The 18 tribes of Madagascar are very loyal to local customs. I was fascinated by Famadihana, a festival in which the bones of dead ancestors are unearthed and paraded around the tomb to live music.
Ra, Original Traveller
Despite being the fourth largest island in the world and a mere 250 miles off the coast of mainland Africa, Madagascar remains a largely undiscovered corner of the continent and as far as we're concerned, that's all the more reason to love it.
Why we think you’ll love it
- Lemurs, lemurs and more lemurs! Every variety of this dancing, jumping, singing, furry beast can be found here, and only here
- There's great whale watching on the island paradise of Ile Ste Marie - humpbacks come to calve in the warm seas from July to September
- Dive the islands of the Nosy Be archipelago and find your own castaway beach - it's a genuine chance to leave the modern world behind
From the gallery
Madagascar Luxury Holidays: The Detail
There's no denying that Madagascar is unique. An astonishing 80% of the country's flora and fauna is endemic to the island. A fascinating mélange of African, Asian, Arabic and European cultures is evident wherever you are, from the rice paddy fields in the valleys to the Arab style pirogues on the river and the clapped out Renaults which rule the streets of Tana. Even the name of the capital, Antananarivo (hence Tana, to those in the know), is exotic and the rest of the country certainly lives up to that reputation. Quite the heady mix when it comes to a luxury holiday, in our humble opinion.
Did you know
- About 80% of the animals found in Madagascar do not exist anywhere else on earth
- The island has two official languages: Malagasy and French
- Only 11% of the country's roads are paved
- Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world
- Madagascar has the third largest coral reef system in the world, the Toliara coral reef, off the south-western coast
The terrain varies from tropical rainforest and paradise beaches to central highland plateaux and the dry desert-like south. Dancing lemurs, avenues of gigantic baobabs, spectacular birds, luxurious beach retreats and an incredibly hospitable population are just some of the things you can expect to come across on your Madagascar luxury holiday.
Everything starts and ends in Tana, which is conveniently located bang in the middle of the island. From this central hub, you can head off exploring the country, but it is well worth spending a few days in the city at the beginning or the end of your holiday to sample some of the fabulous local cuisine, which the colonial French thankfully left behind, and to stock up on some excellent textiles for which the country is famed.
Heading out from the city, the south of Madagascar is best explored on an epic road trip from Tana to Tuleur through National Parks with some of the most extraordinary landscapes imaginable. Travel through desert canyons in Isalo National Park, tropical forests in Ranomafana, and the mountainous Tsaranoro Valley region, seeing the ubiquitous lemur on route.
The east coast of the country is home to a distinctly Caribbean vibe of spectacular beaches and islands that were the favourite haunts of buccaneers plying the spice routes in days of old. Fortunately the latter day visitor is more likely to see whales cruising offshore than pirate ships.
Finally, if you're more at home under the sea, fear not - you'll find an unparalleled quality of diving and snorkelling around some of the most unspoilt reefs in the world, mostly located in the north of the island. Here dive operators and local fishermen work together to protect the environment while encouraging sustainable tourism and protecting one of the few corals whose biodiversity has not yet been drastically changed by the effects of global warming. The beaches, islands and luxury lodges along this stretch of coastline are none too shabby either.
A Madagascar luxury holiday will certainly be unlike any other you've ever been on. This is, after all, a country quite unlike any you'll ever have been to.