Madagascar is the world’s 4th largest
island after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. Madagascar
measures 1, 571 km in length and at its widest point across,
571 km. The island’s surface area spans 587,042 km².
Malagasy is the first language. French
is widely spoken. English is spoken by some people in the
local tourism industry.
Currently no immunisations are required.
Malaria prophylactics are essentials. Drink only bottled
mineral water or take purification tablets with you. Travel
insurance is compulsory.
Climate / When to travel
Madagascar’s climate is exceptionally
diverse, varying from the permanently humid East with its
lush rainforest to the sub-arid South, where the bizarre
“spiny desert” is found.
The hot western plains receive rain only in summer (December-April)
while the vast central Highlands have an almost temperate
A mountainous “spine” runs down the length of
the island, separating the humid east from the drier west.
The country’s highly variable climate is the most
important consideration when planning your itinerary. The
following tips may help you to select your travel dates:
- From mid November to mid April, summer rains in the
western Region render some park inaccessible (e.g. Tsingy
de Bemaraha and Kirindy Forest); during this time, River
trips along the wide western rivers are discontinued.
- The rains peak countrywide in late January to February.
At this time, violent cyclones occur virtually annually.
- The Malagasy spirit (September to November) is most
popular for birding, with most species calling, displaying
- The South, being mostly semi-arid, receives very
little rain. Most of this falls in January and February
droughts are not uncommon. The South-west may be visited
- Avoid permanently humid eastern region from the second
half of January to February when cyclones may occur.
Rainfall in the eastern region is high, with much of
rainforest band experiencing rainfall up to 320 days
- The remote north-eastern rainforest region (Maroantsetra)
is best visited from September to early January. From
March to August weather in the Masoala Peninsula can
turn unpleasantly rainy and windy quite abruptly.
- The islands off the north-west coast (Nosy Be archipelago)
are suitable for visiting most months. (The western
half of Madagascar is much drier than the eastern half)
- Temperatures vary regionally, altitudinally and seasonally.
(Winter nights can be very cold). The West and North
are much warmer, with days in spring and summer usually
Getting to Madagascar :
Air Madagascar and Air France operate regular
flight from Paris CDG to Antananarivo and vice versa.
Air Madagascar also flies Milan — Bangkok —
Johannesburg. Interair operates flights once weekly from
Johannesburg to Antananarivo and vice versa.
There are regular flights from the islands of Reunion and
Mauritius to Antananarivo, on Air France, Air Mauritius
and Air Austral.
Getting Around :
Air Madagascar serves a network of approximately
60 domestic airports. We arrange vehicles and drivers for
all road journeys around the island.
What to pack :
Take comfortable, casual, and light clothing.
Well worm, comfortable walking shoes or trainers / sneakers
with a good grip are essential for the trails.
Pack warm clothing such as a fleece for winter nights and
mornings, especially in the Southern and Central regions.
Take plenty of insect repellent and pack protective wear/gear
for the tropical sun and rain.
Baggage allowance :
20 kg + 1 item of hand luggage
Visa requirements :
All visitors need a visa. A 1 month, single
entry visa is issued on arrival at Ivato Antananarivo airport.
Money matters :
In August 2003, the local currency was
changed from the Malagasy Franc (FMG) to the Ariary. Note
that the New Ariary is 5 times the value of the Malagasy
Both currencies are indicated on the notes.
Take hard currency (preferably Euro or US Dollars) in cash
and travellers cheques. Credits cards are not widely accepted.
Credit cards are not widely accepted. Where cards are accepted,
bank charges on transactions are usually very high, from
5 — 8% so using cards is not recommended.
GMT + 3
220V: standard European