Marveling at Madagascar
I have been fortunate to live and work in many wild and wonderful places, especially in Africa, so it should be hard for me to answer when I’m asked, “What’s your favorite country?” But it isn’t. My favorite place is unquestionably Madagascar.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. In The Bradt Travel Guide to Madagascar (now in its 12th edition), renowned travel guru Hilary Bradt reveals why she loves the country so much. And in the BBC documentary Madagascar, the iconic David Attenborough enthrallingly enthuses about the place. Way back in 1771, French explorer Joseph Philibert Commerson wrote: “Of Madagascar I can say to naturalists that it is truly their promised land. There nature seems to have retreated into a private sanctuary to work on models other than those she has created elsewhere. At every step one encounters the most strange and marvellous forms.”
When I was a child in South Africa, Madagascar always seemed a far-off, mystical place. I was intrigued by tales of strange primates jumping from tree to tree, pirate graveyards, elephant bird fossils, massive gravity-defying baobab trees, and brightly colored exotic birds. Gerald and Leigh Durrell, blazing a conservation trail well ahead of their time, really sealed the attraction for me, regaling readers with stories of their travels to this wonderful land full of strange animals, friendly people, and beautiful scenery. The Durrell Foundation is still very active in Madagascar, along with other influential conservation NGOs, doing its upmost to save this natural treasure.
Madagascar has been described as the eighth continent, a world apart, evolution’s playground, and the real Alice’s Wonderland. This otherworldly island in the Indian Ocean is the Holy Grail for many wildlife fanatics. But it is under tremendous threat. As in many other wild places, the natural habitat is being pushed aside to make room for an increasing human population. We cannot afford for this to continue in Madagascar, as the endemism rate of the flora and fauna is a staggering 80 percent. This means that 8 out of 10 of the country’s birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants are found nowhere else on earth.
We need to save this precious place. We need more people to travel there and experience it. World-class lodges and a friendly, fascinating people combine with extraordinary wildlife and scenery to make this one of the most rewarding destinations on the planet. Add untouched beaches, azure blue seas, beautiful scuba dive sites, and a warm Indian Ocean, and you can rest assured that you’ll wind down your wildlife-rich holiday with some wonderful R and R!
It’s never hard for me to spend time in my favorite place. I’ve been going there since 2004—and I can’t wait to get back!
# # # # #
There are few wildlife hot spots in southern and East Africa that GeoEx safari guide Lee Fuller has not explored. He has been leading GeoEx travelers to Madagascar since 2009, and has been over 15 times. His infectious enthusiasm for Africa’s wild places, along with his passion for sharing intimate local knowledge, make him the perfect guide to the riches of Africa.
Explore this magical island with our customizable Madagascar journey. For more information, call GeoEx’s destination specialists at 888-570-7108.