Madagascar

For many, Madagascar is a near-fictitious small jungle island far from anywhere, filled with adorable, monochromatic primates. But the fourth largest island in the world boasts far more than lemurs & inspiration for animated family movies.

                                                         

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activities & experiences

Madagascar is surprisingly diverse. Beginning with tropical beaches, it spreads inland through towering limestone pinnacles, thick jungles, semi-desert landscapes, mountain ranges and bustling cities, making it more than worthy of more than a mere fleeting visit.

Similar to the Galápagos, Madagascar’s flora and fauna have evolved completely independently, giving rise to its wealth of unique creatures and making it a haven for botanists, biologists and zoologists. Such a multiplicity of individuality will certainly fulfil your vacation checklist, and likely have you wishing for a return visit.

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Whether you wish to unwind upon white sand beaches, plunge into the ocean with whale sharks, partake in some wildlife spotting or view unique and spectacular natural wonders, Madagascar will deliver. Venture into the jungle realms to spot some of the 107 lemur species or spend a day wandering the colonial streets of Antananarivo, from the diverse interior to the pristine shores and beyond to the abundant ocean, you will be spoiled for choice of activity.

  • Witness lemurs in the wild in the rich rainforests of Ranomafana
  • Or get up close and personal at a rescue centre, where lemur are rehabilitated from injury and poaching
  • Step off the mainland for some whale watching
  • Visit the small surrounding islands to sample pristine beaches and a history worthy of Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Hike through the gorges and canyons of the interior
  • Grab a snorkel and mask and dive beneath the surface for some fish spotting
  • Let time slip away on your very own desert island
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destinations

From the surface of the moon to the journals of Robinson Crusoe, you will find extensive diversity in Madagascar’s changing landscapes. One of the beauties of this island nation is that however you wish to participate in your vacation – whether high energy, complete relaxation or anywhere in between – there is still a vast amount of interest on offer.

You can wander jungle pathways, in the morning, hike into the mountains in the afternoon and bask in the sunset on a white-sand beach or aboard a boat with a cocktail in hand. There are, however, a few key destinations that you simply won’t want to miss.

Ranomafana National Park


Ranomafana is one of the best places to see lemurs in their natural habitat. Lemurs are as diverse as their home island, and you will need to visit various destinations to spot them all. However, Ranomafana contains about 20 percent of the sub-species, including the adorable black-and-white ruffed lemur. You might also be lucky enough to spot one of Madagascar’s few predators, the Malagasy striped civet.

Kirindy National Park


Another of Madagascar’s many national parks, Kirindy is home to Madagascar’s apex predator, and one of the world’s rarest mammals – the fossa. About 40 miles south of Morondova, the dry deciduous forest is one of the most proliferate habitats of the curious, cat-like fossa, again an endemic species of Madagascar.

Tsingy de Bemaraha


Tsingy is the Malagasy word for ‘to walk on tiptoe’, and for good reason. The towering limestone spires of Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park reach skywards like a field of giant rock needles. Yet despite its harsh and unforgiving appearance, the park, divided into Grand and Petit Tsingy, is teeming with life. Brown lemurs leap from tree to rock and back again, lizards and frogs fill the air with song, and new species are continually being discovered due to the inaccessibility of the region. Fortunately, boardwalks and rope bridges have been erected to offer you a bird’s eye view of the fascinating landscape. Spiritually revered and superstitiously feared by the Malagasy locals, the park possesses incredible significance, both culturally and ecologically.

Farankaraina Tropical Park


Skirting the shores of northern Madagascar’s Helodrano Antonglia Bay, Farankaraina Tropical Park offers one of the foremost opportunities to witness the bizarre and critically-endangered aye-aye lemur in the wild. With its bulging yellow eyes, scruffy fur and bizarre, elongated middle finger, the aye-aye is an unofficial mascot for the island nation. Now well protected from poaching, illegal logging and development, Farankaraina is a lush jungle park with abundant wildlife, including the nocturnal aye-aye.

Nosy Be


While Madagascar’s adventurous persona is of dense forests and rocky landscapes filled with exotic and wonderful creatures, there is also a luxuriously tropical side to the island. Nosy Be has a more cosmopolitan air, with resorts, shops and restaurants designed for a western market. Coming from the secluded parks and reserves of the mainland to this environment can be a little confronting, but Nosy Be also has some wonderful quiet corners and spectacular beaches to find solitude by the exquisitely warm and clear ocean.

accommodations

Madagascar is taking a little while to catch up to the luxury accommodations of other African countries, but this is rapidly changing. While some venues are on the somewhat rustic side, they are improving continually. As with many destinations, location sometimes compromises decadence, but there remains an adequate standard across all venues.

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With that said, luxury accommodation has most certainly arrived. From boutique colonial guesthouses in the quieter suburbs of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, to your very own private island cabin, the island has a wide range of offerings.

Taking to the national parks and reserves, tented camps edge towards a more rustic feel, offering a mid-range standard when compared to the equivalents of, say, Tanzania or Kenya. With ample comfort and genial, attentive service, the location of these camps is more than adequate compensation, and what you may forgo in the premium tented camp realm will be swiftly disregarded in the wonderful surroundings and opportunities.

Beyond the mainland, Tsarabanjina Island provides pure escapism surrounded by the tropical azure waters. A wonderful destination for watersports enthusiasts or those wishing to unwind in a tropical paradise, Tsarabanjina is a private island that combines premier service and barefoot luxury with Robinson Crusoe chic.

Madagascar is yet to offer the exceptional contemporary accommodations of other African nations, but it is continually improving. What you will receive is impeccable service time and again, and venues that are more homely and welcoming, with adventure just beyond the doorstep.

