Fun things to do in Madagascar

  • Greater Flamingo on the salt lake
    Greater Flamingo on the salt lake
    by MikeBird
  • Greater Bamboo Lemur: a rare find
    Greater Bamboo Lemur: a rare find
    by MikeBird
  • Milne-Edward's Sifaka in Ranomafana NP
    Milne-Edward's Sifaka in Ranomafana NP
    by MikeBird

Most Viewed Things to Do in Madagascar

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    Indri

    by grets Written Jul 4, 2004

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    Perinet is famous for its Indri population – the largest of all the lemurs. We are hoping to see these beautiful black and white furry creatures – the archetypal ‘teddy bear’ - and after a couple of hours we come across a single male in the tree above us. Suddenly another four appear, jumping effortlessly from tree to tree despite their size. Remaining directly above us, the lemur start defecating – how much poo does one indri hold? He must have been going for nearly 20 minutes, much to everyone’s amusement.

    We have heard of the calls the indri makes of course, but nothing prepares you for the thrill of the shrill! What a racket! It is such a haunting sound, chilling, moving, exciting and easily the most unforgettable experience from Madagascar. Later on in the evening, we can hear their song in the distance as we enjoy a sun-downer on the terrace. Wow!

    Photo courtesy of Peter Daws
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    The people!

    by belgianchocolate Updated Dec 17, 2005

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    'The people' I can't say it enough...they are fantastic.
    In general the Malagasy will do anything to make your trip something fantastic. I feel very lucky to speak some basic french and to be able to do some conversations. (I did feel comfortable speaking French in Madagascar since it is their second language as well). English travelers we've met did feel like it was a big disadvantage not to be able to speak French - However , people will talk whatever they picked up in English to help you for sure. And even if French is the second official language in Madagascar...not everybody speaks it.

    We choose to keep the same taxidriver for a couple of days and asked him to pick us up at the hotel...they helped to find a hotel , adviced us on restaurants and local places , brought us to the national parcs sometimes , did the big trip of the island. It was nice to get to know them a little bit better. In our experience , Malagasy are very punctual. Nothing elastic time. If you arranged to get picked up at that hour...there they were.

    If I can give you one advice is...never get mad and shout. I've seen it a couple of times , without any reason. And they just collapse. They don't know how to handle angry people. It is much much easier to smile , and keep smiling and tell them what you had expected and (even the angry people) you will get what you want if possible. And in Madagascar everything is possible.

    (In the picture you can see Frederik and Monique. Our guide in the national parc near Andasibe. She was great fun , a fantastic guide and she told us how to get back to Tana...etc)

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    Visit a dry decidious forest : Ankarana

    by belgianchocolate Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Let me take you to 'Ankarana special reserve' or 'réserve spéciale de l"ankàrana' in French. (if you want to pronounce it in Malagasy , leave the last a hehind and say something like Ankarn) This réserve is considered among the most adventurous of all. The réserve is very close to the rainforest of Montagne d'Ambre , but oh so different. About 100 km south of Diego Suarez is the Ankarana massif. The Tsingy of Ankarana - Tsingy are karst or limestone pinnacles This massif is about 30 km long and surrounded by dry forest. Trees and wildlife here are adjusted to a long dry period and periods of heavy rain. From mai to december is the dry season , but Jacques our guide told us that they first call to know when the season opens.

    We visited the western side of the parc , which is hard to reach and even not possible during the rainy season.Only 4x4 can make it here. But we choose to go that way since this was the most rewarding site for scenery. Fauna and flora are not as abundant as in the rainforest BUT are easier to spot.

    Don't expect any luxury here. We stayed for two nights in a tent. Days are sizzling hot here and nights acceptable pleasant. There are basic toilets and a 'douche Africaine'. (take a bucket and a beker - there is your douche).We stayed at the 'Andrafiabe camping ground'. There are 4 spots where it is allowed to camp. You get up in the morning very early to avoid the 'no mercy' -policy of the sun since it takes some effort to see the tsingy. Watch out for the scorpions (nightactive and large) - they are not mortal , but you'll remember it for the rest of your life if you get bitten.

