Tourist Attractions of Madagascar

by Jeremy Cato

The island nation of Madagascar is located directly off of the southeast coast of Africa. It is known for the incredible diversity of the plants and animals that inhabit it. Although Madagascar is not a wealthy country, and the tourism industry is still developing, tourists will find attractions that are ideal for nature lovers and beachgoers.

Capital and Major Cities

The first destinations for many tourists to Madagascar are its capital and major cities. The capital, Antananarivo, resembles a large French city because French culture is so evident there. It has large markets, such as the Zoma Market, as well as the Madagascar National Botanical and Zoological Gardens, where visitors walk trails, examine exotic palms and ferns, bird watch or view the lemurs. Ambohimanga, an older city near the capital, has several historic landmarks of Madagascar's Merina Dynasty, such as the citadel and castles built in the 1800s. The city of Andasibe is known for its hilly, volcanic terrain.

National Parks and Wildlife Reserves

Madagascar offeres several national parks and wildlife reserves for tourists interested in safaris and ecotourism. The area known as Perinet has a very large nature reserve where visitors view several indigenous species of wild lemurs, such as the ring-tailed lemur and the mouse lemur, and exotic plants, including the comet orchid and the boabab tree. For fans of natural attractions, Ampefy, near the capital, has natural geysers, hot springs and waterfalls. Montagne d'Arbre, a mountainous national forest, offers hiking trails and campgrounds.

Beaches and Seaports

The beaches of Madagascar rival some of the best beaches in the world. Because it is an island nation, it has a long coastline with many white sand beaches bordering the Indian Ocean. The most visited beaches are on the eastern and southern coasts of the country. These areas have many fine hotels, markets where visitors buy fresh seafood and crafts, and various beach activities, such as surfing, boating, fishing and scuba diving. Antseranana, one of Madagascar's largest seaports, offers beaches and a tropical rain forest.

Nearby Islands

Two nearby islands offer the finest beach resorts and ocean side locations in Madagascar. Nosy Be, just five miles northwest of the main island, is Madagascar's largest and busiest tourist resort. Ile Sainte-Marie is less than 10 miles off the east coast of Madagascar. It is known for its spectacular whale-watching and diving activities. These islands can be accessed by boat from the mainland or by plane -- each island has an airport.