Madagascar offers many great hiking and trekking routes – even though it is not a traditionally classic destination. Some great hikes include: the area in and around Parc National de Ranomafana, the Masoalo Peninsula and the Route des Contrebandiers. These involve leeches, mud, stream crossings, slogging through or around rice paddies – especially during the rainy season. Heat is the main challenge in the drier south and west areas such as Parc National de l’Isalo.
The more adventurous routes are situated on the Masoalo Peninsula on the Eastern side of Madagascar. Other good options include the area around Ranomafana, Andringitra and Isalo National Parks, the Reserve Speciale d l’Ankarana, and the east of Lac Alaotra. Possibilities for village-to-village walks include the Hauts Plateaux region, the north-east coast, and the region around Mananara.
You will need to be self-sufficient for the hikes and treks with water, food, camping equipment, and in most cases, you will need a local guide too. Remember to bring a topographical map and a compass for the routes “off the beaten track”.
During the night a whole different world comes to life in the forests of Madagascar. A large variety of Malagasy mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians species are nocturnal. Consequently most reserves offer rewarding guided night strolls through the wild to view the animals up-close. These strolls are most interesting during the spring and summer months from October to March as many species hibernate during the winter months.
There are various lemurs – the very lucky might see the world’s largest nocturnal primate, the aye-aye – in the rain forests Perinet, Ranomafana and Nosy Mangabe. Discover other mammals at night such as the fossa and the giant jumping rat. Endemic night birds include the Madagascar Long-eared Owl, Madagascar Scops Owl, Madagascar White-browed Hawk Owl and the Madagascar Collared Nightjars.
It’s a good idea to pack a strong flashlight with spare batteries for nighttime adventures.