Table of contents
Antananarivo, the capital that no one can pronounce
We start our tour through Madagascar in the capital with the impossible name Antananarivo. Fortunately, the residents like to shorten the town to Tana. Tana's nickname is 'the city on a thousand hills'. Slightly exaggerated, but indeed, the city is built on 12 hills and surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of rice fields. If you look closely, you can see the mountain landscape of the mountain giant Palais de la Reine in the distance. Walking around the city you can still feel the French atmosphere. Not surprising, after all Madagascar was a Fringe colony. The swinging African feeling can also be found in Antananarivo. Take a day out and visit the very lively Zoma market.
Tsingy de Bemaraha . Nature Reserve
From Antananarivo you travel as quickly as possible to the beautiful nature reserves of Madagascar. Because that is of course what your tour through Madagascar is all about! In the Tsingy park, which is divided into two parts, namely Big Tsingy and Small Tsingy, you will find very special landscapes and animals that you will not encounter anywhere else in the world. The karst landscape is a perfect example of this: limestone pillars that cluster together like a gigantic forest of stone trees. A bizarre sensation that you will not soon forget. But there is much more to discover in this nature reserve. Mangroves, tropical forests, rare birds and lemurs, the typical prosimians that only occur on this island. Tsingy misleads you with every step.
Diving in Madagascar
Because the island is still relatively unknown as a travel destination, you will not run into large groups of tourists here every once in a while. Most locations are still wonderfully quiet and secluded. So are the milky white beaches. Abandoned and therefore all the more beautiful they lie there with the Indian Ocean as the only spectator. The nicest beaches can be found on the west coast at Nosy Bé, Lava Nosy and Toliara. Make sure to pause your tour of Madagascar a little longer to view the underwater world here.
The coral reefs off Madagascar are a must see. It is still pure, pristine, undamaged and colourful. To dive and snorkeling are the best options to witness this. You also have plenty of choice to stay overnight. There are cheap, small hostels but also more luxurious hotels. Also on the east coast is the serene island of Île Sainte Marie, also known as Nosy Boraha. Not only can you dive very well here, if you are lucky you can see imposing humpback whales from Île Sainte Marie.
Port city of Toamasina
Now that we are on the east coast of the island during our tour through Madagascar, be sure to visit the port city of Toamasina, freely translated: 'it is salty'. The largest port on the island is located in this city. What makes the city especially special are the many markets. A good example is the African market Bazary Be. Noisy, fragrant, overwhelming and chaotic is perhaps the best description. Toamasina is an excellent starting point to travel to the Canal des Pangalanes nature reserve, a canal with a length of 650 km that dates back to colonial times. Sailing through the rainforest you have the chance to spot eight species of lemurs. For an overnight stay in this area it is best to stop at the Bush House in Ankanin'ny Nofy, a very beautiful resort located on the edge of a lake.
Allee des Baobabs
Baobab trees are another well-known symbol of Madagascar alongside the lemurs and are definitely among the must-sees. The characteristic trees with their typical canopy make for beautiful pictures especially at sunset. The best place to find baobabs on your tour of Madagascar is along Route Nationale 8, between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina. Allée des Baobabs is located here, an area with different groups of baobabs together. Some trees are now more than 800 years old.
In Madagascar you also have the chance to delve into history and experience how the former Merina Dynasty lived here. Ambohimanga was the former capital of the Merina kings, leaders of the powerful people who lived here centuries ago. On one of the hills is still the walled royal city, complete with palace, cemetery and holy altars. Ambohimanga is therefore described as a royal place. The antiquity sparkles here because the place has largely remained unchanged for centuries. It is definitely one of the highlights during your tour in Madagascar. The view from the palace is breathtakingly beautiful. With a bit of luck you can see the palace in Tana.