The Southeast region of Madagascar is home to charming and unspoilt countryside, rice paddies, quaint villages and wild beaches.
Built on a small Peninsula, Fort Dauphin is one of the most attractively situated of Madagascar’s major towns, with beaches on three sides and a mountainous backdrop. It is one of the original French territories in Madagascar and was named after the 6 year old prince who later became Louis XIV. A visit to the fort and the administrative quarter of the town, offers a panoramic view of the harbour and Fort Dauphin Bay.
A two and a half hour drive from Fort Dauphin, over a deteriorating road, takes you to Berenty Private Reserve, the country’s most well known reserve because of the ease in which visitors can see its population of ring tailed lemurs and the ‘dancing’ Verreaux sifakas. It’s habitat comprises the banks of the Mandrare River, a spiny forest and the dry Tamarind gallery woodland and the vast network of well maintained forest trails are ideal for independent exploration. The Ifotaka Community Forest is an admirable illustration of a government initiative that encourages local communities to manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner. The engaging Antandroy people harvest forest products from some areas, whilst elsewhere the forest is left intact, preserving it for ecotourism and wildlife viewing.
Another area of interest in this region is Manafiafy, a small fishing village situated about two and a half hours drive from Fort Dauphin on the southeast coast. Relatively unaffected by the Portugese, French and British, who have been and gone, this village is rich in marine life and humpback whales can be seen in the bay from mid June to November. The neighbouring forest is home to dwarf, mouse, sportive and brown lemurs and reptiles such as chameleons, snakes, and geckos.
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Berenty is the most well known reserve in Madagascar and is famous for its population of ring tailed lemurs and sifakas. The forest trails are well kept and when not being guided you can stroll along them on your own.
There is also a small cultural museum which has interesting exhibits about the local peoples and their customs. Nocturnal walks in the spiny forest and a visit to the local sisal factory can also be arranged and are highly recommended.
Fort Dauphin (Taolagnaro)
Built on a small peninsula, Fort Dauphin is bordered on 3 sides by beaches and breakers. Backed by green mountains, it is one of the most attractively situated of Madagascar's major towns. Strong currents make the sea unsuitable for swimming, but the town is an interesting and lively place with a choice of restaurants and nightlife.
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"Seeing animals unique to Madagascar in their natural environment and able to photograph them as they fed and interacted with each other [was inspirational]. The tour guide, Tokey, had an amazing knowledge of all of the wildlife, plants - latin names included - and the history of the country and its people and customs."