Welcome to the complete guide of visiting Madagascar. Find the top destinations, when to go, Madagascar tour companies, flights, tourist attractions, health, visa information, where to stay and so much more.
As you are visiting Madagascar, you will need to know the different things about the country because they will guide you through your whole stay in the country. We are going to look at the when you should visit the country, the requirements that are needed before you enter the country, the languages spoken and other vital information that will make your trip to Madagascar calm without interruptions.
Madagascar is an all year round holiday destination country and you can go for a safari any time that you feel like it. But remember that most of the time it is the activities that you want to do that determine when you are to visit the country.
Located in the Eastern part of the East African coast, Madagascar is an Island that has a lot to offer when it comes to trips and all you need to know is that you need to be prepared for the weather conditions that keep on changing from time to time are in the area. And since the best time depends on the activities, below are some pointers on when the best time is for one to go to this island.
If you are into lemur trekking, the best time to visit the country is between October and November during the winter season and this is because during this time, the Lemurs are often seen on ground level which makes easy to trek and you also get the chance to take a few photos. And during this same period, most of the lemurs give birth and therefore give you a chance to see both the lemur babies and pregnant lemurs that are almost giving birth.
There are two peak seasons for tourists in Madagascar and these are April to November. This period is a dry season and many tourists can be seen flocking the country to view the different tourist attraction sites in the country. It is also known as the festive season and you will get to enjoy the beautiful culture that is portrayed by the Malagasy people but not that since it is a peak season everything will be priced highly from transportation costs to accommodation facilities and if you are not a fan of large crowds, then this is not the best time for you to visit Madagascar.
The other peak season for tourists in Madagascar is from July to October and this normally is the start of the winter season and if you are to visit during this period, you should pack appropriately that is long sleeved clothes and sweaters or jackets that will help you keep warm and do not forget to pack insect repellent to ward off the insects especially at night.
The Madagascar visa prices greatly differ depending on the season but in most cases they are always between 35 to 37 euros. Before you go the country, you will need to fill in a migrations form and the visa form including a health form which will be asked for as soon as you land in the country.
If you are coming from a country where there are fatal diseases like Hepatitis B or yellow fever, then you are required to come with the health cards to show that you have been cleared or immunized from the diseases.
And not forgetting, it is better to walk with all the above documents as you travel to all your tours within the country because immigration officers might ask for them abruptly. The visa can go for as many days as up to thirty days and this gives you ample time to tour the country and get to know all the different hidden treasures of this wonderful island.
When you visit Madagascar, you will have to exchange your money at the forex bureau since most of the transactions are always done using the local currency. The local currency is known as the Malagasy Ariary or MGA and most people normally exchange their money from the airport because it is known to be cheaper than when you enter town. Your trip will be made quite easy if you have a visa card as these are accepted more than the dollars but if you do not get the chance to actually exchange your money at the airport, you can also go the different banks located in the city.
The Republic of Madagascar is an island nation lying on the Indian Ocean, East of the African coast. It is neighbored by other island nations like Mauritius and the French Territory of Reunion in the East, French Territory of Mayotte in the North East and Comoros. Madagascar measures 587,000 square kilometers which makes it the fourth largest island in the world and the 47th largest country worldwide. It is the 52nd largest country in population and 174th in population density with a population of 21,290,000 people and a density of 35 people per square kilometer.
Most of the Malagasy people practice farming as a money making venture. However, the island nation is one of the world’s poorest countries with about 90% of its citizens living below the poverty line. Madagascar has also been called the “Eighth Continent” due to its unique diversity in wildlife, flora and its people and culture. Madagascar has two seasons, a hot rainy season from November through to April with cyclones caused by collision of the North Western Monsoon winds and the South Eastern trade winds and a cool dry season from May to October.
There are several flights that can get you into the country but if you are not aware of them or conflicted on what exactly to use when travelling to Madagascar, we can help you arrange for the flights and airport pickup so that you do not suffer with the airlines.
When you get to the country you will be able to use the different means of transport that are found in the country but the most used transportation is water due to the fact that it is an island. But there are also other transportation means that can be used and these include road and rail transport. All these will give you an opportunity to visit the country and get to the deepest routes of it.
