Madagascar is an island of staggering biodiversity, home to 5% of all the known animal and plant species on earth. Madagascar separated from mainland Africa around the time of the dinosaurs, and its weird and wonderful wildlife evolved in isolation for millions of years. The island’s most famous residents are its lemurs - more than 100 different species - and you’ll also encounter colourful chameleons, odd-looking insects, the cat-like fossa and much more. Humans only colonised the island around 2,000 years ago, and the distinctive Malagasy culture has as much in common with the countries of the Indian Ocean as it does with mainland Africa.
The terrain is incredibly varied, from dense jungle and lush rice terraces to arid desert and spiny forest. Madagascar’s flora is as distinctive as its fauna, and the bulbous baobab trees are one of the island’s most iconic sights. Resorts such as the Nosy Be offer some of the most attractive beaches in the Indian Ocean, and there’s also plenty for outdoor enthusiasts, with spectacular trekking, some excellent diving spots and a whole host of adrenaline-packed watersports on offer.