The 16 essential things to do in Madagascar

Located in the Indian Ocean, the huge island of Madagascar , this island with red earth, this place of a thousand fantasies, is a place of discovery and travel. Between its climate, its fauna, its flora, its incredible landscapes and its adorable population, how not to fall in love with this island which is one and a half times larger than France?

Whether you like sports, cultural activities, parks or even fishing or lounging on a magnificent beach, the island of Madagascar offers you its thousand and one beauties, both African and Asian.


  • 1. Antananarivo
  • 2. The island of Nosy Be
  • 3. Baobab Alley
  • 4. Isalo National Park
  • 5. Ranomafana National Park
  • 6. A stroll on the Tsiribihina River
  • 7. Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park
  • 8. Belo sur mer
  • 9. Ankazobe
  • 10. Island of Mats
  • 11. Diego Suarez Bay
  • 12. Marojejy National Park
  • 13. Nahampoana Reserve
  • 14. The Makis Canyon
  • 15. Dune Bay
  • 16. Anja’s Reserve
Alley of Baobabs, Madagascar
Photo credit: Flickr – stephane_p

An island with a well-established personality but also a language, a gastronomy and a history that enter the head of every traveler and tourist like heady music. Madagascar the enchanter, an island with a thousand faces that can be visited to the rhythm of minibuses and this extraordinary atmosphere. If you are a sportsman, if you like hiking, trekking, a trip to Madagascar will offer you nearly 5500 km of coastline: immense beaches, rocky coasts as far as the eye can see, heavenly landscapes, this is the place perfect for walking for hours and discovering a land and its soul.

For nature aficionados, for those who like to get lost far from the civilized world, why not try Sainte-Marie Island or Mahambo? This will be the opportunity to see for the first time a real humpback whale in its element. The island of Madagascar also offers many parks and sites which are listed as World Heritage by UNESCO: the park of Ankarafantsika, that of Marojejy are very important natural reserves protecting very rare species and more than 250 species of birds for example.

We give you our 16 essential ideas to know what to do and what to visit in Madagascar:

1. Antananarivo

Antananarivo, Madagascar
Photo credit: Flickr – Franx’

Antananarivo , formerly Tananarive in French, is the capital and largest city of Madagascar. The Malagasy capital is one of the most dynamic cities in all of Africa, and here you will enjoy rich historical, architectural and cultural sites all over this city built on several hills, with palaces and churches along its streets paved.

The city is divided into 3 levels: the Lower City, the Middle City and the Upper City. Go for a walk along the rue de l’Indépendance: this is certainly where you will find a lot of beggars, but you will really be in the heart of the city, closer to the locals. Visit the Queen’s castle (about 10,000 Ar/pers) through its gardens, and don’t hesitate to take a guide (25,000 Ar more) who will teach you a little more about the country’s history. You can also go for a walk around Lake Anosy, which sits in the middle of the city center.

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2. The island of Nosy Be

Nosy Be is the largest and certainly the most beautiful seaside resort in Madagascar, located off the northwest coast. Its tropical climate and superb location make it a perfect holiday destination. The beaches of Nosy Be are ideal for swimming as they gradually spread out, remaining shallow for miles in the water. They are peaceful and you forget all the stress there, with canoes abandoned in the sand and calm offshore.

3. Baobab Alley

Baobab Alley or Baobab Avenue is a group of baobab trees that line the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. Taking this road is a moment that is both magical and impressive. It is a row of about 20 to 25 towering baobab trees along a 260 meter dirt road in the middle of the pastures between Morondava and Belo Tsiribihina. The striking landscape of this very “photogenic” place attracts travelers from all over the world, making it one of the most visited places in the region. Since 2007, the Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests has given this place the status of temporary protected area, which is the first step towards the classification of “national monument” in Madagascar.

To get there, you have to go to Morondava, which can be reached by road, plane or sea. By car, you have to leave the famous RN 7 at Antsirabe and take the RN 44 towards Morondava ( 600 km or 9 hours drive).

4. Isalo National Park

The 16 essential things to do in Madagascar

The Isalo National Park is currently the most visited park in Madagascar. Often referred to as Jurassic Park, it is home to some of the most stunning scenery on the island. The landscape of Isalo consists of eroded ruiniform sandstone formations dating from the Jurassic period, deep canyons with riparian forests, palm-lined oases, fire-resistant tapia forests and open grasslands. It is arguably the best place to see ring-tailed lemurs and white Verreaux’s sifakas dancing and jumping. It is also a sacred place for the Bara tribe, whose burial sites are conspicuous by mounds of tiny stones placed in crevices in the rock.

For those who love trekking and hiking, the park is a godsend. Once you have taken a little height, you will have the chance to admire a sensational view of what is nicknamed the “Malagasy Colorado”.

5. Ranomafana National Park

Giraffe beetle in Ranomafana National Park
A giraffe beetle observed in Ranomafana National Park – Photo credit: Flickr – Frank Vassen

Ranomafana is one of the best known and most important parks in Madagascar. Created in 1991 following the 1986 discovery of the golden bamboo lemur, Ranomafana Park served as a model for subsequent parks and reserves in the country and even abroad. Note that once you venture into the more remote areas where most tourists don’t go, that’s when you get the real wildlife experience.