    I'm not the fittest person in the world , but I was willing to do the effort. It was sometimes a hard walk , difficult to climb...etc. But it was all so rewarding. The scenery is amazing. I enjoyed the isolation and the 'lonely planet' feeling here. But I realise that this is not suitable for everybody. (go when your young and healthy. ;-))

    Tsingy hupo hupo Tsingy Cave where we went swimming
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    'réserve spéciale de l"ankàrana' ( part 2)

    by belgianchocolate Updated Nov 21, 2005

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    We booked our little trip at 'King de la piste' in Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) and we were very statisfied about the service. Jacques was a fantastic driver and guide and what the girls in this field kitchen could do with basic ingredients , we call that magic!

    This is how our programme looked like. It is negociabled with the guide , you can leave something behind or add something extra. You'll leave from Diego to Ankarana in the morning and you'll arrive just after noon at the camp. We stayed at Andrafiabe camping ground - named after the village nearby. After dinner we went walking , exploring the caves nearby. 3 caves , amazing caves.

    In the evening we went for a nocturnal walk. That was something we insisted on ourselves. The next day we went up early for a long walk to the top of the tsingy. You'l have an amazing view over the green lake. There aren't too many other people and birds are so not used to people that they come and sit next to you to have a close look.. In the late afternoon we went to a cave for swimming and relaxing.

    The last day , we started slowly. A little walk , some climbing into the canyon nearby , up and down , up and down...to end our walk where a underground river would come up and dive under the tsingy again. We had a fantastic time swimming here. After noon we left for Diego again.

    I promise to build a page on this parc , since it is worth it for sure.

    Lac vert Snake in the grotto where we went swimming. grotto
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    The wild animals...

    by belgianchocolate Written Nov 15, 2005

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    Madagascar's unique fauna and flora is what made me want to visit the island. And I'm quit sure that I'm not alone. There is something weird concerning Madagascar's fauna and flora. 400 km of water is separating Madagascar from the African mainland but there is 165 million years of evolution that drifts Madagascar away from the rest of the world. Some people even call it the seventh continent. And there is something in it.

    You'll meet endemic animals everywhere. I saw this beautiful chameleon in the garden of the hotel near the airport. Or snakes resting on the road at night to soak up the last heath before going hunting for frogs...

    Madagascar is as interesting for it's mammals as for it's insects. Everything (especially to a European) seems wonderful and special and rare... And most of all , Madagascar's animals are approachable. They are nice , just like the people. Sometimes even curious to visitors. We did see more then we expected to see during our visits to the national parcs.
    Now , I've visited 3 of them and I'll put some time and effort to tell you how we've visited , what we've seen and every information I think might be useful.

    How about that?

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    • Photography

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    The people (parth 2)

    by belgianchocolate Updated Nov 9, 2005

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    We did sence some difference with people in the city , people in the north and central Madagascar in looks and behavior. To me Madagascar is a big mixture of cultures and differences.

    But I feel like telling that in general they are optimistic with a good sence of humor , a big smile. They are not loud .... and in general very honest. Be aware of those infected by too many tourists near beach resorts , near mayor public attractions. Where did they get those bad habbits?


    Let's face it. Madagascar is a poor country. People have less then nothing compared to you. If you do some effort you can make some difference. Work with local travel agents , buy food at the market and in local restaurants. Stay at local hotels.... The money you'll leave behind is often more then welcome. And the best way to show your gratitude is by tipping. A small small amount of money given to the boy who lifted your luggage on the taxi brousse will generate the biggest smile ever. And that might just be an amount of money where you wouldn't bend for in europe to pick it of the street if you saw it lying in front of your feet.

    (The picture shows Ahmed , a taxidriver in Diego on one of our first days , we went for a walk at the montagne des francais and he climbed in a tree to get us some fruit of the boabab...a very nice guy)

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    Visit a montane rainforest!

    by belgianchocolate Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Montagne d'Ambre was the first of the national parcs visited by us. It is a montane rainforest - meaning that it is found between 800 and 1300 high. The difference between lowland rainforest? It has tree ferns , spectacular to watch , bamboo is common , leaves are smaller an tougher ...etc.


    Why we enjoyed montagne d'ambre?
    A guide is not obligatory here. We probably would have seen more with a guide , but since we were going to visit 2 other national parcs were guides are obligate we choose not too. We even decided to stay for 2 nights. Aren't we brave? Frederik gave himself the title of 'mister Madagascar adventure 2005'. The camping place here is a stunning location , an open area with shelters in the middle of the forest - 3 km from the entrance of the parc and 7 km from Joffreville - the nearest ex-colonial village.


