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Madagascar: Madagascar Tourism Profile


Madagascar Baobab Trees-globserver

Madagascar is one of Africa's most fascinating nations with a incomparable flora and fauna that has long attracted scientists and wildlife enthusiasts. But additional tourists are discovering Madagascar's beaches, and Malagasy music and food as well.

Recent political turmoil from 2009 onwards has affected tourism

Location: Madagascar is an island in the Indian ocean off the coast of Mozambique in southern Africa, (see map).
Area: Madagascar covers an area of 587,040 sq km, (similar in size to Kenya and France).
Capital City: Antananarivo commonly known as "Tana".
People: Around 20 million people live in Madagascar.
Language: French and Malagasy are the official languages.


The tourism sector is completely well structured because of several existing associations, which are organized by function and national scope. Tourism in Madagascar specializes additional and additional on niche markets based on its natural resources. Madagascar is a key destination, thanks to the endemic fauna and flora (respectively 80 and 90%), 70% of the lemurs species in the world, 1.000 of orchids species, 46 classified sites, its other tourist attractions are resort sites (thanks to its 5 000 km of coast with a lot of beaches and bays) and the diverse culture of its people.

Introductory words

The history of Madagascar began 160 million years ago, as the island “broke up” with the African continent. At that time mammals did not even exist (they appeared ca 100 million years later), that is why we miss the typical African fauna in Madagascar. With the remarkable exception of bats, which could fly from the continent, there is not a single Madagascar mammal species which we can find in any other place of the world. The fourth major island in the world, Madagascar is one of the majority bio-diverse nations on earth, home to thousands of species of plant and animal life of which about 80 % cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Even 65 % of all bird species are endemic to Madagascar, which means that they can only be found there.

The huge and immense tropical forests of Madagascar are considered a authentic Eldorado by researchers and scientists worldwide. Even the large rainforests of South America cannot compete with the enormous biodiversity of Madagascar’s flora and fauna, which offer a incomparable habitat for some survivals of the Dino time like the chameleons: With 40 different species, Madagascar counts on the highest chameleon biodiversity of the world. Dwarf chameleons, tomato frogs, giant rats and hedgehog-like tenrecs are other curious creatures inhabiting this exotic realm, while the country's isolation for centuries has developed remarkable tree species like swollen Baobab and the spiny forest.

But doubtless the majority famous inhabitants of this island are the lemurs. There are 50 types of these half monkeys and half squirrels, ranging from the cosy teddy-bear assembling like the sifakas to the utterly bizarre like the aye-ayes. Sifakas are the trapeze artists of the lemurs: they are proved to be skillful climbers and powerful jumpers, able to make leaps of up to 10 m from one tree branch to the next. Comparing to their elegant appearance, the rodent-like shape of the aye-aye gnawing holes in the trees to pull grubs out with a long, thin middle finger certainly seems to justify the native superstition surrounding this mysterious animal. The Aye-aye has been traditionally seen a harbinger of evil. Indeed one theory exposes that the word "aye aye" itself means simply a cry of alarm to alert others to the presence of this animal. It may be a paradox but this superstition has contributed to the preservation of this peculiar lemur and prevented to be hunted for food.

The fascinating uniqueness of this island has led some to class it as the Eighth Continent. The diversity of Madagascar’s peoples, its incomparable nature frame, its unexplored coral reefs and other major attractions will undeniably draw an increasing number of visitors to dare a visit to this far corner of the world. If you are looking for a different destination with refreshing warm-hearted locals, huge national parks under the beaten track, rare and endangered species, an astonishing sea life and spectacular trekkings in a moonlike landscape you will be highly rewarded.

National Parks & Nature Reserves

* ANGAP, the former official institution in charge of the management of the National Parks and Reserves has changed its name. Since the end of 2009 it is just called Madagascar National Parks. A brand new data centre and gift shop were opened on June 2010. Both are located in Tana inside the Gare de Soarano (the major train station) next to the Place de L'Independence.

The major office is located in the northeast part of Antananarivo:
Immeuble Madagascar National Parks
Ambatobe - BP 1424, 101 Antananarivo
Phone: +261 (20) 22 415 38 / 418 83

The entrance tickets to visit the National Parks can be bought at the major entrance of each Park or at the major office in Tana. The entrance fees are as follows:
- For Andasibe, Ranomafana, Tsingy de Bemaraha, Isalo, Ankarana and Ankarafantsika fees are: 25,000 Ar for one day, 37,000 Ar for two days, 40,000 Ar for three days and 50,000 for four or additional days.
- For all other Parks fees are: 10,000 Ar one day, 15,000 Ar two days, 20,000 three days and 25,000 Ar four days.
- The entrance fee for children is 200 Ar a day and 1,000 Ar for locals. The guide costs depends on the duration of the excursion and are different from park to park.

The island of Madagascar, once described as 'Noah's Ark adrift in the Indian Ocean', has some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. The inventory of endemic species here is extraordinary: 97% of animals are incomparable to the island. Its dwindling forests are home to half the world's chameleon varieties, 300 species of butterfly, 28 kinds of bat, 150 types of frog and 260 different reptiles. Incomparable to Madagascar too are additional than 50 types of lemurs and the half of its 201 resident bird species. Some species found here have their closest relatives not in Africa but in the South Pacific and South America. The island has no deer or antelope species, and as well lacks large predators. There are however seven species of endemic carnivore species in the island, being the highly endangered fossa is the major one. It is nocturnal and preys on lemurs and small domestic animals.

The breathtaking Madagascar’s wildlife attracts yearly an increasing number of visitors targeting the large island in the Indian Ocean with their photo and video cameras. In fact it is lemurs that really draw wildlife enthusiasts here. 30 species of lemur populate almost all habitats of the country inclunding the lush, wet, rainforest of eastern Madagascar and the very dry spiny desert in the southwest. Because of deforestation, the number of these teddy-like mammals is however steadily dwindling. Fifteen species have become extinct since humans arrived here. The majority significant threat is the traditional wood-clearance method called “tavy”, though significant measures have been implemented by government in an attempt to tackle this critical menace promoting eco-tourism and getting locals involved in the tourism profits.

Above we have only vaguely approached some of the impressive wonders of Madagascar’s fauna, completely ignoring the unbelievable flora of the country that boats plants and trees growing in the majority crazy shapes.

A trip to Madagascar is a truly defiance of anybody’s imagination. The incomparable landscapes of vermilion eroded soil cut in dizzy-making gorges and sharpen karstic needles, the fabulous dry forests peppered with amazing baobab trees and surreal spiny plants, the humid beauty of untouched rainforests in the Eastern park of the country, its mile long pristine coasts and marine parks bustling with a dreamy undersea life, the extraordinariness of the omnipresent wildlife… A trip to this remote corner of the planet will be carved in your memories for a lifetime. And you really do not need to be a biologist to appreciate why this huge island has deserved the nickname of the eight continent.