. The city was founded in the early 17th century, and you’ll see a strong French influence in its architecture and culture. Though most visitors pass straight through on their way to the coast or national parks, you might well want to stop a while to soak up the atmosphere, and visit the cathedral and museums. The arts scene in Antananarivo is particularly vibrant, and the theatres and concert halls host everything from Malagasy operettas to hira gasy, day long spectacles of indigenous music and dance.