The official language that is spoken in Madagascar is French. This id due to the fact that Madagascar was colonized by the French and after them leaving, the language was maintained as the official language.
The other language that is spoken in Madagascar is Malagasy and this is commonly used by the locals especially those who have not had a formal education. And of course there are a few people who try to speak English and this used especially when translating for the tourists who come into the country.
The name Madagascar was first recorded in historical explorer, Marco Polo’s memoirs where he talked about its biodiversity and other attractions. Previously called the Malagasy Republic, Madagascar had been part of the supercontinent Gondwana but about 160 million years ago, it broke off from Africa and floated away with the Indian Peninsular. It then broke off from India too, about 88 million years ago and the indigenous species of both plants and animals were allowed to evolve in isolation and become some of the rarest wildlife and plant life on the planet.
The first evidence of human existence on the island nation was archeological finds that dated 2000 years. Malagasy oral historians set the first occupation of the Island in 350 BC to 500 BC when groups of Austronesian came from South Eastern Asia sailing on outrigger canoes from Borneo. The Austroasians then practiced the slash and burn type of farming where they cut down whole rain forests, planted crops on the land until it got exhausted upon which they would seek a new rain forest to slash and burn. At around 1000 BC, Madagascar then got an infusion of Bantu tribes sailing in from the African mainland through the Mozambique Channel.
Such late dates of settlement make Madagascar one of the last major land masses to be settled on by humans. In the 14th Century, the bio diverse island would be discovered by Portuguese sea captain, Diogo Diaz, which would open the door to Madagascar becoming an important hotspot in the transoceanic trade. That small island north of Madagascar called the Nosy Boroha has even been proposed by numerous historians as the legendary pirate’s Utopia that was called, “Libertalia” where countless European ships were shipwrecked. The Island would then be occupied by the French in the 17th Century from whom they would get independence on 17th November 1960. All these peoples and cultures left a lasting imprint on the Island country which hence makes it one of the most culturally diverse societies on the planet, with a mixture of Borneo, Sumatra, Indonesian, Java, and African descent. See more facts about Madagascar.
Apart from unique people, Madagascar also has very unique wildlife. While on a safari in Madagascar, you will find that 90% of its flora and fauna is endemic to the island. It cannot be found anywhere else. The Hollywood movie franchise, “Madagascar” rightly portrayed the Ring Tailed Lemur as unique and regal in Madagascar. This unique lemur, which cannot be found anywhere else but Madagascar, is believed to be the ancestor of the monkey. Ninety percent of all lemurs in the world make a home in Madagascar. Everywhere else the lemurs evolved into monkeys. The lemur is highly revered and worshiped by the Malagasy. They believe it carries the souls of their loved ones with it. However, that is about all the movie got right about the island. There are no lions, zebras, hippos or giraffes, and definitely no penguins! But the Malagasy don’t mind. They say they love the movie because it’s very funny. The lemurs however are on the brink of extinction and have been added on the Red List of threatened species. By visiting these primates, you will be contributing to the conservation efforts of these endangered animals.
Madagascar is one of the top vacation holiday spots for birding in Africa. Find more about Madagascar birding, field guides, top birders and destinations.
Madagascar has 350 species of birds, 150 species of fish, and 670 species of snails and countless other unique animals, some of which are at the brink of extinction because of human activities like deforestation. These include the carnivorous Fossa which resembles a cat and uses its strong tail for balance as it moves around in the Madagascar forests. This cat was immortalized in the Madagascar franchise but in real life, its habitat has been reduced by nearly 40%
Madagascar also has the Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko named so because of the small horns it has on its head and what looks like a sinister smile. It blends well with its environment and when threatened it can mimic dead leaves with its tail which resembles insect-nibbled leaves.
Hissing cockroaches are also endemic to the island country. These cockroaches are Hollywood’s cliché for carnivorous insects that prey on humans in the movies. However the cockroaches actually only eat fruits that falls to the ground and only crawl out of hiding from within tree trunks for fear of being eaten. They use their air holes to hiss by blowing air through them and hiss during mating and with rivals in a hissing battle to find out who hisses loudest.
