Top tourist attractions in Madagascar
Here is a list of top tourist attractions in Madagascar. Only the topmost tourist destinations are presented here. To see other destinations, please check the images from Madagascar section.
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Rova of Antananarivo
The Rova of Antananarivo is a royal palace complex in Madagascar that served as the home of the sovereigns of the Kingdom of Imerina in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the rulers of the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century. Its counterpart is the nearby fortified village of Ambohimanga, which served as the spiritual seat of the kingdom in contrast to the political significance of the Rova in the capital. Located in the central highland city of Antananarivo, the Rova occupies the highest point on Analamanga, formerly the highest of Antananarivo's many hills. Merina king Andrianjaka, who ruled Imerina from around 1610 until 1630, is believed to have captured Analamanga from a Vazimba king around 1610 or 1625 and erected the site's first fortified royal structure. Successive Merina kings continued to rule from the site until the fall of the monarchy in 1896, frequently restoring, modifying or adding royal structures within the compound to suit their needs. Over time, the number of buildings within the site varied. Andrianjaka founded the Rova with three buildings and a dedicated tomb site in the early 17th century. The number of structures rose to approximately twenty during the late 18th-century reign of King Andrianampoinimerina. By the late 20th century, the Rova's structures had been reduced to eleven, representing various architectural styles and historical periods. The largest and most prominent of these was Manjakamiadana, also known as the "Queen's Palace" after Queen Ranavalona I, for whom the original wooden palace was built between 1839–1841 by Frenchman Jean Laborde. In 1867 the palace was encased in stone for Queen Ranavalona II by Scotsman James Cameron, an artisan missionary of the London Missionary Society. The neighbouring Tranovola, a smaller wooden palace constructed in 1819 by Creole trader Louis Gros for King Radama I, was the first multi-storey building with verandas in the Rova. The model offered by Tranovola transformed architecture throughout the highlands over the course of the 19th century, inspiring a widespread shift toward two-storey houses with verandas. The Rova grounds also contained a cross-shaped wooden house built as the private residence of Queen Rasoherina, a stone Protestant chapel, nine royal tombs, and a number of named wooden houses built in the traditional style reserved for the andriana in Imerina. Among the most significant of these were Besakana, erected in the early 17th century by Andrianjaka and considered the throne of the kingdom, and Mahitsielafanjaka, a later building which came to represent the seat of ancestral spiritual authority at the Rova.
Marojejy National Park
Marojejy National Park is a national park in the Sava Region of northeastern Madagascar. It covers 55,500 ha and is centered around the Marojejy Massif, a mountain chain that rises to an elevation of 2,132 m. Access to the area around the massif was restricted to research scientists when the site was set aside as a strict nature reserve in 1952. In 1998, it was opened to the public when it was converted into a national park. It became part of the World Heritage Site known as the Rainforests of the Atsinanana in 2007. Despite its rugged terrain, poaching and selective logging are still persistent problems, particularly since the start of the 2009 political crisis in Madagascar. Mining, slash and burn agriculture, and wood collection also pose threats to the park and its wildlife. The wide range of elevations and rugged topography of the massif create diverse habitats that transition quickly with changes in altitude. Warm, dense rainforest can be found at lower elevations, followed by shorter forests at higher elevations, followed still by cloud forest, and topped near the peaks with the only remaining undisturbed mountain scrub in Madagascar. Better growing conditions for plants can be found on the eastern side of the mountains, which receives more rain than the western side. This habitat diversity lends itself to high levels of biodiversity. At least 118 species of bird, 148 species of reptile and amphibian, and 11 species of lemur are known to occur within Marojejy National Park. One of the lemurs, the silky sifaka is listed among "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates". The Helmet Vanga is considered the iconic bird species of the park.
Isalo National Park
Isalo National Park is a National Park in the Ihorombe Region of Madagascar. The park is known for its wide variety of terrain, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, palm-lined oases, and grassland. The closest town is Ranohira, and the closest cities are Toliara and Ihosy. A local guide is required for visitors entering the park, and guides and porters can be hired in Ranohira. Treks in the park can last from several hours to a week or longer. The park includes several natural swimming pools which are popular among tourists, and are excellent sites to see the Benson's Rock Thrush. The main threat to this park comes from illegal wildfires set in the park. The wildfires limit the extent of forest and maximize grasslands used by cattle.
Ranomafana National Park
Ranomafana National Park is part of the World Heritage Site, Rainforests of the Atsinanana. It is located in the southeastern part of Madagascar in Haute Matsiatra and Vatovavy-Fitovinany. With more than 41,600 hectares of Tropical rainforest, the park is home to several rare species of flora and fauna such as the lemur. The park was established in 1991 with the purpose of conserving the unique biodiversity of the local ecosystem and reducing the human pressures on the protected area.
