Where the Wild Things Really Are: The Top Wildlife Tours

Madagascar: Zoological Wonderland
  |  Gorp.com

Situated 250 miles off the East African coast, Madagascar has been called "one of the most remarkable zoological districts in the world," by famed naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace. It is a wildlife treasure-trove, home of countless exotic plant and animal species, 80 percent of which are indigenous. The world's fourth largest island, Madagascar remains virtually untouched by Western tourism.
Among wildlife enthusiasts, Madagascar is best known for its remarkable lemurs—endemic species of long-tailed primates that look like a cross between a raccoon and a teddy bear. These creatures, which range in size from the giant indris, as large as a chimp, to the tiny mouse lemur, inhabit the dense jungles and high mountains of Madagascar. This island nation has dedicated much of its interior as parklands or wildlife reserves, affording excellent opportunities to view lemurs, chameleons, and Madagascar's other unique species.

Any Madagascar itinerary should include Montagne D'Ambre National Park, and the Perinet, Ranomafana, and Berenty Wildlife Reserves. Montagne D'Ambre is situated on the northernmost tip of the island. A beautiful rainforest, it boasts fantastic orchid gardens, a major waterfall, dozens of bird and reptile species, and many different types of lemurs. The Perinet Reserve is one of the most accessible tropical rainforests in Madagascar. It is home to nine species of lemurs (including the giant indris lemur), numerous bird species, and large chameleons. The Berenty Reserve (Fort Dauphin), situated on the banks of the Mandrare River, is an internationally acclaimed wildlife refuge boasting very rare flora and fauna. Here you will find ring-tailed lemurs, the rare sifakas, flying foxes and exotic bird species.
Practically Speaking
The best time to travel is from April to October, when the weather is relatively cool and dry. However, the climate varies around the island—cool in the central highlands, humid on the east coast, dry in the southern desert areas.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 30 Jan 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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