Travel: ISLANDS FOR ANIMAL LOVERS

If you fancy a search for the aye-aye, or any of the other 22 species of the endearing tree-dwelling lemurs, including the cute ringtailed variery, or even have the urge to identify 300 or so types of the reptile family, then Madagascar is your destination. The world's fourth largest island, it broke off from the African continent 160 million years ago, and since then its flora and fauna have followed their own evolutionary path, resulting in forms that are unique.

Madagascar is home to the two rarest birds of prey, the Madagascar serpent eagle and the Madagascar fish eagle, as well as the world's four smallest primates - the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the grey mouse lemur, the brown mouse lemur and the pygmy mouse lemur.

One of the smallest of the Seychelles, littered over the Indian Ocean about 1,000 miles off Africa, the one mile by three mile Bird Island is the ornithologist's paradise, best known for the 1.5 million sooty terns which nest and hatch their eggs there from May to November. Apart from wildlife watching, there's nothing much else to do except read, relax and snorkel among shoals of tropical fish, but island-hoppers can combine a couple of nights' visit with trendy La Digue, or the so-called "Garden of Eden", isle of Praslin, home to the unique coco- de-mer tree.

The islands where Charles Darwin conceived his pioneering theories of evolution in 1835, the mysterious Galapagos, 600 miles adrift in the ocean off the South American coast, offer a living laboratory of weird and wonderful species from giant tortoises to strange marine iguana. Isolated for so long, the birds and animals show little fear of man, allowing visitors to observe their rituals and behaviour at close quarters.

The Falkland Islands, 350 miles east of South America, are now more accessible with the introduction of scheduled flights from Britain via Chile. Most visitors go there in search of teeming wildlife; the islands harbour more black-browed albatrosses, rockhoppers and gentoo penguins than anywhere else on earth.

Most dramatic of all the sub-Atlantic islands, South Georgia rises 9,000 feet out of the sea, its shoreline carved out by more than 100 glaciers. The islands have some of the greatest concentration on the planet of breeding grounds for albatrosses, skuas, macaroni penguins, fur seals and elephant seals.

The lush, velvety hills of Indonesia's Komodo look like paradise, but they must have been the original hell for most of its inhabitants exiled on the island by a neighbouring sultan. They had to cope with the swamps, volcanoes, snakes and the famous "dragons", the fearsome, prehistoric, fork-tongued lizards which still roam the area. They can grow up to 6 feet in length, and are able to munch through a wild boar in one sitting. There are currently about 3,000 Komodo dragons left.

Madagascar: Reef & Rainforest Tours (01803 866965) offers 17-day tours for pounds 1,695. STA (0171 361 6262) has flights to Antanarivo at pounds 749 return.

Seychelles: Island-hopping tours from Inghams (0181 780 4450) from pounds 1,411 for 10 nights. STA have flights to Mahe, starting from pounds 587 (inter-island flights leave regularly from there).

Galapagos: Two-week cruises from pounds 2,575 including flights through Worldwide Journeys and Expeditions (0171 381 8638). Flights to Quito in Ecuador, can be booked with STA for pounds 529.

Falklands: Flights via Chile from pounds 950 at STA. Explorer Voyages aboard the expedition ship `World Discovery' which circumnavigates the Falklands and South Georgia, with stays on the islands, cost from pounds 5,795 for 20 days including flights, from Noble Caledonian (0171 409 0376).

Komodo: Flights to Bali from pounds 6l0 at STA. Daily ferries and cruise boats leaving from Bali and Lombok may visit several islands in the same group.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on