Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Madagascar

When you think of Madagascar you will probably picture gorgeous, sandy beaches, massive baobabs and funny dancing lemurs, but on top of that you will cross high mountains, canyons, countrysides, luscious rainforests, limestone rock formations and a lot more. With only 10 roads on an island the size of France, Madagascar is a beautiful, raw, enchanting and mostly undiscovered country and there simply is no place like it on earth!

Our first stop is the popular Ranomafana National Park. Rano means ‘water’ and mafana means ‘hot’, referring to the many hot-water springs in the area. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its tropical rainforests, humid climate, waterfalls, hot mountain streams and incredible variety of Madagascan wildlife, including the rarest species of lemur – the Golden Bamboo Lemur. To get the most of your trip and to see a wide variety of wildlife, you should go on a hike with an experienced guide. You can even go on a night walk and see all of the nocturnal lemurs, geckos and chameleons having a midnight feast!

From here, go to Tsingy Stone Forest. This region has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique, breathtaking geography, preserved mangrove forests, and bird and lemur populations. The word ‘Tsingy’ translates as “where one cannot walk barefoot”, aptly describing this exceptional topography. The Tsingy rise up to 70 metres from the ground. At these heights, the tops are bare and razor sharp. This topography of eroded limestone may exist in other areas around the world, but nowhere as tall, slender and extensive as the spires here. At the foot of these spires is an extraordinary world of forest canyons and humid caves which are inhabited by lots of different plants and animal species who thrive in this climate – if you’re up for an adventure, this is the place to go!

You can’t go to Madagascar without visiting the magical Allée des Baobabs – the Avenue of the Baobabs – which is a congregation of 20 or so giant baobabs in a row. The giant baobab is native to Madagascar, standing over 30 metres tall with huge trunks that can be more than 7 metres in diameter. These majestic trees, which look like they’re standing upside down, are beautiful up close in person – a must see!

One evening you must go to Isalo National Park and hike up to the Windows of Isalo to watch the sunset. This beautiful vantage point gives the most breathtaking views of the park down below.

To finish our Madagascan adventure, we head to the beach. Just off Madagascar’s east coast is a tropical island called Ile Sainte Marie which is known for being home to some of Madagascar’s spectacular beaches, a paradise for backpackers and was once upon a time a popular pirate hangout. With coconut trees, white sandy beaches and silky turquoise waters, it’s hard not to sit back, relax and enjoy your surroundings before you head off home.