Tips for a successful trip to Madagascar (Part two)
Top Things to do in Madagascar
Visit to the Top National Parks:
The biodiverse and the beautiful land of Madagascar has much to offer as far as its national parks are concerned. The incredibly beautiful landscape and rare wildlife is a treat for the eyes. The Top most national parks to be included in your Madagascar Must See list are:
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park:
This is where you can spot the largest lemur – Indri or Babakoto – as well as eleven other lemur species like the Aye-Aye, the world’s largest nocturnal primate. It is just a three hours drive from Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar. You can also spot a number of the hundred and eight bird species found here.
Ankarafantsika National Park:
This park houses eight species of lemurs and a hundred and twenty eight species of birds. You should not miss the big-headed turtles and rhinoceros chameleons during your visit here. Be prepared to walk on long four to five hour trails to meet the ethnic groups called Sakalava known for farming large zebu cattle herds. The name Sakalava means “people of the long valleys”.
Andringitra National Park:
This park is situated at the second highest point of Madagascar at the crest of Boby peak. It is one of the six national parks covered by UNESCO’s Rainforests (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) of the Atsinanana World Heritage Site. You can enjoy a three day hiking to the summit of Peak Boby camping on the way or staying at humble hotels. The park covers a section of granite Andringitra Massif and is known for its grasslands, humid forests, rivers and high altitudes. Thirteen species of Lemurs are also found here.
Isalo National Park:
The sandstone massif is beautifully eroded and converted into deep gorges, with sharp ridges and wide canyons with mini pinnacles. The terrain is surreal and attractive to hikers who are welcomed by peaceful waterfalls and natural pools to swim and cool off the heat. Lemurs with ring tails are the highlights of this park as they dance sideways and can be easily spotted in Canyon Singes swinging their way through the canopies.
Amber Mountain National Park:
Is at the Northern most region of Madagascar with a spectacular forest rising as tall as forty meters high. Ferns are so dense that they hide even rivers and waterfalls giving birth to innumerable plant species. A home to eight lemur species and seventy five bird species and a special chameleon, Brookesia minima, is found here which is known to the world’s smallest reptiles.
Ranomafana National Park:
This is also a UNESCO Rainforest where rare orchids are found. A perfect green backdrop of hills to hike that is known for it’s magnificent views. The endangered golden bamboo lemur is found here and as per records only a thousand of them exist. They eat bamboo that contains poisonous cyanide. Other than golden bamboo, eleven more lemur species are found in this park.
Expeditions of River canoeing:
The river journeys are rated as top most by travelers who have visited Madagascar in the middle of nowhere. It takes three days to complete the full journey and along the way you get a close look at the Malagasy way of life as you pass villages with people who maybe panning gold, or mining sapphires or just living off the river.
Disembarking from your four wheel drive is the best way to feel the mud and dirt and stones under your feet. The hikes in Madagascar are famous as they can go on for many days with stops at villages en route and brushing shoulder with the warm Malagasy hospitality. The landscape is so beautiful and the diversity of it all is worth soaking in ranging from picturesque rain forests, quiet waterfalls, magnificent baobab trees, rough jagged mountain peaks, breathtaking cliffs, limestone karsts and much more.
Visit the Avenue of the Baobabs:
It is along dusty and bumpy one hour drive to reach the Avenue of the Baobabs. There are twenty trees roughly thirty meters high, up to 800 years old. Whaaaat?! They are under threat due to deforestation in the surrounding areas which impacts the weather of the region. The trees are considered scared by the locals as they believe that inside the trees reside the spirits of the deceased. It is one of the most memorable sunrise ever and surely a highlight for every traveler who visits this beautiful gift of nature.
There is no fees to visit the Avenue of the Baobabs.
What are the health and safety Tips for traveling to Madagascar?
- Visit your GP six weeks before you travel to Madagascar for routine vaccinations like MMR, Tetanus and polio.
- Take anti-malarial medication before your travel to Madagascar as a precaution. Use strong mosquito repellent methods.
- If you are traveling with kids make sure they are hydrated well as children loose fluids very easily and faster than adults.
- Mineral or bottled water is safe to drink everywhere you go to Madagascar. It is easily available everywhere.
- The sun tends to be very strong therefore take strong sun screen creams and keep yourself covered if you can.
- Keep your belongings safe. Do not leave valuables in locked cars or leave them without any attendance on the beach side. Be careful when you are traveling or partying in the cities during late evenings. It is not Canada eh! In this area, Madagascar is more like Paris or New york style especially in the big cities so watch out for pickpockets.
- Beaches are not guarded usually. Keep a vigil on your kids or yourself if they are enjoying water sports or paddling.
For any expedition – be it a hiking trip, canoeing or national park make sure you hire a tour operator much in advance to have the comfort and safety of a local with you as you travel through Madagascar.
Check out the Part one of the Tips for a successful trip to Madagascar.
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