I’ve visited Madagascar 21 times and I can confidently say that it is in a class of its own – it is a veritable treasure chest for naturalists because more than 80% of its innumerable life forms exist nowhere else on Earth. So, much of what you’ll see and touch while in Madagascar is found only there. Many species are from ‘old’ families that have long-since died out on the continents where they were replaced by more ‘advanced’ families, but in Madagascar they perpetuated and continued to evolve slowly in isolation, in what is referred to as a protective ‘asylum’ environment. Beyond that, the country is praised for its incredible landscapes and bizarre flora. A recent highlight from my many adventures in Madagascar was revisiting the ‘spiny bush’ at daybreak near Ifaty-Mangily in the arid south-west. Walking through that otherworldly habitat, you quickly understand why travel writing legend Dervla Murphy referred to it as ‘Nature’s Botanical Lunatic Asylum.’
The Malagasy people constitute the world’s sole Afro-Asian nation – this is because the forbearers of the contemporary 18 tribes came from faraway Indonesia as well as Africa. Their culture is complex and deeply layered, including elements such as ancestral veneration and the practice of second burial. If you are looking for some beach time after the rigors of adventure, the island has some lovely stretches of coastline and there is a small, but growing, selection of tastefully designed properties servicing the main wildlife hotspots and some of the prime coastal locations.
Born in South Africa, I’ve been a keen naturalist with an affinity for birding since my early days. Inspired by my long-standing fascination with Madagascar, I began my travel career in 1991 and while working in South Africa, I visited Madagascar, the Mascarene islands, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Eritrea. I’ve designed numerous group tours and tailor-made itineraries, plus co-authored three guidebooks. Later, I was part of a team of individuals including conservationists and biologists who campaigned against illegal logging in Madagascar. Apart from having co-authored two books about this country, and having published many articles and papers for journals, I have excellent and long-standing relationships with the best of Madagascar’s suppliers and have very likely sent more Anglophone tourists there than any other Travel Guru.Based in: UK
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