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Getting to know the capital:
Northern Madagascar's largest city, Antsiranana, is also the island's capital. Previously known as Diego-Suarez after the navigator and sailor who visited in the early 1500's, reminders of its former incarnations can be found throughout the city. Jump in a Pousse-Pousse (rickshaw) or stroll past French Colonial architecture, such as that of La Résidence. Browse Malagasy arts and crafts at the friendly Tsena market stands, then sample some local delicacies under the shade of the trees at Foch Square.
Looking for wonderful wildlife:
Almost 90 percent of the flora and fauna found on Madagascar is unique to the island and around a quarter of Earth's primates exist here. The instantly recognisable lemur is endemic and comes in all shapes and sizes. See how many of the 100+ species you can spot as you tour the sacred lake, 150-million-year-old Jurassic limestone and forest of Ankarana Special Reserve. Alternatively, search for rare Madagascar Fish Eagles, frogs and chameleons at Montagne d'Ambre (Amber Mountain), just over 16 miles south of Antsiranana.
Sheltered turquoise waters, lonesome beaches and views of the distinctive Sugarloaf Mountain make the Bay of Antsiranana one of the finest in the world. Bring a snorkel to discover an underwater kaleidoscope of colour, or laze on the pristine sands while soaking up the sunshine. If you get the chance, visit Sakalava Bay or take a boat trip across to the aptly named Mer d'Emeraude (Emerald Sea), where deserted islands frame crystal clear waters in an idyllic paradise.
At around 1,000 miles from north to south, Madagascar offers a myriad of enchanting regions, with the mountainous Hauts-Plateaux dominating its centre. It divides the wildlife-rich, eastern areas of Masoala National Park, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and Nosy Boraha island, from historic Avenue of the Baobabs, The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga and karst limestone formations of Tsingy de Bemaraha on the west. The south is home to the arid spiny forest, Ranomafana and Isalo National Parks, while several smaller isles adorn the north, each with their own individual appeal. These include beautiful Nosy Be, primal Nosy Komba, peaceful Nosy Iranja and the Nosy Hara archipelago.