Although there's no beach and only a small cultural museum downtown in the growing town of Toliara (also known as Tulear), this Madagascar port is popular because of the snorkeling and diving opportunities at Ifaty village to the north. Only 7 mi/12km out of town, Arboretum d'Antsokay protects a wealth of bizarre succulents associated with the spiny desert habitat of southern Madagascar, and it's also a good place to look for desert birds and lemurs. Isalo National Park, to the northeast, contains grottoes, canyons and impressive rock formations—it's a great place to hike and relax for several days (permit required).

Other nearby sights include the banyan tree at Miary, the thousands of pink flamingos on the difficult-to-access Lake Tsimanampetsotsa and the highly decorated Mahafaly tombs (there are a few tombs near town, and more at Betioky, 60 mi/100 km south of Tulear). The area is 390 mi/630 km southwest of Antananarivo.

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