Nature enthusiasts hold Madagascar in high esteem for its botanicals, birds, and famous lemurs. Come for the striking biodiversity; stay for the 1,000 varieties of orchid, pygmy stump-tailed chameleons, and lovely Malagasy people.
More than 160 million years ago, Madagascar separated from the east coast of Africa to become the world’s fourth-largest island. Over the subsequent millennia, its isolation gave rise to a striking biodiversity—one unrivaled by any landmass of comparable size. Not only diverse, the flora and fauna of Madagascar are, in large part, unique to the island; 90 percent of all forest flora is endemic and includes over 10,000 plant species. More than half of the 250-plus bird species is found nowhere else, and Madagascar is also home to more than half of the world’s chameleon species. Even with this varied and matchless wildlife, one animal holds pride of place—the engaging lemur. These arboreal acrobats, oldest of all surviving primates, are a special highlight on any journey to Madagascar. It’s no wonder that French botanist, Philibert Commerson, christened this island as “the naturalists’ promised land.”