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Expedition Dates to be Announced
The island of Madagascar lies in the Indian Ocean, separated by the the Mozambique Channel from the southeast coast of Africa -- opposite Mozambique. The fourth-largest island in the world, Madagascar is 226,658 square miles (587,045 sq km), making it approximately twice the size of Arizona.
Madagascar, sometimes referred to as the "sixth continent", is home to an incredible variety of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth, due to its isolation from the rest of the world. This unique environment for flora and fauna has resulted in fertile inland rainforests filled with such unique living things as lemurs, baobabs, periwinkles, geckoes, aloes, sifakas, serpent eagles, red owls, short-legged ground rollers and octopus trees -- the result of 80 million years of separate evolution.
Although this incredible environment is accessable in spectacular national parks, aggressive deforestation still threatens this unique biome. Since the 1980's, however, a number of environmental initiatives have been undertaken to conserve and protect Madagascar's biological diversity, through plans such as the National Environmental Action Plan and the Masoala Project.
Beginning in 1997, with assistance from such agencies as CARE International Madagascar, Wildlife Conservation Society and the Peregrine Fund, measures were undertaken to protect the lemur, its forests, rare orchids, and other unique wild species, as well as the well-being of the people who live there. Now, ecotourism plays a significant part both in the preservation of the environment and in the economy of Madagascar.
Forests meet the sea in a variety of ways: fringed with white sandy beaches, entangled mangrove wetlands, and abrupt ironshore created by coral reefs rising from the sea floor. The oceans and lagoons provide aquatic nurseries for humpback whales, dolphins and sea turtles.
Protected by the National Environmental Action Plan, the diverse marine life thrives. Fish are abundant around the coral reefs, flourishing in the crystal clear water. Also present are sea turtles, southern and humpback whales, as well as sharks and dolphins. May through November are particularly good months for sightings of whales, dolphins, turtles, and dugongs.
The climate of Madagascar varies from season to season and from lowlands to mountain environs, although, overall the climate is hot and subtropical. As a whole, the weather is dominated by the southeastern trade winds originating in the Indian Ocean.
In general, the coastal climate is hot and rainy from November to April, with temperature averaging from 75° F / 24° C to 78° F / 26° C. During this time, especially from December to March, monsoon season conveys storms and cyclones to the eastern and northern regions. Cooler weather prevails during the dry season from May to October.
In the plateau region, which ranges in height from Mt. Maromokotro at 9,450 ft / 2,880 m. to the Ankaratra Mountains at 8,670 ft / 2,640 m, the climate is warm and stormy from November to April -- and cool, dry and windy during the balance of the year.
The water temperature averages 77°F / 25°C year round. While the ocean water temperature can be described as "refreshing", obviously, you'll want to plan on wearing a wetsuit.