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6. A stroll on the Tsiribihina River

One of the unique ways to explore the country is by pirogue or canoe trip on the Tsiribihina River. There are several reputable companies that run excursions and some even offer camping on the shore and cooking under the stars while the wildlife surrounds you and soothes you before you drift off to sleep.

7. Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

Tsingy de Bemaraha is one of the newest parks in Madagascar (opened in 1998). The 72,340 hectares of Bemaraha are most famous for their Tsingy, sharp limestone pinnacles that can reach 45 meters in height. These unique formations in the world arouse the curiosity of botanists, geologists, environmentalists and biologists. Throughout the Tsingy are canyons and gorges rich in flora and fauna. They are home to a number of animal species, including 11 types of lemurs (including Decken’s Sifaka, red-fronted lemurs, and Madagascar sea eagle, one of the rarest species of raptor in the world). The Manambolo River Gorge that forms the southern boundary of the park is simply breathtaking and beautiful, and it is possible to canoe down it.

Ring-tailed mongoose in Madagascar
A ring-tailed mongoose – Photo credit: Flickr – Michael Sale

8. Belo sur mer

For lovers of beautiful beaches, that of Belo sur Mer is the ideal place to meet. You can relax at your leisure while admiring the canoes returning and going fishing. Here, it is interesting to go and see the saltworks as well as watch the marine carpenters at work who produce schooners following a 19th century model.

9. Ankazobe

Ankazobe, Madagascar
Photo credit: Flickr – Evaneos

This city is located some 40 kilometers from the capital, Antananarivo. Unlike the big cities, the streets are not paved and you will find the red earth which contrasts with the elements and the immaculate sky. To find trinkets, to discover the real Malagasy community, to admire places full of charm, typical, it is the perfect place to stock up on memories. However, if you don’t have much time in your trip, it’s not a must-see place on the island, but Ankazobe remains a nice place to pass through.

10. Island of Mats

Beach on Ile aux Nattes, Madagascar
Photo credit: Flickr – sandy marie

Located to the south of the island of Sainte Marie , Île aux Nattes is a real little paradise in Madagascar. It is a site recognized for hiking trails but also for its beaches. This place is made for all those who want to reconnect with Mother Nature, be in harmony with the environment and enjoy, if possible, the unique spectacle of humpback whales.

11. Diego Suarez Bay

Bay of Diego-Suarez, Madagascar
Photo credit: Flickr – micavrille

Diego-Suarez Bay is located at the northern tip of Madagascar and it owes its name to two Portuguese navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries. This bay consists of 4 bays, one of which is considered a sacred place. Discover this little corner out of nowhere, smell the atmosphere of the port city of Antsiranana, and finally visit the Amber Mountain National Park.

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12. Marojejy National Park

Marojejy National Park is located in the northwest of the island. With an area of ​​55,500 hectares, an incredibly dense forest that can reach 2000 meters above sea level, this place is now declared a nature reserve and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the lower part of the park, you will find a real jungle that is both hot and dense and the higher you climb, the more small forests you encounter: all this biodiversity offers the opportunity to shelter more than 110 species of birds, 140 species of snakes and dozens of lemurs. Today, this park is open to the public and it is also one of the favorite places for hikers.

13. Nahampoana Reserve

Near Tôlanaro (or Fort-Dauphin) is the Nahampoana reserve where you will be able to discover many animals including the famous lemurs but also a diversity of flora which is just incredible: between eucalyptus, bamboo, hibiscus, camphor trees, you won’t have enough of your eyes to immerse yourself in this greenery so present and so fragrant. Note that it is possible to take a dip in a waterfall.

14. The Makis Canyon

Leaving from Ranohira, one of the beautiful walks to do is that of the Makis canyon. With meadows as far as the eye can see, you will forget all your bearings and suddenly, while you are walking quietly, it is at this precise moment that lemurs will appear before your astonished eyes. Do not forget to take a guide with you as the terrain is not always secure and the slopes are sometimes slippery due to wet stones.

15. Dune Bay

Dunes Bay, Madagascar
Photo credit: Flickr – micavrille

About twenty kilometers from Diego-Suarez, the “Three Bays” follow one another (Sakalava Bay, Pigeons Bay and Dunes Bay). The latter, with its white sand, attracts more and more people: with its turquoise water, its breathtaking seabed, its wild coast, you have the impression that this little piece of paradise is within your reach and that no one can take you away from it. To relax, to sunbathe serenely, to have fun in the waves, to have a picnic in one of the caves while looking at the horizon and the blue sky, the Baie des Dunes is surely one of the favorite places of island lover. And we understand why…

16. Anja’s Reserve

Located 15 minutes by car from the city of Ambalavao in the center of the country, Anja Park can be discovered day and night: you will be able to discover an extraordinary fauna between chameleons, lemurs and multicolored insects that play of illusion with floral elements. The visit is very pleasant and it is possible to take many photo breaks.

17. Saint Mary Island (Santa Maria)

To the east of Madagascar, this island allows you to enjoy the beach as well as the coral reefs for those who like to go scuba diving. However, most tourists come here because it is an excellent spot for whale watching.

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Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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