Madagascar is an ecotourism paradise: With an arid interior, tropical forests at the coast and many reef-fringed little islands off the coast, there is a wide variety of ecosystems in the country. These ecosystems are home to many different species of wildlife, most of them completely unique to this island nation. Add to all this the fact that the country is still largely undeveloped and off the beaten tourist track, where even the most mundane journeys are an adventure, and it’s clear to see why this is the destination of choice for the most intrepid travellers and nature lovers. Here are just some of the natural wonders of Madagascar that are well worth a visit:
1. Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park and Strict Nature Reserve
Tsingy de Bamaraha is one of the most striking sights in Madagascar and the area was the first of the country’s attractions to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on the west coast, about 300 miles west of Antananarivo, it’s an ecological wonder world of pristine mangroves, the spectacular canyon of the Manambolo River and a variety of species, many of which are found only here and nowhere else. They include several lemur species and an abundance of bird species, as well as at least 650 plant species. The biodiversity is so rich that many species living here haven’t even been recorded yet.
The Manambolo River attracts many paddlers and is especially good for white water rafting, with some thrilling rapids. However, the main attraction of the area is the ‘tsingy’: Over millions of years, a unique karst landscape formed here, resulting in a huge collection of rock pinnacles that look like some kind of stone forest. Some of these are as high as 150 feet and host completely different ecological niches at various heights. The best way to explore this phenomenon is by camping here and then hiking along the various paths and across a network of suspension bridges.