Welcome To Madagascar
Luxury Safari In Madagascar.
Madagascar has many attractions for a luxury safari from cultural to stunning beaches and it’s fauna and flora! The Lemurs are unique to the island, and almost 40% of the of the fauna is endemic as well. It has the most chameleon species in the world, from tiny animals just an inch long (22mm), to large chameleons weighing almost a pound (500g)!
Madagascar is a mix of habitats:
The North is rainforest; the North West is dry deciduous, broad leaf forest; the middle Eastern section is evergreen forest; the South is dry, spiny forest and baobabs.
The lemurs, chameleons and birds are equally varied, according to habitats.
A number of very fine luxury beach destinations are available in Madagascar, including a ‘Releis & Chateau’ lodge in the North West, with it’s own beaches and forest area to walk in!
Various water activities are available too, like fishing, snorkeling and sailing.
Madagascar is a very diverse luxury safari destination and it warrants spending time there, visiting the different parts of the island and experiencing some of the 18 different tribal cultures and history!
Madagascar is one of the largest islands in the Indian ocean. Oriented N – S, with the eastern shores open to the Indian Ocean, and the western shores separated from mainland Africa by the Mozambique Channel, which is 400km/250miles wide!
Isolated from the Indian landmass many hundreds of thousands of years ago, there is a 40% level of endemism in the fauna and flora. There are no poisonous snakes, and no large predators except for the fossa, which weighs about 9.5kg/20 lbs and preys on lemurs!
The first humans arrived there from Indonesia about 10,000 years ago, and subsequently peoples from India, Africa and then Europe found their way to this beautiful and unique island. Hunting and human activities rapidly killed off the Giant Moa, the Dodo and Giant lemurs.
The island is not a high tech culture, comprising a large rural, subsistence human population, magnificent rolling scenery in the center of the country with a limited number of large towns. Antananarivo is the capital and is typical of a semi-third world environment being densely populated, with congested traffic, colourful, historical and the only international airport. A number of small airports are located at some of the larger towns, with scheduled air services by Air Madagascar. Air charters are available in smaller light Cessna aircraft.
A safari to this unique island enables one to walk safely in the rain forests and dry spiny forests and experience, on foot, the amazing variety and unique animals and birds found only here!
Accommodations are generally three to four star, and at this stage only one Relais & Chateau property exists. This fabulous lodge is privately owned in the NW of the island with its’ own beach front area and large indigenous forest where guests may walk freely, bird watching, enjoy the variety of lemurs or go on marine activities. Antananarivo (Tana) has several really fine lodges or hotels which serve as overnight stops or somewhere to stay and explore the city.
The scattered islands on the western or landward side are the location for several boutique beach lodges, which have capitalised on the crystal clear seas, fabulously unspoilt marine life and pristine beaches to establish high-end accommodations.
There is such a variation in habitats, from real Rain forest in the NW, at Masoala, to deciduous forest on the NE coast around Mahajunga, then forests all down the east coast, and then Dry spiny forests in the far SE and S and SW where unique lemurs and birds are found.
The National Parks and reserves are scattered around the island, and when one visits them, it is all on foot. There are no driving safaris!
There are 88 species of lemur extant today, ranging from tiny mouse lemurs (25 grams) to Indri (9.5kg/ 20 lbs), and the greatest diversity of birds and reptiles of any island as well. 40% of the fauna and flora is endemic to the island, so it is a naturalists’ paradise. Most of these are now considered endangered due to socio-political factors affecting the island! The ‘humid’ forests are limited to a narrow belt, just inland of the coast extending all the way down the east side of the country. 90% of the forest has disappeared due to human activities over the past 200 years!
It also has the greatest diversity of chameleons in the world….from adults of 25mm/1 inch to giants of 45cm/20 inches! This group of reptiles has proliferated beyond most others, and the gecko’s are another interesting group here too. Especially the fringed gecko’s.
The cultural aspect of the island is often overlooked. 18 tribes are found here, and each has it’s own style of housing and dress. These distinctions are generally historic now, and only apparent when one drives between regions and the differences are better seen in the rural areas. Zebu cattle and rice growing are the two staple agricultural pursuits and the land has been clear-cut to provide pastures and rice fields. There is a massive culture of terracing here. The houses are generally made of clay bricks, the clay being a by-product of creating the terraced fields!
Madagascar can only be described as a mosaic of habitats, and as the majority of travelers come to see the lemurs, perhaps the island should be separated into different habitats, which are fairly well distinct from each other, and therefore support different species of lemurs.