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Honeymoon in Madagascar

With its immense diversity of flora and fauna, Madagascar is a paradise for natural history lovers.

The Republic of Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa. Madagascar has evolved into one of the world's most phenomenal destinations for natural history travel. The world's fourth-largest island contains an immense diversity of flora and fauna. Of 12,000 plant species identified here, 10,000 are endemic to the island including seven of the world's nine species of the iconic Baobab tree, some renowned national parks and World Heritage Sites. Another notable example of biodiversity is the lemur family of primates.

Madagascar travel takes you through diverse habitats from 5,000 km of coastline, 220 small islands to bio-diversity hot spots. We seek out some of the 40 different species of lemurs, a primate group found only on Madagascar, and identify many species of chameleons in their wild habitat as well as some of the world's most bizarre creatures on Earth like the nightmarish hissing cockroach, so-called Dracula ants, and the Giraffe-necked weevil. A rich and fascinating culture and heritage, today is composed of 18 different ethnic groups that derive from a long history of trade and migration from throughout Indonesia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, all united today in a common Malagasy culture and language. The legendary hospitality of the Malagasy population. Madagascar has a lot of precious stones as well.

By simone (IMG_1016  Uploaded by Martin H.) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sun and Beach Tourism

Nosy Be
These tropical islands off the northwest coast have some of the region's finest beaches. Most accessible on Nosy Be is Andilana, the northernmost beach. Don't miss the day trip to beautiful, reef-ringed Nosy Tanikely, a marine reserve with a lovely, sunny beach. Nosy Komba has a good, small beach near Ampangorinana village. There are real gems further afield on Nosy Iranja (the 'turtles' island) and in the Mitsio Isles.

Ile Ste-Marie
Along the west coast, there are a number of secluded, palm-lined coves, off which to swim and snorkel and there is a stunning beach on the offshore islet of Ile Aux Nattes. The orchids are at their peak in September and the whales' migration takes place between July and October. . Its dense vegetation and the difficulty of navigating the lagoons which surround it made it an ideal base for pirates and, later, a colony for convicts. There are several historic sites, including Madagascar's oldest Catholic church (1837). The island is also known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and coral reefs.

Ifaty and Nosy Ve
Ifaty has a pleasant beach and easy access to the spiny desert. The coral reefs attract scuba divers and there is an excellent PADI diving centre. The offshore islet of Nosy Ve is a terrific place for snorkelling and most people enjoy spending the day on a tiny desert isle. Another attraction is the graceful tropic birds who breed on Nosy Ve.

Morondava
The Morondava seafront has a wide, white sandy beach off which it is safe to swim.

Sports Tourism

Scuba Diving 

The best diving opportunities are around the islands and islets surrounding Nosy Be on the north and west coasts. Main diving centres are Nosy Be with its neighbouring islands Tanikely, Nosy Mitsio and Nosy Radama, Nosy Lava.

The island of Ste Marie, off the east coast, is Madagascar's third scuba diving venue, of interest to wreck divers. Coral formations are at their best around the small island Ile Aux Nattes, to the south of Ste Marie, and include: The Pagodas, an accessible, large coral formation (to 12m) with rays, lobster, tortoise and the range of coral species; Off La Crique, Coco Bay (to 25m) has a variety of coral formations, pelagic fish and tortoises. Paroi des Merous (to 40m) , a site for experienced divers only, offers some exciting diving. Further north, around La Cocoteraie, Anivorano Rocks offers diving on granitic rocks with barracuda, (to 20m); the wreck of a fishing boat is an easy dive (15m) providing magnificent photo opportunities; and Pointe Alebrand (to 20m) is a beautiful dive, a sandy bed with granite boulders, grey shark, rays, barracuda. Humpback whales migrate past the island from July to October.

There are also some good diving sites in the south of the island and dive operators operating there, mainly around Ifaty Toliara and Morondava.

Surfing

The southwest is Madagascar's surfing wonderland. Many high-quality breaks can be found among the area's coral reefs. Given the orientation of the coast, and the direction of the prevailing swells, the best of these breaks tend to be lefts, although rights are also present they have one world-class left, one almost as good, two other lefts, a right, and a peak - all within relatively short boating distances of one another. And you do need a boat to get to these places, most of which are between one and three kilometres offshore.

With hundreds of kilometres of reefs, bays and points stretching up the Mozambique Channel, the southwest also holds the real possibility of many more surfing discoveries.

