Picture of the week (No.38): Tourist attractions in Madagascar. Share
Periodically (previously every week), Willgoto selects here a nice picture. The tourist attractions in Madagascar are the theme of the thirty-eighth article in this series. This time, we have selected two pictures, one relating to lemurs, the other to baobabs. Madagascar indeed benefits from multiple tourist attractions, including exceptional fauna and flora which attract travelers from all over the world. The uniqueness of many of these attractions, however, deserves more tourists to choose this destination.
Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) around the Pangalanes Canal, eastern area of Madagascar.
Baobab (Adansonia rubrostipa) in Mangily - Ifaty in southwestern Madagascar.
The destination. Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean about 400 km east of the African coast (Mozambique). Stretching 1,600 km from north to south and 600 km from west to east, Madagascar is the fifth largest island in the world (the fourth if we exclude Australia from the ranking). Its area is more than two and a half times that of Great Britain. The island was formed more than 160 million years ago when Gondwana - a supercontinent made up notably of Africa and India - fractured as a result of continental drift.
Over the past two millennia, the island has received successive waves of settlers from various origins. Nineteen main ethnic groups and several kingdoms were formed across the island. At the beginning of the 19th century, Andrianampoinimerina, monarch of the kingdom of Ambohimanga (near Antananarivo), succeeded sometimes by force and sometimes by negotiation in uniting under his authority most of the Malagasy kingdoms. His son completed his work and became the first king of Madagascar under the name of Radama I.
In 1895, ten years after the signing of a Franco-Malagasy treaty of alliance, Madagascar was colonized by France. French colonization continued until the country's declaration of independence on June 26, 1960. Since then, political instability has most often characterized the life of the Malagasy Republic. The country's infrastructure is insufficient. The island's population - over 27 million - is growing quickly. It has more than doubled in just 25 years. Antananarivo is the political, economic and cultural capital of the country.
Madagascar's exports consist mainly of spices, nickel, cobalt, ready-made clothing, and seafood. Madagascar alone accounts for 80% of the world production of vanilla and 40% of that of cloves. Energy products and capital goods are among the country's main imports. European countries, particularly France, remain Madagascar's largest customers, while China is by far its main supplier.
Tourism. Madagascar offers travelers many and varied tourist attractions: exceptional biodiversity, beautiful beaches and sites conducive to water sports, a rich cultural heritage, a welcoming population, and many others.
The biodiversity of Big Island - as Madagascar is commonly named - is one of the most remarkable in the world. Madagascar is home to a large number of endemic plant species (including six species of baobabs - Madagascar being the only country with several species of baobabs) and endemic animals (including various species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians as well as the famous lemurs) that attract researchers and enthusiasts from all over the world. Periodically, experts discover new species in Madagascar. Among the most recent of them are Jonah’s mouse lemur, a small lemur unknown until then (August 2020) and Brookesia Nana, the world's smallest chameleon (February 2021).
You may want also to see these stunning pictures of Madagascar's attractions (currently maily in French):
Madagascar owes this exceptional biodiversity to the fact that the island has been isolated from the African continent for millions of years. However, this biodiversity is threatened mainly by the incessant deforestation from which the country suffers despite some reforestation campaigns. 75% of the original plant species have disappeared. 103 of the 107 listed lemur species are threatened and 33 of them are classified as critically endangered.
In addition to various private reserves, Madagascar is home to 25 national parks and about 15 other protected areas that are managed by the public utility association "Madagascar National Parks". These protected areas are spread throughout the country. Besides their unique flora and fauna, several of these protected areas, for instance Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature reserve and Isalo National Park, offer spectacular landscapes. The Tsingy de Bemaraha consist of limestone rocks formed by deposits of fossils and shells that died in the sea millions of years ago and subsequently shaped by rainwater.
The Pangalanes Canal belongs also to Madagascar's natural attractions due to the lush vegetation and the rich biodiversity that border it. Built at the beginning of the XX century in the eastern area of the island, the canal connects a succession of rivers and lakes over 600 km along the coast of the Indian Ocean from which it is sometimes separated by a few hundred meters only.
In total, Madagascar offers countless opportunities for hiking (on foot, motorbike or other) and wildlife watching.
