Madagascar in popular imagination resembles as an ultimate travel destination, a tropical paradise filled with scents of vanilla and ilang ilang, a huge isolated African island, (the fourth-largest island in the world) with an extensive endemic biodiversity since its prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. The complete image is not like that! Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and regardless its richness in natural resources the absolute majority of the population lives below the national poverty line threshold of one dollar per day. Madagascar is one of the dirtiest, rough travelled places I’ve ever been. Travelling independently of tour operators and the comfort and speed of flight routes, covering endless miles of land on poor maintained roads, it challenges not only the endurance of the non maintained vehicles but mostly the human sturdiness of the traveler. Nonetheless, this is the way to get exposed to the country’s true and authentic face. Madagascar will definitely compensate the devoted globetrotter with the kind smiles of the adorable Malagasy people and its well hidden treasures that need time and patience to explore. From the unique flora and fauna, the funny faces of lemurs (the endemic endangered primates), to humpback whales migrating from Antarctica. From the cool highlands to the warm palm fringed beaches of islands and islets washed by the warm waters of Indian ocean. With variety raced inhabitants of Asian to African origins, mixed in an interesting mosaic. Madagascar will surely surprise you…
Deep poverty, harsh living conditions and the relative isolation of the island from the rest of the world, do not limit the simplicity, kindness and politeness of the Malagasy people, who live in a calm temper their hard lives.
Antananarivo or shortly Tana is the capital and largest city of Madagascar. It is located in the center of the island and is built amphitheatrically on the hills surrounding the urban center. Numerous colonial-style buildings decorate the city, and the tiled roofs of houses give a fairy-tale character to this unique African city. On the outskirts, many small rice fields complement the scenic landscape.
Antsirabe, the second largest city, enjoys the temperate climate of the hillsides. Colonial buildings of remarkable beauty dominate this city too and combined with the hand pulled rickshaws on the streets give a sense of another era.
Avenue of the Baobabs. The most typical and most photographed landmark of the country, a forest of unique shaped specie of these plant giants.
Morondava. A coastal town on the west side of the island is the starting point for many wooden fishing sailing boats depart each day filling the horizon.
Toamasina (or Tamatave) is called the eastern city and the main port of the country. It is the northern entrance to the Panganales Canal, a natural and artificial system of waterways stretching for over 600 kilometers.
Ile Sainte-Marie (Nosy Boraha). East of Madagascar, lays the exotic island of Sainte-Marie, a three hours ride on scary small boats from the end-road town of Sonierana-Ivongo. Despite the beauty of the island, tourism is sparse. The biggest attraction of the island is the humpback whales that migrate annually from Antarctica to the warm waters of the Indian ocean to give birth.
Andasibe National Park. In a mountainous landscape with coniferous trees, which doesn’t resemble much to a tropical island, is that park with a great biodiversity including the largest species of lemur named indri.
The road to the north is long and painful. In the miserable road network and the devastating potholes, was added as a factor of difficulty the repairing on a river bridge that limited the passage to just one hour per day.
Ankarafatsika National Park. A tropical forest with lakes and a wide variety of birds, reptiles, lemurs.
Nosy Be. The most popular island and tourist spot of the country. All inclusive resorts keep their hosts within their property so the independent visitor can enjoy relaxed the idyllic landscape.
Nosy Sakatia. A smaller island near Nosy Be where snorkelers will encounter dozens of huge green turtles. The island hosts small isolated families of fishermen.