It’s wonderful to revel in the peculiarities nature has to offer. Africa is filled with them, however, Madagascar takes the lead in this regard. From magnificent mountains to idyllic islands, to triumphant trees, it’s an exotic sanctuary that is unparalleled to any other place in this world.
At 60 million years old, Madagascar is the oldest island in the world and seems other-worldly in how it has evolved and developed into the unique and mysterious place that it is today. In its isolation it has developed an astonishing array of landscapes and animals – 5% of all animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. It’s like another planet and these are 5 things that make it so extraordinary…
1. It’s the world’s oldest island
As Sir David Attenborough says, “Madagascar is a curious wonderland. It’s an unrepeatable experiment, a set of animals and plants evolving in isolation for over 60 million years. We’re still trying to unravel its mysteries.” Be honest, you read it in his poignant and powerfully soft voice didn’t you? Feel free to read the rest in his voice too, the facts will somehow seem more accurate. My adoration for Mr. Attenborough aside, this unique land astounds the mind and invigorates the soul.
2. The wildlife
Lemurs, chameleons and fossas. Left in isolation Madagascar has developed its own cosmos of wonderful and peculiar creatures. It’s home to over 200,000 different wildlife species and more than 10,000 plant species, of which over 90% of these are found nowhere else on earth! Every unique animal adds to the charm of this wonderful island. The chameleons alone are infinitely fascinating, they range from the size of a fingernail to 68 cm with different colours and varieties. They are like the living formation of a rainbow. There are over 100 types of lemurs and these adorable creatures are the embodiment of this unique island. They have cheeky personalities and an animated appearance, with their long tails and their curious eyes, it’s hard not to love them.
3. The beaches
Madagascar is 2,000 km long and has almost 5,000 km of coastline. Many of its beaches are breathtakingly beautiful and surrounded by emerald forests. Turtles visit the beaches, dolphins and whales appear in its waters revelling in the crystal clear water of this wonderland. You can even take a kayak off to explore the neighboring islands. This paradise is truly picturesque and demands that you bask in its beauty. I recommend lying on a beach, sipping on some cocktails as you do this.
4. The unique scenery
One of the reasons Madagascar is a bucket-list destination is because it baffles the mind due to its diverse environment. Lush forests, towering mountain ranges, dry bleached salt pans and remarkably strange rock formations all found on this one incredible island. Tsingy de Bemaraha is a geologist’s dream. Here you find astonishing rock formations designed by nature through erosion. You can walk through this limestone forest creating an unusual visual and tactical experience.
Baobab Alley is a striking collection of baobabs that line a road in the west. Baobabs are utilised by humans for many purposes, including shelter, ceremonies, food, medicine, fibre, beer and more recently, with the Instagram health craze, smoothies #wellness. They’re captivating-looking trees, almost cartoon-like. They kind of look as if they should be in a Dr. Seuss book. “I will not climb the baobab, not even if your name’s Charles Macnab.” I hope for the sake of that last sentence you are still reading this in Sir David Attenborough’s voice.
5. The fascinating culture and history
Apart from the island’s amazing scenery and animal life, Madagascar is also a melting pot of diverse cultures and traditions. With more than 18 different ethnic groups, the Malagasy culture is a blended mix of African, Arab and Indian origin with some of the friendliest locals in all of Africa. They wear traditional dress called ‘lamba’. The combination of this blissful demeanour and their vivid attire makes for a jovial impression.
So if you like triumphant trees and lively lemurs,
And have an affinity for the bizarre,
This is a place made for the dreamers
Why not extend your travel repertoire to Madagascar?