Can your knowledge of the Republic of Madagascar almost exclusively be attributed to the animated DreamWorks film of the same name? Thanks to the 2005 release of “Madagascar”, the country has become more of a household name.
Located in the Indian Ocean approximately 250 miles off the coast of East Africa, this nation occupies land nearly the size of Texas and is often overlooked as a tourist destination. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Madagascar is rather underdeveloped, but can still provide visitors with some nice accommodations and a fantastic array of fun things to see and do. Here is a list of experiences that shouldn’t be missed.
Antananarivo, nicknamed the “City of Thousands” for the thousands of goodies available for tourists to uncover, is both the largest city and capital of Madagascar. In this city you will find the Rova of Antananarivo palace complex, which is filled with royal tombs and wooden houses dating back to the 17th century. From here you can capture enthralling views of the surrounding neighborhoods.
See unique wildlife up close at Lemurs’ Park (did you know there are over 100 types of lemurs?), Madagascar Exotic, Tsimbazaza Zoo, Parc Tsarasaotra, and Croc Farm.
The Muséee de la Photographie de Madagascar is a small, but interesting museum showcasing old photography. Is’Art Galerie is an unusual multi-purpose attraction which creatively combines a café, live music, and an art gallery. For some incredible shopping experiences, don’t miss the open-air market of Andravoahangy and their competition, the Analakely market. Between these two, you can find just about anything anyone could ever want or need. Make sure to take plenty of small bills with you on this outing.
For a bit of adventure, visit Tsingy Rouge Park. Here you can hike trails leading to jaw-dropping views of volcanic peaks and unique rock formations.
Some of the best watersports can be found at The Three Bays where you’ll enjoy world-class kitesurfing and windsurfing, with plenty of swimming for the less adventurous.
Outside of the capital city, explore the national parks of Lokobe, Mantadia and Isalo. Prepare to be amazed at the number of animals, reptiles and birds with which you’ll come into contact. The rich flora and fauna are simply spectacular.
Take frame-worthy sunrise or sunset photos at Avenue of the Baobabs. Here you’ll find 853 feet of giant baobab trees, up to 800 years old, and a perfect backdrop for photography enthusiasts.
Sign up for a tour of the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve. Open between April and November, this World Heritage Site spans more than 328 miles and is home to many types of reptiles, birds and lemurs. Additionally, you’ll be impressed with the towering limestone peaks, up to 30 stories tall.
Orchid lovers must head to Mantadia National Park. Of the more than 1,200 plant species found here, a striking 10% are types of orchids. Along with the fascinating plant life, come face-to-face with nearly 120 types of birds and nearly 100 kinds of amphibians.
Sail (or fly) to the quaint island of Nosy Sakatia. This tropical island is known for its water sports. Enjoy a day of fishing, diving, snorkeling with sea turtles, and swimming from this small, lush oasis, measuring only one square mile.
Taste the national dish of Madagascar, Romazava. While there are nearly as many varieties as there are people, it’s a one-pot dish generally served with rice. Ingredients are beef, pork and chicken, all cut into cubes of equal sizes and combined with chopped onions, tomatoes, spinach and crushed garlic.
By Lisa Osborne Blalock
Footloose Travel & Tours