Other endemic animals include the Madagascar Foddy, a beautiful lightweight bird, the Long Eared Owl, Tomato Frog, Panther Chameleon which has the widest range of colors of any chameleon on the planet, and the Darwin’s Dark spider which casts one of the strongest web, ten times stronger than Kevlar.
Madagascar is also home to the famous Boabab tree which has a bloated stem in which it stores distilled water for use in the drier season. Animals also chew on the Boabab stem in the dry season to keep away dehydration. Some hollow Boababs are even used as shelter by bats snakes and birds and even humans. They are also used to make beers and juices.
Top 20 places to visit and things to do in Madagascar
The administrative Mahajanga district which is situated in the north-western coast of Madagascar is the home to the spectacular La Corniche. The stunning esplanade along the beach is skirted with street food carts in addition to palm trees. Taking a walk on the beach on a beautiful evening is among the truly amazing things to do while in Madagascar. Bask in the beautiful tropical sun and enjoy the sea breeze as you taste a few of the local foods from the street food carts.
How to get there: La Corniche is situated in Mahajanga ans therefore you can book a flight from Antananarivo to Mahajanga, and the recommended time of the day to go is during the evening hours.
If you are adventurous and would love a taste of thrill, swimming with the sharks in Nosy Be is the ideal activity for you. Madagascan Reefs are some of the very unique areas in the world that you can get the rare opportunity to swim with stingrays, whale sharks as well as manta rays. The Indian Ocean is comprised of different fish species of multiple colours as well as coral reefs of irregular shapes. It is definitely among the exhilarating activities that you must participate in while visiting Madagascar.
How to access Nosy Be: You can use speed boats that will take you from Ankify to Hell Ville. You can then take another speed boat from Hell Ville to Nosy Be, and the recommended time to visit Nosy Be is from mid-May to October.
Ranomafana National Park is among the national parks of Madagascar that can be accessed easily thus quite famous among the tourists. This park that was built in 1991 occupies a huge area of about one hundred sixty square miles of both secondary plus primary forest. This makes it a perfect home for the severely vulnerable golden lemur bamboo and other eleven lemur species plus several different species of native wildlife. As you trek through the five tails that are well maintained, you can genuinely embrace the nature. The distances range from about four hours to exhausting two to three days of trekking. The park is marked with campsites around it where you could stay for one or two nights encompassed by the Malagasy jungle noises.
Visiting the crocodile farm is one of the most exciting and unforgettable experiences for you. This astonishing attraction in Antananarivo, Croc Farm is among the most popular parks in Madagascar. You will get to see a variety of other animals apart from the crocodiles such as toucans, lemurs plus chameleons. The Croc farm rears crocodiles and sells products such as crocodile skin. If you love trying out new food, you will definitely be intrigued by the crocodile meat burger which will definitely be among the craziest things you try out while on your trip in Madagascar.
How to get to the Crocodile Farm: Croc Farm is situated in a bumpy valley that is a few minutes away from Ivato Airport. You can opt for a private car or a taxi to take you there.
Rova also known as “The Palace of the Queen” is an essential part of a big royal complex within the town center of Antananarivo that could be explored in the course of your walking expedition of the historic sites of the city. This palace was constructed in the seventieth century for Queen Ranavalona and what a sight for sore eyes it must have been in those days. Succeeding royalty generations made additions to this complex for the satisfaction of their needs that led to a fascinating combination of various styles of architecture. Sadly in 1995, a big portion of the interior got ruined from a fire outbreak and the renovation process is being done at a slow pace. Currently, the stone parts of the palace that remained, the gateway, the tombs and adjoining chapel are what have been left for admiration. The interior though has been left a shell through which the relics that were recovered are stored up to when they complete the renovation.
If you have never witnessed a whale rolling in the sea, know that it is truly an exceptional experience. Take a trip on the boat to see the humpback whales that move from the South Pole all the way to Sainte Marie canal to reproduce. Seeing a big number of large water creatures in a specific area is a breathtakingly beautiful view and among the great things to take part in while in Madagascar.
How to get there: You can opt for a flight to Ile Sainte Marie or choose to travel by bus to Tamatave. You can then board a different bus that will take you to Soanierana Ivongo before taking a ferry that will drop you at Ile Sainte Marie. the best recommended time to visit Ile Sainte Marie is during April through December in order to dodge the cyclone that takes place during the months of January, February and March.