South of Itampolo the coast swings east, increasing the exposure to the swells, and to the winds. The water is still warm and corals still grow, but the fringing reefs begin to break apart, opening the way for inshore setups. Rock shelves and beach breaks start to predominate, all easily accessible from shore.

Lavanono there is one recognised left point break as well as dozens of other unnamed reefs, including many with real potential to turn it on in big swells.

Heading north from Fort Dauphin much of Madagascar's East Coast could be described as a featureless wave desert. Long straight beaches tend only to be interrupted by river-mouths.

North from Ambila-Lemaitso the coast gets more interesting and the opportunities increase. Coral atolls and reefs become more common-place, and the coastline starts to be broken up with points and bays. There could be dozens of quality waves along this largely unexplored stretch.

Trekking - Hiking - Climbing

Plenty of itineraries; you will be the one to choose once on the spot. They have a full range of hikes, treks that will allow you to discover this magnificent region of Madagascar : Andringitra. you will discover new landscapes: tropical humid or dry forest, savannah, palm trees.

Conquer Cameleon and the famous Pic Boby, enter the corridors of Tsaranoro among the huge blocks and a luxurious vegetation, or ascend the vertiginous ridge of the Lemur Wall.

By Gloumouth1 (Own work) [GFDL (<a href=&/quot;http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html" class="external free" rel="nofollow">http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html</a>) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Eco-Tourism

Madagascar endemic Flora

Madagascar is legendary for its profusion of wildlife and flora, 80% of which is found nowhere else on earth.

-10 families and 260 genera of plants are endemic to Madagascar. Only Australia (with 13) has more endemic species of plants.
-165 of Madagascar's 170 palms are not found anywhere else. For comparison, mainland Africa has less than 60 species of palm
-Of the 8 species of baobab found in the world, six are endemic to Madagascar
-An entire family of plants, the Didiereaceae is unique to Madagascar. Didiereaceae plants are found in the arid southwest and closely resemble some forms of cacti. Unlike cacti though, they produce small deciduous leaves which are protected by meanacing thorns and spines that grow directly out of the plant's many branches.
-95% of the species found in the Spiny desert exist only in this habitat unique to Madagascar.
-Madagascar has nearly 1000 known species of orchids, of which 85% are endemic.
-Anti-cancer drugs (vincristine, vinblastine) derived from the Madagascar rosy periwinkle generated over a billion dollars in revenue for Eli Lilly & Co.

Madagascar endemic Wildlife

Madagascar - an isolated island about twice the size of Arizona - has some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. Of roughly 200,000 known species found on Madagascar, about 150,000 are endemic-meaning they exist nowhere else. Unique to the island are more than 50 types of lemurs, 99 percent of its frog species, and 36 genera of birds. Madgascar houses 100 percent of the world's lemurs, half of its chameleon species, 6 percent of its frogs, and none of its toads.

Isolated from the continents 160 million years ago, Madagascar followed a unique evolutionary path into enormous tortoises, elephant birds, and lemurs. Lemurs were the highest primate form on the island until the Malagasy people, of Afro-Polynesian ancestry, arrived a mere 2000 years ago.

Culture

Hira Gasy

Like most cultural aspects of the country, Hira Gasy is totally unique to Madagascar. It's a traditional form of Malagasy entertainment that is said to have existed since 1789, and the rule of King Andrianampoinimerina. This king provided his people with farming tools and techniques so they would be able to feed themselves in times of famine or times of plenty; and mpikabary (orators) went to perform for them (including singers and dancers) to entertain them. The practice of Hira Gasy has been popular ever since to give thanks to their kings.

What Happens at a Hira Gasy performance?

Today, a Hira Gasy performance consists of several themes; each theme is made up of five phases, like Sasitehaka (a prelude, usually about ten minutes long). The main part of the Hira Gasy is the Renihira, which introduces the main theme of the performance. The themes can be about farming, social issues, weddings, or even trade. The songs linked to this theme can last for an hour our more.

Today, many influences are adopted in the Hira Gasy, like the red uniforms worn by the French during their colonization of the island. Hira Gasy is sometimes staged during sacred ceremonies; these include Famadihana (the exhumation of the dead for reburial), the circumcision ceremony for one to seven year olds and other important events.

Sometimes performances are also put on for tourists although these are often only for tour groups. For locals, Hira Gasy is done for public entertainment too, and in small towns and villages you may stumble across a traditional performance.

Source: www.madagascarconsulate.org.za

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