Ankarafantsika National Park
Ankarafantsika National Park is a national park in the Boeny Region of Madagascar. The closest city is Majunga 115 km north of the park. Ankarafantsika is mostly tropical in climate type. The Sakalava people are the predominant ethnic group living and farming in the park. The greater big-footed mouse occurs in the park and is not known from anywhere else.
Avenue of the Baobabs
The Avenue or Alley of the Baobabs is a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Its striking landscape draws travelers from around the world, making it one of the most visited locations in the region. It has been a center of local conservation efforts, and was granted temporary protected status in July 2007 by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests, the first step toward making it Madagascar's first natural monument. Along the Avenue in some 260 m long segment are remaining some 20 - 25 trees about 30 meters in height, of the species Adansonia grandidieri, endemic to Madagascar. Some 20 - 25 more trees of this species grow in nearby rice paddies and meadows. Baobab trees, up to 800 years old, known locally as renala, are a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar. The trees did not originally tower in isolation over the sere landscape of scrub but stood in dense forest. Over the years, as the country's population grew, the forests were cleared for agriculture, leaving only the baobab trees, which the locals preserved as much in respect as for their value as a food source and building material.
Amber Mountain National Park
Amber Mountain National Park is a National Park in the Diana Region of northern Madagascar. The park is known for its water falls and crater lakes and is located 1000 km north of the capital, Antananarivo. It is also one of the most biologically diverse places in all of Madagascar; 75 species of birds, 25 species of mammals, and 59 species of reptiles are known to inhabit the park. This park is also one of the most accessible in northern Madagascar. Bush Taxis travel up to Joffreville daily, leaving from Diego near the Star bottling factory. It is also possible to hire a private taxi which is significantly more affordable than some of the tour companies. The trip by taxi should run around 30,000 - 40,000 ariary, and will take about 45 minutes. On this trip up the mountain to the entrance of the park you will pass through a few small villages. Among these is the little village of Sakaramy, a great place to stop and inquire with locals about different fruits, especially the odd-looking jack fruit. There are three primary waterfall attractions within the park, and these are must sees! Along with waterfalls the guides are very knowledgeable about the different flora found in the park. Within the park there is a lodge or gite for guests to stay at a very affordable rate of 8,000 ariary per night! While there is generally no electricity at the lodge you will find restroom facilities.
Andohahela National Park
Andohahela National Park, in southeast Madagascar, is remarkable for the extremes of habitats that are representened within it. The park covers 760 square kilometers of the Anosy mountain range, the southernmost spur of the Malagasy Highlands. These mountains form a natural barrier to the moist trade winds that blow from the east, causing a rainfall of 1500 to 2000mm per year on their eastern side that supports one of the few rainforests south of the tropic of Capricorn. At the western edge of the park, the rainfall is just 600 to 700mm per year and the resulting vegetation is a dry spiny forest characteristic of southern Madagascar. In the area between these two climatic extremes is a unique transitional forest known as the Ranopiso transition, which is characterised by the locally endemic triangular palm, Dypsis decaryi. The variety of habitats within Andohahela is mirrored in the richness of species that are found there. Fifteen species of lemur have been recorded, including two of Madagascar's most emblematic species, the Ring-tailed Lemur and Verreaux's Sifaka. Several circuits within each of the habitat types of the park can be accessed by road from the town of Tolagnaro. Detailed information on arranging trips is available from the tourism information office or from the Madagascar National Parks Association office in Tolagnaro.
Zahamena National Park
Zahamena National Park is a national park of Madagascar. Established in 1997, it covers an area of 423 square kilometres out of a total protected area of 643 square kilometres. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rainforests of the Atsinanana, inscribed in 2007 and consisting of 13 specific areas located within eight national parks in the eastern part of Madagascar. In 2001, Bird Life International assessed avifauna of 112 species of which 67 species are exclusively endemic to Madagascar. The park is habitat for 112 bird species, 46 reptile species, 62 species of amphibians and 48 species of mammals, including 13 species of lemurs. The ethnic groups inhabiting the area are mostly Betsimisaraka and Sihanak. The most prominent faunal species in the park are: Indri indri, a black lemur with white patches; the Madagascar red owl, locally known as vorondolomena; the katsatsaka, a small gecko; the Madagascar serpent-eagle, a threatened species; and the red-tailed newtonia, a very common bird species in the park. The two most prominent endemic floral species are Marattia boivinii and Blotella coursii.