    It is because of that village , that used to be a pleasure resort for the French military , that the rainforest here isn't 100% pure. There is a botanical trail and some species don't really belong on Madagascar.


    Did we see wildlife? Yes we did. The montagene d'Ambre is among the most accesible of the Madagascar national parcs. If there is a cruise ship in Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) they will all visit the parc. They drive into the parc , walk hunderd meters to the sacred waterfall and walk back - eat what the cooks left behind on the camping site serve them and leave. They didn't bother us too much. Space enough. The first day we found the 3 waterfalls , the highest plunges 80m deep into a fern filled grotto-shape U-turn and was reached by us after half an hour steep walk. (not recommended when it would rain).

    that's me folks -80m waterfall lemur

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    THE FRIENDLY REPTILE CENTER

    by DAO Updated Jan 29, 2014

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    Ok, reptiles may not be for you, but this place is a natural wonder. The MADAGASCAR EXOTIC (REPTILE FARM) actually breeds a variety of reptiles and insects. This means you can see great examples of truly exotic fauna all in one place very quickly. You would need months to see all these varieties in the wild. Some of the chameleons are truly exceptional and unique. Some are brightly coloured, others blend in with the environment. You would truly miss out on seeing half of the natural diversity of Madagascar without a visit to this remarkable place.

    The center is also known as Réserve Peyrieras, after it's founder, Mr. Peyrieras. They are open 7 days a week from 7 am to 6 pm and it costs less than $5 (US) to get in.

    Please click on the photos for a better view!

    PARSONS CHAMELEON
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    How did we travel?

    by belgianchocolate Updated Nov 9, 2005

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    Maybe important to tell is how we traveled? We chose to be independent travelers . We had our reasons. When we went to a presentation of a Belgian travel agent .... first of al it was extremely expensive. I had some questions and soon found myself isolated outside the room so others couldn't hear my questions.... and then I had an argument with this old men who seemed to be the company for the trip. NO WAY! We consider ourselves very lucky to did it our way. Especially because we saw the groups we ran into later on. People who can affort Madagascar are in general not the kind of people I like to be friends with.

    But let's see it from a positive side!

    - if you travel independently you are able to make your own mistakes. Fun for sure.
    - You can choose whatever hotel you want to be in.
    - it forces you to get in contact with the local people. You are depending on them ,
    their information , guidance , ....it makes it all much more intence.
    - you don't have a program , you can stay longer if you feel like it. We needed more time at
    some place (montagne d'ambre) and had seen other very fast. (Nosy be)
    - you can eat in a restaurant , from the market , with your taxidriver...street food.


    Before we left we had only our tickets to Tana and one from the capital to 'Diego Suarez'.
    We had two books 'the lonely planet' and the divine 'Bradt travel guide' and a lot of good intentions to make it our best travel ever.

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    Those cows?

    by belgianchocolate Updated Nov 15, 2005

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    "Jacques?" I said , the question was burning on my lips and Jacques was our guide for the next three days to the special reserve of Ankarana. We had been driving for miles without seeing a single human , but ... "Jacques , those cows are they wild ones?".
    I could hear Jacques think , did I saw his eyebrow make a turn.
    "No" he said patiently " those are not wild ones , they belong to someone."
    "But who owns them?" I asked " and how do they know it is theirs".

    You'll meet zebu's on the most strange places , in the most remoted area's you can find them. I always wonder how they find food. Sometimes they can be seen in such dry places. Now , the zebu's are marked with a tattoo in the ear or with a brand on the thigh.
    (there were many more questions I wanted to ask...how do they find them back....have they got a name...lol lol )


    Later we had a conversation about wealth. I said that Diego looked like a prosperous town to me. There were no beggars , the people were well dressed..etc. But according to Jacques I could not have been more wrong. In the south , people look poor. Badly and dirty dressed...BUT...they sometimes got like 15 zebu's. Now that is rich. Here in Diego people don't have cows.

