Madagascar could just as well be on another planet, in spite of being a mere 400 Km (250 miles) into the Indian Ocean off the south eastern coast of Africa. The closest African country is Mozambique. If you compare the wildlife on the island to the rest of the world, you’ll find that 80% of it unique to Madagascar.

It’s a country ideally suited to adventure tourism. It is very important to have a guide that knows the work, because this kind of travel could involve encounters with wildlife that some would find scary. However there are a number of national parks which offer safe viewing of the unique wildlife of the island. The island’s most famous national park is called Andasibe, with its rainforest vegitation. Here you can see some of the more than 70 species of lemur, a snouted tree-dwelling primate that exists nowhere else. There are a plethora of chameleon species in all colours of the rainbow, the largest being the size of a house cat, the smallest smaller than a thumb nail. The fossa is the largest predator. Ankarana National Park is another unique experience, given its eroded wonderland of sharp limestone pinnacles and bat caves.

Things to See

Wildlife – The Fossa

The fossa is yet another specie in danger of extinction, making it a popular subject for ecotourism. (Photo Nick Garbutt, posted on Facebook)

Wildlife tourism is probably the first thing that comes to mind when Africa is mentioned. Travel to Madagascar and you could see the Fossa (pronounced Foossa), a very unique creature of our planet. The specie is endemic to the island.

It shares traits with civets (Viverrridae), mongooses, and cats (Felidae). Fossas appear to be a smaller form of a large felid, such as a cougar. Across Madagascar, people mainly distinguish two types of fossa—a large fossa mainty (“black fossa”) and the smaller fosa mena (“reddish fossa”). Unfortunately it’s numbers are on the decline, and particularly vulnerable to extinction.

Fossa research has also generated spin-offs in the form of ecotourism and local development. Sightings tend to be rare, partially because they prefer to keep to forested areas. One place you can find them is in Madagascar’s Ankarafantsika National Park. There are some scary myths regarding the Fossa. In some parts of Madagascar they are said to eat children who wander off alone in the forest. While it preys on a wide variety of animals, they specialise in feeding of what is common to an environment and season. Humans do not form part of its diet.

Things to Do

Go Backpacking

Backpacking can get you very close to the wilderness in Madagascar.