Madagascar is often called the "continent in miniature" because of the unique nature and wide variety of endemic animals that inhabit the island. Excursions to the national parks of the state will interest tourists inclined to research and contemplation, as well as active travelers who are fond of trekking.
Madagascar can be considered as a place for a beach holiday, however, you need to know that the hotel base on the island is quite scarce, and the beach infrastructure is very poorly developed. Few tourists prefer to stay on the island of Nosy Be, where there is more entertainment and better service.
Often they come to the island as part of a combined tour, after visiting mainland Africa. Travelers are taken to Antsirab, Murundava, the island of St. Mary (Nosy Boraha) and some other places.
What to see in Madagascar?
The most interesting and beautiful places, photos and a brief description.
1. The city of Antananarivo
The capital of the state, translated from the local language as “the city of a thousand.” Among the inhabitants walks the affectionate diminutive name of the city "Tana". The city is strongly influenced by the French, who left here only in the 1960s. In the center you can find many shops with French names, there is also a French hotel and many bakeries offering fresh croissants.
2. Zingy du Bemarach Nature Reserve
Territory with unusual karst landscapes (rocks) that resemble a stone forest. The road to the reserve is a separate adventure, since you have to overcome kilometers of impassability and difficult walking routes, so physically prepared tourists will master such a trip. There are several species of lemurs on the territory. These animals are considered a symbol of Madagascar.
3. The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
Historical monument, valuable evidence of Malagasy culture. Previously, there was a large city around the hill, where the royal residence of the rulers of the island was located. It is believed that the settlement flourished by the sixteenth century. The hill was of ritual significance - rituals and sacred actions were held here for many centuries. The area is of particular importance for the identity of the Malagasy, as it keeps the secrets of their traditional culture.
4. The palace “Andafiavaratra Palace”
Located in the capital, it used to be the residence of the Prime Minister Rainilayarivuni, who headed the government at the end of the 19th century. Now there is a museum in the building, where 1466 exhibits are exhibited. These artifacts are of great historical importance for the culture and history of the country. Many items were restored and came here after the great fire of 1995 at the Ruva Palace.
5. Ruva Palace
Located in Antananarivo on Mount Analamanga (almost 1.5 km. Above sea level). The palace was originally made of wood, later lined with stone. The building was built in the 19th century for the first queen of Ranavaluna island. After the fire of 1995, it still has not been restored. From the mountains of Analamanga offers panoramic views of the surroundings, from here the whole city is clearly visible.
6. Isalo National Park
The reserve was created in 1962. Its landscapes resemble an African shroud. There are almost no animals, a rather poor flora due to inappropriate weather conditions. Izalo was created to preserve the natural landscapes of the area, as they are recognized as unusual and valuable. The reserve has several very scenic tourist routes along natural river channels.
7. Rainforest Acinanana
Relic (prehistoric) forests located on the east coast of the island of Madagascar. More than 12,000 plant species are recognized as unique and endemic. It is believed that the isolated ecosystem of the region was formed 60 million years ago. Rare species of animals are found here, some of them face the threat of extinction. In 2010, forests were included in the list of objects that may soon disappear from our planet.
8. Montagne D’Ambre National Park
Natural landmark of the northern part of Madagascar. Unlike the adjacent arid valleys, this park has a humid climate and rains every day. A large amount of water is collected here to provide the nearest city. Also around 70,000 hectares of rice fields are cultivated. On the territory of Montagne D’Ambre, a miniature chameleon of brukesia lives only about 2 cm in length.
9. Volcano Ankaratra
It is part of the Ankaratra massif, which was formed as a result of the split of the continents millions of years ago during the formation of the modern appearance of the planet. The volcano has been extinct for a long time, now it reminds itself of itself only with rare earthquakes and steam emissions. The non-hazardous crater as a natural attraction attracts tourists who want to "conquer" the once raging Ankaratra.
10. Lake Tritriva
Volcanic pond with many hot springs in the central part of Madagascar. Located in a former volcanic crater. The maximum depth is about 150 meters. It has unknown sources of replenishment of water reserves (possibly underground), since in the dry season the water level rises. If you throw an object into the lake, then you can find it in a valley lying below the coast.
