Madagascar is predominantly a rural country with most of the population involved in farming and livestock. The pace of life is slow and relaxed, the people are friendly. As in many developing countries things don’t always go exactly according to plan, that’s part of the charm. The best maintained vehicles still get flat tyres, unexpected rain can flood roads and flights can be delayed. If you relax and enjoy the goings on around you, including any unforeseen problems, you will have a fantastic holiday and see some of the most interesting and beautiful wildlife and culture on the planet. Airport formalities are long upon arrival due to lack of computerization. Relax: do not waste your holiday on arrival! Nature is here exceptionally beautiful and unique, it’s not a myth! The population is really welcoming and their sincere smiles in the middle of poverty will give you many life lessons throughout your journey.
Visa and Passport: Visas can be obtained on arrival (115,000 Ariary or €35) for 30 days or less or online. All major currencies are accepted. A passport valid for at least 6 months with 2 free pages is required. A return ticket is mandatory. UK Foreign Travel Advise to Madagascar. If you are traveling from another country, please check the rules in your government website.
Madagascar Covid rules: See the Ministry of Tourism website for the most up to date entry information, relevant forms and FAQs.
Time Zone: GMT +3. Therefore – 7 hours in Canada and the United States, – 3 hours in winter and – 2 hours in summer for the UK, + 6 hours in Japan and South Korea, and + 8 hours in Australia.
Phone: + 261 Wi-Fi : Limited
Electricity: generated by solar power
Malagasy is the official language, almost spoken by the whole population. She is part of the family of Malayo-Polynesian languages, like the Indonesian she comes from. The French language is also a language spoken throughout the island; you will have no trouble making you understand. In rural areas it is common for only Malagasy to be spoken therefore guides are highly recommended. A few words of Malagasy are always helpful:
Hello – Manahoana or Salama
Thank you – Misaotra
Excuse me – Azafady
Goodbye – Veloma
There are a few luxury high-end hotels in Madagascar. Non luxury 2/3 star hotel accommodation is available throughout Madagascar and is generally clean and comfortable. The brief cuts of water and electricity do happen with intermittence. In the event we are forced to use only basic comfort hotels as they are the only ones available along that specific circuit, we will let you know in advance.
By Air: The main way to travel within Madagascar is by air. If scheduled flights are not always reliable, private charter flights can be arranged to selected airfields.
By Boat: One can travel along the Pangalanes Canal as well as the Tsiribinha river by boat. Both pass by spectacular landscapes. In the North there are also archipelago cruises around Mitsio and Nosy Hara.
Road Transport: Take it Mora-Mora. Do not be mislead by the distances – it really takes time to get around here.Mind that majority of the roads in Madagascar are UNPAVED, with many becoming IMPASSABLE in the rainy season (November to April), when bridges get washed off and roads transform into rivers. Paved roads suffer damages in each rainy season and potholes develop rapidly. A “fast” road can become a slow one.
Traveling by road during darkness is not advisable. During the day it is completely safe to travel by road, however don’t forget that days are very short in Madagascar! Throughout the year it’s getting dark around 18:00. Self drive is not recommended for safety reason. Getting around is always better in a 4×4 car with a local guide who knows the area well. GPS in NOT always reliable, as it very often doesn’t take into account the state of the roads. Often cattle herds can slow down the pace – journey time will always vary.
The roads connecting the capital city Antananarivo with Tulear (RN7), Tamatave (RN2), Majunga (RN4), Diego Suarez (RN6), Morondava (RN34/35) and Manakara (RN25) are largely in good condition.
How long it takes to get there from Antananarivo by land:
The local currency is called Ariary (US$1 = 3000 Ariary). Euro or US dollars are the recommended currencies for changing into Ariary. VISA credit/debit cards or cash is best. As the Malagasy currency is not convertible, it is advisable to change your money as the need arises. Banks and exchange offices in the city, airports, shopping malls or big hotels are the only ones authorized to carry out foreign exchange transactions.
Tipping recommendations for guides: 5-10 EUR per person per day.
No vaccine is required, but treatment for malaria is strongly recommended. Malaria is prevalent in Madagascar. Anti-malarial tablets and a good insect repellent are strongly recommended. Please do consult your physician or specialist travel clinic before departure. Yellow Fever certificates are required by those arriving from a yellow fever endemic country (such as Kenya or Tanzania). Medical facilities in the country are basic. A full medical insurance is highly recommended. Anti-malaria prophylaxis and an injection of gamma globulin against hepatitis are nevertheless recommended, as well as precautions against cholera and yellow fever.
Don’t drink tap water, you can buy bottled water at the restaurants or at the shops .If you have sensitive stomach pleas avoid taking ice with your drinks unless in a place where the water is boiled and filtered. Indigestion is common which is mainly caused by the change of diet or change of climate. For a new traveller to the tropical travel a sensitive stomach can cause discomfort. We always advise you to follow your doctor’s recommendation.
Madagascar does not require a high level of fitness, but be mindful that the wildlife viewing will be done on foot and may require walking for several hours at a time.
More info on the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Madagascar is not one of the countries at high risk of insecurity but like everywhere “prudence is mother of safety”. As with any developing country petty crime does exist, particularly in the large urban areas, this is generally limited to snatch theft and is opportunistic. We recommend that clients leave valuables in their hotel safe and do not wear jewellery in markets or busy places. Incidents of violent crime against tourists are rare and in general Madagascar is a country in which visitors rightly feel very safe.
Sustainable Tourism and responsible travel are our concern. Our programs always respect the cultural characteristics and local customs of the many different ethnic groups of our country. We work fairly with our local partners and always employ local guides. In this way, you can have your own picture of life in Madagascar – at the same time the communities in the regions visited are strengthened by the interest and the additional source of income in their assessment of their traditions and their original way of life.
We encourage guests not to give sweets or money to local children. If you feel you wish to help local schoolchildren, you can donate school materials, note books, pens, pencils, colouring equipment, sports equipment, etc.