Are you looking for something adventurous to do while in Madagascar? Paragliding is just the activity for you. Paragliding in Madagascar gives you a glimpse in to the exceptional Malagasy landscapes. Next to Andonaka is the granite cliffs of Tsaranoroare an excellent spot for paragliding. Standing at the top of the cliff and staring down at the magnificent valley below helps you understand that paragliding is the ideal activity for you.
In the 17th Century, a number of pirates who were renowned for their tendencies of terrorizing the active East Indies route for trading for nearly a century were buried in the Pirate Cemetery. This cemetery is situated on IIe-Sainte Marie, a small island that is just off the Madagascar East coast, captivating a number of tourists to visit and have fun at the amazing beaches and also get the best opportunities for diving. There is a belief that in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, over thousands of pirates resided in the island plus there are many tales of sunken galleons and buried treasures. The perfect way to tour this narrow and lengthy island is with a bicycle, on foot or a scooter. Following your tour to this Pirate Cemetery, one could hire a pirogue for further exploration of this splendid coastline and look out for a few popular landing caves of the pirates.
As a result of the extended coastline of Madagascar island, it has several unbelievably magnificent islands. In case what you are looking for in a vacation is an tropical paradise, then island hopping in Madagascar is suitable for you. You will get exceptional views of the islands as well as catch a glimpse of the unique Malagsy culture. Take a boat out and tour the distant virgin islands of Madagascar where you can enjoy water sports such as diving, snorkelling or just enjoy a stroll on the pristine sand beaches.
The Adasibe-Mantadia National Park has a section in its park called the Analamazoatra Special Reserve. It is a sanctuary to a number of birds and wild animals that are foreign to Madagascar such as the lemurs. The time you will take to look at this whole reserve by foot ranges from two to six hours. You are highly advised to be a part of this in order to get a memorable experience. The perfect time to tour this reserve is at 11:00 a.m. You could either visit at dusk or at the break of dawn.
How to get to Analamazoatra Special Reserve: take a Brousse cab and get out from a place close to Andasibe. From the bus stop, it is a two kilometer distance to the park, and the perfect moment for visiting: September to October.
Lake Alaotra is the biggest lake found in Madagascar and it is located within the North Central plateau. The basin contains marshes and narrow freshwater lakes that have thick vegetation. It is quite challenging to get to the lake because one has to drive through bad roads although the moment you reach, the breathtaking view of the area will be worth it. The place has abundant flora and is also a sanctuary to some uncommon and vulnerable species. In addition to that it is a ground for fishing in Madagascar.
How to get to Lake Alaotra: the location of the lake is in Toamasina and if one is from the capital, they can take a plane to get there.
Popular for its creepy limestone spikes, Tsingy National Park is also blessed with splendid hiking trails for people that love the outdoors. Some of the amazing places to see while in Tsingy National Park include rich forests, deep canyons, gorges as well as the some of the most beautiful campsites in the park. Take time to view the unique and native wild animals such as the wild eyed lemurs which are the major inhabitants of this park.
How to get there: You can travel to this national park by using a vehicle. You could opt for a private vehicle or a group tour and the best recommended time to go is in June as well as July.
Heading to Kimony beach is listed as some of the fun things to do while in Madagascar for those who are beach fanatics. This beach is an isolated extension of sand that goes for about four miles near the Madagascar West coast. The route that leads to this beach is beautiful and the way one can get to this beach is by taking a road of dirt that will take one across fields as well as palm groves. The entertainment and facilities are limited due to the fact that the beach is a vacated place. This is a perfect place for one to have a good time on a picnic with their personal drinks and eats.
How to get there: Catch a flight directly to the beach’s location, Moronndava from Antananarivo. The flight takes a duration of one hour. It is best to visit from July to October.
The limestone caves are a depot of fossils that are very ancient. The limestonehas a system of underground rivers that inhabit crocodiles. The stalactites and stalagmites on the roof are majestic and truly exceptional. Walking tours through these extra ordinary caves is definitely one of the memorable things you can do in Madagascar.
