We created the agency Le Monde en Un Regard with the idea of showing the authentic culture of each country, and in particular here of the island of Madagascar.
Today, we take you to discover the 4th largest island in the world. An authentic place where multicultural influences, endemic species, adorable lemurs, savannah and baobabs paint a unique picture. We are of course talking about Madagascar.
(The group at Antisarabe, ©Le monde en un Regard)
Sometimes tourism does not show the truths of a country by hiding the problems from the tourists. However, it is our role as an agency to explain the realities of the country.
In 2007, Pratap Lall created his travel agency Le Monde en un Regard. His objective: to help tourists discover countries with a different eye, by showing them, without filters, what classic tourism generally tends to hide: the realities of the country, their socio-economic problems, poverty.
The gold is at the bottom of the earth, so before finding it, we have the black, the coal. Only then do we reach the gold that shines. And it is up to us, the tourism professionals, to expose this hidden beauty and show it to the travelers.
For Pratap, sustainable tourism is above all a story of philosophy: that which allows to show the hidden beauties of nature and the smile of the people.
To organize trips that are as close as possible to the realities of the country, Pratap explains the importance of working with local associations.
They are the ones who know the country and it is important to work with people on the ground.
Thus, Pratap collaborates with a local agency that identifies associations close to the values of the World in One Look. It is with them that travelers will discover the country.
(In front of the school “L’île aux enfants”, ©Le monde en un Regard)
The lack of education in the poorest countries like Madagascar, especially for girls/women, is problematic. By involving the local populations, tourism can raise awareness on certain social issues such as contraception, women’s emancipation, etc.
Indeed, Pratap underlines that it is mainly women who work in tourism. We can therefore see it as a vector of women’s emancipation in societies that are still very patriarchal. And, by involving women in this economic sector of the island, the schooling of girls becomes inevitable.
Thus, well-managed sustainable tourism contributes to reducing gender inequalities.
While traveling with Le Monde en un Regard, visitors will have the opportunity to visit places involved in education, such as the school “l’île aux enfants” which works for the education of children in Tananarive.
By providing financial support to local populations, sustainable tourism enables local development in poor countries.
Tourism is about making the individual independent.
(Alley of baobabs, Photo de Beau Botschuijver from Pexels)
(Dirt road, @Le Monde en un Regard)
If tourism allows to improve the access to education, it is also a privileged time for the sensitization to the protection of nature and for the implementation of actions fighting in this direction.
Madagascar is an island subject to water stress. On the red island, the stakes of water and sanitation are high, and there too, sustainable tourism has its role to play.
Currently, the south of the country is prone to a strong drought due to climate change. Pratap explains to us that it sometimes takes long hours of walking to bring water to the village.
In addition, this drought has degraded the state of the roads, which makes traffic difficult. In Madagascar, only 10% of the roads are tarred, and are therefore vulnerable to climatic hazards.
So, how can tourism contribute to curb this drought? According to Pratap, it is essential to show tourists these difficulties, not to hide them.
Thus, tourism is a key to raising public awareness of climate change (inhabitants, tourists, tourism professionals) and to protecting this exceptional but threatened fauna and flora.
Tourism is indeed a privileged time to raise awareness since it is part of the free time of individuals, who are then listening. Today, we see a new paradigm emerging where we consider tourism as a factor of protection of cultures and nature. What to see the glass half full !
(Lémur, Photo of @Mikhail Nilov from Pexels)
(Endemic species of Malagasy chameleon in Ranofamana National Park, @Le Monde en un Regard)
Madagascar is a garden of Eden for nature lovers. It is up to us to take care of it.
If lemurs, zebus and baobabs are generally the first images that come to mind when the word “Madagascar” is mentioned, they are far from being the only endemic species that a trip to the big island can allow us to discover and protect.
Examples include the tenrec, a small rodent with spikes, the Madagascar owl, the red frog, the Uroplatus phantasticus, a giant leaf-like gecko, the Aye-aye, a primate with only one long finger, etc.
Madagascar is also a dream land for birdwatching enthusiasts as the island has no less than 258 species of birds, 115 of which are endemic.
