Amongst an array of African destinations, the island of Madagascar has an allure all its own. Separated from the mainland, it is home to a true menagerie of different animal and plant species, set against a diverse natural backdrop of mountainous terrain and sweeping savannah.
Whether you're seeking wildlife encounters, or are looking to bask on the sands of one of Madagascar's unspoilt beaches, this is one destination you don't want to miss out on.
At Bench Africa, we have a passion for bringing Australians closer to some of Africa's top experiences, which is why we endeavour to create inspiring journeys to this unrivalled, under-the-radar destination.
As the world's fourth-largest island, Madagascar's shores are exactly as you might picture them - pale golden sands fringed by palm trees, crystalline waters lapping at the coast. Interestingly enough, until 165 million years ago, Madagascar was still attached to the mainland, with the split creating an isolated sanctuary for a range of unique species to evolve. Today, Madagascar is home to 5 per cent of all the world's animal and plant species, with 80 per cent native to the island itself, such as the lemur.
Madagascar's impressive size (just smaller than Spain) covers just under 588,000 square kilometres, with the central highlands, or Hauts-Plateaux, creating distinct western and eastern regions. The capital of Antananarivo, locally known as Tana, is situated in this area, its colourful buildings a patchwork of European and local influence. Particularly noteworthy is the Rova, or palace of Antananarivo, which sits proudly atop the city's highest point, making it visible throughout.
As you explore Madagascar, you'll encounter the local language, Malagasy, as well as French and some other dialects. When it comes to currency, you'll be ...