How to get there: Diego Suarez is the closest city to the park. You can fly to Diego Suarez before taking a vehicle for the rest of the journey to the park, and the best Recommended time to visit is during April through November.
The Isalo National Park is characterized by a sandstone topography and is located in Madagascar’s Ihorombe region. Toliara and Ihosy are the cities in close proximity to this park and the nearest town to it is Ranohira. This park is well-endowed with swimming pools that are natural and that are quite popular among the tourists. One should be situated in Ranohira, the nearest town for them to get into the park and one ought to be in the company of a guide. This national park is popular for trekking plus it also has numerous trails that go on from hours to days all together.
How to get to Isalo National Park: from the capital get a brousse taxi to Ranohira, the entrance of the park. The time taken to complete the journey on the road is around twenty two hours.
Madagascar is enriched with plenty of plant and animal species. A number of the species of plants and animals are actually unique to this place. That is why Madagascar has a variety of national parks and game reserves to show off the rare animals that can not be found anywhere else in the world. This makes it very relevant for you to visit the wildlife while you are in Madagascar. Take a walk through the thick forests in addition to paddling the canoe in order to chance a glimpse at the howling mongoose or dancing lemurs.
Just envision taking a drive in your car on a road which runs by the blue ocean with your hair blasting off from the breeze of the ocean. Fort Dauphin is your best option should your imagination entail being a part of something of this nature while having a good time in Madagascar. The vivid terrain of Fort Dauphin portrayed in a picture on a 5000 Malagasy Ariary note backend will captivate you. Some of the exciting activities you can do in Madagascar’s Fort Dauphin include touring the Fort Flacourt ruins, sun bathing at the beach of Libanona. These are some of the exciting activities you can do on the island of Madagascar.
How to get to Fort Dauphin: the closest airport to Fort Dauphin is Antananarivo. You will need to take a taxi there or hire a personal car, the fort can best be visited from April up to November.
The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a sheltered rainforest situated in the East of Madagascar. The prominent Analamazaotra reserve forms a section of this national park. The park is a sanctuary to the famous Indri lemur. Apart from that, there is a wide range of wild animals and plants that are found in this park. This park contains a few of the most uncommon ferns and orchid species. It also has tracks for exploration that make a path to the beautiful lakes, via the thick forest and also to the beautiful waterfall. The reserve and the park entrance fee is similar thus one can have an adventure in both places altogether.Check out the best sites to look out for in Madagascar with the perfect combination of wildlife plus nature.
Located on the top most tip North of Madagascar is the Amber Mountain National Park. From the south of Diego Suarez, this park is twenty miles away. This enormous park occupies a scale of over 18,500 hectares. You will discover plenty of waterfalls, crater lakes and wild animals here. This national park is among the most varied parks you will ever encounter in your entire life. You can choose to employ a guide or explore this park on your own.
The Ambohimanga hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is situated in the Antananarivo province in the North of Madagascar. The Ambohimanga hill was at one time a burial site and a royal city. It was also among the most important landmarks of the Merina kingdom in relation to preservation before it underwent colonization. In case you are in search for cultural activities you can do in Madagascar, visit this place on your journey to Madagascar.
Find things to do while on your Madagascar tours.
Tsingy De Bamahara National Park is one of the most intriguing places to visit in the world. Located in Southern Madagascar in the Melaky Region, Mahajanga Province, the UNESCO listed world heritage site is a 250sq kilometer park made up of tall limestone obelisks with jagged spears that were created over many centuries by the movement of water and wind. The area is also called, “forest of limestone” and “limestone cathedral”. The reserve is a sanctuary for some of Madagascar’s rarest animals like 11 species of lemur including the white lemur. The obelisks or lime pinnacles are able to sustain different ecosystems both at the top and at the bottom of the forest as some animals can be seen hanging from the jagged spears of the limestone icicles. You can take a cycling tour here.
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is Madaga
scar’s most sacred place for the Malagasy. The historical village was the home of the Malagasy royalty, the Medina of the central highlands. The palace consists of a traditional grass thatched palace that was the abode of the all-powerful King Andrianampoinimerina. It is built in wood and a rosewood center pole that is said to have been carried thousands of miles from the coast and cost a few hundred slaves their lives in the process. King Andrianampoinimerina is also said to have hidden among the rafters whenever he got visitors and he would drop a pebble on his wife’s head to signal to her that the particular visitor was approved. You can also visit the king’s royal baths which he dipped in once a year and the water thereafter used for sacred purposes.
