Madagascar. It has an exotic hold over the imagination, conjuring up a land of wild nature: plains of baobab trees, armies of lemurs, unique animals, and lush rainforests.

Since so few people visit (roughly 350,000 per year), our imagination runs wild when we hear its name. It’s some otherworldly region, a lush rainforest teeming with wildlife and white sand beaches from end to end. It would be like Avatar.

Most people I talked to thought the same. After all, with so few visitors there, the chances of knowing someone who has been is tiny.

But the Madagascar most of us envision is not the one that exists. The country is quite arid thanks to mining, deforestation, and climate change. These days, the landscape is a lot less lush than it once was. It’s not as wild and exotic as we think.

Yet there’s a lot of beauty here. From Westworld-like deserts and tiny tropical rainforests to valleys filled with rice fields and giant mountains, Madagascar is still outrageously magical and raw. While I’ll be posting many articles on what to see and do, how to visit the country, and my experience there in the upcoming weeks, I thought I’d start with some photographs from my visit to set the scene:

A large lemur in a treeLemurs, lemurs, and more lemurs. There’s over 60 species in the country.

A large valley with rolling hillsOne of the beautiful and lush valleys on the island.

A small colorful bird in MadagascarThe Paradise bird. Just one of the many colorful birds I saw.

Two lemurs sitting in a tree“King Julien” lemurs (so called because this is the kind that was the character in the movie).

A collapsed bridgeThe poor infrastructure in Madagascar makes the country hard to get around.

A green lizard in MadagascarThere’s a lot of chameleons here too.

Nomadic Matt eating street food in MadagascarMadagascar has this samosa tasting spring roll. I ate them all the time. They made me very happy. Delicious and at three cents each, budget friendly.

A lemur and its babyBaby lemurs!

A brown lemur hiding in a treeThis lemur is actually asleep. It sleeps with its eyes open to deter predators.

A large tree in MadagascarSome of the famous baobab trees.

A sunset over a town in MadagascarA beautiful pastel sunset over the capital, Antananarivo!

People crossing a narrow bridgeA narrow bridge made even more crowded by a weekly market.

Two lemurs stealing my thingsAlways be on the lookout for thieves!

A lemur in a treeA candid shot!

A lemur hiding in the forestSo many lemurs, so little time.

Nomadic Matt crouching on a cliffHiking in Isalo national park, a very Westworld like place.

A huge spider in a webThis spider was frighteningly huge.

Nomadic Matt standing in an arid valleyTaking in the amazing view!

A tour with Intrepid TravelLearning about the country with my awesome guide, Patrick.

Hiking in MadagascarOut for a hike with the Intrepid group.

A busy villageThe zebu (a type of cow) market, where people buy and sell cattle.

An empty valleyThe hills and valleys of Madagascar fill up the long, slow driving days. And they are a wonderful sight.

An dry valleyThis is what most of Madagascar looks like.

A black lemur in a treeJust another Lemur doing his thing!

Nomadic Matt with his guideChatting with my awesome guide Patrick.

A large lizardThis big fella was just relaxing in the sun.

A lemur hiding in a treeHome sweet home!

Nomadic Matt hiking near a cliffTaking the classic Instagram picture!

A lemur in a treeOk, one last lemur picture.

Nomadic Matt with a lemurI found my new best friend while in Madagascar!

***Sixteen days was not nearly enough time to visit a country the size of France, especially since Madagascar severely lacks decent infrastructure. roads are filled with potholes and there’s no regular train service (a common theme in my upcoming posts).

So, while there was much I missed, I’m grateful for everything I did see.

I guess, as always, it’s just another reason to go back, right?

Note: I went to Madagascar with Intrepid Travel as part of our ongoing partnership. They paid for the tour and my expenses during the trip. I paid for my flights to and from Madagascar. They offer 10% off their tours to readers so click the link and save on your next trip.

P.S. – We are hosting a Q&A with professional travel photographer Laurence Norah on October 29th, so be sure to attend if you want to step up your photo game!

The post 30 Epic Photos From My Trip to Madagascar appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Original Article