Madagascar; the land of lemurs, baobabs, rainforests and deserts is a dream destination for adventurous travelers and outdoors enthusiasts. As the fourth largest island in the world, half the fun of traveling in Madagascar is getting from one point to the other - mainly due to its still-developing infrastructure. But, once you get to your destination, you’ll be stunned over and over again by the epic landscapes that make Madagascar such a unique place.
To make the most of your visit, here are five of the best and most impressive places in Madagascar that you shouldn’t miss.
Even though the island of Nosy Be is Madagascar’s number one beach destination, it is still a considerably low-key spot to relax without many tourists around. In fact, Madagascar doesn’t have many tourists in general, so expect even fewer here. But on the other hand, Nosy Be is almost twice as expensive as the mainland. Still, it’s worth spending a few days in this underdeveloped paradise full of crystal clear water beaches, gorgeous coral reefs, lakes and waterfalls, vanilla, cocoa and ylang-ylang plantations, and the beautiful Réserve Naturelle Intégrale de Lokobe.
This is Madagascar’s most visited park, not only because it contains some of the most stunning landscapes in the country, but also because it is easily accessible via the RN7, one of Madagascar’s main roads. Still, getting there from Antananarivo will take you about a day, and will surely be an adventure if you head there with public transportation.
Parc National de l'Isalo is an 800 sq km desert canyon full of gorges filled with yellow savannah grasses, tall rock walls and, and sculpted buttes. But, this is not just a dry park as it is full of deep canyons with streams, lush vegetation and natural pools for swimming. Don’t miss watching the sunset here, as it’ll be one of the most stunning you’ll see in your life.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is without doubt one of the highlights of Madagascar. Located in the western region of the island, reaching the park requires an adventurous spirit as it takes hours on a bumpy, muddy road that can only be driven by an expert 4x4 driver. Trust me, the road is pretty bad, but it makes getting to Tsingy even more of an adrenaline-filled adventure!
Tsingy is unique for its jagged, limestone pinnacles known as “tsingy.” These pinnacles, formed over centuries of wind and water erosion, rise several hundred meters into the air, creating a surreal stone forest that contrasts the lush forest that surrounds it. You can walk among the tsingy using the “via ferrata,” which is a mountain route equipped with fixed cables, ladders, rope bridges, and walkways. But don’t worry, it is all safe and not physically demanding.
When you think of Madagascar, you probably picture the giant trees known as Baobabs. These trees are an icon of the country, and the Baobab Avenue is probably one of the most recognizable images you’ve seen of this destination. This “avenue,” which is nothing more than a dirt road with a high concentration of towering Baobab trees, is located south of Tsingy – on the road connecting Morondava and Belo-Tsiribihina.
Some of the trees here are over 1,000 years old, and they truly represent their age with their height, magnificent trunks, and branches aptly named the “roots of the sky.” Make sure you visit during sunrise or sunset as their silhouette over a colorful sky makes for a perfect postcard-worthy shot.
We can’t do a list about Madagascar most stunning sights and not talk about lemurs! While you can see lemurs at Tsingy, one of the best places to see the iconic Ring-tailed Lemur is in the Anja Community Reserve. This unique environmental and cultural preservation site is only 30 hectares in size, but it manages to conserve over 300 ring-tailed lemurs.
You can walk several trails, leading you through the forest where you can see several lemur families. Curious lemurs might even walk next to you or get up close. You’re not allowed to feed them, but you can snap as many pictures as you want.
Beyond lemurs, hike to the top of the mountain nearby or at least to the top of one of the giant boulders to get a breathtaking view of the valley next to the reserve. The landscape looks almost prehistoric!
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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