Next door to the King’s grass thatched palace stands, in contrasting fashion, Queen Ranavalona’s European style palace that was built for her by the French Engineer Jean Laborde. This palace was fitted with mirrors to help the Queen monitor her servants and prevent one of them poisoning her food.
The wall that surrounds the palace is also a marvel as it was built in mortar and 16million eggs. The Royal Hill is a marvel that will fill you with awe at man’s abilities and give yo
u an insight into Malagasy culture as you witness pilgrims who even today still leave offerings at the palace.
Ille Saint Marie is a beach on the Eastern coast of Madagascar. It is very well known for having been a hotspot for pirates in the 17th and 18th Century. Shipwrecks of European trade ships that were on their way to trade across the inter-oceanic trade circuit can still be seen below from the shallow clear waters of the Baie des Forbans. The beach is also one of Madagascar’s most ideal places for diving, snorkeling, and clear water fishing.
Ifaty is a combination of two dusty beach towns in the South West of Madagascar that are well known for their wonderful beach holiday resorts. The beaches have a 60mile long coral reef that harbors the coast from dangerous aggressive waves from the Indian Ocean. This makes for calm waters at the beach ideal for snorkeling, fishing and diving. Deeper into the inland also stands the famous Boabab trees that have lived for centuries. Some Boabab trees have even been known to live for 8 centuries.
Madagascar is home to some of the planet’s most intriguing and unique trees, the Boababs. Boabab trees have bloated stems in which they store distilled water for use in drier seasons. They also have few leaves which is probably a way to reduce water loss. Animals in the dry seasons eat the tree trunk to save themselves from dehydration. The Avenue of the Boababs is a group of trees lining the dirt road from Morondava and Beloni Tsribihina in Western Madagascar. These particular trees were part of an entire forest of Boababs which however got chopped down by the locals so as to farm the land. The Avenue was protected and left intact as an attraction for tourists and has indeed pulled in countless tourists every year.
Ranomafana National Park is located in the village of Ranomafana. The most beautiful part of the park is the Eastern side which is covered in streams splashing against rocks through rainforest which makes for a scenic view that will set your heart to rest. It is the habitat of the Golden Bamboo Le
mur which, as the name suggests, lives on bamboo and a diet filled with cyanide which is dangerous for other animals but has no effect on them.
Isalo National Park is located in Central Southern Madagascar and is well known for its varied terrain which is rather a contrast to the rainforest of Ranomafana Park. Isalo is covered in grasslands with steep canyons, sandstone and occasional pools with palm trees.
Antananarivo Holidays Madagascar
You can also visit the city of Antananarivo which is Madagascar’s capital city and economic center. It has unique sites like the Rova sitting atop one of Madagascar’s highest hills and was the home of Queen Ravalona II. It also houses the royal tombs of the former Merina kings and queens. You can also visit the Muses Andafivarata which was the Prime Minister Rainilaiariviny’s home. The prime minister is famous for having married three queens in succession. Queen Rasoherina, Queen Ranvalona II, and Queen Ranvalona III. He is also said to have been the power behind the throne.
Other parks include Amber Mountain National Park, Anja Community Reserve, Anjajavy Private Reserve, Fianarantsoa, Tsimanampetsotsa, Masoala National Park, Zahamena National Park, Zombitse Vohibasia , Kirindy Mitea, Andasibe Mantadia, Andohahela, Andringita, Ankarafantsika, Ankarana, Bay Of Baly
Madagascar has a lot of accommodation facilities that cater for everyone’s budget and they are all good to stay in. once you get the chance to visit the country, you need to be well equipped and at least know where you are going to stay once you get there. Some of the accommodations that can be accessed on the Island include:
The bamboo club Ifaty
Located in the dusty town of Ifaty, the bamboo club offers one of the best facilities in the area when it comes to accommodation. They have bungalow rooms that have private washrooms and a terrace where you can enjoy the morning and setting sun from.
