Contrary to what a generation of movie-loving kids might think, Madagascar is actually a real place.
And what a place it is.
Image: Madagascar’s striking Boab trees. Credit: Adventure World.
Officially the Republic of Madagascar, this island nation sits in the Indian Ocean, roughly 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa, specifically east of Mozambique.
Getting there from Australia typically involves flying first to Johannesburg in South Africa and connecting to the country’s capital, Antananarivo. Being a bit out of the way and, seemingly, out of this world, Madagascar is the kind of destination where some real expertise can make all the difference in the planning stages.
An ATAS accredited travel agent can help you plan with confidence. Whether he or she has personally been there is not specifically where that expertise lies. Back by the relationships and the expertise of travel operators, airlines and hoteliers who do specialise in Madagascar, your ATAS accredited travel professional will coordinate the perfect journey for you—a bit like a project manager coordinates all the trades, materials and budget on that tricky home renovation of yours.
Before we tap into some of that expertise, here are some Madagascan fun facts to whet your travel appetite:
- Madagascar is the world’s 2nd largest island country, and the fourth-largest island in the world.
- Neighbouring islands include the French territory of Réunion, and Mauritius to the east.
- Madagascar became part of the French colonial empire in 1897, before gaining full independence in 1960.
- Madagascar’s official languages are French and Malagasy—a language related to the Malayo-Polynesian languages of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
- Malagasy cuisine is influenced by Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European culinary traditions – Yum!
- The name Madagascar was first recorded in the memoirs of 13th-century Venetian explorer Marco Polo.
- Madagascar supplies 80% of the world’s natural vanilla.
- Madagascar currently provides half of the world’s supply of sapphires.
- The island is home to two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species, and more than 100 species and sub-species of lemur—Madagascar’s famous primates.
- Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot—over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth.
Image: Madagascar’s lemurs. Credit: Adventure World.
It’s these final points, in particular, that sit at the centre of Madagascar’s tourism appeal.
To find out more, we chatted to Travis Graham from ATAS accredited Adventure World Travel. Travis is a Madagascar Expert and Adventure World’s Sales Manager in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
“The country offers an unexpected energising experience,” says Travis.
“The diverse range of flora and fauna is one reason to visit, but the secret of astounding and idyllic beaches, clear turquoise water, great surf breaks and al fresco dining is also one of the island’s biggest drawcards,” he adds.
Image: Tsara Komba lodge, Madagacar. Credit: Adventure World.
With unique landscapes and wildlife, Madagascar is a nature photographer’s dream, so Travis advises to allow plenty of time to take advantage of this amazing destination. He also points out that ‘over-tourism’ and mistreatment of wildlife can be problematic, so be sure to do your homework and select a company that has strict rules and regulations in place that avoid caged, chained or captive wildlife.
“Do not encourage locals to bring wildlife to you for photo opportunities as the best wildlife experiences are just that, in the wild. Animals may occasionally approach you, however do not feed them under any circumstances,” says Travis.
“At Adventure World Travel, we work with people who, like us, seek to protect places we explore and who are creating initiatives that are driving positive change. We’re pleased to be in partnership with World Animal Protection to provide our travellers with responsible and humane animal encounters”, he adds Travis’ top Madagascar tip?
“The majority of activities are, of course, focused on wildlife encounters, so take good trekking shoes and be prepared to walk through some rough terrain. And be sure to sit quietly and look around, the local guides are invaluable and will point out well-camouflaged creatures you would very easily miss!”
Clearly, Travis has a passion for the island’s wildlife experiences. But there’s more to a trip to Madagascar than lemurs and chameleons.
As he describes it, “The food on offer in Madagascar is fresh and all local, with plenty of seasonal vegetables and produce. The island is known for their delicious curries and exceptional seafood right from the coastline. Due to the French influence, there is also plenty of imported French wine to choose from. Their known dessert is smoked cake made with coconut and peanuts, so delicious!”
Are you hungry for a trip to Madagascar yet?
With a substantial tourism industry, there’s plenty on offer for visitors to this remarkable island nation. It also means there’s a range of accommodation and travel styles available. To ensure you find the right hotels, resorts and tour operators to suit your style and budget, work with an ATAS-accredited professional who will be with you every step of the way from the planning stages to the moment you return home having had the adventure of a lifetime.
Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend away with your someone special, a fun-filled getaway with a group of friends, or the Madagascan adventure of a lifetime, chat to your favourite ATAS-accredited travel professional – experience you can trust.
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ATAS travel agents recommend that Australia passport holders register for travel alerts before they travel.