Alien Landscapes, Virgin Islands, and Unique Wildlife: Exploring Madagascar Island

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If you have witnessed the renowned Hollywood film, you require no introduction to the exquisite Madagascar Island. The island paradise is recognized for its uncommon wildlife, alien landscapes, and virgin coastline. Positioned in the Indian Ocean, the fourth largest island is an ideal destination for newlyweds, nature enthusiasts, and adventure seekers. Famous for the wide-eyed lemurs, eccentric baobab trees, and vanilla cultivation, Madagascar Island presents astonishing surprises along your journey. Encounter magnificent adventures and experiences in Madagascar with the aid of this comprehensive Madagascar Island Guide.

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Madagascar Facts

Madagascar location: The island Indian Ocean lies on the southeast coast of Africa near Mozambique.Madagascar Island size: The fourth largest island in the world spans 587,713 square kilometers in size.Madagascar Island tourism: The vast island harbors thousands of species of animals and birds, most of which are endemic. The geography of Madagascar island is a vibrant kaleidoscope on the planet. From tropical beaches to dense rainforests to deserts, you will discover everything in Madagascar. This is why it is a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The location of Madagascar Island also plays a role in attracting travelers to this place.

Madagascar Island Map

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Optimal Time To Visit Madagascar Island

July to September is considered to be the peak months of tourism in Madagascar. The Madagascar Island weather and temperature starts to moderate from July and becomes sunny as September approaches. The sun is warm, there are fewer rain showers, and there are higher chances of spotting wildlife as they venture out of their habitats in the summer. Although Madagascar can be visited throughout the year, avoid the months from December to May when the cyclone season prevails.

The average temperature in July: 15°CThe average temperature in September: 24°C

Essential Read: 17 Things To Do In Madagascar In 2022 That You Won’t Get To Do Anywhere Else

Optimal Duration For A Madagascar Island Vacation

View_of_Nosy_Komba,_Madagascar (1)

Image SourceNot only a mere island, Madagascar is an encounter in itself. There is an abundance to observe and accomplish on the island of Madagascar that you would need at least a week to cover the majority of the locations, if not all. Nevertheless, it also relies on your finances because Madagascar can be a tad costly. However, you would not need more than 2 weeks to have it all.

How to arrive at Madagascar Island

Antananarivo Airport in Madagascar offers direct flights from Johannesburg, Paris, Nairobi, and Bangkok exclusively. Air France, Air Madagascar, Corsair, Kenya Airways, and South African Airlines provide flight services to Madagascar. You can compare the prices of all these airlines and opt for a connecting flight based on your convenience.

Navigating through Madagascar

Getting around in Madagascar is quite expensive and grueling due to the poor infrastructure in the country.

Safari: The best method to visit places is by joining organized tours and safaris. A 14-day tour will cost you approximately $3000 (INR 1,95,000).

Private vehicle: If you prefer not to join a tour, you can rent a private vehicle with a driver. It will cost you around $50 (INR 3,250) per day.

Sightseeing in Madagascar Island

An excursion to these breathtaking sites to visit on Madagascar Island will make your vacation an unforgettable experience. The landforms, the flora and fauna, the wildlife, and everything encompassed within is a tailor-made package crafted by nature.

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1. Tsingy National Park

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Your eyes won’t believe what you witness in Tsingy National Park but you must believe it. The entire park is bordered by a staggering array of limestone spikes which feels so otherworldly. Most parts of the park are impenetrable where rare species of birds and animals thrive. Take pleasure in tiptoeing through the World UNESCO Heritage Site where you can marvel at the breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, lemurs, and untamed forests from the highest point in the park.

Location: Melaky region, northwest MadagascarEntrance fee: INR 600 per person for a dayRecommendation: Embark on a 3-day hike inside the park and camp at extraordinary sites where you can witness the rare wildlife.

baoabs trees madagascar

2. Avenue Of The Baobabs

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Have you ever witnessed an inverted tree? This will be your initial idea when you gaze upon the Baobab Trees that are exclusively found on the African continent. The age-old trees align the unpaved road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. The shade of the revered trees appears more noticeable and striking during the sunset and sunrise.