    All over Madagascar you'll meet them. They are slaughtered with special occasions and the meat is eaten then. You can eat in almost every local hotely (restaurant) zebu steak or hamburger of mini-brochette. The possibilities are eternal. The French tried to introduce cows that give milk and more meat , but the Malagasy were not interested. Those cows don't have that typical bow in the neck with fat...and that is what makes them beautiful.
    I did notice they differ in size and color in different area's of the island. But I didn't found someone to bother with questions related to that. ;-)

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    Montagne d'Ambre (part 2)

    by belgianchocolate Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    We found lemurs within the first hour of our visit. We climbed up , and I heard noices , like likke pigs...and there they were. The first lemurs spotted on Madagascar , in the wild , by myself. We also enjoyed bird life , the plants and the spectacular red chameleon that soaked up the un in the morning. Interesting insects too.


    The nights are long in Madagascar. Light goes out at six and then the forest seems to come alive. In october a strong wind sets up the minute the sun leaves and temperature that is already lower then in Diego (10°) takes another drop down , by the morning it becomes very chilly.

    If you are of the scared type....don't stay overnight. It seems like a lot of animals are waiting to come alive during nighttime. The loudest visitor we had was a fosa. They are rarely seen , but I can asure you that we could hear the largest predator in Madagascar loud and clear. And if I didn't knew what they look like before I would run for sure. The Fosa was high in a tree on the edge of the campsite. AMAZING.

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    Visit Nosy Be

    by belgianchocolate Written Nov 24, 2005

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    We are both not into beaches...a few houres on a beach and we have seen it all. Now , Nosy Be is the destination where people head for to lay on the beach. A couple of beach resorts can be found on the nicest bays of the island and it is a different kind of tourist we've seen here then on the main land. Nosy be means big island and it has everything that Madagascar has but smaller. That is partly true.


    We stayed for 3 nights in the capital - Hell ville and we had a good time.
    First evening we wondered around. Second day we went on an excursion by boat - a small one - to nosy Komba and Nosy Tanikely to do some snorkeling and in the evening we did some serious christmas shopping. lol.
    The second complete day we enjoyed ourselves with the taxi-tour of the island. We vitited the fertile islands ylang-yalng-plantage and the ethereal oil factory.(basic ingredient to make perfume). We loved the view from the highest point round the island at mount Passot.(329m) We went for dinner and swimming at Andilana beach and we visited the sacred waterfall.


    However , this was not our favorite day at the beach. Too many tourist = bad habits.
    The beach the most 'isolated' had a beach resort in the next bay. Souvernirs were sold on the beach , girls asking to give a massage , locals running around with a chameleon to take a picture , girls painted to make money with picture taking and a parth of the beach that has been sealed for the locals to use by a large hotel. Everything what I don't like to see...since we could compare with something else. I also was annoyed by spoiled and demanding tourists.


    Nosy Be also has 'strict reserve' , unfortunately we didn't found the time for a visit.

    Mount passot ; the view Yalng-Ylang Colonial remains Andilana On top of mt Passot
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    BROWN LEMURS

    by DAO Updated Oct 31, 2011

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    Brown Lemurs are friendly and cuddly. These friendly guys are actually 'Red-Fronted Brown Lemurs' or Eulemur Rufus. It’s a little hard to tell the difference between the males and females because they are the same size. A give-away that it’s a female is when they are carrying a baby (last picture). These cute little guys live for up to 30 years and they definitely love bananas. They also eat fruit, flowers, leaves, bark, sap, soil, insects, centipedes and millipedes. Obviously they are not picky eaters. They live in mixed groups of 13-18. Females have a gestation period of 130 days and give birth to 1-2 babies between August and October.

    Red-Fronted Brown Lemurs
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    Andisabe Village

    by grets Written Jul 4, 2004

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    With 500 or so houses, the village is rather ramshackle by our standards, with lots of buildings leaning and different heights of the dull wooden houses. The whole scene is reminiscent of a classic Western film. I expected the children to be begging for bonbons and cadeau, but the only person asking for money is a destitute-looking old woman. It upsets me greatly to observe that many of the children are suffering from deformities – what sort of future will they have? The general store is surprisingly well stocked and the 1938 Station Hotel is positively luxurious. Learning that both Durrell and Attenborough have stayed here, we call in for a drink.

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    Zebu

    by grets Written Jul 4, 2004

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    The ownership of Zebu cattle is a representation of wealth and power in Madagascar, and the animals are used for dowries and sacrifices at important ceremonies. Zebu rustling is considered a sign of bravery and must be undertaken by any male wishing to secure a wife; spending time inside for this crime is admired. Fortunately David doesn’t feel the need to prove his courage, and anyway, they might notice if he tries to get a herd of zebu on the plane!

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