Well because of the movie of course!! Maybe not really, but it did trigger our curiosity and managed to pull us towards the massive island. We saved up some more holidays than usual and decided to spend a month on this exciting island. As it turns out, beyond its nature and unique fauna, it is its people and culture that really stood out for us. The fact that Madagascar is really far away from anything, has made it a country with a mix of customs but mostly very free spirited people.
Time of year: September/October
Time spend: 1 month
Means to travel: 4×4 with driver
- Tsingy de Bemaraha
- Allee des Baobabs
- Canoe along the Tsiribihina River
- Climb Pic Boby
- Dive in Nosy Be area
The journey – Where we went & Stayed the night
We did quite a bit of camping in tents on our trip, mostly where that was the only option available such as on our hike to Pic Boby and along our river boat trip from Miandrivazo. But we also hit some really sweet and lowkey B&B’s along the way you would not want to miss out on! Unfortunately many do not have a presence online (yet), which is another very good reason to have your own driver; they will know where to go. We were very specific on not needing luxury which our driver managed to nail every single place we went to.
- Antananarivo; We would recommend to book a place a bit away from the city centre. The main square which is covered in hotels and restaurants is always busy, while away from it (not far, just a block or 2) you can find really lovely niche B&Bs where you don’t feel like you are in the city anymore.
- Andavadoaka – Manga Lodge; Basic but with a fantastic location right at the beach. It feels secluded, offers boat trips out to sea with a traditional dhow and fresh seafood.
- Nosy Sakatia – Sakatia Lodge; The only place we splurged on (it is our tradition to go with luxury on our last nights traveling!), which was a really lovely resort right at the tip of the bay. We had a lot of privacy (minus the visit of a monkey and some lemurs), and the food and service was top notch!
Madagascar in itself does not have one big highlight that stands out, unless of course you are a massive fan of all things lemur, then this is the country for you! It does not mean however it is not worth visiting as it is filled with fantastic national parks, lots of activities to be had and some of the kindest people in the world…
- The journey – The biggest highlight of traveling in Madagascar, is the traveling itself. The country has a very limited road system, and where there are ‘roads’ many of them are sandy and seasonal. To really enjoy it, we recommend getting a rental car with driver, as they really know their way around and will be able to navigate those sandy patches!
- Tsiribihina river by boat – It is truly magical to float in a canoe over the river and overnight in a tent on the river banks. You meet local villagers and see rural Malagasy life pass you buy while leisurely drifting downstream.
- Allee des Baobabs – The biggest upside down trees we have ever seen in the world, the Baobab. Best enjoyed at sunset when they color a magical orange red and the sheer size of them really hits home.
- Climb Pic Boby – One of the highest peaks in the country and an easy overnight journey making it to the top for a beautiful sunrise. We have NEVER been as cold as we were camping on that mountain top, but it was worth the adventure and exploring a different type of scenery.
Honestly there is really not that much to watch out for in Madagascar. The country is safe, although you may find some Malagasy blocking the road asking for money to let you through in the middle of nowhere, but that is all part of the travel experience. But the following are good to keep in mind
- The road is long and dusty: While the travel is the most important part of the journey, it is long and dusty and bumpy… Regardless of the type of transport you take, expect to spend quite some time being shaken around your car and not covering a lot of ground very fast. As long as you mentally prepare for this, you should be good to go!
- No luxuries: Sure, if you want you can find that swanky resort some place, but in general it will be difficult to travel Madagascar and find your creature comforts in every corner. The Malagasy make up for it in good spirits and hospitality though so don’t fret too much!
Have a look at other African destinations or check our blog section for more on Madagascar and the adventures we had!