Place: RT 8, Morondava 619, MadagascarAdmission fee: NoneSuggestion: The ideal moment to explore this park is at sunrise and sunset. The trees hold sacred significance here. Thus, refrain from capturing photos of the trees without obtaining permission from the locals.

Planning your vacation but perplexed about where to go? These travel anecdotes assist you in discovering your ultimate journey!

Authentic travel anecdotes. Genuine accommodations. Practical pointers to aid you in making the right decision.

3. Isalo National Park

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Renowned for its puzzle-like ridges and stunning geography, the terrains of Isalo National Park will astound you. Carved gradually over time by air and water, the park showcases natural pools, gorges, wildlife, and more. Venture along the hiking trails that traverse the rainforests abundant with diverse plants and animals. It is one of the prime locations to witness the otherworldly landscapes of Madagascar Island.

hiking trails

Location: Ihorombe, MadagascarEntrance Fee: INR 500Recommendation: Trek all the way to Cascade des Nymphes, the ebony and azure pools, and relish a rewarding dip in the pool.

4. Ile Sainte Marie

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Also recognized as Nosy Boraha, Ile Sainte Marie is one of the popular tourist destinations on the eastern coast of Madagascar. The narrow granitic island is renowned for its turquoise blue waters, sea-turtles, and thatched villages. The 17th-century shipwrecks and a graveyard marked with skulls and bones will transport you to a world of pirates. It is highly probable that you might chance upon a treasure chest. There is ample space for exploration on this sizable unconventional Madagascar Island.

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Location: Eastern coast of MadagascarRecommendation: if you visit the island in July, make sure to attend the Whale Festival, a significant event here.

5. Royal Hill Of Ambohimanga

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Once the domicile of the Royal family in Madagascar, Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is respected as the fortress of immense sacredness by Malagasy people. The hill is a combination of a fortress, burial ground, and holy sites. The reason why you should pay a visit to this fortress in Ambohimanga is because of its distinct architecture and the breathtaking views of the city that you can witness from the summit of the fortress. Once you have explored the fortress, make a stop at the ‘Digue Markets’ which are renowned for their handmade wooden crafts and souvenirs made by Malagasy people.

Royal hill of ambohimanga

Location: 23 km North of Antananarivo, Antananarivo 101, MadagascarEntry Fee: None

Activities To Engage In On Madagascar Island

If you are wondering about all the things you can do on your vacation in Madagascar, here is a compilation of the top thrilling activities that you must not miss out on.

1. Nosy Be – Swim With Whale Sharks

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In case you were unaware, Nosy Be is one of the rare locations on the planet where you can glide alongside the whale sharks. The seas surrounding Madagascar Island are blessed with exotic corals and vibrant marine life. If you are not daring enough, you can relish the fascinating spectacle of the humpback whales during their annual migration to Baie d’Antongil for breeding. If you have only witnessed whales spouting on Nat Geo or Discovery channel, it’s time for you to experience this beautiful phenomenon in real life.

diving with whales

Best time: August- SeptemberCost: INR 7,500 for diving (equipment included); INR 2,000 per person for whale watching

Duration: 2-4 hours

2. Sailing

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One of the finest ways to explore the untouched coastline of Madagascar Island is by sailing on the azure blue waters of the ocean. Madagascar boasts numerous unspoiled islands with undulating beauty. Embark on a boat with a skipper and a cook to relish the refreshing sea breeze as it caresses your hair. The magnificent vistas of the ocean viewed from the boat are unparalleled. Take your sea adventure to the next level by camping on secluded white beaches. Nosy Mamoko and the islands of Ramada are popular sailing destinations around the island of Nosy Be.

