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Madagascar

Madagascar

General Information

Madagascar boasts 5,000 kilometres of coast, is 592,000 km²  wide, and its highest peak is Mount Maromokotra which is located 392 km off East Africa’s coast.  The geography of the island is relatively simple.  From North to South, high reefs and a series of lake basins run through the centre.  Erosion is variably important, having created spectacular sites such as Isalo.

The coast is rather different from one side to the other.  In the East, it is narrow, due to the fact it is trapped between the edge of the Central Lands, sometimes referred to as “the cliff”, and the Ocean.  In the West and the South, reefs progressively decrease in slope to the level of a wide plain, which is often interrupted by large majestic rivers.  Madagascar, the “small continent” is surrounded by a multiplicity of islets, some of which are grouped in archipelagos. 

Madagascar’s seashore is approximately 5,000 kilometres long.  The most popular sea is located in the North West.  Its creeks, harbours and islets make it ideal and popular for leisure boating.  From Majunga to Tuléar, the mild-sloped coast has mostly remained in its wild state, and traditional dhows elegantly sail along it.  The arch formed by the Southern coast before joining the Indian Ocean can be described as the end of the world, quite literally, given the fact that only Antarctica can be found beyond; it is decorated with isolated fishermen’s villages, pristine sand dunes, waves that meet surfers’ expectations.  From Fort Dauphin onwards, the coast takes a strangely straight shape, up to Baie d’Antongil’s indentation.  Underwater, Madagascar’s well-located coral reefs are among the world’s most beautiful diving sites.  

All regions in Madagascar have their multiplicity of colourful rituals, during which the present merges with the past.  In Antananarivo, several noble castes continue to celebrate the Malagasy New Year or Alahamady and attempt to revive its past prestige.  A more deeply rooted celebrated ritual is the Tsanga-tsainy, organised every 5 years by the Antakarana in the North.  The national flag of the Republic is elevated along with the royal crescent-and-red-star flag. 

Explore a whole new universe off the Malagasy shores: set sails towards an untouched environment, the beauty of which has been preserved from excessive tourism. Enjoy the sandy beaches and turquoise water, take a moment to inhale the fresh air of the sea and discover the unexpected around the islands.

In the far North of Diégo Suarez, many excursions are available: ship out from the Baie du Courrier and its desert islands towards the Cap Sébastien and its moorings, and then proceed to Nosy Lava, the northernmost island of the Mitsio islands. This archipelago is worth the detour before heading towards Nosy Be and its neighboring islands. From the “Perfume Island” starts a new adventure… Why not a loop around Nosy Mamoko, Kisimany, the Baie des Russes, Nosy Iranja and Sakatia?  The Radama Islands are a paradise where the water slightly darkens only during rainy season.

Put the western fast pace way of life behind and enjoy the virtues of farniente, the stunning sunsets, the starlit nights, and the intimacy in a warm atmosphere sprinkled with endlessly-renewed sensations.

Malagasy waters are among the finest diving spots on the planet. An endless array of colourful fish with exotic names continuously weaves their underwater ballet, in a landscape of shells and corals with indescribable shapes. Dive among the clown fish, the butterflies, the lions, the unicorns, the napoleons or the surgeon-fish, but also manta rays and one of the biggest fish in the world, the harmless whale shark.

Everything will encourage you to relax or to dive. On coasts or at sea, the spots are located in three main areas: The South-West, Nosy Be and Sainte Marie. The southwest has the world’s third largest coral reef, offshore from Tuléar. The Baie de Saint Vincent: “banyans land”, the bay of Ifaty and the reef of Andranobe are very popular diving spots. The southern arch, with its lost fishing villages and its waves will please the surfers and windsurfers.

Nosy Be’s natural diversity and magnificent coastline makes it an impressive marine exploration site. Beginners and advance divers alike will be pleased to encounter the Black Coral (for level II divers), with its colonies of black coral which can grow up to 1,5 m high, and its impressive tubastrea blossoms. For beginners and all levels, the waters of Tanihely will reveal rich colours and a wide variety of marine species. For the most advanced, the diving centres offer unforgettable dives and excursions.

Last but not least, Sainte Marie and its famous Île aux Nattes, its 2 sites outside the lagoon and another one beneath the wreck. The Island of Sainte Marie or Nosy Boraha, is a little tropical paradise on the East coast of Madagascar. Its authenticity stems from its lush lagoons, the likelihood of seeing humpback whales… and why not, sip coco punch in front of the sea at sunset!

All these aspects make the island the perfect destination for discovery and relaxation.

Information courtesy of Madagascar Tourism

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