- 27 Jul
Madagascar is probably better known as the setting for the eponymous animation films than for anything real connected to it. Universally known facts about Madagascar: fourth largest island in the world, home to some unique species of plants and animals, former French colony. But what is unfortunately not very well known about Madagascar is that is has immense touristic potential, which is not entirely exploited by the country. Madagascar is not a tourist paradise where everyone goes out of their way to please tourists, because tourism is very underdeveloped. Most of the visitors are French, and many people come for ecotourism, but there are many aspects of Madagascan culture that are worth being explored. For example, here are some of the most visit-worthy cities on this amazing island.
The capital city, which you cannot avoid passing though if you are traveling to Madagascar by plane. Truth to be todl, there is not much to see in Antanarivo in terms of classic tourist attractions. There are some museums in the city and some impressive buildings, as fit for a capital, but that is mainly it. However, that does not mean that you should leave Antanarivo as soon as you get there. You can visit the ruins of Queen’s Palace (Rova), which was burned down in the 90′s. Local students who speak English will take it upon themselves to tell you the history of the place for a small fee. Other than this, just wander around the city and enjoy the cafes, open air markets and restaurants.
Mahavelona is a pretty little beach resort town surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches, probably one of the most tourist-y locations in the country. There are several decent hotels around, and the beaches are nice, but beware of the sharks swimming offshore (despite the coral reef around the coast, swimming can be quite dangerous). The town is small, and some might say nondescript, but it has some good features, for example the remains of Fort Manda, surrounded by walls made of coral, eggs and sand.
The second largest city in Madagascar, Toamasina has been a resort town since the days of the French colonists, but don’t expect much glam in the city. The old colonial buildings are still standing but they are quite decrepit, and the entire town has a somewhat dilapidated atmosphere. But this only makes the town more interesting, especially coupled with its lively crowd and nightlife. Also, Toamasina has some nice enough beaches which are usually populated with the local youth.
Joffreville used to be quite the bustling little colonial town, although in the present day its pomp is somewhat diminished. The town is quiet and relaxing, and some parts of it look more like a villages than the colony it used to be. There are some very nice landscapes in the surrounding areas, especially the Parc National de Montagne d’Ambre, Madagascar’s most visited natural attraction.