Cruising to Madagascar

By | October 6, 2011

Whilst cruise ships ploughing the waters of the Mediterranean or setting course for the Caribbean might be the most popular, travellers desiring to step away from the norm and experience new adventures might want to consider somewhere a bit different. For instance, how about Madagascar?

Before dropping anchor in Madagascar you should let go of all preconceived notions of the island. Madagascar is like no other place on Earth – attesting to this are more than 100 species of lemur, the gigantic panther chameleon and the delightful tenrecs that the island is home to.

The principal tourist destination in Madagascar and the first port for ships cruising these latitudes is Nosy Be, the second largest island in the Malagasy archipelago. Its attraction comes from the combination of its splendid beaches, which boast a natural exuberance, and the colonial past of Hell Ville, its capital.

Lining the streets of Hell Ville are old cannons and constructions that go back to the colonial epoch, as well as more modern cafes with a French flair. Going deep into nature you will find magical places like the Sacred Tree, an enormous ficus occupying more than 53,000 square feet whose aerial roots descend to the ground and new trees.

Despite this, the truly peculiar thing about Nosy Be is its ylang-ylang, vanilla and cinnamon plantations. The fragrances of these plants rising into the air create an aroma that merits Madagascar’s nickname of “Scented Island.” You can wander through the flower fields and let yourself be overwhelmed by the exotic aroma, or learn how to extract these essences in a local distillery.

Situated in the northern zone of Madagascar, the small city of Antsiranana, better known as Diego-Suarez, is another obligatory cruise stop. Its bay is considered one of the most spectacular in the world, as much for its flower shape opening delicately into the grandeur of the Indian Ocean as for the beauty of Sugar Loaf, a green promontory rising up out of crystalline, sapphire-toned waters.

Antsiranana is a diverse and exotic city, for its culture as well as its natural surroundings. In its French-style streets you can meet people of all nationalities carrying with them a cosmopolitan air. On the other hand, nature has set for itself the task of creating a wide variety of landscapes that go from enormous calcareous rock formations to dense forests hiding unique species and white sand beaches.

For adventure lovers it is enough to travel just a few kilometres to Montagne des Français. This reserve, with its height of 1,300 ft and extending over 12,300 acres is an exceptional place to practice climbing. When you arrive at the top, the efforts will be rewarded with an outstanding view of Ramena Beach. Close by, you will find Jungle Park, which already offers a walk through curious and wild natural surroundings but if you look carefully, you will discover wooden houses constructed in the enormous trees.

It might be an idea to research the best travel or cruise deals to Madagascar if you’re interested in a trip there. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience.