The more accessible parks are less expensive, but busy, with standard
accommodation although require less time, money and planning. The more remote,
adventurous parks are wilder with better guiding and usually more interesting lodges,
including some more luxurious but require a longer stay and a more flexible
budget. Everyone comes to see lemurs and
chameleons and they are found in all parks so don’t worry about missing out on
this. The most popular parks are below –
Madagascar’s premier mountain rainforest reserve, only 3-4 hours drive
east from the capital, Antananarivo so easy to reach and therefore popular.
Most famous for the Indri, the largest lemur in Madagascar. Good network of
walking trails, good choice of comfortable (not luxury) accommodation and good
value. Can get busy as a result.
One of the more beautiful parks, on the classic Madagascar route, with
waterfalls, rivers and rich lemur diversity, which are easy to see. Most famous
for golden bamboo lemur, 100 bird species and 36 endemics. Good accommodation
(not luxury) accessible south from Andasibe (but would need an overnight stop
from the capital en-route). Again, can be popular.
One of the oldest and most popular (still on the classic Madagascar
itinerary) famous for its spectacular sandstone canyons, with some of the cliff
faces filled with tombs in addition to the strange looking elephants foot and
Isalo Aloe plants. Of interest to birders for kestrels and Malagasy hoopoe.
Given the landscape, very good for photography. Good upmarket lodges and
accessible from Ranomafana.
Mountain National Park
In the tropical north, this lush park is a green oasis, full of
colour. Pretty waterfalls, good trail systems, fascinating crater lakes and
excellent for chameleons, with a very exotic feel. Interesting and boutique
style lodges. Accessed by flying from Antananarivo to Diego Suarez and then a
drive from here of a few hours. Harder to reach but worth it.
Also in the tropical north, this is the most accessible and striking
example of the Malagasy Tsingy
(limestone pinnacles) which you can climb up and over thanks to a network of
dizzying walkways, before heading underneath to explore forest filled canyons
and caves. Accessible from Amber Mt National Park, with lodges in the region
full of character. Plenty of lemurs, good birding and lots of bats. Again, more
adventurous, but great fun to explore and uniquely Malagasy.
A dry deciduous forest on the west coast and considered one of the
most rewarding wildlife habitats, but little visited. The open dry forest means
the wildlife is easy to see, with plenty of lemurs and chameleons and
particularly good for nocturnal lemurs. Also the best place in the country to
see Madagascar’s only large carnivore, the cat-like Fosa. Accommodation is very basic dome tents with private flushing
loo and hot shower at the back. Usually combined with a trip to the famous
Avenue of Baobabs. Park accessible by a 2 hour drive from Morondava, which
itself is an hour’s flight from Antananarivo. Wildlife very relaxed and lack of
vegetation cover makes for some great for photography.
the Southern region
Most famous for the “Dancing” ring-tailed lemurs, at Berenty lodge
which are a big draw for the photographers, but can feel a little fake and is
not the only option. There is an alternative upmarket safari camp a few hours
away, with plenty of wildlife, but also haunted forests, ancient tombs and
colourful, authentic markets. Both places accessible only by plane into Fort
Dauphin from the capital and then a few hours – very bumpy – drive through
stunning scenery. Higher costs due to limited access but more remote and wild.
The Masoala peninsula in the North east has one of the greatest
biodiversity in all of Madagascar, with lush rainforests extending down to the
shore which are full of orchids, endemic lemurs and rare birds. It is hot and
humid, but stunning and access is hard, with irregular flights to the access
town of Maroantsetra, then a 2-3 hour boat journey. Very basic accommodation in
the forests, but some lovely beach properties here although slightly higher costs
due to access, but still hard to beat for those who love adventure.
One of Madagascar’s most stunning tropical islands, considered by many
to be Madagascar in miniature. Beautiful beaches, traditional villages and
markets plus tropical forests waiting to be explored on foot or by bike. Great
for whale watching during the summer months and handful of luxury boutique
beach properties. Accessible by regular flights from Antananarivo.
Madagascar’s most popular beach destination with numerous lodges and
luxury properties to choose from taking advantage of the areas beautiful
beaches. Despite its popularity, there
are enough smaller islands and upmarket places to stay tucked away along the
coast to allow for a feeling of exclusivity and the chance to enjoy the
tropical Indian Ocean. The main island has a number of interesting wildlife
parks, which are fun for day visits along with vanilla and cocoa plantations to
explore. Daily flights to the island from Antananarivo.