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MADAGASCAR ESSENTIALS

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BEST TIME: Apr – Oct

003 Thermometer 01

CLIMATE: LOW: 43-70ºF (16-29ºC) Jul – Sep / HIGH: 72-91ºF (22-33ºC)Nov – Mar

002 Blood 01

SEASONS: DRY: Apr – Oct / WET: Nov – Mar

004 Group 01

BEST FOR: Wildlife seekers, photographers, families & a unique experience.

Madagascar is incomparable to any other country in the world. Towering baobabs, limestone monoliths, exotic beaches, incredible ocean life, and a remarkably variable landscape combine with warm hospitality, excellent service and, of course, the many weird and wonderful creatures so ubiquitous and yet utterly unique to the island. It isn’t for everyone, and will disappoint those searching for a conventional safari, but it will also captivate and charm those searching for something a little different.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

HOW LONG SHOULD I SPEND IN MADAGASCAR?

Wonderfully diverse and offering such variety, it would be a shame to spend less than 10 days on Madagascar. Even for those wishing to visit as part of a larger itinerary, five days would leave you somewhat unfulfilled. We recommend devoting two weeks or more to your Madagascar adventure, or at least seven days if you are wishing to include it alongside another experience which, as a rule, isn’t really recommended.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?

Climate varies remarkably little throughout the Malagasy year, both high and low temperatures varying by little more than seven or eight degrees annually. Rainfall, however, is drastically different. From the arid, almost drought-like dry months to the monsoonal downpours at the beginning and end of each year, the weather, like the landscapes, can vary greatly. November to February is best avoided, with October, March and April changeable. Late April through to June offers drier climate but lush vegetation, though it can become very humid. May to October is our suggested optimal time for Madagascar.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM ACCOMMODATION IN MADAGASCAR?

Madagascar is still catching up to its peers on the African mainland, but is doing so rapidly. Accommodation can be a little rustic, but visitors don’t visit the island for its decadent luxury, so this is rarely an issue. The camps and venues we have selected are more than adequate, delightfully charming and incredibly well staffed. If your expectations are reasonable, you will be pleasantly surprised, finding quaint, congenial accommodations with plenty of comfort.

OTHER DETAILS:

Visas are required to visit Madagascar, and it is strongly suggested that you contact your travel designer or a travel medicine specialist for advice.

Flights to Antananarivo will transit through Europe or one of Africa’s major international airports. From there, internal flights will be able to take you to larger destinations, but in the southerly regions, overland transits are often necessary. These can be a little longer at times, though thankfully infrequent. 

English is fairly widely spoken in hospitality, and guides will often have a strong vocabulary. However, French is the predominant language, alongside the traditional Malagasy, so a French phrasebook or even a basic grasp of French language can prove incredibly useful.

Malagasy culinary offerings are a melting pot of African dishes, seafood, spices and hints of colonial French cuisine. While you might not find Michelin standard gastronomic excellence, you will thoroughly enjoy a diversity of new and delicious dishes, freshly prepared and beautifully served across much of Madagascar.

Embrace the diversity of the nation and explore from mountain to forest and all the way to the shoreline to truly encapsulate this unique destination.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Wow, wow, wow!! We are back in LA now, recovering from jet lag and still in shock and awe regarding our experience. From the moment we landed in South Africa to the moment we touched down in LA, our experience was seamless and amazing. 

- Amy Lundberg

We were thrilled with the trip. It was as good as or better than described at every turn. The prep, attention to detail, willingness to make changes and ensure we were ready and prepared was outstanding. Our Travel Designer was awesome! 

- Betsy Robertson

Choosing a safari expert is never easy given the choice and lists upon lists of "top suppliers"....but we made the BEST choice for us....why....because above all, Rothschild listened ....really listened to what we wanted to experience.

- Dawn Jacobs

It was a well organized trip. It was easy to get around since we were guided through all of our itinerary. Everyone was pleasant and very helpful. This is an excellent way to travel. Rothschild Safari did very well and brought a fantastic African experience to us.

- George Kowalski

My trip was beyond AMAZING! I truly enjoyed every moment. The itinerary allowed me to experience a variety of different activities all of which I enjoyed! When I originally thought of going to Africa I was just thinking of safaris. This trip opened my eyes (and my family/friend's) to so much more Africa has to offer.

- Jackie Smith

Trip was PERFECT!! Every single detail was planned out and the accommodations and people were wonderful. This trip exceeded all of our wildest expectations. Every place we stayed was just lovely and each each camp had a different vibe, which was really neat. Everyone we worked with was outstanding. 

Jamie Scarlett

On behalf of the Moravec’s and the Stone’s……thank you for arranging a trip of a lifetime. Every detail was accounted for and all the recommendations were perfect. It honestly could not have gone any better.

Joe Moravec

Meggan Woody and Kim Killick were extraordinary at crafting THE PERFECT safari for our family of 8. They both listened (actually 'read' my email) to EXACTLY what we wanted, within the budget that we needed, and miraculously pulled off miracles in obtaining the properties that we wanted! 

Kim Mather

Every aspect of my trip went according to plan and the plan Rothschild's help me to orchestrate was magnificent! I loved every lodge that I was blessed to be in! They were all very different yet all high end and very accommodating.

Lisa Anderson

It was the most exciting, scenic, inspiring trip we've ever taken. To say it was a trip of a lifetime doesn't begin to capture our experience. Pam Langhoff and the Rothschild team did an outstanding job of helping us plan this trip.

Mary & Rob Johannigman (& family)