Article may contain sponsored links

Sustainable Ecotourism in Madagascar: Conservation, Community and Enchanting Wildlife

Home to some of the world’s most unique and endangered species – plus a diverse landscape of rainforests, beaches and coral reefs – Madagascar offers a wealth of opportunities for older travellers looking to go off the beaten track.

Naomi Chadderton
Naomi Chadderton
An experienced editor and journalist specialising in news and lifestyle.

As we continue to battle climate change, it’s no surprise that sustainable tourism has developed into a burgeoning sector. A responsible method of travelling places an emphasis on conservation and respect for native cultures and the environment. Nowhere is this more evident than in Madagascar – a tropical island off the south-eastern coast of Africa, where going green doesn’t have to mean sacrificing creature comforts.

After all, we can enjoy a little luxury while still working to leave the world a better place for future generations, right?

Why Visit Madagascar?

That’s easy – there are very few other places in the world where you will find its full array of landscapes, from vibrant rainforests to golden beaches, plus a weird and wonderful collection of wildlife and biodiversity. Case in point? Madagascar has six species of baobab trees compared to mainland Africa’s one, while the country’s best nature guides will easily be able to point out frogs, chameleons, helmet vangas and lemurs during a trip into the jungle.

Nosy Be

Pronounced Noosh Beh, Nosy Be is the most popular base in Madagascar thanks to its myriad hotels and local charm. It offers easy access to sandy, palm-fringed shores, as well as all the best conservation sites, including Lokobe with its 740 hectares of nature reserve – home to many protected species.

The island offers a wide range of activities, including whale watching, hiking and beautiful beaches. Don't forget to visit Marodoka, the oldest village in Nosy Be. Sample the Sakalava culture there, such as the traditional dances, and enjoy a cocktail tasting session.

Meanwhile, located in the south, the island's capital Hell Ville has all the day-to-day conveniences you need, such as banks, hotels, shops, and the tourist office.

Nosy Be Golf Course

At Nosy Be, you’ll also find a local golf course, which is currently under restoration by the AJGNB Association des Joueurs de Golf de Nosy Be. Its director, Robert Arthur, recently set up the association to restore the island’s old 18-hole course. It fell into receivership and was almost abandoned until Arthur asked the owner of the land, Madagascar's national sugar cane company, to allow the locals to be able to maintain at least a part of the course.

That was two years ago and so far Arthur and his friends have since managed to salvage six of the course's holes (two par 3s, three par 4s, and one par 5 ). Even more positive changes seem to be on the horizon, as a major well-known enterprise is in the process of tendering to take over & refurbish the course.

It's described by Arthur as 'playable, but rustic'. If you fancy teeing off, you can find the course at PK 15 Bemoko Dzamandzar, MG 207 Nosy Be, Madagascar. Email or call Patrick on +261 03267 23450 for more details.

Golfers enjoying the sunshine at Nosy Be Golf Course.


A player tees off at Nosy Be's Golf Course.


The course at Nosy Be.


Where to Get Up Close and Personal with Nature in Madagascar:

Parc National d’Andasibe-Mantadia

A three-hour drive from the capital, the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is the most visited protected rainforest on Madagascar’s East coast and for good reason. It helps protect iconic species such as the ape-like Indri, the two-foot-long Parson's chameleon and a whole host of other animal oddities. Local guides will lead you along paths in search of sifakas, bamboo lemurs and indris, the large lemurs whose howls reverberate through the trees.

A lemur stares in the jungles of Madagascar.


A Parson's chameleon poses in Madagascar.


Allée des Baobabs and Kirindy Private Reserve

Fans of Madagascar will be more than familiar with the mysterious fossa that hide out in Morondava’s famous avenue of baobab trees – a short-haired mammal that’s related to the mongoose, they are King Julien’s evil enemies in the hit DreamWorks film. To support the local community, be sure to head to the southern entrance of the Allée, where you’ll find a gorgeous gift shop selling local handicrafts, lemur field guides and baobab jam or oils, as well as a coffee shop and bar. A worthy venture that most certainly deserves our support.

Comoros Islands

Located in the Mozambique Channel to the north-west of Madagascar, it may be a short flight from Madagascar to the Comoros Islands, but it’s more than worth it to discover the incredible flora and fauna diversity. Of the approximately 1000 native plant species, 30 percent are endemic to the Comoros, including the endangered palm Ravenea hildebrandtii.

Read more: Morocco's Enchanting Riads

Boats moored at Grand Comore island, Comoros, Madagascar.



Eco-Friendly Hotels in Madagascar Where You Can Do Your Bit:

Eden Lodge

The first 100 per cent solar powered hotel in the world, and previously voted the most sustainable hotel in the world, Eden Lodge in Nosy Be is crafted from only local materials including Anjanojano stone, fallen tree trunks, coconut leaves and ravinala (traveller palm) leaves. Its eight hectares house eight private chalets, with the lodge planting a tree for every guest that visits. And that’s not all – it has also helped sponsor a local school building and pay teacher salaries in Anjanojano, while protecting its surrounding coral reefs and rainforests.

Constance Tsarabanjina Madagascar

An uninhabited private island off the Madagascan coast with just 25 thatched bungalows, set in a tropical jungle overlooking white sand beaches, Constance Tsarabanjina Madagascar offers a true Robinson Crusoe experience. A perfect place to get away from it all, relax and dine on fresh seafood, it’s particularly popular with divers, thanks to its untouched reefs.

Read more: Travel With a Purpose ― The Best Places for Connection With Locals & Meaningful Experiences


A villa at Eden Lodge, Madagascar.


Miavana By Time + Tide

Whether you’re celebrating your 60th birthday or your 25th wedding anniversary, Miavana By Time + Tide is the place to stay for an extra special occasion. Located on a secluded private island off the north-east point of Madagascar with just 14 luxury villas on site, it’s an eco-lover’s dream where hawksbill and green sea turtles glide through the reefs and humpback whales arrive between July and August. Biodiversity surveys are also carried out twice a year, young marine biologists are schooled here, and more than 1,000 locals are supported by this gem in the Indian Ocean.

Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge

Tucked away on the south-east tip of Madagascar, this remote lodge has only four bungalows and one family unit, making it great for those after a little privacy. A place that takes sustainability seriously, rooms are built from natural materials, everything runs on solar power, and contributions are made to community projects, while its owners also help local schools, re-build important roads and protect endemic forests through levies and park fees.

Dining al fresco at the Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge Madagascar


An aerial view of Miavana by Time + Tide, Madagascar.


When to visit Madagascar

The best months to visit Madagascar are from May to November, when the country sees dry weather with temperatures hovering around 20-25C during the day and 10-15C at night.

If you’re hoping to spot baby lemurs and see birds in their brightly coloured breeding plumage, plan a visit between September and November, while July and August are the best months for humpback whale-watching around Île Sainte Marie.

We have many more travel articles here on Life/Redefined, including ones on Colorado and Thailand. Visit our Travel section to get more inspirational ideas about where to go next.