I f wildlife is a passion of yours – and you love looking out for new and exciting creatures when you go on a walking holiday – then Madagascar is the place for your next break. The African island nation is home to a vast array of unique and stunning animals.
Should you be wondering just what makes Madagascar so special, it’s the fact that 80 per cent of the animals here can be found nowhere else in the world, so a walking holiday in the country will be like no other you’ve ever experienced.
As there is such a diversity of landscapes and so many national parks and protected reserves (almost 50, in fact) there is no way you can explore them all in one go. It’s much better to concentrate on a small area and see as much as you can here.
Below is a bit of information about two of the national parks you could visit as part of a walking trip with Explore Worldwide.
Andasibe and Mantadia National Park
This protected area, which covers 154 sq km, is split into two sections – Reserve Speciale d’Analamazaotra and Parc National de Mantadia. Both of them are cloaked in dense rainforest, which is home to all manner of interesting flora and fauna.
Madagascar is well-known for being the home of lemurs and Andasibe is one of the best places on the island in which to observe the largest of the lemur species – the Indri. You may even be able to get quite close to these lovely creatures, as there are a couple of family groups in the area that are used to humans, so keep your camera handy!
A further 13 kinds of lemur inhabit the forest here, including the woody, grey bamboo and red-bellied species, as well as the diademed sifaka. Another draw for visitors to Madagascar is the variety of reptiles. There are 50 different ones here – among them is the island’s largest chameleon calumma parsonii and the boa manditra snake.
Situated further north than the Andasibe protected area is the Ambatovaky Reserve, which spans 600 sq km and is the largest special reserve in Madagascar. Much of the region is covered by virgin, low-altitude rainforest, making it a haven for wildlife lovers to explore.
Again, there are numerous lemur species that inhabit the trees, including the aye-aye, and the black and white ruffed lemurs. This is also an excellent place for bird watching, with creatures such as the Madagascar serpent eagle, the Madagascar pygmy kingfisher and the ashy cuckoo shrike inhabiting the area.
There is also the opportunity to learn more about some of the country’s native people – the Betsimisaraka, who are the second-largest ethnic group on the island. They still adhere to a range of old traditions, including not eating certain species of lemur and also frogs.
They are also forbidden to use metallic tools to tend their crops and they observe several sacred days every week when they cannot go out to work in their fields.
This is just a small taste of what you can look forward to if you visit Madagascar and have the pleasure of discovering some of its many nature reserves on foot.
Have you been to Madagascar? What animals did you most enjoy seeing and what would you recommend that fellow travellers look out for as they walk in the country’s rainforests?