Location & region

Fort Dauphin in MadagascarMadagascar, this extensive exceptional island is a legendary destination having fed dreams for a long time.

Its melting pot of peoples from Africa, Arabia, the Far East and India will immerse you in the heart of a unique civilization whose astonishing wealth of customs and crafts and warm sense of hospitality entrances everyone who visits despite the population’s everyday poverty. Madagascar has been considered for millions of years as an orphan island, out ot reach, off the coast of eastern Africa and has therefore followed its own natural course, leaving life forms flourish in the most unusual and wonderful ways.

Fishermen in Fort Dauphin Rocks in Fort Dauphin View from Pic St. Louis

The Indian Ocean

For hundreds of kilometers north and south of Fort Dauphin the coastline offers a succession of very jagged headlands connected by vast sandy bays. Here, the last foothills of the Anosienne mountain chain fall into the sea. The ocean swell, that no land can refrain, blows in the most beautiful waves and the Tsiukafaratra (trade wind) blows magical colors and movement. Nature’s elements regularly confront each other but these battles always subside offering periods of calm, during which time the ocean unveils its depths to lovers of the submarine world.

Humpback whales rest near the coast during the austral winter, and can be seen with their newborns in September. The ballets of these enormous cetaceans is exceptionnal.

The Indian Ocean in Fort Dauphin Fort Dauphin peninsula

Land

Land South of MadagascarVillage of South of MadagascarThe Anosienne mountain chain and peaks reach two thousand meters in height and separate the Southeastern part of the island into two distinct regions. Its eastern side, with its lush tropical vegetation, descends rapidly to the sea. Streams develop there, fed by abundant rainfall, which rapidly transform into rivers offering an infinite network of lakes and marshes before openinng into the ocean.
The jagged western side, due to the influence of the ocean, is much more arid. It gently extends towards the great plains of the Antandroy region, with world-unique primary flora and fauna in vast stretches of unspoiled nature.
The National Nature Reserve of Andohela covers a large area of ridges of the Anosienne chain, ideal territory for trekking lovers to hike through these suspended forests.

The people of the South

Naturally separated by the mountains, two major ethnic groups occupy the extreme south-east of the Island: the Antanosy and the Antandroy

The former are sedentary rice farmers, fruit pickers, and lobster fishermen. They have been graced by Nature.

The latter are free zebu breeders in their open spaces, living a hard life corresponding to their identity.

Their villages are sometimes difficult to reach, hidden at the back of a bay, away from the world or in hidden corners of lost valleys. These are only a few of their differences with the rest of the world living in nonchalance as far as the passing of time is concerned. What happens from day to day is all that is counts, they say, smiling, even though tomorrow might not be certain.

Parks and Reserves

The south esatern region of Madagascar has tzo different climates but these regions touch each other and offer unique national praks as well as small private reserves full of animals ans species from the south.

 

The National Park Andohela

The largest and most beautiful, most natural park, the National Park Andohela is accessible from 3 sites. Descriptions can be found in many toursist guides. A favorite is Tsmilahy, a 2-hour drive from Fort Dauphin: Baobab, euphorbia, pachypodiums line a 2-h walk in the middle of this transitional forest and along a pink sandstone canyon leading to a natural pool.

The National Park Andohela The National Park Andohela The National Park Andohela The National Park Andohela

 

National Park Cap Ste Marie

Much farther away (7 to 8 hours from Fort Dauphin), this smalleer National Park is an introduction to the country Androy (or country of thorns). The park itself is a sample of "bonsai" trees that have remained very small size due to strong winds blowing on the cape at the extreme south of Madagascar all year round.

Radiata turtles parade on the roads of the park and it is possible to contemplate junction of waters of the Indian Ocean and the Mozambique Channel from the lighthouse in Cape St. Mary.

For the more curious, a nice 3-hour walk leads down to the cave at the Cape where the first Portuguese explorers arrived by sea 250 years ago.

 

The Private Reserve Nahampohana

Sifaka Verreaux in NahampohanaFormer agricultural post for French settlers half a century ago, the Nahampohana reserve has magnificent trees and plants of all species: cinnamon trees, cloves, cherry trees from Brazil, etc. Many new species can be discovered thanks to very knowledgable and pleasant Malagasy reserve guides.

It is also possible to come very cloes to three species of southern lemurs: maki catta, fulvus and the sifaka, lemur dancer. Turtles, crocodiles and chameleons are also in the reserve.

Sifaka Verreaux in Nahampohana Radiata turtle in à Nahampohana Maki catta in Nahampohana Guavas in Nahampohana Frog in Nahampohana

 

The Berenty Private Reserve

Renowned in many tourist guides, it is a 3:30-hour car drive from Fort Dauphin (one way). Car rentals and park entries must be booked from: SHTM (Hotel and Tourist Company of Madagascar)