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Although many visitors to Madagascar come for the beautiful beaches, the island, with its 50 national parks and reserves, is nothing less than a premier ecotourism destination. If you like active holidays, Madagascar will not disappoint as all wildlife viewing is done on foot. For a real adventure, you can even go out at night, looking for animals with a flashlight.

MADAGASCAR HIGHLIGHTS

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Time and Weather

Madagascar has a warm tropical climate, but there are great regional variations. In the interior highlands, a cooler and less humid climate is experienced. There is a lot of rain throughout the year on the east coast, but the southwest is usually hot and dry. However, there is a wet season (November to April) and a dry season (May to October) throughout the country.

The best time to visit

The months of April, May, October and November are ideal for traveling. The cool, dry months of July through September are very pleasant, but these months are less rewarding for wildlife viewing. January to March is the peak of the wet season, also called the cyclone season, and the east coast is particularly vulnerable. July, August and December holidays are best avoided due to crowds.

Wildlife

Madagascar is a hotspot of diversity, offering a unique type of safari. You will not see the «normal» safari animals here, there are no elephants or lions. Instead, the island is home to more than 100 species of lemurs, as well as a host of reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Most of these animals are endemic to Madagascar. Of particular interest are chameleons, which vary widely in color, shape, and size.

Wild fauna and flora

Madagascar has a wide variety of animals, most of them endemic to the island, although it is not a typical wildlife destination. Lemurs, chameleons, geckos, and frogs are easily seen across the country, but different parks are home to different species. The island is also a good base for observing marine fauna, in particular the seasonal migration of thousands of humpback whales.

Wildlife Highlights

Madagascar does not have many predators. The largest carnivore on the island is the secretive fossa. Despite being widespread, it is rarely seen, except in the Kirindy Forest, where several habituated individuals are easily spotted. Much smaller but equally elusive is the spotted fanaloka, which is only seen at night. Most parks have several species of lemurs, but the coveted indri, known for its haunting call, reminiscent of a crying baby, is restricted to a small section of the eastern rainforest.

The best time to observe wildlife

Wildlife viewing in Madagascar is good all year round. In theory, the wet season from November to April is the best, as some animals are more active during this period. January through March is the peak of the wet season and some shelters close during this time. Taking into account the general travel conditions, the months of April, May, October and November are, in general, the recommended months for observing wildlife.

Birds

Madagascar is a great destination for bird watching. About 300 species have been recorded, of which more than 100 species are only found in Madagascar. Of particular interest are the four families found nowhere else in the world. These are the Mesitornis, asities, Madagascan warblers and the ground rollers. Two other families are restricted to the region, which only includes the Comoros and the Seychelles: the cuckoo roller and the vangas. The birds of Madagascar tend to be noticeably less noisy than those of continental Africa, although they are generally more vocal during the wet season. However, birds tend to be more approachable in Madagascar.

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