• Black and white ruffed lemur, Madagascar

Highlights of Madagascar wildlife-watching holidays

Madagascar broke away from the supercontinent of Gondwanaland over 65 million years ago, drifting 400 kilometres into the Mozambique Channel, and in doing so created an evolutionary bubble where flora and fauna could adapt and thrive in a place of rich, indigenous biodiversity. Indeed, it is said that over 80% of the wildlife of the ‘8th continent’ of Madagascar is endemic, which makes Madagascar wildlife holidays some of the most exciting and unique on the planet. From breaching whales and egg cup sized lemurs to curious chameleons and the strange cat-like carnivore known as the fossa, Madagascar is the perfect destination for anyone who wishes to get up close and personal on a wildlife holiday. Getting in such close proximity to the wildlife does mean that Madagascar is a great place for family safaris too, with more time spent exploring on foot, and really getting involved with the destination.


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The stars of the show are the enchanting lemurs which are unique to Madagascar and there are over 100 species on the island. This number has reduced by 17 since man arrived 2,000 years ago; some of these were even thought to be a similar size to gorillas. These prosimians, or pre-monkeys, have a cute and cuddly appearance, with bright eyes and soft fur and vary in shape, colour, size and character. The largest species, the indri, has an eerie call that echoes throughout the misty forests of the Andasibe National Park, whilst the ring-tailed lemur is better known and easy to spot in the South. The aye-aye is the world’s largest (and weirdest!) nocturnal primate and uses echolocation to locate food, whereas the sprightly sifaka has a unique upright dancing technique. 

reptiles and Amphibians

reptiles and Amphibians

Madagascar wildlife holidays do also involve other endemic and bizarre wildlife including a range of reptiles, such as chameleons - contrary to popular belief they do not change colour to match their environment, but instead use it as a mechanism for defending their territory as well as controlling their temperature. These vary in size from the enormous Parson’s chameleon to the worlds tiniest, small enough to sit on your fingernail. Madagascar has some astonishing geckos such as the leaf-tailed gecko, which remains camouflaged until it opens its mouth to reveal a bright orange interior. The only amphibians found here are frogs, and 99% of these are endemic, including the green-backed mantilla, similar to those found in South and Central America, a perfect example of wildlife filling the same niches as others elsewhere, whilst being totally unrelated.

Smaller Species and Endemic wildlife

When it comes to insects and spiders, whether you like it or not, they are here in abundance, from massive millipedes to beetles. In fact, Madagascar’s list of about 100,000 creepy crawlies is growing daily, some outstandingly beautiful, with over 300 butterfly species, others perhaps not so visually appealing, but all friendly enough with nothing to fear as a human.

Whilst the above are some specific examples, the breadth of the diversity of Madagascar animals cannot be overstated, as it is home to over 13,000 plant species and 849 animal species, with 39 endemic genera of birds of its 115. Giant land birds such as the elephant bird may have been driven to extinction, but there is so much more in the way of incredible flora, fauna and birdlife to this magical island that has escaped interference from the outside world. 

Madagascar wildlife holidays do truly offer a unique and authentic wildlife experience that is incomparable in the world today.

For further information on whether you need a visa, what language they speak in Madagascar, is it safe in Madagascar, etc, please visit our Madagascar Frequently Asked Questions page


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