By Carissa Hickok
Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of continental Africa. It is in the southern hemisphere and the fourth largest island in the world. Madagascar has a population of around 24 million, and the official languages are Malagasy and French as Madagascar was previously colonized by the French before becoming independent in 1960. Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar and its largest city. Due to its location, Madagascar is prone to cyclones during its hot rainy season that runs from November to April.
Madagascar is one of the least developed countries in the world, which makes for an epic trip as much of the land is unspoiled. It is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Madagascar’s landscape is as diverse it can be as there is rainforest and desert, sandstone canyons, mountains, fertile hills with rice paddies, and laterite-rich soil, which gives it a reddish color.
Madagascar is home to many animals and plants that are not found anywhere else on earth. The most notable animal on this island is the lemur but you will also find fossa, chameleons, frogs, rays, turtles, sharks, and humpback whales, just to name a few.
Madagascar boasts 3,107 miles of coastline. Ile Sainte Maine is located off the east coast of Madagascar. The crystal clear water of its bays make the island the perfect spot for snorkeling. Humpback whales visit the island during the summer and early fall as part of its migration. You can also find wrecks of pirate ships from the 17th and 18th centuries in the Bale des Forbans’ shallow waters.
Anjajavy Beach has 400 meters of white sand. It is the ideal spot for snorkeling as the beach is surrounded by some of the most magnificent coral reefs. Nosy Komba is an oval-shaped volcanic island home to a few breathtaking beaches. Explore the numerous coves and follow the paths to the island’s hills to find birds, chameleons, and black lemurs. Nosy Be is Madagascar’s most popular tourist destination. At Nosy Be, you will find a variety of spices and beaches and water activities including diving, swimming, snorkeling, and sailing. You may also catch a glimpse of the Omura Whale, one of the rarest species in the world. Off the beach, you can explore the island landscapes and find cocoa, ylang-ylang, and vanilla plantations, crater lakes, and waterfalls.
Madagascar is for the adventurous among us due to unpaved roads, limited lodging options, and infrequent international flights. If you are a flexible and a go with the flow type of person, this island is for you. To get to Madagascar, you will have to fly through Paris, Johannesburg, Bangkok or Guangzhou (an option for those who live on the west coast), or Nairobi.
Carissa enjoys traveling so much that she left the corporate world to work as a freelancer, which allows her to up and go on a regular basis. She lives with her dachshund, Daphne in central Florida.