They also offer meals in their restaurant that include local cuisines, they have an outdoor swimming pool and offer private parking for all vehicles. They also offer free WIFI, a scenic view to the garden, an airport shuttle although this one comes at a free cost and they also allow pets.
The ITC lodge
The ITC lodge is located in Ranohira and it is located near the Isalo National Park. They offer good meals at the restaurant, they offer a packed lunch for all those who want to go for picnics or game drives and they have an open bar where one can go for a drink. The rooms are very spacious and they have an inbuilt toilet and bathroom that is well equipped and a terrace from where you can see the setting sun and enjoy the view around the lodge.
They also offer car hire services and an offer for free transportation to the airport and the lodge also offers good terrains for those who love hiking.
There are so many other accommodation facilities that I have not mentioned here but they can be secured by booking with us early so that we get you the best accommodation that can fit into your budget and remember that if you are coming during the peak seasons you should prepare to spend extra money so come fully prepared to spend your extra change as you enjoy Madagascar.
Hotel Sakamanga is a midrange and top range hotel in Antananarivo. It has friendly atmosphere with friendly employees who will make your stay comfortable. It has a beautiful decor that is made up of many artifacts enough to fill up a museum, some of which are from Malagasy cultures. The rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat TV with cable, bathrooms with flush toilets, terraces where you can view the city. The famous Prime minister’s palace, Andafiavarata is only a 10 minute drive away.
L’heure Bleue is located on the tropical island of Nosy Be and overlooks the Madirokely Bay. The Crater bay is also 20 minutes away. Both these bays are good for snorkeling, diving, fishing and generally having a relaxing feel of a tropical atmosphere. The rooms at the hotel are housed in bungalows which have a very good view of the bay and the ocean. They have a terrace for relaxation, a breathtaking swimming pool, a bar and restaurant which serves both Malagasy and international cuisines, free WiFi, and tropical decor in the lounges.
Le Karthala is a nice guesthouse in the heart of the city owned by Antananarivo local, Marianne. It is one of Madagascar’s oldest guesthouses and they value the 18 year experience they have gained in catering to the needs of travelers. The guest house is homely and comfortable with beautiful rooms, a roof terrace on the roof for relaxing as you sip a drink and look over at the city. They provide breakfast and guests are free to use the kitchen at any time.
Tsara Guest House:
Tsara Guest House is a plantation-style guesthouse which is perennially popular among tourists to the capital. The communal spaces are commendable, the welcoming area, with a thriving fire; a glass-walled eatery serving appealing food and a beautiful outdoor terrace with great views. There are four categories of room from regular presidential suite.
Other good hotels to stay at are the Chez Francis which has a beautiful view of the city, and Hotel le Glaciers which has live music.
Frequently asked questions on Madagascar
Is it safe to travel into Madagascar?
Madagascar is considered to be a safe tourist destination and even for holidaymakers traveling solo, there is no reason to worry at all, nonetheless, we recommend that you get a driver guide to lead you through your safari and guide through the various tourist destinations and town.
But just as it is in most large towns across the world, Madagascar experiences small petty crime such as pick-pocketers especially within the urban towns. You are highly advised to keep your valuables such as phones, laptops and camera’s out of eye’s reach especially when moving in the towns, do not more with a large amount of cash or easily expose your wallet; better to use a money belt, keep your important documents such as passports and jewelry locked up in your safe-box provided in your hotel room.
What are the passport and visa requirements for entering Madagascar?
You will be required to have a passport that is valid six (6) months from your date of departure after your visit in Madagascar. It is highly recommended that you organize all the requirements for getting a Visa before your departure as visa application solely depends on you the applicant.
Persons visiting the country on Safari or holiday will need a tourist visa which basically offers a single entry that lasts a maximum of thirty (30) days (although a visa can be extended) and we highly advise that you obtain this Visa before the departure date from your home country. It is also possible, however to acquire a Visa at the Antananarivo international airport once arrive. For more information regarding the requirements needed to obtain a Visa, please check with the local embassy or the malagasy high commission in your home country.
Do I need insurance when visiting Madagascar?
