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Getting to know…Great Island Adventure Safaris of Madagascar

Great Island Adventure Safaris is based in Antananarivo in Madagascar and offers tailor-made tours to explore the island, still relatively unknown to visitors from the UK and Europe.

The company specialises in birding, wildlife watching, trekking and ‘off the beaten track’ wilderness adventures.

Fifty National Parks and nature reserves provide ample opportunity for nature discovery with the company, which also offers whale-watching cruises – the island boasts 5000 kilometres of unspoiled beaches.

Groups are kept to a maximum of 10 people to ensure a more intimate experience and are led by passionate Malagasy tour guides.

Wildlife highlights

Image by Lars Schlageter from Pixabay

Madagascar has a stand-out offer in that about 90% of its plant and wildlife is unique to the island including the lemur, with more than 100 different species known to exist; two new species were only recently discovered by naturalist guides in the Ifaty Spiny Forest.

Other wildlife highlights include the ring-tailed mongoose, sickle billed vanga bird, fossa, aye-aye and Parson’s chameleon. More than 125 species of bird on Madagascar are found nowhere else in the world.

Bakoly Raz – guide and owner

Bakoly Raz

After 20 years experience, local guide Bakoly Raz decided to found her own tour company, Great Island Adventure Safaris.

Keen to encourage locals to see the value and work opportunities in tourism rather than the current trend of charcoal production, which is accelerating deforestation and becoming one of the biggest environmental threats facing the country, she is leading the way in encouraging the government to invest in wildlife and sustainable tourism.

A change of focus is needed to encourage locals to see wildlife tourism as a viable career choice that pays, in turn increasing tourism revenue and the overall economic benefits to Madagascar.

Malagasy culture

The island of Madagascar has an eclectic mix of cultural influences including those from Indonesia and the French-speaking former colonial areas of Western Africa, but has only been inhabited by humans for about 1,300 years.

More than nine-tenths of the population is Malagasy, of which the largest group is the Merina people, who are scattered throughout the island. The name Merina (Imerina) is said to mean Elevated People, deriving from the plateau habitat they lived on.

 

Madagascar facts:

  • Located 400 kilometres east of Southern Africa
  • Highest priority for conservation according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • One of  just 17 countries considered ‘megadiverse’, possessing a vast number of different species, most found nowhere else
  • Measures 226,917 square miles – making it the fourth largest island on the planet (bigger than Spain, Thailand, Sweden and Germany)

For more information on itineraries and packages, visit www.gias-madagascar.com.

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