Madagascar

Madagascar is magical. The fourth largest island in the world, it is home to five percent of the world’s plant and animal species, 80 percent of which are unique to Madagascar. The most famous among these species are the towering Baobab trees and the variety of primates known as lemurs.

One of the world’s last undiscovered places with so many contrasts in one place: weird and wonderful creatures, desert and rainforest, reef and mountain. This ‘8th continent’ off the East coast of Africa has epic terrain and some truly mind-blowing wildlife. If you love to get off the beaten track – this is a dream destination for anyone with an adventurous spirit.

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What to Expect

There is so much to discover on the island besides lemurs. Madagascar has 5% of all known plant & animal species, with many unique and strange creatures calling this island home – the abundance of wildlife is a revelation.

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Here you will find the fossa (the only predator on the island), bright frogs, bobble-eyed chameleons and graceful sea life such as turtles, sharks and rays. Your eyes will be spoilt with flora such as the baobab trees, the spiny forest deserts and hundreds of brightly colored orchids decorating the rainforests.

Don't Miss Out

The Essence of Madagascar — Madagascar’s iconic wildlife encounter is being with lemurs. There are about 105 different species on the island and they are only found on Madagascar. The largest species is the indry and you may hear its eerie cry in the deciduous forests where it dwells.

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The smallest lemur species is the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, standing at just 3-4 inches (9-11 cm) tall. Along your journey you will find lemurs of every size in between! The unique aye-aye and the leaping sifaka are stand outs among outstanding animals. No matter where you go, these gregarious creatures are curious and bold and will be a memorable part of your Malagasy experience.

Incredible Cultures – These are people who have been isolated from the mainland for 165 million years. Malagasy culture is a unique blend of South East Asian and African cultures that is very far removed from our own cultures. The heavy emphasis on tradition and ritual is fascinating and an intrinsic part of Malagasy everyday life.

The beautiful, fierce nomadic tribes of the Antadroy still follow ancient traditions of ancestor worship. Experience sacred forests, tombs and cults, bizarre and fascinating traditions and long-established ceremonies. Take part in traditional dancing and music. Explore local markets which delight the senses with color, smells, sounds, fantastic ‘people watching’ and the odd bargain!

Fascinating Landscapes – Few places on earth offer such diversity as Madagascar. A variety of forests from rainy, to dry to spiny are home to Baobab trees, rice paddies, arid deserts, sandstone canyons and limestone karsts. Add to this, 3,000 miles (4,828 km) of beautiful beaches and pristine tropical reef and the scenery of the island is a photographer’s dream.

Hidden Gem – If you are anything like us (and we suspect you are!), then at some point you have dreamed of running off to a private island to hide from the world. Tucked into the azure waters off the Northern Malagasy coast, lies your dream-come-true on the island of Nosy Ankao. Miavana is an exclusive private resort accessible by helicopter, sensitive to the needs of the local people and rebuilding the precious environment it inhabits. A visit here is a win for everyone—Madagascar gets conservation support and you get to live out your dreams on a private island with world-class experiences.

Need to know

Flights are arranged into Antananarivo usually via gateways like Paris, Istanbul and Dubai; or African gateways like Johannesburg, Nairobi, and Addis Ababa.

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  • We recommend 10-21 days in Madagascar for an in-depth safari. Madagascar is a destination in its own right and not usually added on to a mainland safari—but it is possible!
  • Madagascar is for nature lovers and intrepid travelers. Families are welcome to explore the island together.
  • Visas are required for most visitors and it’s best to be organized in advance. Inoculations may be recommended. We suggest you see a travel medicine specialist for advice.
  • Infrastructure is limited due to the size of the country and remote destinations. Flying is typically recommended throughout the North and limited flights are available. In the South, most safaris are overland but not all roads are in fair conditions.
  • Malagasy and French are the main languages, with limited English spoken in the hospitality industry. Basic French is helpful!
  • Guides will have qualifications to operate the activities and excursions you choose.
  • Malagasy food ambushes your senses—in a good way! As with most islands, the food is reflective of a crossroads of cultures and is flavorful and exciting.

When to go

Madagascar enjoys a tropical climate year-round and can be a year-round destination. Winter generally occurs between May through October and means drier conditions and cooler temperatures, only a light jacket is recommended.

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Between the months of November through April expect high humidity and intense tropical thunderstorms including cyclones.

May – October: This is the long dry season with typical clear skies and mild temperatures in the high 80s F (low 30s C). This is peak season for tourism, particularly August when it is dry and cool.

November – April:  This is typically the rainy or ‘green’ season, when landscapes are lush but high temperatures, humidity, and chance of thunderstorms or cyclones.

Accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation available on Madagascar. While service standards might not be the same as on the mainland, you will be looked after with care and a smile.

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The quirky and varied accommodations are part of Madagascar’s charm. Small guesthouses, beach resorts, and rainforest camps are full of character and comfort. There are new properties developing which will raise the standards throughout the island.

What our travelers say

Amy Lundberg

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. 

Betsy Robertson

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! 

Dawn Jacobs

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.

George Kowalski

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.

Jackie Smith

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.

Jamie Scarlett

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. 

Joe Moravec

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.

Kim Mather

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! 

Lisa Anderson

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.

Mary & Rob Johannigman (and family)

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.