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My Favourite Place – Madagascar

Madagascar the Great Red Island – It’s just an amazing island.

When my team and I went to film there our jaws were just hanging open at it. It really is one of the most extraordinary places in the world. It’s packed with loads of colour and variety, strange tribal rituals, unbelievable landscapes, amazing animals and trees. It’s a little like the Galapagos in that it’s been cut off for a long time from the rest of the world and things have evolved in unique ways. It’s on a bigger scale than Galapagos though.
It’s a very long haul journey but it needs visitors more than ever, there are national parks there that need tourism desperately.
There is a train that runs across the island and it’s a magical experience – it’s not like travelling on British Rail! You travel through darkness at some points and the train pulls into stations where children stand lit by candlelight singing haunting and angelic songs in exchange for treats. You travel through countryside on that journey which really is out of this world. It’s not for the unadventurous traveller I would say, but it’s a very memorable experience and in my opinion that’s what travel is all about.

A few facts:

A little larger than California, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo. With its location in the western Indian Ocean, Madagascar is about as far away from the west coast of the United States as one can get. Flying to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, from San Francisco covers about 11,000 miles or 17,700 km and takes a minimum of 23 hours of flight time.
Madagascar is often called the “Great Red Island” because of its red soils, which are generally poor for agriculture. It is home to as many as 12,000 plant species – 70-80% of which are endemic – making it one of the most diverse floras on the planet.
Simon Reeve