Avenue of the Baobabs just outside Morondava, Madagascar.

The name is not a coincidence. You are truly mad if you don’t visit one of the most diverse islands in the world. It’s often called the 8th continent, due to the large number of flora and fauna not found anywhere else on Earth. No surprise, perhaps, given the sheer size of this giant island country.

It is the fourth biggest island in the world and the biggest which is a country (although Greenland is working on it). How big, exactly? Well, bigger than Spain but not quite as big as France. Its 587,041 square kilometers makes sure that only 45 countries are bigger. .

The scenery is stunning and very diverse. I already mentioned animals and trees, not least the cutest of the cute lemurs and the biggest of the big baobab trees. Throw in gourmet food (thank you, France) and a very hospitable people, and you’re in for a winner. Just do not expect much when it comes to infrastructure, roads are rare and usually in a pretty bad state. That means that average speeds of above 50 km/h should not be expected. In other words, it will take 12-14 hours to get from the capital Antananarivo to Morondava where the 7-800 year old baobab trees await. And yes, you are obliged to see them. Consider that Morondava has world-class seafood at slashed prices a bonus. Let me not forget the unforgettable sunsets either, as is the case on any African west coast.

Renting a car the way you are used to is not easy, by the way. Very few companies will hire one to you without a mandatory driver. That doesn’t necessarily add much to the cost, expect to pay 40-70 USD per day plus petrol. And the driver will get to stay for free in the hotels you stay in (meaning that you pay extra for your hotel room), unless they decide to stay in the car. Some do, presumably to look after the car.

You can fly to many towns from Tana (the nickname of the capital – who wants to spend five minutes trying to say Antananarivo anyway – it is the longest one-word capital name in the world), but prices on Air Madagascar are like brutal daylight robberies. Expect to pay 500USD for a return flight taking one hour each direction. Luckily they now have one competitor on domestic flights, hopes are they will help squeeze prices a bit. Conveniently Madagasikara Airways isn’t listed anywhere as an airline flying within Madagascar, and frankly its name doesn’t do anyone but locals speaking Malagasy any favours. Madagasikara logically means Madagascar, but who the hell knows?

I’ll let the photos speaks for themselves below.

Just to remind you that you’re mad for not going. How mad? Mad [as] a gas car.

 

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