If you haven’t been to Madagascar lately, time to look again. The large and lumbering island nation that broke off from the African Continent long ago has more than just lemurs. Cox & Kings offers tours of this remote outpost in the South Indian Ocean that provide a window into one of the earth’s most rare and exotic, if not fast disappearing, ecosystems.
How to make your day in Madagascar:
Whale watching from Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge
It’s possible to see the humped backs and flipping tails from the whale watching tower, situated just behind the beach, but on board a boat, you can get even closer for a more thrilling experience. Whales at Manafiafy can be seen from the beginning of June right up until late November, although the absolute best time is mid-August to mid-November. Humpback whales can also be seen on Sainte Marie Island (mid-July to September) on the Madagascar’s east coast.
Going to Market with the Antandroy Tribe
Spend a morning wandering around a local Antandroy market. It’s colourful, buzzing and utterly authentic. Here visitors can freely meander around the stalls, followed by only a few well-meaning and curious eyes. Cassava, cattle, rubber shoes, medical supplies, plastic buckets and shiny football shirts are all on offer.
Feeing the Carnivorous Pitcher Plant
The road from Fort Dauphin to Manafiafy is extremely bumpy but wonderfully scenic. Among the local village life and the paddy fields are the pitcher plants, one of the most famous of the Malagasy orchids. There are at least two species of pitcher plants found in Madagascar. Pitcher plants trap their prey (insects) in the cavity of the so-called cup. Madagascar plants are probably even more unusual than the animals. Of the 12,000 plant species on the island about 80% are endemic.
Boating through the Mangroves at Manafiafy
Dripping with Madagascar’s unique vegetation and alive with the colourful endemic birds for which the country is well known, a peaceful boat ride through the Mangroves is another highlight of a trip to Madagascar. The still water provided a perfect mirror to reflect the prolific ‘Traveler’s Palm’, a tree which can be used as an emergency drinking supply because the sheaths of the stems hold rainwater. The enormous paddle-shaped leaves are lined symmetrically in a distinctive fan shape.
Foraging Paths through the Sacred Forests of the Antandroy
There are 18 tribes in Madagascar of which the Antandroy, located in the south, is regarded as one of the fiercest and most traditional. Like all Malagasy, the Antandroy tribe is proud people steeped in traditions of ancestor worship and fady (taboos). When a member of the Antandroy dies the body is taken for burial in a predestined tomb deep in the heart of the sacred forest. Some of the tombs are more than 120 feet and each is individually decorated with something pertaining to the deceased’s favorite activities or interests. When the burial takes place the Zebu (African cattle) are slaughtered and their skulls decorate the tomb. The more Zebu skulls on each tomb, the wealthier the person was.
Cox & Kings arranges escorted and private luxury holidays to more than 100 countries around the world.