Southern Madagascar is a region made up of diverse terrain, ranging from the attractive rice terraces, savannahs and rugged rocks of Isalo National Park, until reaching Tulear, which welcomes visitors with its tree-lined avenues, bright bougainvillea and jacaranda, and a culture influenced by French and Arab aspects.
Tulear is considered the region's coastal capital city. It is home to the area's principal port and also offers a number of seaside resorts at breath-taking beach locations, offering some of the world's best snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities.
Further south are the coastal resorts around Tulear, outstandingly aesthetic with bursts of purple jacaranda and a fascinating blend of mosques and cathedrals. North of Tulear is the resort town of Ifaty, with its white sand beaches and Indian Ocean waters full of tropical fish and marine life found among colourful coral reefs. Fort Dauphin is a coastal town with a small harbour in the south-east of the red island.
The south of Madagascar is possibly the most scenically diverse region of the island. The varied landscape ranges from lush river valleys, mountainous boulders, savannahs, and arid areas, while the coastline is introduces the warm Indian Ocean.
Isalo National Park is the famous home to the island's fascinating lemurs, chameleons and birds. Over 80% of Madagascar's wildlife is endemic, making this game viewing experience a true novelty.
The principal town and port is Tulear, hosting numerous beach resorts and a French and Arab influence giving it its unique and interesting culture.
Santa Augustine's Bay offers a more remote beach holiday than in the tourist centres of Nosy Be and Ile Sainte Marie and might be preferred by visitors looking for privacy.
La Croix du Sud is a colonial-style building designed over two levels around a courtyard garden. One of the most modern hotels and offers some of the best accommodation in Fort Dauphin. Fort Dauphin is set in a gorgeous location, with excellent hiking opportunities and panoramic views.
Set in a wonderful garden, full of fruit trees and herbs, Isalo Ranch is a peaceful and relaxing place to stay during your travels of Southern Madagascar. The ranch is just 2km from the entrance to Isalo National Park and 5km from the town of Ranohira; a beautiful and diverse area.
Located overlooking the main bay of Fort Dauphin, the Kaleta Hotel is the newest hotel in Fort Dauphin - just 10 mins away from the airport. This luxurious hotel was opened in 2008 and has 30 high standard rooms and 10 luxury suites with all comforts and great views over the sea.
Isalo National Park is one of Madagascar’s most visited and most beautiful national parks where, after a morning clambering up escarpments and along canyons, walkers can enjoy a well-earned dip in one of the natural rock pools. The western interior landscape of Isalo National Park incorporates cascading rivers and waterfalls that tumble through green valleys and over stark rocky surfaces.
Giant, ancient baobabs, spongy succulents and swinging vines provide lavish homes for the number of lemurs, chameleons and exotic birdlife that fills the trees. In the deeper south of Madagascar is Santa Augustine's Bay, situated alongside an estuary at the base of steep cliffs plummeting into the sea.
The scuba diving and snorkelling here are excellent and this region offers a more remote beach holiday than in the tourist centres of Nosy Be and Ile Sainte Marie.
The climate of Madagascar is tropical along the coast, temperate inland, and arid in the south creating a variety of completely different biomes and a diverse ecology.
The combination of south-eastern trade winds and north-western monsoons produces a hot, rainy season from November to April and a relatively cooler dry season between May and October.
The heavy precipitation due to the rain clouds that form over the Indian Ocean support the area's rainforest ecosystem along the east coast of the island. The central highlands are both drier and cooler, while the west is drier still.
A semi-arid climate prevails in the southwest and southern interior of the island. The best time to visit Madagascar is during the drier May to October period, so as to avoid the risk of monsoon season. Potential floods see the closure of many camps.
Jardin du Roy is a French-owned guesthouse near Ranohira, close to the entrance to Isalo National Park. Built from granite to blend in with the landscape, the main lodge looks down over a long stretch of lawn, which ends in towering sandstone cliffs.
Isalo Ranch is just 2km from the entrance to Isalo National Park and 5km from the town of Ranohira; a beautiful and diverse area. It is basic, but comfortable and with the spectacular jagged rock formations of Isalo forming the enchanting back drop.
Located on the southern coast of Madagascar, Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge offers the chance to explore the wild south coast beach, mangroves, lemur forests and astounding landscapes. The lodge is stunningly situated mere yards from a pristine beach bordered by lush forest and striking granite boulders.
Sun Safaris can arrange scheduled flights for visitors to Madagascar. Ivato International Airport is an airport located in Antananarivo (Tana), the capital of Madagascar. Ivato Airport is main hub for Air Madagascar and the majority of flights around the island originate from here, which is a good thing considering the bad state of the roads. Besides the big cities, lots of little hamlets are also served via light air transfers.
By road is the only inexpensive way to get around, but Madagascar's roads are mostly very poor quality (except for two routes leading in and out of Tana). These road excursions will take guests into beautiful forested areas; however, if there is a time limit on the journey, travellers should be reminded that these trips will take a while longer than expected.
There are not many direct routes on land and the many small towns are accessible via one road only, meaning guests should be advised on which routes to take should they be self-driving. The best option is light air transfer to destinations on the island.