Madagascar is a land of contrasts, of breathtaking beauty and surreal splendor, of seaside resorts and forest lodges, of leaping lemurs and carnivorous plants, of French influence and sacred Malagasy traditions. It really is a destination that defies logic and herein lies its charm. But it is becoming increasingly popular and we recommend you get here before the rest of the world arrives!
1. Andasibe Mantadia
Andasibe Mantadia is the country's most accessible national park, comprising lush rainforest and a richly diverse biosphere. Visitors will find rare species of birds, reptiles and amphibians living together, with a crocodile farm serving as one of its top draws.
2. Nosy Be Archipelago
The Nosy Be Archipelago is a group of Indian Ocean resort islands off the northwest coast of Madagascar with year-round temperatures of about 80 degrees F. Nosy Be itself is the largest of these islands, offering sugar-white beaches like Andilana and Amporaha where vacationers can swim, sail and sunbathe.
3. Ampijoroa National Park
Ampijoroa National Park is a generally dry deciduous forest in the western part of the country that sports an array of indigenous wildlife, including several species of lemurs. The park is also a birdwatcher's paradise, housing rare bird species such as the Madagascar fish eagle, pygmy kingfisher and red-capped Coua.
4. Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is a UNESCO World Heritage site that lies about 12 miles from Madagascar's capital city of Antananarivo. It's characterized by burial sites, ancient city ruins and historically significant religious features that have existed for more than 500 years.
5. Queen's Palace at Antananarivo
The Queen's Palace at Antananarivo was built for Queen Ranavalona in the 17th century. She was referred to as the "Wicked Queen" and "Bloody Mary of Madagascar" due to the viciousness with which she punished missionaries and executed her own subjects. The palace itself, locally known as Manjakamiadana, is the largest of several buildings in the royal complex, although much of it burned down in 1995 after an accidental fire broke out. Much of the stone facade has since been restored, while several royal artifacts saved from the fire are housed inside.