Located off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is home to thousands of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. A veneration of ancestry and tradition pervades the national culture, a reverence that is reflected in the country’s architecture, art, and social manners.
Ile Sainte Marie
The Ile Sainte Marie lies off the east coast of Madagascar. The island’s array of protected bays and inlets drew pirates to Ile Sainte Marie during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the wrecks of several pirate ships can still be viewed from the shallow waters of the Baie des Forbans. Today the island is one of the top tourist attractions in Madagascar. The still, clear waters of the island’s bays make ideal spots for snorkeling. Migrating humpback whales visit the island waters during summer and early fall.
The small island of Nosy Be is one of Madagascar’s premier tourist spots attracting thousands of tourists from across the globe year round. Although Nosy Be’s beaches don’t look as picture perfect as some other tropical beaches, they do win points for tranquility, clear turquoise water, and excellent seafood restaurants serving seafood dinner on the sand.
Masoala National Park
Situated in northeast Madagascar, the Masoala National Park covers nearly 250 miles of rainforest and includes three marine parks as well. The park features ten species of lemur, including the Aye-aye, the world’s largest nocturnal primate. The park is also home to a diverse array of birds and reptiles, including the Tomato frog, named for its bright red color. The Tampolo, Ambodilaitry and Idaho marine parks are ideal for snorkeling and kayaking adventures.
Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
Considered one of the country’s most sacred spots by the Malagasy people for 500 years, the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is a historical village that was once home to Madagascar royalty. The wall that surrounds the village was made in 1847 and was constructed with a mortar made of lime and egg whites. The Mahandrihono compound includes the former home of King Andrianampoinimerina, with walls made of solid rosewood, and artifacts of the island’s great king, including drums, weapons, and talismans.
Rice is a staple in Madagascar and is eaten at most meals. There is even a popular beverage called ranonapango, made from burned rice. After a pot of rice has been overcooked, boiling water is added to the burned rice grain to absorb its flavor. Then the water is poured off, chilled and served as a beverage with a meal.