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Madagascar - Africa

Old pirate stories often talk of a hidden pirate paradise called Libertalia, derived from the word Liberi in latin meaning "Free". Although undetermined whether such a place actually existed outside of myth and historical literature, many people believe the pirate utopia was in fact the huge island of Madagascar, which sits off the south western coast of Africa. 

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and is home to one of the most epic and diverse landscapes. The central part of the island is raised high up above sea level, bringing a cooler wetter climate to the region. As you venture toward the coast you can find some of the worlds most magnificent national parks, which are home to some of the countries 60 species of Lemur. Venture further and you will discover the famed Baobab tree, easy to spot because of the huge square trunk, which is used to store 1000's of litres of water to endure the dry season.

The coast line hides an array of sea life from whale sharks, reef sharks, turtles and dolphins. Scuba diving is a big tourist attraction to islands such as Nosy Ve and Île Saint Marie on the east and west coast of Madagascar respectively. 

And that brings me on nicely to the little pirate island of Île Saint Marie (also known as Nosy Boraha). It's said amongst locals on the island that they all descended from pirates. As the island housed around 1000 pirates at its peak during the 17th and 18th century, there's probably a good chance that they're right. 

They also lay claim to the only known pirate graveyard in the world! You can only gain access to the graveyard at low tide as a stone walkway mystically appears out of the depths of the mangroves. It's a steep ascent up to the top of the hill where you discover a whole host of graves of pirates amongst others including a couple of preachers who died of malaria. 

There's a memorial to Captain William Kidd who called Île Saint Marie his home for a period of time before heading back to America where he was ultimately caught, sent to England before being tried, hung (only successfully after the second attempt), tarred and left for three years in gibbets on the Thames as a warning to anyone who would dare to think of a career as a pirate. 

The island has many sunken pirate ships scattered on the sea bed around the island and in 2015 US explorer Barry Clifford claimed to have found a silver ingot from the Adventure Gallery (Captain Kidds infamous ship), however under closer inspection by the UN it was found to be 95% lead. So Captain Kidds treasure is still out there to be found...

Happy hunting pirates!

 

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