Madagascar’s cuisine is a reflection from the African as well as Arab and Indonesian peoples who have settled into this country. Madagascar has a unique French influence that were found in the crops by the early French colonisers. Including vanilla, coffee, cloves and sugar cane. One of the traditional meals in Madagascar will usually contain one main dish of meat, poultry or fish with a side dish of vegetables accompanied by a bowl of ro (a mix of herbs, leaves and rice). Malagasy cuisine is known for being very flavourful even though it is being prepared in a simple manner without much spice. Malagasy cuisine is usually not hot or spicy.
Some of the most popular food and beverages in Madagascar are; Foza sy hena-kisoa; (stir-fried pork, and crab over rice.) Ramazava;( Which is leaves, herbs and spices of beef and pork cooked in oil until browned). Vary amid’anana; (Rice, leaves or herbs, meat and sometimes shrimp). Laspoy;( Is a soup made with veal or beef broth, and vegetables like carrots, potatoes, turnips, scallions, string beans, tomatoes, and salt. Served with crackers or bread). Madagascar has a national snack, Koba;( Rice that is served with a banana and seafood) you will be highly encouraged to try upon visit. Malagasy has a very interesting beverage called Ranonapango; (Which is made up of burned rice, and after a pot of rice has been overcooked, boiling water is added to the burned rice grain to absorb the flavour. Then the water is poured off, chilled and served as a beverage with the meal) is a very popular drink in their country. Malagasy also has another beverage called Ginger beer; (Freshly grated ginger, sugar, yeast and water). Malagasy people consider these particular cuisines as a “Specialty cuisine” Ravitoto (pork that is served with shredded cassava leaves). Varanga (fried slivers of beef). Sesika (a sort of poultry blood sausage). Vorivorin-Kena (beef tripe). Smalona (amazing stuffed eels). Lasary (is a colorful chutney usually made with lemon, mango or papaya-or even sometimes tomatoes, peanuts or vegetables). Khimo (curried ground beef and is popular in Majunga). Kabaro (lima beans with curry coconut, a speciality that is known for in Morondava).
As Madagascar people would say “in Madagascar rice is the staple of the Malagasy diet”. That the resourceful natives have developed with dozens of delicious different preparatory techniques for this particular grain. Madagascar is a rich and diverse culture. Reflected in its wide variety of culinary offerings.
Climate in Madagascar
Madagascar’s high pressure climate changes seasonally over the ocean causing a Southeastern trade wind from the Indian ocean anticyclone. Madagascar has two seasons; from November to April and from May to October. The first being a hot and rainy season and the second a dry, cooler season. In the East coast the climate is directly exposed by the trade winds, therefore causes a heavy rainfall, averaging 3.5 meters annually. The Madagascar Region is horrible for their tropical fevers. Destructive cyclones occur mainly during the rainy season, usually coming from the direction of the Mascarene Islands. In the Central Highlands of Madagascar it is very common to have thunderstorms in the rainy season, making the lighting a very serious hazard.
From February 2-4, 1994, Madagascar had experienced Cyclone Geralda, the worst cyclone that had come ashore on the island since 1927. Geralda killed nearly seventy people and destroyed enough property to leave 500,000 people homeless, including 30,000 in Antananarivo and 80,000 in Toamasina. This cyclone damaged the country’s infrastructure, most coastal roads, railroads, and telecommunications, as well as their farm land. All this damaged had been estimated at US $45 Million.
The best time for you to travel to Madagascar is anytime after the rainy seasons, but be prepared for any kind of weather conditions as you never know what could happen. As Madagascar being a huge country, the climate varies depending on your geographic location.
Madagascar has many species, but the lemurs and the “Flying Fox” and Fossa are the most popular to be seen. For visitors its on the top of their lists, along with visiting the princess Bora Lodge and beach safari. Visiting in October or November is the best chance you’ll get of seeing the baby lemurs. You can see the humpback whales, but they are seasonal. Usually arriving to the Madagascan waters between July and September. Bird breeding season in Madagascar is from September to December.
A “Flying Fox” is what they call a bat. A Fossa, which is a carnivore that looks like a cross between a puma and a dog. Hunting anything from insects, reptiles, rodents to lemurs. They have crocodiles that are usually found in the caves of Ankarana.
Madagascar has many National parks. One of the many parks is the Tsingy de Bemaraha National park. It is a mineral forest that stands on the Western coast of Madagascar. Tsingy is the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes”. The of limestone needles justifies this name. The whole protected area is designated as a world Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1990, and has a surface of 1.575km2. The park wasn’t a tourist trek until 1998, when the southern part (733km2) was declared a National Park. The northern section is a Reserve so tourists are not allowed to enter that particular zone. The reserve’s canyons, gorges, undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps display an astonishing richness of fauna and flora in this park. The rate of degree in this park is estimated at 85%, and 47% are local endemic.
Another one of Madagascar’s National parks is the Isalo National Park. The park was established in 1962, and is located approximately 700km southwest of Antananarivo. Protects 815km2 of sandstone massif wildly eroded by wind and rain into bizarre ridges (known as “runiformes”) featuring wild forms, impressive gorges and canyons. It attracts hikers, to gather around to see the sweeping colours of this Jurassic scenery. A fun fact about the climate in this area is, it has warm temperatures all year round.
Rainforests/ Plant Life
Madagascar has some of the richest rainforests. Estimating 70-90% of the life in the rainforest exits of trees, above the shaded forest floor. A tropical rainforest is usually vertically divided into five layers. The overstory, the canopy, the understory, the shrub layer and the forest floor. Each of the layers has a different unique plant and animal species. Its interesting how most of the trees soar over 20-100 feet above the canopy. To survive, canopy dwellers must have the ability to climb, leap, glide, or fly.
Madagascar’s plant life is very unique. They have many different plants and flowers. Orchids (1,000 different types), one of which was discovered by Charles Darwin (The comet orchid). Out of Madagascar’s palms, 165 are found in Madagascar. The Ravinala palm (Ravenala madagascariensis), a national symbol of Madagascar, can be sometimes called the travellers tree. These particular palms are great for construction materals, like building shelters. Madagascar has an entire plant family.
Didiereaceae’s which is found nowhere else in the world but in Madagascar’s arid southwestern region. Looks like the cacti of the American southwest, but is not related at all. Didereaceae is grown in an ecosystem called spiny forest or spiny desert, that is being threatened from its destruction for the use of charcoal and building material.
Madagascar has a Rosy Periwinkle is an evergreen herb with pale pink flowers. Has been used by locals to make herbal medicine for years, and has recently been discovered to help a source of a potent cancer fighter. A compound called vincristine or vinblastine.