Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and due to its unique flora and fauna often referred to as the 8th continent. Recently, Jenman African Safaris put together a FAM trip for tour agents to explore the island nation with its exotic species of ‘dancing lemur’, panda-looking Indri and the spiny Tsingy forest. Here’s what two agents, Esmee de Leau and Kari Ann, had to say about their experience.
JMS: Have you travelled to Madagascar before?
Esmee de Leau: It was my first trip to Madagascar and also my first trip with Jenman African Safaris.
Kari Ann: No.
JMS: What was your favourite part of the trip?
Esmee: I did only the main tour so therefore I could not choose which the best part was. My favourite part was actually Ranomafana visit.
Kari Ann: The trip down south to Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge.
JMS: List three highlights of the tour
Esmee: The highlight was the 6-hour walk in Ranomfana National Park, visit of Andasibe including night tour, and the Lemur Park in Antanarivo and Domaine de Pyereras.
Kari Ann: Manafiafy Beach & Rainforest Lodge (the hidden treasure of Madagascar) with the all the activities they offer as well as excellent staff and manager with good food, Ranamofana National Park (walk for 6 hours) and the stay at Constance Tsarabanjina.
JMS: What advice would you give to agents wanting to add Madagascar to their portfolio?
Esmee: Madagascar is a wonderful country but for real adventurers and experienced travellers. Air Madagascar is still an airline that you cannot fully rely on so the tour operator needs to warn clients about possible changes in the itinerary. Travellers should be flexible, and not expect too much luxury from the accommodations. But if you want to discover a different Africa with other flora and fauna than you should definitely offer Madagascar as a new destination for the adventurous, flexible travellers.
Kari Ann: Experience the destination before adding it to the portfolio as it’s unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced. It should be recommended to the more experienced clients (if they are going on a roundtrip like I did).
JMS: What main advice would you give to tourists visiting Madagascar?
Esmee: Don’t go in high season. You have to know that in high season it can be extremely busy in the National Parks because all tourists do the same route, so sometimes you are watching the lemurs with lots of people around you. So if possible don’t go in July or August. Be well prepared for the walks with good hiking shoes and raincoats, long socks because of the lychees in the rainforest etc. The night tours are recommended, you see small animals, and chameleons in the dark, and spiders etc. if possible you better book a tailor-made tour instead of a standard group tour, than you can choose your own accommodations and itinerary. If you really want to learn much more about Madagascar than you need an English guide on your tour. Be flexible, this country is an adventure! You have to be a nature lover to visit this country and to enjoy also the small animals like spiders, reptiles, chameleons, geckos, etc. It is a totally different Africa that cannot be compared with any other African country.
Kari Ann: I would say that Madagascar is a destination for the more experienced traveller with unique wildlife and scenery. But always book a guide as your trip will not be what it should be without one. It costs extra but it would be worth it. And follow Jenman’s advice with the package tips, it all came in use, and if you travel from Mai to August make sure you bring some warm clothes (surprisingly cold and not all hotels offer heating – just extra blankets), and always have your camera ready. And if possible, bring small presents with you for the kids – they highly appreciate it.
Do you have anything else to add or further comments regarding Madagascar as a holiday destination?
Esmee: I really enjoyed my trip to Madagascar. It was a wonderful experience, a great adventure (especially my 6-hour walk in Ranomafana) and I have unforgettable memories. Nature is beautiful, people are great and the landscapes are stunning. I had a lot of fun with my two travel mates and I want to thank Jenman for this wonderful trip. It was very well organised, we had a good driver, a comfortable car and stayed in good hotels.
Kari Ann: The trip was an adventure, and do not miss out on the south of Madagascar.
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