Madagascar Activities | Madagascar Travel Guide
Madagascar is a mystery to many and a largely untried Indian Ocean Island destination. It's like no other place on earth and quite unforgettable. It is simply fascinating in every way. Madagascar is an adventurous place and well suited to those with experience who want something different, intrepid travellers will find a place where no 2 days are alike and with every visit more unique creatures are seen.
This eco-tourism destination is jaw dropping in its originality. Visitors will find outstanding wildlife and landscapes, and many cultures living together harmoniously. Madagascar activities vary according to location, this is a large island (about the size of Texas) and there are vastly different regions to choose from - or visitors could do a circuit, flying from one place to another on a well connected internal flight network.
Madagascar activities guide:
- Scuba diving
- Surfing and kite-surfing
- Sailing and sea kayaking
- Quad biking and motor biking
- Trekking, hiking and climbing
- Canoeing and river rafting
- Whale watching
- Sightseeing, cultural and historic
- Market shopping
Visibility is excellent (30 metres) in the warm turquoise waters around this Indian Ocean Island. Divers will be delighted with everything there is to see on the coral reefs and on wreck dives. Visitors are asked not to touch the corals or disturb the surroundings on dives. Great dive spots include: Nosy Be Archipelago, Nosy Tanikely, Nosy Mitsio, Nosy Radamo, Nosy Sakatia and Nosy Lava in the north and north-west; in the north-east, Ile Ste-Marie (Saint Marie Island) and Isle aux Nattes; in the south-west, Ifaty, St Augustin Bay, Toliara and Morondava.
Anyone can do it! The beauty of snorkelling on a Madagascar Island holiday is that you don't need much instruction or equipment - there are many places to enjoy the beautiful water and swim with manta rays and turtles or watch the colourful sea life.
The water is on average very warm and wonderfully clear. Visitors are asked not to touch the corals or disturb the surroundings whilst swimming. Great snorkel spots include: Nosy Be Archipelago and Nosy Hara Archipelago both in the north-west; Ile St- Marie (Saint Marie Island) and Ile Aux Nattes off the east coast of Madagascar; in the south-west of Madagascar, Ifaty and Nosy Ve Isle, St Augustin Bay.
Surfing and kite-surfing:
The south-west of Madagascar in the region of Ifaty is a surfing haven, this area is largely undiscovered and many other surf spots are still to be found.
Ambinanibe Ballade and Fort Dauphin (Taolanaro) are perfect for adventurous surfing and kite-surfing on a Madagascar holiday. This area is not for the faint hearted though - there are sharks, rip currents and rocks, best tackled in winter. Kite-surfing is also offered in Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) on the northern point of Madagascar.
Sailing and sea kayaking:
The Dhow and Pirogue are popular local sailing vessels in the Indian Ocean Islands and provide an excellent way to island hop and investigate secluded coves and beaches. Sailing charters are possible from Nosy Be Island visiting many other beautiful islands in the area over a number of days (fully catered sailing adventure). Visitors can also sail from Ifaty on the south-west coast and at Morondava.
Sea Kayaking is possible around the Masaola Peninsula with its beautiful rain forests, which is just north of Ile Ste-Marie (Saint Marie Island) on the east coast of Madagascar.
Local fishermen on Madagascar Island are happy to take visitors out for a small fee. Organised fishing charters can also be arranged, Nosy Be is a popular fishing destination because of its resort facilities and position on the Mozambique Channel. Huge varieties of fish live in these waters including big game fish. Other good spots include Toliara on the south-west coast, Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) in the north, and Ile Ste-Marie (Saint Marie Island off the east coast.
Quad biking and motor biking:
Quad biking on a Madagascar holiday can be arranged for adventures in the capital, Antananarivo, through the southern highlands (Ranomafana National Park) and even for journeys to the coast - also available at Morondava and Toliara on the south-west coast or Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) in the north. Motor bike tours can be organised from Antananarivo and Toliara.
One of the many unusual Madagascar activities! Fantastic caves, potholes and underground lakes can be found at Ankarana National Park near Diego Suarez (Antsiranana) in the north of Madagascar, there are walkways and also guides available for more daring caving; also Mantasoa Peninsula and Ile Ste-Marie (Sainte Marie Island) on the east coast; St Augustin Bay on the south-west coast, and Mahajanga on the north-west coast.
Trekking, hiking and climbing:
There are many opportunities to explore magnificent scenery on a Madagascar Island holiday. The central and southern highlands offer mysterious mountain peaks, lakes, forests and waterfalls. Some suggestions: Andringita Mountains in the south-east of Madagascar; Andasibe (Perinet Rain Forest) east of the capital Antananarivo; Isalo National Park in the south-west; Mahajanga and the forestry reserve, and Lokobe Reserve near Nosy Be all in the north-west of Madagascar.
Canoeing and river rafting:
On a Madagascar adventure holiday, visitors can enjoy a relaxed and fun canoe trip through the central highlands from the capital Antananarivo, moving south-west toward Morondava and the delights of the coast. Other similar excursions take place along the Pangalanes Canal east of Perinet Rain Forest. River rafting is offered at Lily Falls, a superb spot just 100km (62 miles) south-east of Antananarivo.
Superb whale watching in Madagascar takes place generally from June or July through to September or October. Best sites include the Baie d' Antongil (Antongil Bay) on the far north-east coast of Madagascar - the deepest bay in the country, and also in the channel along the east coast between Ile Ste-Marie (Sainte Marie Island) and the mainland. Whale watching is also possible from Ifaty and Nosy Ve on the south-west coast.
Sightseeing, cultural and historic:
Apart from the splendid flora, fauna and natural wonders to be seen on a Madagascar Island holiday, there are a number of historic attractions around the country.
Highlights in and around Antananarivo:
Le Rova The Queen's Palace; Palace of Justice; Palace of Andafiavaratra; Art and Archaeology Museum of Isoraka; National Museum of Geology; Archaeology and Art Centre of Analakely; Ambohimanga (Queen's Summer Palace); Royal Palace of Tsinjoarivo.
Location of Tombs and historic sites around the country:
Antsirabe; Mantasoa; Ambohidratrimo; Antsahadinta; Ilafy; Foulpoint; Ile Ste-Marie (Saint Marie Island); Morondava; Fort Dauphin (Taolanaro).
Madagascar has a rich culture and history with many different tribes and religious followings which can be experienced anywhere. Interesting and diverse tours are offered from Antananarivo moving south through the highlands and on to the south-west coast. On these tours visitors can see the many types of hand crafts produced locally. Speciality tours include visits to the Antandroy Village - these people living in the far south have very different and unusual customs which evolved during many years of isolation.
Zoma Market in the capital Antananarivo, Madagascar is the 2nd largest in the world. Just about anything can be bought here! Stalls and shops are arranged according to what is being sold - a great time saver. Beware of pickpockets! The Andravoahangy Market (Artisan Market) is superb for watching the crafters while they work. Visitors are advised to avoid rare or endangered woods and research arrangements for taking products using the natural flora and fauna, out of the country.
Wonderful Madagascar speciality items include textiles, woodcraft, jewellery (shells and gems), marquetry and Antimore paper. All towns and cities have a zoma market but the ones in Antananarivo are the biggest and most famous. Government stores give a good general indication of prices for items and what to aim for at the market - bargaining is part of market life!
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