11. Baobab Avenue
The road between the settlements of Morondava and Beloni, attracting tourists from all over the world. Giant baobabs grow on the edges of this “avenue,” many of which are hundreds of years old. The height of these unusual trees reaches 30 meters, the trunk girth can also be a couple of tens of meters. The alley is a protected area. Locals believe that all the Madagascar forests went from the baobab.
12. Nosy Be Island
A secluded place with beautiful beaches, popular with foreign tourists. The largest ylang-ylang and coffee plantations in the country are cultivated here. In the local reserve Lukube you can find rare species of lemurs. Tired of lying on the beach and traditional holiday entertainment, travelers are invited to visit the natives village, the ruins of a Portuguese fort and a silver waterfall.
13. The island of St. Mary
Located seven kilometers from the east coast of Madagascar. In honor of the Virgin Mary, the island was named by the French, the local Malagasy name sounds like “Nosy-Boraha”. Today, this place is a beach resort, popular primarily among the Madagascans themselves, but foreigners are also found here. There is a legend that pirates buried many millions of pounds of treasures on St. Mary's Island.
14. Lemurs - a symbol of Madagascar
These funny animals live only in Madagascar and the Comoros. They are considered the ancestors of monkeys. There are several species of lemurs on the island. The rarest of them is a small ah-ah, which, according to mythology, was considered a harbinger of death. The animal is distinguished by large "surprised" eyes, a flexible body and a long tail. Thanks to the funny “facial expression”, the lemur became the hero of many popular Internet memes.
1. Avenue of the Baobabs
Madagascar is the kingdom of the baobabs. Six of the nine species living on the planet are endemic to the island of Madagascar. Legend has it that the baobab tree was planted upside down so that its roots are on top and its branches underground. Baobab is an interesting tree, its branches resemble roots, and the trunk can be 7 meters in diameter and store up to 120,000 liters of water inside. Locals call him Renal. If you want to see these gentle forest giants, you should visit Baobab Avenue in Madagascar. Some trees are over 1000 years old.
2. Tsingy of Bemaraha
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Zingi de Bemaraha Natural Park, offers one of the most breathtaking landscapes in Africa, about 152,000 hectares of stone forest in western Madagascar.
Zingi de Bemaraja offers travelers a unique karst landscape, consisting of thousands of stone blocks, cut in depth to 80 - 120 meters with vertical walls. Such a landscape is formed mainly as a result of the collapse of caves and caverns. Countless interesting karst formations, including caves, natural bridges and tuffs. Numerous species of endemic plant and animal species - 47% of them are found only in this area.
The park extends for more than 100 kilometers from north to south, its width can reach up to 15 kilometers. This beautiful landscape was formed by a deposit of fossils and shells that died 200 million years ago. The park is one of the main attractions of Madagascar; guided tours to the park are organized from the capital.
3. Amber Mountain National Park (Montagne d'Ambre)
Amber Mountain National Park is one of Madagascar's most famous parks and landmarks, known for its fantastic array of colorful orchids found only on the island along with other rare plants. Located in the northern part of the island, a national park surrounded by tropical rainforests. The fauna of the park is as colorful as the plant one, here you can find a blue-nosed chameleon and seven different types of lemurs. This is one of the most biologically diverse places in all of Madagascar. 75 species of birds, 25 species of mammals and 59 species of reptiles.
The best time to visit the park is from September to November, when animals are most active and most easily observed.
4. Isalo National Park
The park is known for its wide variety of terrain, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, palm oases and pastures. Izalo National Park is a real gem of nature and a landmark of Madagascar. Impressive mountain plateaus, peaks and walls of Izalo hide an oasis of waterfalls and many endemic plant species.
5. Antananarivo (Antananarivo)
Your journey to Madagascar begins in Antananarivo or Tan, the capital of Madagascar, located in the central part of the island. The political and cultural center of Madagascar continued its expansion on the slopes of the surrounding hills, some of which reach a height of 1200 meters. In order to discover the various cultures and traditions of Madagascar, Tana is a kind of melting pot on the island.
The architectural mosaic in Thane markedly reflects the Austronesian and African influences of the first inhabitants of the island. If you want to learn more about history, take a trip to Ambohimanga, one of the 12 sacred hills of Thana. It is located 20 kilometers north of the capital, at an altitude of 1468 meters.
