Madagascar, 400 km off the East coast of Africa, is the world’s fourth largest island (excluding Australia), a fragment of Gondwanaland left behind when the ancient landmass split to form the continents of Africa, India and Australia; it stretches 1600 km from north to south and is 650 km across at its widest point.
The most astonishing thing about the island is its flora and fauna, found nowhere else in the world. The island has been referred to as “natures design laboratory”, because of the many unique creatures and vegetation, some of quite a primitive nature. The terrain varies from tropical rainforest to desert, from high stony plateaus to lush green islands with many unique geological and geographical formations.
Madagascar has a range of unique animals and plants which have evolved here separated from the rest of the world. The most notable are the Lemurs of which nearly 30 are described. We will visit a number of their known habitats and search both day and night so that, with just a little luck we will see a fair number of these pro-simian primates. For the bird watcher there are over 250 species of which 106 are endemic, whilst for lovers of reptiles most of the world’s chameleons are found here, in fact, the country is nearly as well known for its chameleon population as for its lemurs.
The flora has its own peculiarities, the vegetation varying wildly by climatic region - thorny scrub in the southwest, tropical rainforest along the east coast, heath-land and moss forests on the central plateau and savannahs in the western lowlands. The two best-known examples of these unusual plants are the fan shaped Ravinala, known as the Traveller’s Palm, and the Baobab of which there are 10 different species. We will see many examples of these throughout while in the tropical forests we will see trees lush with ferns, fungi, mosses and orchids. Most of this unique flora and fauna, together with some now extinct species, were here when the first humans arrived some 1500 to 2000 years ago. The first inhabitants were Malay Polynesians who crossed the Indian Ocean in large canoes from Indonesia and South East Asia. These early settlers mixed with later arrivals, African, Arab, Indian and Portuguese traders and French colonials have formed the current 18 official tribes, collectively termed the Malagasy. French is the official language and is spoken in all but the remotest areas.
The country has recovered from its recent political problems, everywhere things are improving – new roads, airports and other infrastructures are being built. The country is in great need of foreign currency as part of this income can be used to help preserve what remains of the Island’s natural wonders.
For those looking for something different, this is it!
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We specialise in small group tours to unique destinations around the globe. So if you’d like to go somewhere different, please contact us today.
You can find us at:
Suite 502, 107 Walker Street
North Sydney NSW 2060