Isle Sainte Marie (Nosy Boraha), Madagascar

You needn't totally forget about notions of idyllic tropical islands, but there's more to do here than lazing on a sandy beach and dipping into crystalline waters to peek at coral reefs now and again. Madagascar's forests are a shimmering, seething mass of a trillion stems and dripping leaves and slithering, jumping, quirky beasts out of nature's bag of tricks. Lemurs, chameleons, periwinkles and baobabs, aloes, geckoes, sifakas and octopus trees. Cut off from the African mainland for millions of years, Madagascar's teeming forests are a naturalist's damp dream; they've preserved oddities and developed specialization's found nowhere else on earth, and you can get among them in a spectacular collection of accessible national parks.

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