It’s a sentence that is rarely true, but there really is nowhere else in the world quite like Madagascar. It's a strong contender for offering the most distinctive wildlife holidays on the planet. The island separated from the African mainland some 165 million years ago, and much of its fauna and flora has evolved in a unique way - an astonishing 80% is endemic. Five per cent of the world's known animal and plant species are found here; and only here.
For most visitors, the number one attraction is Madagascar's lemurs, of which there are over 100 species and subspecies, but beneath the forest canopy you’ll also find fossa, tenrecs and a myriad more unique animals. Innumerable highlights include the world's smallest and largest chameleons, an abundance of geckos and more than 100 species of bird found nowhere else.
And these aren’t the only attraction. Madagascar holidays offer deserted white sand beaches to lounge on, a coastline on the Indian Ocean ready to be windsurfed and snorkelled and a melting pot of Malayo-Polynesian, African and European cultures to explore.
Holidays to Madagascar
An island apart
The island's best-known native inhabitants are the lemurs and peeling back the branches in a mist shrouded cloud forest to spot them is the highlight of any trip. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some could fit into an egg cup; others are the size of a baboon. Night-time walks are a must; witness the forest come alive as Madagascar’s many nocturnal creatures venture out to play. Look out for dwarf and mouse lemurs; chameleons, tree frogs and various Malagasy owls and nightjars as you prowl through the dark.
It's not just the interior that is teeming with wildlife. Madagascar's magnificent coastline is dotted with colourful reefs and remote islands that are a haven for marine species. Watch humpback whales breaching off Ile Sainte Marie or Nosy Be from July to September; spot whale sharks (October to December) around Nosy Be archipelago or swim near sea turtles nibbling sea grass on a snorkel excursion. This pretty cluster of islands offers sparkling sands and stylish lodgings. If you’re not the sit on the sand type, however, you can continue your Madagascar adventure on a diving, horse-riding or kayaking excursion.
Best Madagascar holidays
Few people know more about the island and its wildlife than Derek Schuurman. He’s contributed to several guidebooks on the region, including Bradt's Madagascar Wildlife, and works with us at Rainbow. Derek and his colleagues can craft an itinerary that matches your interests and how you want to spend your Madagascar holiday.
Our trips take you to rainforests, national parks and NGO- run protected areas, where you can meet an assortment of Madagascar’s famous creatures with help from our expert wildlife guides. For a beach holiday with a twist, opt for our wonderful Madagascar Made Easy Deluxe itinerary.