Awarded ‘50 Tours of a Lifetime’ by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.
There's a reason DreamWorks chose the African nation of Madagascar to model a movie after. This country is home to one of the world's most diverse collections of plant and animal species, the majority of which cannot be found in any other location on the globe. The World Wildlife Foundation reports that 92 percent of the country's mammals and 89 percent of its plant life are unique to Madagascar, meaning that travelers truly gain a unique experience when venturing to this nation.
Tourists eager to visit what Lonely Planet labels the "modern-day Noah's Ark" should be sure to drop by these three sights to garner a true glimpse into the country's top spots.
Got lemur fever?
Among the throng of thrilling animals that call Madagascar home, travelers will want to place lemurs toward the top of their itineraries. Consider a tour of the Andasibe & Mantadia National Park, home to one of the largest lemur reserves in the world. Tourists visiting this island have the chance to see these small animals in their natural environments, watching them wail as they sail through the treetops and interact with fellow lemurs. Voyagers have the opportunity to walk through rainforests and habitats these creatures call home, observing how different breeds differ both in looks and personality.
Frequently referred to as Lemur Island, this swath of land features several parks home to various lemur species, including the playful ring-tailed lemur and the iconic indri - which is known for its distinctive call. As visitors venture through the tropical climates to experience the lively lemurs, they should also be sure to keep an eye out for endangered and exotic plant life, which may be abundant in these areas.
Wanna watch a whale?
While lemurs frequently attract thousands of tourists each year, travelers can also drop by the Ile Sainte Marie to observe the humpback whales that have traveled south from the Antarctic. According to Lonely Planet, these creatures frequently spend the months of July to September in the waters of the Indian Ocean, which provide much warmer temperatures for breeding, as opposed to those up North. The source added that the islands of Sainte Marie and Baie d'Antogil are best for observing these large whales.
Once you've had a chance to observe Madagascar's humpback whales, be sure to drop by one of the country's pristine beaches to get a taste for its waters for yourself. The Anjajavy Peninsula, for example, houses additional spots for seeing lemurs and offers idyllic coasts perfect for basking in the sun or swimming up close and personal alongside turtles, fish and other aquatic creatures.
Reveling in the rainforest
Madagascar is the ideal location for spotting trees, flowers and blooms growing wildly in the rainforest. Several of the nation's surrounding islands are replete with luscious breeds, including the baobabs tree. This species grows with a long, thick trunk - which is capable of storing gallons of water - and typically only grows leaves toward the top of the tree. While variations of this plant can be found in Australia and few other African countries, the majority remain located in Madagascar.
Another species of plant that gains a great following among visitors is the wild orchid, which, according to Lonely Planet, grows in more than 1,000 varieties across the country. Travelers can get a glimpse of these colorful - but short-lived - plants in the various rainforests, as they can typically be found in the heart of these regions. As you travel through the many different attractions in Madagascar, be sure to keep track of which orchids you had a chance to view.
Animal conservatories around the globe
This country has received a lot of attention for its various exotic and endangered species, but it is not the only one to have parks and conservatories dedicated to replenishing populations and educating the public. People considering Asia tours may want to look into visiting China, where they can find the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Taking a tour of this country allows travelers to not only interact with endangered breeds of these fluffy creatures, but also stop by some of China's most iconic locations, such as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.
As your small motorboat slides onto the sandy bank of a deserted beach and your attentive guides set up a gourmet seaside picnic, all that’s left to do is allow the turquoise waters of this remote paradise wash away your stresses.
(Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake)
Watch the sun set over Myanmar as you sip cocktails perched high on Pyathagyi pagoda and reflect on the rich cultural heritage of this mysterious region.
(Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Shanghai)
One of China's great symbols awaits - watch pandas at play in their natural habitat on this adventure through Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and Chengdu. Book this Kensington classic itinerary as is by December 1st, for travel anytime before the end of 2015, and save $1000 per couple!
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