Expense: Starting from INR 6,300 per dayDuration: 4-6 days

3. Untouched Virgin Ankarana Caves – Discover!

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Madagascar – the island of wonders, is a land full of unexpected surprises, one of which is its many undiscovered caves. Traverse through the limestone caves that stretch from Cap d’Ambre to Onhilay near Tulear and uncover the hidden treasures concealed within these unexplored chambers. Scientists have come across fossils and bones of lemurs dating back thousands of years. Some of these caves may house unwelcome inhabitants such as crocodiles. Only the Anohibe and Ankarana Caves are accessible for visitors, showcasing captivating galleries adorned with hanging stalactites and stalagmites that resemble fabric.

caves of ankara

Location: Ankarana National ParkOptimal period: April to OctoberRecommended time: 3-4 hours

4. Wildlife Excursions

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Madagascar Island is not only renowned for its wide-eyed lemurs. Thanks to its diverse combination of tropical, arid, and temperate climates, the island shelters a vast array of extraordinary animals and birds, some of which were featured in the famous Hollywood movie named after the island. Join a wildlife excursion in any of the national parks and witness as many Madagascar Island fauna as possible.

Optimal period: April to OctoberRecommended time: 5-6 hours

5. Madagascar Island Safaris

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There is so much to explore on this captivating island- tropical coastlines, unique wildlife, untouched islands, and distinct culture. You wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, would you? The optimal way to avoid the Fear of Missing Out is by embarking on any of the Madagascar Island Expeditions. From cultural encounters to wildlife tours to island hopping, there is a diverse range of expeditions to choose from based on your financial resources and duration. Reserve any of the island expeditions, relax, and savor the magnificence of Madagascar Island to the fullest.

safari tour

How to reserve: You can secure an online package in advance through the Madagascar travel website. Numerous resorts also provide a variety of expeditions to their patrons.

Madagascar Island Retreats

Indulge in opulence and an astounding sojourn experience at these lavish retreats in Madagascar during your African holiday.

1. Carlton Madagascar

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carlton suite

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Carlton Madagascar offers boundless opulence and comfort during your stay on the Island. Its lavish suites are synonymous with spaciousness, brightness, and comfort. With an extravagant swimming pool, a lively casino, and a vibrant nightclub, the hotel knows how to keep its guests entertained around the clock. When it comes to satisfying your culinary desires, Carlton has you covered with a delightful bistro that serves international dishes prepared with local flair.

Location: Rue Pierre Stibbe- Anosy 959, Antananarivo 101, MadagascarRate: INR 11,000 onwardsTripAdvisor Rating: 4/5Website | Review

2. Princesse Bora Lodge And Spa

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If you desire a beach vacation in Madagascar, choose to stay at Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa. The beach residence on Nosy Boraha Island welcomes its visitors with a calming Jungle spa and infinity pools. In addition to a comfortable stay, the venue offers you the opportunity to engage in various experiences such as whale watching or exploring Cocobay Island. Their luxurious villas and lodges will fulfill all your desires.

Location: Ravoraha, 515 Sainte Marie, MadagascarPrice Range: INR 9,522 – INR 17,615TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5

Website | Review

3. Vanila Hotel And Spa

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Indulge in the ultimate Madagascar experience in the African-style rooms and suites at Vanila Spa & Hotel. The design of the hotel has been crafted using local materials, blending well with the island’s landscape. Admire the beach and tropical gardens directly from the window of your room. Spoil and revitalize your senses with their soothing spa treatments.

Location: Route de L’Ouest, Ambaro 207, MadagascarPrice Range: INR 7,695 onwardsTripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5

Website | Review

Madagascar Island Dining Establishments

While Madagascar offers stunning natural beauty, it also provides an opportunity to savor the authenticity of its cuisine at these renowned restaurants on the island.

1. The Terrace, Antananarivo

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The Terrace is one of the renowned establishments in the city known for its delightful European cuisine. It is fascinating to witness how local ingredients are transformed into dishes deserving of Michelin stars at this fine dining restaurant. While the food satisfies your appetite and soul, the interiors capture your heart with their enchanting vintage decor and beautiful garden.

Location: Antananarivo 101, MadagascarRecommended dish: Zebu steak prepared in smoked lardCost for one: INR 4,500

2. Mad Zebu

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Situated on the way to Tsingy National Park, Mad Zebu offers the most exquisite gourmet cuisine in the region. Despite its location in an unappealing, dusty town, the flavors and aroma of this establishment entice people to dine at this fusion restaurant. Indulge in delectable gourmet dishes from their innovative menu.

