Beach Holidays on the Dry South
The south-west of Madagascar is very dry compared to the central highlands, the east coast and even the route south. As you travel south, the lush green mountains give way to dry savanna plains. You start to see cactus, euphorbias, even baobabs in the surreal ‘spiny forest’.
However Southern Madagascar also has some stunning beaches for the perfect end to a southern Madagascar trip. Choose between Ifaty, Anakao or the greener lush vegetation of Manafiafy Beach Lodge.
The easiest way to get there is to fly. Or take a scenic road trip over several days down the central spine of the country. See our Rainforests, Mountains and Beaches of Southern Madagascar trip.
Ifaty lies close to Tulear on the South-west coast. Here you find sand, sea and snorkeling. So it’s the ideal place to relax after your wildlife safari. Situated on the largest lagoon of Madagascar, a coral reef protects Ifaty. Thus it also offers good diving and snorkelling.
Perhaps visit the Reserve Reniala to see its baobabs, spiny bush, reptiles, geckos and Parson’s chameleon parson.
Ifaty is also a popular place for birding, given its proximity to some fast-dwindling spiny forest. Here you see some rare southern endemics. Indeed keen birders should come here soon while there is still some forest left!
From July to mid September, whale-watching is the order of the day. Whales arrive to the waters around Madagascar to give birth. During this time, you can take a boat out to see them. This is a spectacular experience as sometimes the whales approach very close to the boat.
Ankao is accessible by boat only. Situated on a beach with emerald seas, it is one of the best spots for diving, kite surfing and watersports in Madagascar. It makes a great alternative to Ifaty.
Spiny Forest of the Dry South
Alternatively you can fly into Fort Dauphin and then take a 3 hour road transfer to Mandrare River Camp . Here you see the spiny forest and get a true sense of rural Madagascar life. You visit remote tribal communities that have not been exposed to modern day pressures. These small villages, surrounded by ancient baobab trees, have a complex network of taboos and traditions which rule every area of their lives. Afterwards why not head to Manafiafy Beach Lodge on the lush south-eastern coast of Madagascar for some R&R?
A note on Berenty Reserve
Berenty, meaning ‘big eel’, is famous for its large and friendly population of ring-tailed lemurs. They are known by their distinctive elongated tails and wide-eyed charm. Indeed you can see six species of lemur at Berenty. Four are endemic – the diurnal Verreaux’s sifaka (the infamous “dancing” lemur), ring-tailed lemur and the nocturnal white-footed sportive lemur and grey mouse lemur. The other two are the red-fronted brown lemur and the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Fruit bats and Madagascar flying foxes live in noisy groups above you. With a wingspan of over a metre, they are an impressive sight. But Berenty Private Reserve is not what it was. As nearby sisal plantations have largely taken over. This is affecting the terrain available for the lemurs.