When To Go
|When to go|
Madagascar is a kaleidoscope of 14 million residents of African, Arabian and Asian descent living together on the world's fourth largest island. The island's capital is Antananarivo and is nestled under the massive Ankaratra Mountains. As a result of the island's long isolation from neighbouring continents, Madagascar is home to a vast array of plants and animals, many found nowhere else on earth, and is one of the most exciting and diverse natural history destinations to visit in the world.
The island is huge so do be prepared to spend time on the road to get from place to place. Road journeys in Madagascar can take hours and the roads are potholed and very rough. An alternative is flying but this does mean a night in Tana beforehand as the airlines quite happily delay and even bring forward flight times on a whim. Air conditioning advertised may be none existent, half the island may be without water for a few days and electricity goes down frequently. Go with an open mind, a sense of humour and an adventurous spirit and you won't be disappointed!
In terms of totally unique wildlife, stunning scenery, wonderful and friendly people from diverse cultures, and beautiful beaches and azure seas - Madagascar is a fabulous destination which offers an amazing experience!
Approximately 80% of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic, including the lemur infraorder of primates, the carnivorous fossa and three avian families. This distinctive ecology has led some ecologists to refer to Madagascar as the "eighth continent", and the island has been classified by Conservation International as a biodiversity hotspot. Over 10,000 plant species are native to Madagascar, of which 90% are found nowhere else in the world.
In the absence of monkeys and other competitors, lemurs have adapted to a wide range of habitats and diversified into numerous species - there are approximately 100 species and subspecies of lemur in Madagascar. Over 300 species of bird have been recorded on the island, of which over 60% are endemic. The few families and genera of reptile that have reached Madagascar have diversified into more than 260 species, with over 90% of these being endemic.
The island is home to two-thirds of the world's chameleon species, and researchers have proposed that Madagascar may represent the origin of all chameleon species. Endemic fishes on Madagascar include two families, 14 genera and over 100 species primarily inhabiting the island's freshwater lakes and rivers. Although invertebrate species remain poorly studied on Madagascar relative to other wildlife, researchers have found high rates of endemism among known species. All 651 species of terrestrial snail are endemic, as are a majority of the island's butterflies, scarab beetles, lacewings, spiders and dragonflies.
The island can be divided into five geographical regions: the east coast, the Tsaratanana Massif, the central highlands, the west coast, and the southwest. A central mountainous plateau with a temperate climate dominates the island of Madagascar. Madagascar has two seasons: a hot, rainy season from November to April; and dry season with a cooler temperature from May to October. There is, however, great variation in climate owing to elevation and position relative to dominant winds.
The dry season in the highlands is pleasant and sunny, although somewhat chilly, especially in the mornings. During this time, the blue skies of the central highlands are considered by many to be among the clearest and most beautiful in the world. The west coast is drier than either the east coast or the central highlands because the trade winds lose their humidity by the time they reach this region. The south-west and the extreme south are semi-desert; as little as one-third of a meter of rain falls annually at Toliara (Tulear).
The best season for travelling is in general May to December, although Madagascar is a year round destination. From mid-September through October, the jacaranda trees are in bloom, baby lemurs are being born, and the heavy downpours that make overland travel tough have not yet started.
Some of the best beaches and resorts can be found in the north of the island and accommodation varies from simple beach hotels to five star plus resorts on private islands reached by a helicopter flight over the ocean. The choice is yours!
Tracks Safaris offer a wide selection of itineraries and tailor made trips to Madagascar and would be delighted to discuss your holiday to this unique island with you. Our trips are custom made to your exact requirements, budget and interests -
Call us on 01386 830264 or email [email protected] to start planning your Madagascan journey!