Madagascar

Isolated off the south-east coast of Africa, Madagascar is the continent’s last travel frontier. Settled on by Malays and mainland Africans and blended with Arabian and French culture, the country’s population is one of the planet’s most diverse, on the world’s fourth largest island.

The island’s flora and fauna mirrors this diversity. Trees, plants, animals and birds are unlike any found elsewhere on the planet. Endangered Lemurs, huge baoab trees and the world’s smallest chameleons are just some of the species guarded by the island.

Visiting Madagascar is a must for those interested in viewing rare and exotic creatures: 90% of Madagascan wildlife is found nowhere else on earth.

Travel is quite uncomfortable on the rural roads once you leave the capital, Antananarivo, because they are often unpaved and full of potholes. Those who do venture here will be rewarded with some of the most unique cultural sites in the world, including the tombs to Malagasy ancestors, who serve as a link between the living and the dead.

Some of the Indian Ocean’s best beaches are located on the north coast, and along with Isle St Marie, on the east coast, both offer superb diving and the chance to mingle with the descendants of real pirates who called the island home.

On your way south, stop off at amazing rain forest preserves that protect the country’s dwindling rainforests before heading off to dive in even more of the 1500 miles of coral reef that lines the Mozambique Channel.

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