Madagascar is the planet’s fourth-largest island – larger than even Thailand and Spain. Madagascar is 226 917 square miles in size and is located off the east coast of Africa.
As well as being large in size, Madagascar is also bountiful in beauty with its large bouquet of unique flora and animals. This island’s tropical atmosphere is perfect for holiday-goers looking for something different and filled with exotic wildlife.
A sanctuary for lemurs, Madagascar is the only spot on earth where you can observe these creatures in their natural habitat.
Madagascar offers plenty of sun-flooded beaches and mini-islands to visit. But before we get to the top 5 Madagascar destinations, let’s look at what you need to pack.
Things to pack for your Madagascar trip
When you travel to Madagascar, you need to be aware that it has a greatly varying subtropical climate. The wet season runs from December to March and the dry season lasts from April to October. July is the coldest month and December is the hottest.
With that in mind, we suggest you pack the following for your Madagascar trip:
- A warm jersey for cooler temperatures (pack for the weather, if you’re going in the dry season, pack short sleeves)
- A light raincoat (no matter what season you go in)
- Comfortable walking shoes (for the hikers)
- Sandals or flip-flops for the beaches
- A hat
- Beach towel
- Sun cream (you’ll need the extra protection)
- Toiletries (if you’re on a long-haul flight, pack face wipes for the trip)
- Plug adaptors and charging cables for your devices
- Binoculars (for the fauna and bird enthusiasts)
- Mozzie spray
- An enjoyable novel for lazy reading on the beach
Things to do in Madagascar
Madagascar tourism is thriving. You will not lack things to do in Madagascar while visiting this splendid country. We’ve outlined some great activities according to our top 5 Madagascar destinations.
1. Island hopping from Nosy Be
While Madagascar may not be the traditional safari destination, there is still plenty of wildlife and plant life to enjoy.
“Nosy Be” means “big island” in the local language of Malagasy. You can find this island at the northwestern tip of Madagascar.
Nosy Be has gorgeous, serene beaches, turquoise waters and exquisite seafood.
This island is a hub for Madagascar tourism as many tourists use Nosy Be as a starting point for island hopping.
You can easily reach Nosy Komba by boat from Nosy Be. Nosy Komba is a beautiful, lush island that features some incredibly unique animals. These include the ancient Aldabra turtles, radical chameleons and playful lemurs.
2. Admire the Avenue of the Baobabs
Picture a long, dusty road lined with striking African trees that reach up into the blue sky. This dirt avenue links Belon’i Tsiribihina and Morondava in the west of Madagascar.
Home to numerous large Baobab trees, this impressive landscape is a huge Madagascar tourist attraction. Some of these baobab trees are 800 years old.
It’s not every day you get the opportunity to walk down an avenue with such bold, large and prestigious escorts.
3. Soak up the history at the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
If you really want to get to know a country, the best thing you can do is visit some of its heritage and historical sites. This helps you to get a feel for the place and learn more about its people’s culture and beginnings.
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is in the top 5 Madagascar points of interest because it emulates the cultural identity of the Malagasy people. This hill is the most notable of the 12 hills around Madagascar’s capital city, Antananarivo.
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is a historical site boasting important palaces, royal tombs and sacred spots from the 17th century. This royal city compound was closed to foreigners until recently. Take advantage of the opportunity!
This hill was known as the religious capital of Madagascar in the 1800s. Many of Madagascar’s sovereigns were buried here.
4. Walk Antananarivo
If you are visiting Madagascar, you must see the capital. Traveling is not just about the destinations you visit, but also about the people you meet and the food you taste.
We strongly recommend that you take in the capital of Antananarivo by foot. Put on your comfortable walking shoes and get ready to mingle with the locals, hear the sounds of the city, and experience the flavours in the air.
The Malagasy believe in taking things “mora mora” or “slowly slowly”. “Mora mora” embodies the Malagasy people’s attitude towards life. Immerse yourself in the mora mora way of life with a laidback walk around various points of interest in the city.
The best way to experience the capital is via an Antananarivo private walking tour. Let a character-filled local take you around the city and show you its delights.
5. See pirates and whales at Ile Sainte Marie
Ile Sainte Marie, or Nosy Boraha as it is known by the Malagasy locals, was originally a safe hideout from Indian Ocean pirates.
Ile Sainte Marie can be found just 5 miles off the eastern side of Madagascar. This island has so much to offer with its solitary, sun-kissed beaches showcasing beautiful thickets of coconut trees and exotic plant life.
One can walk the island in under three hours, making it the ideal setting for an island amble and exploration. The north side of the island features a large natural pool, complete with a waterfall and giant rocks. A beautiful oasis to be enjoyed by visitors.
There are two more magical Madagascar attractions to be seen here. The first is the pirate’s cemetery – an ideal place to visit if you enjoy pirate legends. Some of the graves date back to the 19th century and even display a skull and crossbones on the gravestones.
The second attraction, and also a major reason you would want to visit Madagascar, is for the humpback whales.
This island is close to a humpback whale breeding area. Humpback whales can be seen between July and September.
A number of the whale-watching boats are fitted with special devices so tourists can hear the harmony of sounds that the whales make. This is an enchanting and must-not-miss experience.
Final Thoughts…It’s time to plan your Madagascar vacation!
There are so many Madagascar tourist attractions that make visiting this country an absolute must. The free-roaming lemurs and beautiful plantlife are a sight to behold. The tropical weather is ideal for those needing a warm break in the sun.
Another Madagascar attraction is the island-hopping available from Nosy Be where you can satisfy your need for beautiful beaches and serene waters. The Avenue of Baobabs will make its mark in your memories; the majesty of these giants will fill you with awe.
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga will teach you all you need to know about Malagasy cultural identity and a walking tour of Antananarivo will introduce you to the locals.
Finally, Ile Sainte Marie offers the last of the Madagascar attractions, with promises of pirate legends and the magnificent sounds of humpback whales.
Don’t delay. Begin your Madagascar travel plans today!