A Madagascar safari offers a completely unique experience. The national parks and reserves protect lemurs, endemic plants and birds to delight nature lovers. Sure, a Madagascar tour or holiday suits the more adventurous and curious traveller. Yet it also boasts some of the most unspoiled beaches in the Indian Ocean, so the classic combination of ‘bush and beach’ is definitely on the cards here.
Madagascar is like no other place on earth. This pint-sized ‘continent’ is neither Africa nor Asia. It split from Gondwanaland some 165 million years ago – a Noah’s ark of sorts sailing away to the east. This isolation led to a separate evolution of flora and fauna creating a paradise for safari visitors with over 20,000 species of flora and fauna, 80-90% of which are endemic to Madagascar.
This strangest of islands is an incredibly exciting wildlife destination, known for its lemurs, orchids (1000 species), chameleons (over 70% of the world’s population) and frogs (a mere 150 species!) Lemurs are the lure for most visitors, with nine-tenths of the world’s endangered lemurs only found on Madagascar.
Tailormade Madagascar Safaris & Tours
We arrange mostly private tailor-made tours. Our visitors usually visit one or two of the prime wildlife areas such as the Andasibe, the southern forests of Ranomafana or the unique spiny forest of the south. Then they end their Madagascar holiday relaxing on the gorgeous tropical beaches of Nosy Be, the northern islands or Ile Sainte Marie for example.
We give some sample Madagascar holidays below, but these can usually be tailored to suit your specific interests.
However a safari here is not for everyone! If you like 5 star hotels throughout. or if you need a trip to unfold exactly as the brochure says. Then perhaps Madagascar is not for you. However, if you have a spirit of adventure, welcome the unexpected, and are willing to accept some irritations and slightly too-basic hotels. Then this is a fascinating destination. We have first-hand knowledge of Madagascar having travelled all around the country, so we offer in depth knowledge.
How to get to & around Madagascar
You can fly to Madagascar direct from Johannesburg, Paris, Nairobi or Mauritius. We recommend that you visit at least two of its distinct climatic and floral zones. (Three would be better but then you need a good amount of time.)
You experience the flora and fauna mainly by walking the forest trails, sometimes for several hours, sometimes in hilly terrain. So it’s best if you are reasonably active.
Our Madagascar tours use mostly in simple hotels and country lodges. However the standards are improving, especially at the beach resorts. Malagasy and French are the two main languages; however hotel staff and local guides all speak some English.
You will typically need to spend at least a couple of nights in Antananarivo, the lively capital of Madagascar. This is due to the way the Madagascar flight connections work as Tana acts as the hub. (This is why we suggest focusing on two areas only.)
Best time to visit Madagascar?
The south-west and northern parts of Madagascar are year-round destinations. But mid January to March is cyclone season on the east coast of Madagascar, particularly February. Plus the eastern rainforests have a high summer rainfall (from November to April). So the best times to visit are the drier months of May to early November.
Here is a closer look at the average maximum and minimum temperatures, and average rainfall, for Antananarivo (and for Nosy Be below).
However coastal temperatures (at Nosy Be and Ile Sainte Marie) remain pleasantly high throughout the year. Just with hot humid summer months. The Central highlands around Tana and the south can be cool at night during the winter months of June to August. So a particularly nice time to visit Madagascar is either mid April to May or September to November. Then it’s not too humid on the coast and the central highland areas are a pleasant temperature.
Check out our sample Madagascar safaris below…