6. Nosy Boraha
Ile Sainte Marie or Nosy Buraha, is a narrow granite island 57 km. 8 kilometers long from the east coast of Madagascar. It consists of the main island and several small islands. Its lush vegetation is interspersed with a large number of small settlements, with sandy beaches in the shade of coconut palms, with many bays and coves protected by coral reefs, turned this tropical dream island into one of the most popular beach destinations in the world. An atmosphere of peace, tranquility and pure natural beauty prevails on the island.
Sainte Marie boasts numerous stunning beautiful beaches and secluded coves lined with coconut palms. Most hotels are located along the coast to the south, where the beach is narrow but pleasant.
7. Rouva (Rova of Antananarivo)
Ruva is the historical royal quarter of the rulers of Madagascar. Located on a high hill, towering above Antananarivo. In the Ruva quarter, there are about 20 stone and wooden palaces and shrines with intricate, original architecture. The most impressive is the Royal Palace - Manjakamiadana, an interesting building is also a wooden palace - Tranovola.
The oldest city in Madagascar. This abandoned city was inhabited in the 11-14 centuries, its area is about 60 hectares. The city, most likely, was created by Arab merchants, it has stone buildings and was protected by a wall.
9. Antsiranana Bay
Antsiranana Bay or Diego Suarez Bay, boasts one of the best natural harbors in the world. Antsiranana Bay is a dynamic and cosmopolitan seaport located on the northern tip of Madagascar. Named after the two Portuguese explorers who discovered the island, Antsiranana Bay boasts beautiful lakes, rainforests and waterfalls, there are many wild animals such as lemurs, crocodiles and unique endemic birds.
Travel Guide: Belize Attractions
A mall of giant baobabs in the west of the island has long been the hallmark of Madagascar. Two dozen trees grow on both sides of the road, each of which shot up into the sky for 30 meters. The giants are at least 800 years old and it is not surprising that the locals call them “renela”, which means “mother of the forest” in Malagasy.
Madagascar's unique attraction is available during the dry season. From December to February, roads in the region can be very blurry, and you won’t be able to get to Baobab Avenue.
Nearest town: Morondava.
The evergreen dense forests of the Ranomafana National Park in the southeast of the island give life to plants of the lower tier - mosses, orchids and ferns, most of which are endemic and are listed in the Red Book. But the main inhabitants of the park are a dozen species of Madagascar lemurs. It is this omnipresent animal that is considered a symbol of the island.
In the reserve, more than a hundred species of birds are protected, half of which are endangered.
For tourists, the park has many hiking trails that allow you to see all the inhabitants and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Nearest town: Fianarantsoa 65 km.
Almost 800 square meters. Km of the Isalo Conservation Area are home to thousands of diverse inhabitants. The main characters in this park are birds. More than 80 species of birds live in forests on hillsides and in valleys, including especially rare cowgirl grouse. On the Isalo paths, you will find Indri lemurs, whose weight reaches 10 kg, Madagascar wyverres, related to mongooses, and tenreks similar to hedgehogs.
Izalo Park is located in the province of Tuliara in the center of the southern part of the island.
Nearest town: Tuliara.
To get: by plane from Antananarivo.
Among the many national parks in Madagascar this stands out. On its territory you can see the rarest representatives of the endemic fauna, which you will not find in any other corner of the planet:
- Mouse lemur is the smallest of the primates. The weight of an adult does not exceed 30 grams, and the size is about 20 cm with a tail.
- The fossa predator resembles a big cat, but biologically relates to a completely different species. The graceful animal is threatened with extinction, but in the Kirindi park you can watch the fossa in its natural habitat.
Nearest town: Morandava.
To get: by minibus from Morandava or by taxi.
In 1958, the Montagne d’Ambre National Park was formed, which became one of the most visited by tourists. It is located in the north of the island on the slopes of an extinct volcano, and these places have long been considered sacred to the Malagasy.
For tourists in the park laid several hiking trails. You can choose excursions lasting from 4 hours to 3 days.
Among the inhabitants of the park - the smallest brown mouse lemur in the world, a dwarf three-centimeter chameleon and a crested Madagascar ibis.The flora of the park has at least 1000 plants, most of which are rare and protected. The most valuable species is mahogany rosewood, listed in the Red Book.
Nearest town: Diego Suarez 14 km.
