Madagascar is a study in contrasts. It’s the fourth largest island in the world but is little known, even among seasoned travellers. Fewer than 30 000 people visit annually, most of whom are not tourists but relatives returning to see their families. This gives Madagascar a timeless quality and makes it fascinating to adventurers who like going off the beaten track.

Clocking in at half the size of nearby South Africa with a sizable population of about 20 million people, Madagascar is also rightfully known as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’ because it is thought that at least 80 to 90 percent of the fauna and flora found here are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. It is one of only a handful of official world Biodiversity Hotspots with an enviable list of wildlife wonders for safari goers such as a hundred species of lemur, six species of baobab and plenty of national parks and protected areas.

Because Madagascar is so big - about twice the size of Arizona, 45 percent larger than California or bigger than Spain, Sweden and Germany! - work with your Africa Safari Expert to pick and choose what you really want to see and do if you don't have the time or budget to experience it all. Consider adding one beach area as an 'add on' to a mainland African safari or choosing at most three national parks to combine into a tailor-made itinerary.

Madagascar will appeal to those who’ve been to Africa before and are now looking for new places to explore away from the crowds. It offers an enviable combination of diving, snorkelling, hiking and sightseeing in an array natural beauty spots.