Le Monde en un Regard proposes a trip with Asity, the Malagasy league for the protection of birds. During 19 days, travelers accompanied by ornithologists guides, visit reserves in order to participate in operations of protection of endemic animals (counting, observation…) and thus bring their contribution to the safeguard of nature and particularly of the Malagasy avifauna.
(Distillery of essential oils with the Antaimoro ethnic group, @Le Monde en un Regard
(Blacksmiths in Mandritsara, @Le Monde en un Regard)
The unique culture of this island state reflects the different waves of population that settled the island.
Around the year 350, it is the Austronesian people coming from the islands of Southeast Asia who settle in Madagascar. At the same time, the Bantu people from Africa crossed the Mozambique Channel and settled in their turn. The populations then mixed to become the Malagasy people. It is interesting to note that the closest language to Malagasy is Ma’anyan… spoken in Borneo, Indonesia! The Austronesian influence is still very present.
We are not going to write the history of the country, but over the centuries, external influences have multiplied with different waves of immigration: Arab, Portuguese, Indian, etc.
French colonization (1986-1960) has also left its influence in Malagasy culture, where French is – along with Malagasy – the national language, mainly spoken by the government and local elites.
Today, the country is populated by 25 million people of 18 different ethnicities. About 5% of the population is of French, African, South Asian and Indian origin.
The Malagasy people are thus the result of a vast cultural mixture due to the different origins of the island’s settlement. These cultures are in principle distributed by region. In Antananarivo for example, the French and Asian cultural influence is more evident than in the rest of the country.
For tourism, this diversity is an opportunity to discover a unique world, between globalized culture and preserved traditions. This is one of the pillars of sustainable development.
With The World in One Look we want to show an authentic country with its own spontaneity. Often we show bling- bling but this does not allow us to understand the subtleties of the country.
(Journey on the Fianarantsoa train,, @Le Monde en un Regard)
Our goal is to explain to tourists the realities of the country. Let them go back saying “I have been shown how to look.
Lemurs, zebus, endless baobab trees, lagoons and sandy beaches, this is the image that we have of Madagascar. Let’s admit it, we don’t know the Malagasy culture that well.
Firstly because, as we mentioned earlier, it is plural.
Can we really speak of a Malagasy culture? What common denominators can we find in this multitude of ethnic groups and cultural influences?
A classic trip to Madagascar would take you to the paradisiacal island of Nosy Be, the inescapable baobab alley, the Ambohimanga gate, the Queen’s Palace of Antananarivo, the Manda Fort or the Isalo National Park.
But for Pratap, this is not enough to capture the authenticity of a culture, what makes its “own spontaneity”.
An approach through gastronomy can also allow us to better understand the impact of different cultural influences on daily life.
In Madagascar, the so-called “national” dish is romazava, a kind of pot au feu with beef and mafana brèdes, a typical plant of the island. The other food that we find everywhere is… the baguette of bread, resulting from the French colonization. Interesting no?
That’s why we call ourselves “The World in One Look”: it’s the look that changes. Everyone has their own way of looking.
Also, it is in Madagascar that one finds the fady, cultural prohibitions which differ according to the region. Foreign tourists are invited to respect them and therefore to know them. They are an integral part of the Malagasy identity and can concern an object, a place or an action. For example, it is forbidden to point at a grave or to eat goat. It is said that a person who does not respect a fady could fall ill or even die.
(Meeting with the Vezo people in a fishing village, @Le Monde en un Regard)
Thus, it is not so simple to describe in a few words what constitutes the essence of the Malagasy culture. But, just like the example on gastronomy and the fady, an adventure with the World in a Glance will show you the country under a new eye: that of its inhabitants and their reality(s).
So, if we needed a final note, it would be this message from Pratap
Visit Madagascar with an open heart, take the smile of the people and return with a smile. A smile is never forgotten. You don’t remember the 5 star hotel where you were well accommodated, but the boy or woman who gave you a smile.
(The group on their way to the Isalo region, @Le Monde en un Regard)
Thus, Madagascar is a unique country, a world apart, which deserves to be (re) discovered. Its cultural and natural singularities make it incomparable. A trip respecting the three pillars of sustainable development on this wonderful red island can then allow to soak up this so particular land while preserving what makes its wealth.