It’s said that when King Solomon wanted to build his temple he sent his best carpenters to scour the earth in search of its finest timber. They eventually made it to Madagascar, where they felled majestic trunks of sweet-smelling rosewood to bring to the Holy Land. A few of the men fell under the spell of the island’s beauty and chose to remain. To this day, some Malagasy claim distant Jewish ancestry. Whether the tale is taken as a fable or accepted at face value, the so-called eighth continent is still likely to hold an unsuspecting traveller in its grip. Most visitors come to see its population of skyward lemurs — Madagascar has about 100 species, and they’re found nowhere else. Others are eager to experience the Jurassic-looking jungles — where night-time wildlife tours reveal prehistoric creatures such as the spiral-tailed panther chameleon — or the Avenue of the Baobabs, a forest of skyscraper-tall trees that look as if they’ve been uprooted and flipped upside down. Thierry Da...

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