Location: Opposite the market, Belo-sur-Tsiribihina 609, MadagascarRecommended dish: Fish Fillet, Homemade Ice CreamCost for one: ₹ 816 – ₹ 2,381

3. The Pily Pily Restaurant, Nosy Be

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Nestled on a cliff, The Pily Pily Restaurant offers the finest seafood on the Madagascar Island. The intimate ambiance and breathtaking setting make it one of the top destinations for a romantic meal with your partner. If you witness the colors of the ocean changing, don’t attribute it solely to the alcoholic drinks. Their seafood buffet comes highly recommended by visitors.

Location: Andilana Beach, Nosy Be 111, MadagascarRecommended dish: Seafood buffetCost for one: INR 3,500 – INR 5,000

Madagascar Island Facts

Source of ImageHere are some fascinating facts about this island, some of which are sure to amaze you beyond measure!

  • The Madagascar Island is the fourth largest island in the world, covering a total area of approximately 226,917 square miles!
  • Humans only discovered and settled on the island in 500 AD.
  • The island is home to several magnificent World Heritage Sites, including the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, and the rainforests of the Atsinanana, all of which are awe-inspiring natural wonders in themselves!
  • According to Conservation International, it is an absolute paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers.
  • This biodiversity hotspot is inhabited by some of the strangest creatures in the world, such as the giraffe-necked weevil, aye-aye lemurs, and Malagasy giant rats. Over 90% of the animals found on Madagascar Island can be found nowhere else on Earth.
  • In the past, this island was a favored hideout for pirates due to its secluded coves and lack of European colonies. In fact, many pirates were buried in the island’s cemetery.
  • Strangely enough, men and women in Madagascar wear identical clothing, known as the Lamba!
  • The island has only recently abolished the death penalty, following Congo, Gabon, and Togo.
  • Moraingy, a form of bare-knuckle fist-fighting combat sport, is the national sport of Madagascar!

rafflesia flower plant in Madagascar

Tips For Travelers Visiting Madagascar Island

  • Communication can be challenging in Madagascar as the natives do not speak English. However, French is widely spoken on the island.
  • Although Madagascar has its own currency, the Malagasy Ariary, Euros are widely accepted here. US dollars can also be easily exchanged.
  • Beware of the taboos. The Malagasy people are highly superstitious, and it’s best to avoid anything that might offend them.
  • Remember to tip at restaurants, cafes, and national parks. The locals heavily rely on tourism in Madagascar.
  • While Madagascar is one of the safer countries in Africa, it is not advisable to venture out late at night.
  • Be cautious of typhoid and malaria, which are prevalent in rural areas. Take necessary precautions.

Further Read: 10 Reasons Why You Should Plan Your Next Family Vacation In East Africa

For those who appreciate nature and adventure, the Madagascar Island offers countless discoveries on your journey to Africa. The island’s charm and beauty will exceed your imagination, making it a must-visit destination. Embark on a delightful journey and create unforgettable holiday memories in this island paradise.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Madagascar Island

Have questions? Check out these common inquiries about this island:

Is Madagascar a part of Africa or Asia?

Madagascar is a part of Africa.

Are there any islands near Madagascar?

There are numerous islands near Madagascar Island, including Nosy Boraha, Nosy Ambariovato, Tsarabanjina, Sakatia Island, etc.

Is Madagascar inhabited?

Many people wonder, “Do people live in Madagascar?” Well, yes. Madagascar is indeed inhabited by various ethnic groups of Malayo-Indonesian, mixed African and Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab descent.

Do the people of Madagascar speak French?

The majority of the population in Madagascar Island speak French as their first language.

Who does Madagascar belong to?

Madagascar is an independent nation off the coast of East Africa. Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana was the Prime Minister of Madagascar until 2018, when he announced his resignation.

Is Madagascar a wealthy or impoverished country?

Unfortunately, Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world.

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