Madagascar Travel Guide

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The island of Madagascar is located approx. 250 miles off the SE coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean , east of Mozambique. The Seychelles lie to the north and Mauritius to the east in the Indian Ocean.


Madagascar comprises 6 provinces, Antsiranana, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Antananarivo , Fianarantsoa and Toliara. The capital of each province has the same name. It is the world’s 4th largest island.


The official languages are French and Malagasy. Madagascar lost its status as an independent kingdom and became a French colony in the late 1800s but regained its independence in 1960. The island has three main areas: on the east side, narrow coastal areas and rain forest. Mountains in the central part of the island, and the west side mainly forest. It is well known that Madagascar is home to many unusual species of animals that are not found anywhere else on earth. Madagascar ’s largest river is the Betsiboka.


There are many scenic places and national parks to visit, as well as excellent diving opportunities. It is not a place for those who like a well-planned holiday which is geared up for heavy tourism. It is a place for those who like the unexpected and are happy to take things as they find them without all the trappings of most tourist destinations. There are, however, some luxurious hotels, as well as deserted beaches, and places for great watersports and beaches. There are river tours, kayaking and rafting trips. The fishing is good, and for naturalists there is an absolute abundance of fascinating fauna, flora and scenery.


One of the most visited wildlife habitats is the Kirindy forest, a 25,000 acre approx. area which although not a nature reserve is a good place to view wildlife such as primates, amphibians and reptiles, birds and lemurs, and the famous Baobab trees.


The capital and other larger towns are located in the central part of the island. The capital, Antananarivo (often called simply, Tana) has a French influence and French is widely spoken. There are interesting markets to browse as well as botanical gardens and a zoo. North of the capital city there are many volcanic lakes, geysers, waterfalls and thermal spas.

The north part of the island is the location of two mountains where there are many species of flora which only thrive in high-altitude rainforests. Antseranana is a seaport at the most northern point, where crocodiles can be seen in the surrounding areas. Nosy Be is one of Madagascar ’s main resort areas. It is an island lying off the NW coast about one hour flight from the capital.


The SW part of the island, and Toliara, is more arid and has excellent swimming beaches, diving, fishing, sailing and other watersports. Visitors should check the swimming areas as many are not safe due to sharks.




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