Madagascar the land of pirates

If you are looking for a reason to visit Madagascar, the island’s weather alone would be enough. The climate is not the only attraction of Madagascar, which is hot enough for sunbathing in the middle of winter. The island offers much more with its nature and riches. Here are 10 reasons to visit Madagascar, the land of pirates!

 

The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar opens its arms to the waves of the Indian Ocean. With a population of over 21 million, Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Malagasy and French are both official languages of the island where 52 percent of the population adheres to traditional beliefs. Madagascar was a French colony between 1895 and 1958. Today, the country awaits visitors from all around the world. Home to thousands of different species with its spectacular nature, Madagascar is a warm alternative for winter days. If you have any doubts, let’s take a closer look at Madagascar; maybe you will change your mind…
 
A 165 million years old story
Every island’s story begins with its becoming separated from the mainland, doesn’t it? Otherwise, it would not be possible to call these “islands.” Madagascar’s separation from the mainland occurred 165 million years ago. In this period when Africa and India became separated, Madagascar broke away from first Africa, then India. When India gravitated towards northeast with the Asian continent, Madagascar remained next to Africa as an island and has been home to a flora isolated from the outside world for 70 million years. 
 
What happens in Madagascar stays in Madagascar
Madagascar’s most important characteristic is the fact that 99 percent of all plant and animal species are endemic. Almost all plants and animals in the island can only be seen in Madagascar and special zoos. 
 
King of the jungle: Julian!
King Julian, the funniest hero of the animated series “Madagascar”, which made the world memorise the name of the country, is a charming lemur. These animals that are the symbol of Madagascar are hold sacred by the island’s population. As of 2012, there were officially 103 species and subspecies of lemur. What’s interesting is that significant genetic parallels have been found between lemurs and humans. Very smart and mischievous, lemurs are curious and highly social animals. If Madagascar has a king, it is the lemur which has become a cultural phenomenon. 
 
Beautiful but brutal
A closer look to Madagascar makes you think that the first people who stepped foot on the island were Africans. But the reality is very surprising. The first people who stepped foot on the island arrived from an island in another corner of the world. According to estimations, a big colony arrived from Borneo between 500 and 300 BC. Borneo is located at the other side of the Indian Ocean, near South Eastern Asia. The third-largest island in the world, today Borneo is divided among Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Africans first settled in Madagascar 500 years after the discovery of the island by the Bornese people! In an era when Europeans had not yet stepped foot outside the Mediterranean, this was one of the biggest achievements of international maritime history. 
 
Long live the Queen!
Groups of people settling and spreading in Madagascar established a kingdom on the island. These kingdoms opposed such great powers that Madagascar became as impassable as the Dardanelles for Europeans. Madagascar launched its biggest defence under the rule of a queen. Queen Ranavalona III successfully protected her country against French colonialists between 1883 and 1897. In the end, French forces entered Madagascar but Ranavalona’s defence become an epic story that touches the heart even today. Madagascar became an example to the world as a matriarchal society ruled by several queens throughout its history. 
 
Cure for all in Madagascar
Madagascar’s flora is a veritable gift from God. The herbs of Madagascar, which have been used as ingredients for many remedies, can cure numerous diseases. Madagascar periwinkle is an important ingredient for the cure of leukaemia. 
 
Madagascar as a pirate utopia
It is interesting to note that Madagascar had been an island of hope for pirates. In the 18th and 19th centuries, many European pirates settled in Madagascar to found a new nation and established legendary pirate colony “Libertalia.” British and Dutch navies searched for this hidden country all over the world. Libertalia was the capital of pirates for many years. 
 
A portion of Madagascar served on top of rice!
Madagascar’s cuisine is one of the widest in the world since the island has been under the influence of many cultures; numerous dishes from African, Asian, Far Eastern, European and Indian cuisines created an unprecedented fusion and diversity. An interesting note; most dishes are served on top of rice in Madagascar. “To eat a meal” in the Malagasy language literally means “to eat rice.” It is therefore not a dream to eat stewed bean or doner (a Turkish dish made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie) served on a base of rice in Madagascar, which is very similar in this respect to Turkey. 
 
Best of Madagascar
What kind of endemic animals can you see in Madagascar? First we should mention that several species endemic to Madagascar are now extinct as a result of human activity. One of the heaviest birds in the world, elephant birds are among those species that have become extinct. It is a great loss that next generations will not be able to see these birds that were up to over three metres tall. Other exceptional species continue to live in Madagascar. A visit to Madagascar just to see these amazing animals is worth it. In Madagascar, it is impossible not to feel the enormity of our world and the diversity of species it includes. Some of these animals include:
 
Aye-aye
Black lemur
Indri
Malagasy dwarf hippopotamus
Fossa
Fanaloka
Tenrec
Spear-nosed snake
Comet moth
Flat lizard
Tomato frog
Gecko
Dancing sifaka
Giraffe weevil
Micro chameleon
 
Where to go, what to do in Madagascar?
Now that we persuaded you to visit Madagascar, where will you go and what will you do in this paradise island? Again, we come to your aid. Here are some places worth visiting in Madagascar…
 
Masoala National Park
Stretching over 2,300 square kilometres of rainforest, this area is especially suitable to observe the rich fauna. Masoala National Park is ideal to see all the animals endemic to Madagascar. It also includes facilities for underwater and other sports. As such, it is a veritable source for adventure!
 
Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
The most sacred place in Madagascar, this hill has been home to Madagascar’s monarchs and nobility for 500 years. The most notable characteristic of this exotic compound is that the surrounding walls were constructed with cement mixed with lime and egg whites in 1857! It is unknown why the builders prefer lime and egg whites instead of mud bricks and earth but the walls still stand solid. Do not miss it. 
 
Ifaty
A fishing village located in south-western Madagascar, Ifaty is one of the best places for scuba diving in the world. 
 
Avenue of the Baobabs
Stretching under the shadow of 800 years-old Baobab trees, this road’s scenery is world-famous. Travelling along the dirt road that links Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina is seen as a privilege. 
 
Nosy Be
A small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be has amazing beaches and a turquoise sea. Madagascar’s most pleasant places to eat are in Nosy Be. While you are sunbathing on the sand, your meal is served to you on the beach. What is there to eat? All kinds of seafood… The island is especially famous for its delicious jumbo shrimps. 
 
Tsingy de Bemaraha
Sitting for a while and watching the scenery in Bemaraha, a marvellous plateau, is enough to cleanse your soul. The exceptional scenery of the rock formations, as well as the night sky offer amazing views. 
 
Isalo National Park
You can visit Isalo National Park joining nature hikes that take several days. Accompanied by tour guides, you can camp in Madagascar’s amazing landscape and get lost in the quiet and nature. 
 
Île Sainte-Marie
You can scuba dive and see pirate ships in Île Sainte-Marie which was a pirate settlement in the 17th century. Water sports are very popular in the island, a veritable paradise with its white sands and green landscape. You can also see pirates’ tombs and watch whales swimming close to the shore. 


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