A mountain range stretches across the territory of the Marozezha National Park in the north-east of the island, because of which the range of heights above sea level in the reserve varies greatly - from 70 to 2100 meters above sea level. The special microclimate of Marozhezha allows different species of animals and plants to comfortably exist. There are 118 species of birds, about 150 species of reptiles, and more than a dozen varieties of lemurs in the park, among which are silky sifaka. These animals are included in the list of 25 species of endangered primates. To extinct biologists include some lemurs of the Indri family.
The park can accommodate overnight in a bungalow.
Parc de la Mariascar was founded so that tourists can get acquainted with the variety of species of lemurs living in Madagascar. The enclosures contain more than 70 endemic species, and most of its inhabitants have been confiscated from the inhabitants of the island engaged in smuggling and poaching.
The organizers of the park also aim to breed lemurs and prepare young individuals for life in natural conditions. The offspring of the inhabitants of the park is released into nature as soon as it reaches the desired maturity.
A special delight of visitors to the Lemur Park is the process of feeding animals, in which everyone can take part.
Nearest town: Antananarivo 22 km.
Open: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Feeding: every two hours from 10 to 16.
To get: on a tourist transfer from the capital at 9 and 14 daily.
Ticket price: 7 euros. Visit times are limited to 1.5 hours.
An amazing karst landscape on the west coast of the island is called Tsingji du Bemaraha, or Stone Forest. Over millions of years, the cliffs of the limestone plateau were exposed to wind and precipitation and turned into ridges of stone teeth, forming intricate labyrinths.
The height of the stone needles is 30-40 meters, and a person in this area can easily get lost. But lemurs of several species feel quite at ease in the Tsinji du Bemarach National Park. Moreover, they are guarded here.
Madagascar's Stone Forest Nature Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The protected evergreen rain forest in the east of Madagascar has been home to a huge population of Indri lemurs for thousands of years. The extermination of the furry inhabitants of Madagascar forests significantly reduced their number, and Indri lemurs were on the list of rare and specially protected. The creation of the Perine National Park has contributed to an increase in population and today visitors to the protected area can observe not only Indri lemurs, but also look at other species of the endemic fauna of Madagascar. Most often on the hiking trails laid for tourists, you can find tiny mouse lemurs and bamboo grays.
Nearest town: Morondava (150 km).
Anduhahel National Park in the extreme south-east of Madagascar is located in the transition zone of a wet marshy ecosystem into an arid spiny forest. Locals call this area "two worlds." The Anduhahela Nature Reserve is listed by UNESCO as part of the Acinanana rainforest.
The main inhabitants of the park are the ubiquitous lemurs in Madagascar. Here you can look at representatives of rare species of geckos, turtles and other reptiles. 130 species of birds living in the reserve are striking in their plumage color and variety of shapes.
Professional guides work in the park, and you can choose the excursion routes for 1 or 2 days at your own discretion.
Nearest town: Tolanaro 40 km.
Ticket price: 10 euros (entrance and guide), for a passenger car - 107 euros.
This lake was once a popular picnic spot with French colonists. They even built a yacht club on its shore. Today the sailing center is closed, but Lake Andraikiba attracts tourists no less than in the middle of the last century.
There is a walking trail around the reservoir, and you can walk around the perimeter while admiring the beautiful views in just an hour. Locals offer horseback riding. A hotel is open on the lake.
Spend the night near Andraikib lovers of legends. They say that at dawn from the water comes the whisper of a dead princess who drowned because of a not too smart lover.
Nearest town: Ambatolampi (7 km).
From July to September, the coastal waters of the island of Ile Sainte Marie, 7 km from Madagascar, are literally teeming with humpback whales. At this time, they migrate to the island from Antarctica and hundreds of tourists come to watch them on Ile Sainte-Marie.
The rest of the time, the small island is simply known as a beach resort, where Europeans escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest. In St. Mary you will find good diving, snorkeling and fishing.
The Madagascar port of Mahajanga in the north-west of the island is famous for its beautiful snow-white beaches on the shores of the Indian Ocean, palm alleys leading to the sea, warm weather, the absence of a pronounced rainy season and developed tourist infrastructure. All together, Mahajanga can be attributed to the list of quite comfortable beach resorts. You can always saturate your vacation with impressions by visiting local bullfights or heading to the most famous sights of Madagascar.
A large city south of the capital, Ambatolampi is famous for its blacksmiths and casters. Here you can buy beautiful Madagascar souvenirs: forged lamps, figurines, dishes and candlesticks. When buying gems that are mined on the island, pay attention to the certificates and do not flatter yourself with low prices from street vendors. Most often, their sapphires are synthetic fakes.
