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A Travel Journey Into Madagascar’s Unique Ecosystem

Madagascar is a truly unique country. It’s the fourth-largest island in the world, and incredibly, over 80% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth.  A huge amount of work goes into preservation and making sure that Madagascar maintains its global ecological significance. 

Madagascar’s Unique Biodiversity

Millions of years ago, the land that is now Madagascar was part of the ancient supercontinent called Gondwana. Once it split, it effectively became its own world, and that’s why it is so varied and unique today. In addition to thriving rainforests, Madagascar also has rugged mountains and dry deserts, and these coexist alongside coral reefs that are brimming with life themselves.

Among all of the animals in Madagascar, lemurs are the most well-known. You may come across ring-tailed lemurs lying about in the sun or hear the indri, the largest lemur in Madagascar, calling out in the rainforests. Chameleons, fossas, tenrecs, geckos, and many different species of birds are just a few more examples of the animals you can see here.


Planning a Trip to Ambanja

There are a few different ways to explore Madagascar. The capital city of Antananarivo sees a lot of tourists, as does the beach resort of Nosy Be, but one place that’s definitely worth your time is Ambanja. While this is a destination that’s a little bit off the beaten path, it’s the perfect choice for those who are interested in eco and agri-tourism.

Heading to this region does require some thoughtful planning and preparation, as this is a part of the world that very much has distinct seasons. When you’re looking for cheap flights to Ambanja, focus on visiting during the high season, which begins from April onwards.

The reason for this is that once you get into the low season post-October, and particularly from December to March, the heavier rams can make some roads impassable and limit what you can see and do.

Before you set foot in Madagascar, it’s a good idea to visit a travel clinic. It’s often recommended to receive Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations before visiting, as well as Yellow Fever if you’re coming from a country where that disease is present.

Your doctor will be able to guide you on all of this. Additionally, make sure that you pack correctly. In a tropical climate like this, having both lightweight clothing for high-humidity days alongside waterproof gear for sudden downpours of rain is a good idea.

Ambanja and Its Natural Surroundings

There are a couple of key reasons to travel to Ambanja. The first is to witness the local culture of the Malagasy people and the incredible cacao and vanilla plantations in the region.

You can witness firsthand the complex process of growing and harvesting these crops, and some communities will even have cooking classes and other participatory experiences where you can connect with the locals.

The second key reason, and the one that brings most people to the region, is that it is a gateway into some of the best natural beauty and diversity anywhere on the island. The Lokobe National Park, the Ankarana Reserve, and the Nosy Be archipelago are close to Ambanja, all of which are significant for wildlife and nature travelers.

Tourist in Nosy Be

Lokobe National Park is most well-known for having pristine rainforests. As one of the last remaining primary forests in Madagascar and one of the most important rainforests in Southern Africa, it provides an opportunity to witness truly untouched nature where endemic species are still thriving. The tiny and nocturnal Sambirano mouse lemur is just one example of what to look out for as the nighttime starts to hit.

Over in Ankarana Reserve, it’s a very different environment, but an equally fascinating one. This area is famous for its limestone formations, which are known as tsingy. They are sharp-edged rocks that are the result of erosion, and they look almost otherworldly. This very unique terrain is perfect for animals that are a bit more elusive like crowned lemurs and leaf-tailed geckos.

Then there’s Nosy Be, a highly popular tourist destination in its own right. This is an area that’s known for its distinctive ylang-ylang plantations, as well as being close to some of the best snorkeling in the world at nearby Nosy Tanikely. Here, you will find a variety of colorful reef fish, including angelfish and clownfish, as well as multiple species of turtles, sharks, and rays. If you’re lucky, you might even see one of the elusive moray eels that are often hiding within the reefs.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of countries that claim to provide unique travel experiences, but truly, nothing can compare to what Madagascar has to offer. Its biodiversity is incredible to witness, and Ambanja is the perfect place to start. Experience the local Malagasy culture, enjoy the nature reserves, and create memories that you won’t soon forget.

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