Northern Madagascar has some of the most interesting and diverse areas on the island, a terrain that fills the shoes of relaxing beach retreat, rough-and-ready adventureland, and naturalist discovery zone all in one. To the east of Northern Madagascar national parks ripe with endemic flora and fauna face off with the mangrove swamps and centuries-old baobabs to the west, only to succumb to the peaceful white sand beaches and emerald seas along the northernmost coasts. Madagascar holidays to this region are the perfect way to experience beautiful wildlife.

First on the list of must-sees in Northern Madagascar is Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, easily the most accessible park in the country due to its proximity to Antananarivo. Formerly known as the Perinet Reserve, Mantadia primarily serves as the protected natural habitat of the largest and arguably the cutest lemur species, the Indri Indri. Around 62 different groups of Indri can be found within the 96 square miles of the park, their surprised teddy bear faces, black-and-white markings, and haunting calls distinguishing them among the rest.

Also in Northern Madagascar you can head further north is the less-trodden region of Nosy Mangabe and the Masoala Peninsula, a remarkable place of hidden beauty bursting with sandy coves, strangler figs, and epic whale populations of its coast. This spot is also particularly well known for its abundance of mystifying rodent-like aye-aye lemurs. Another exclusive and rarely visited lemur sanctuary lies west in Anjajavy. Wildlife and bird viewing here is as effortless as it is intoxicating, the coastal rim of the nature reserve harboring an array of lovely mangrove forests, beaches, and coral reefs ideal for water sports and grotto-hopping boat excursions. Many may find the towering limestone cliffs here reminiscent of their spectacular and famous Tsingy de Bemaraha UNESCO neighbors to the south.

No journey to Madagascar is complete, however, without at least a few days of relaxation on the gorgeous northern shores. Stretches of coastline, barrier reefs, and remote islands all vie for attention with the promise of underwater shipwrecks, magnificent marine life, pristine sun-soaked beaches, and humpback breaching. Nosy Be, an island whose air might as well be soaked in ylang ylang, vanilla, and pepper, is Madagascar’s foremost beach destination and a standard luxurious feature on any of Ker & Downey’s Madagascar holidays.