Mind-blowing Madagascar

Nicknamed the “Great Island”, Madagascar is located just of the coast of Africa in the warm Indian Ocean and is the fourth largest island in the world. With 90 percent of its wildlife unique to the islands, anyone who loves exploring new terrain and being in nature with amazing animals will fall in love with this bio-diverse country.

What to Do

An island full of adventure and friendly people, Madagascar is a must-visit on anyone’s bucket list. There is no shortage of things to do, including, but not limited to: scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking/trekking, sport fishing, bird watching, ecotourism, going to museums and galleries, whale watching, kitesurf and windsurf, surfing, cruises, and much more.

Here is a list of some specific places and sites that visitors have to go and see:

  1. Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, is known as Tana to its people and hosts the beautiful Queen’s Palace, President’s Palace and vibrant open-air markets.
  2. Andringitra National Park is a great place to see majestic mountain peaks, deep valleys, and of course, plenty of cute and curious animals.
  3. A UNESCO World Heritage Site called Tsingy de Bemehara Reserve.
  4. Isalo National Park for its gorgeous topography including palm-lined oases and canyons.
  5. The towns of Morondava, Anakao, and Vatomandy for their isolation, nearby fishing villages, and pretty beaches.
  6. Nosy Be island for its resort and beaches.
  7. Antsirabe for its nearby Lac Trativa crater lake and colonial-era train station.

What to Eat

A combination of Indonesian, African, and Arab culture with a touch of French influence, Madagascar cuisine is known for being simple, yet incredibly flavorful. In addition to using sugar cane, vanilla, cloves, and coffee for many dishes, a traditional meal in Madagascar usually contains a side of vegetables, a bowl of ro (a mix of herbs, rice, and leaves), and a main dish of fish, meat, or poultry. Some dishes popular with the locals include ramazava, lasopy, vary amid’anana, and foza sy hena-kisoa. Ramazava is a dish made up of pork, beef, leaves, and herbs that is cooked in oil until browned. Lasopy is a beef or veal broth soup with tomatoes, carrots, turnips, string beans, white potatoes, scallions, and salt and served with fresh bread or crackers. Vary amid’anana is a dish full of rice, meat, herbs or leaves, and sometimes shrimp. Foza sy hena-kisoa consists of stir-fried pork and crab that is served with rice. A popular snack food is koba, a serving of rice served with bananas and seafood. Deserts tend to be fresh island fruit flavored with vanilla and sprinkled with sugar.

What to Shop For

Local markets are popular in Madagascar with every town and city having one. These are great places to shop for local goods and foods such as a bag of baobab seeds, local rum cocktails, sun dried jujube fruit, Fair Trade jams, wild pepper and pink peppercorns, zebu horn salad servers, baobab or lychee flower honey, essential oils, like Madagascan helichrysum, white ginger lily or cinnamon, saka-saka, a sort of soup of cassava leaves, sold in tins, Antemoro paper, which is made from wild mulberry tree bark scattered with fresh flowers picked from near the town of Ambalavao, coffee beans, and of course, the fragrant, tasty vanilla that the country is known for. Local arts and crafts are widely popular on the island and visitors can find a wide variety of home décor, fashion pieces, and ethnic souvenirs. This includes intricate wood carvings, colorful, woven lamba squares, intricate embroideries, and semiprecious stones set in silver jewelry.

Where to Stay

Despite being a relatively small island, there are plenty of different accommodations to choose from. For those who love to relax in comfort, there are beautiful luxurious hotels right next to national parks and white sandy beaches. These hotels offer spas, Jacuzzi, gourmet cuisine, and much more. There are also the standard and budget hotels for those who are looking to save some money. Charming and quaint, these hotels, hostels, lodges, bungalows, and cabins are perfect for families. Last, but certainly not least, are homestays. What better way to experience the Malagasy than staying in a beautiful home. Happy travels!

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