Number 5

ANIMAL ATTRACTION: Madagascar, Africa

Though Madagascar is often associated with its most outgoing animal ambassador, the lemur, the island is home to an astounding 5% of known plant and animal species, and 90% of its flora and fauna are endemic (not found anywhere else in the world). It’s also a place of unparalleled diversity, covering nearly every geographic extreme—mountains, desert, rainforest and of course, more than 3,000 miles of pristine shoreline.

Madagascar’s rich cultural history is also worth a trip; today, the island’s population is one of the world’s most exotic melting pots, representing slivers of art, tradition and religion from virtually every corner of the Indian Ocean with a dash of pirate influence thrown in for good measure. Recently expanded air service to Nosy Be make it easier than ever to get there, but don’t wait—a growing tourism industry is likely to have a massive (and not all positive) impact over the next decade or so. Now’s the time.

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