2. The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
This is one of the most important sights of Madagascar., dedicated to Malagasy culture. Royal Hill is the ancient ruins of a once prosperous city. In addition to the royal city itself, ancient sanctuaries and burials are located here. It is believed that sacred rituals were also held here. The hill was arranged in such a way that a forest grew on its top, where peace and tranquility reigned, and on the lower tiers there were cut areas intended for agriculture. The city was surrounded by walls with 14 stone gates, and ditches were dug around the perimeter for added protection.
3. Palace "Andafiavaratra Palace"
Now, in more detail, what to see in Madagascar on the aforementioned hill. First of all, it is the Andafiavaratra Palace. At one time, he served as the residence of the Prime Minister, who ruled the kingdom in the 19th century. Now the palace is equipped as a museum, which presents about one and a half thousand exhibits, including antique furniture, portraits of rulers, royal jewelry and costumes. These and other exhibits are of great historical value to the state. Many of them were restored after a major fire and were moved here from the Ruva Palace, which will be discussed later.
4. Ruva Palace
The palace is located on Mount Analamanga, at an altitude of about 1.5 kilometers above sea level. It was built of wood and stone in the 19th century in honor of the first Queen Ranavaluna, who ruled the state in the 17th century. In 1995, as already mentioned, a fire broke out at the Ruva Palace, right in the process of demonstration, which destroyed almost all the wooden structures of the structure. To date, the palace has been completely restored, and this attraction has regained its former glory.
5. Zingy du Bemarach Nature Reserve
Some natural sites are so beautiful that you should definitely see them in Madagascar by including them in your travel itinerary. One of such objects is Tsingji du Bemaraha - the largest reserve with an area of 1,500 square meters. km, consisting of huge limestone ridges and impassable labyrinths. The purpose of the organization of the reserve was to protect karst landscapes and rare species of lemurs. If you look down from the tops of limestone cliffs, you can observe unusual species that are difficult to describe: stone jungle alternate with deep canyons and gorges, caves and dark waters of the Monambolo River. Only the carefree lemurs, who easily move through the most impassable labyrinths, dilute the harsh landscape.
Be sure to watch this beautiful video about Madagascar!
8. Volcano Ankaratra
Just 50 kilometers from the capital is a unique attraction of Madagascar - a ridge of extinct volcanoes, which covers an area of about 100 square kilometers. Volcanoes died out already about 2 thousand years ago, but sometimes they "wake up" for a short time, making themselves felt by small earthquakes and the formation of new hot springs. The highest volcano is Ankaratra, its height is more than 2.5 thousand meters. Having risen to a height, you can observe an unusual panorama, which is formed by sleeping volcanoes. Numerous tourists are attracted here by the abundance of healing water sources that hit from the ground right on the streets of the town of Antsirabe, located at the foot.
9. Montagne D’Ambre National Park
This attraction of Madagascar is located on an area of 23 thousand hectares right on the slopes of an extinct volcano. Tropical forests grow in the park, the area is saturated with moisture - there are many lakes, beautiful waterfalls and rivers. The local population greatly reveres this place as sacred, shrouded in many beliefs and legends. This conservation area has become home to many endemic animals and plants, including 7 species of lemurs, 77 species of birds and 24 species of amphibians.
11. Nosy Be Island
There is something to see in Madagascar and among other natural monuments of volcanic origin. Such is the island of Nosy Be with its magnificent nature - the cleanest sandy beaches, rich in animal and plant life. It is an ideal place for a relaxing and relaxing holiday by the sea. The island is a plateau of volcanic nature, which rises above sea waters to a height of 450 meters. The tourist infrastructure is well developed here, which attracts travelers from all over the world: hotels, diving clubs, equipped beaches - in short, everything you need for a comfortable rest and recovery of strength.
12. Baobab Avenue
For residents of Madagascar, baobab is a sacred tree, it is revered along with various deities. Therefore, with the development of agriculture on the island, forests were actively cut down, only baobabs remained untouched. Therefore, the old baobabs now form on the edges of one of the roads, forming a kind of corridor. The trees growing in this alley are a very rare species of endemic plants, whose height reaches 30 meters, and their age is about 8 centuries.