As for beaches and water sports (fishing, diving, surfing and others), Madagascar has many places of interest, such as the Nosy Be archipelago off the northwest coast of Madagascar, the island of Sainte Marie in the north-east side of Madagascar, and the beautiful Ramena Beach located about twenty kilometers from Antsiranana. The surroundings of Antsiranana (the big city in the north of the country, often called Diego-Suarez) attract also many water sports enthusiasts, especially as for kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Vacationers also enjoy boat trips, for example to snorkel in the wonderful Emerald Sea (also in the vicinity of Antsiranana) or to watch whales off the islands of Sainte Marie or Nosy Be. Every year from June to September, humpback whales migrate from the polar coasts of Antarctica to the warm waters of northeastern Madagascar in order to mate and give birth.
Due to its long history and the French colonization, Madagascar benefits from a rich cultural heritage, such as the Antananarivo Rova (Queen's Palace) and the Andafiavaratra Palace (Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony's Palace) but also the ancestral traditions of local people and remarkable craftsmanship (wood sculptures, wild silk, Antaimoro paper and many others).
Three of Madagascar's attractions have been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage: two natural sites (the Atsinanana Rainforests and the Tsingy de Bemaraha Nature Reserve) and one cultural site (the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga).
Lemurs. Lemurs are primates endemic to Madagascar. They are divided into several families and species, some of which are now extinct. They vary a lot in terms of physiology, morphology and behavior. The Ring-tailed Lemur (commonly called Maki Catta) is probably the best-known living species while the Indriids, in particular the Indri Indri and the Sifakas, are the largest.
Lepilemurs (called also “sportive lemurs”) as well as Cheirogaleids (including "mouse lemurs") and Avahis belong to nocturnal lemurs.
The black-and-white ruffed lemur weighs between 3 and 5 kg. It feeds on leaves, fruits, berries and insects. Unlike other lemurs, the newborns are too weak to cling to their mother. This is why the mother builds a nest before the birth. Black-and-white ruffed lemur is one of the critically endangered species.
The baobabs. A baobab is a tree with a generally big trunk with a crown of irregular branches that are devoid of leaves during most of the dry season, giving it the appearance of an upside-down tree. Despite its colossal appearance in adulthood, the inside of the tree is fibrous and absorbs large amounts of water during the rainy season so that the trunk swells and then shrinks as this water reserve runs out during the dry season.
Out of the eight baobab species in the world, seven live in Madagascar and six of them are endemic to this country. They are mainly found along the Baobab Alley located near Morondava, in the baobab forest of Mangily - Ifaty (in the vicinity of Toliara) and in the north of the island.
How to get there. In February 2021, Malagasy borders are closed to travelers from around 40 countries (including most countries of Europe and North America) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In normal times, travelers arrive in Madagascar usually by plane, mainly at the Ivato international airport located in the vicinity of Antananarivo. Direct flights mainly come from other islands in the Indian Ocean, France (Paris and Marseille), Istanbul and some African capitals (Johannesburg, Nairobi and Addis Ababa). Regional airports such as those of Sainte Marie, Diego Suarez or Nosy Be, also welcome direct flights from other islands in the Indian Ocean, in particular from Reunion.
The author of the pictures. All above pictures belong to Willgoto. See all our pictures from Madagascar (over 200 pictures).
Picture of the week 1: Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. It is endemic to Cuba.
Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
Picture of the week 3: Seychelles beach. Seychelles is a perfect destination for a dream holiday.
Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.
Picture of the week 7: Firewalking in Mauritius. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice.
And many more pictures of the week including:
Picture of the week 28: Beach of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a dream destination for sunny beach holidays particularly after a long safari in East Africa.
Picture of the week 29: Fauna of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is an ideal destination for all enthusiasts of wildlife.
Picture of the week 30: The red crab of Christmas Island (Australia). The annual migration of Christmas Island red crabs is the main tourist attraction of the island.
Picture of the week 31: Cultural attractions of Bangkok (Thailand). Wat Pho - the Temple of the Reclining Buddha - is one of the most popular cultural attractions of the Thai capital.
Picture of the week 32: Tourist attractions of Belgium. The Atomium is remarkable building which, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, has become the emblem of the city.
Picture of the week 33: Tourist attractions of Luang Prabang (Laos). The famous Wat Xieng Thong is representative of the religious architectural style of Luang Prabang.
Picture of the week 34: The tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Ho Chi Minh City and its Chinatown quarter, Cholon, are home to many tourist attractions.
Picture of the week 35: Mangroves in Mexico. Mangroves are particularly valuable ecosystems for humans and for wildlife.
Picture of the week 36: Cultural attractions of Costa Rica. The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in San José is one of the most important museums dedicated to pre-Columbian gold artifacts in the world.
Picture of the week 37: The tourist attractions of Reunion Island. Reunion Island is a dream destination for most outdoor activities such as hiking and paragliding.
See all our "Pictures of the week".