It is highly recommended that you acquire a good insurance to cover you against all circumstances plus eventualities. There are a number of insurance companies which you can get online that allow you to purchase, extend and even claim while online. World Nomads Travel Insurance is among the highly recommended companies with operations in more than one hundred and fifty (150) countries. The most important things to remember while choosing your insurance is to ensure that it covers for baggage, overseas medication and evacuation; and also covers a wide range of safari activities and adventure sports.
When to go to Madagascar?
Madagascar is considered as an all year round destination and receives holiday makers from the start to the end of the year. However, the dry season which runs from April to mid December is considered as the best time to visit this islands tourist destination. From late December until March, Madagascar is experiencing the wet season that normally includes cyclones; this time of the year is not good for safari and it should be avoided. It being a sizeable country, its weather patterns may vary from one part of the country to another so to be safe please always check for the latest weather updates prior to your travel.
How do I get around in Madagascar?
The main roads within Madagascar Island I could say are generally good however you will not failed to notice that the travel on the roads (traffic) is much slower than in America or Europe. When you move to the rural areas, most of the roads are bumpy, Dusty and depending on the season a number of them are muddy as a result of poor maintenance and bad weather conditions. During the heavy rains some roads in fact might be impassable so you will have to plan your trip wisely.
Majority of the tour operators offer their guests transportation in well-maintained four-wheel drive Safari vehicles to drive them around the country, with a couple of refreshment breaks along the way. This will give you a closer encounter with the lifestyle of the native people as you drive through the beautiful countryside where you will be able to see some of the traditional homesteads and even meet the locals on the roads.
For those with some extra cash, you can opt to take scheduled flights from one destination to another, however, you should keep in mind that there is a luggage restriction for internal flights in Madagascar which is fifteen (15) kilograms. In case you have additional weight or luggage you will be required to purchase some extra weight for your flight.
What are the health and medical requirements for visiting Madagascar?
The most important thing for anyone travelling to a foreign country is to always seek proper medical assistance before you travel through contacting your general practitioner or doctor to advise you on any required vaccinations as well as ant malaria prophylaxis.
In case your are bringing your personal medication, please do not forget to come with the proper prescription for it.
It is also very essential that you get anti malarial medication as well as an insect repellent to keep the mosquitoes away.
You will also realize that when coming from particular countries, you might be required to have a certificate as proof of receiving the yellow fever vaccine.
Also remember that while in Madagascar you can only drink bottled drinking water or well boiled water.
When visiting the rural areas of the country, medical services may not be easily accessible so travel insurance that covers you medically will surely come in handy.
Can I contract malaria while in Madagascar?
Madagascar is one of those countries where you can contract malaria, it is for that reason that all persons planning to visit the country should visit their physicians back home so that they get an anti malaria prophylaxis. The female anopheles mosquito transmits malaria from one person to another and these are very active in the night.
How to prevent malaria in Madagascar?
Always use an insect repellent
Wear trousers and long sleeved shirts
Always sleep under a treated mosquito net
Take your anti-malaria drugs as prescribed by your doctor
What is the local time in Madagascar?
Madagascar is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+3GMT). at around 0530 hours, the sun rises and at around 1830 hours it sets and this may slightly vary depending on the time of the year as well as which part of the country you are.
What is the local currency in Madagascar?
The Malagasy Ariary is the local currency used in Madagascar, whereas the most commonly accepted foreign currencies is the Euro. On the other hand, the GBP together with the US dollar can easily be changed into the local currency. It is best recommended that you carry different small notes.
Madagascar offers a number of places where you can easily exchange foreign currency and these include: at the airport, in banks and forex bureaus especially within the large towns like Antananarivo. While going on safari, its best recommended that you exchange your foreign currency on arrival as it may be very challenging to change money while in the remotes tourist destinations on your safari. The ATMs only dispense cash in the local Malagasy Ariary.
Which credit cards are used in Madagascar?
The most commonly used credit cards in Madagascar are the Visa card and the MasterCard. The Union Pay as well has become popular. Fortunately most of the large towns in Madagascar have ATMs so you can easily access your cash. a number of places such as hotels, lodges and shops in large malls accept payment using the credit card.
Some places have credit card machine but not all. For your comfort, it is better to have spare cash from the ATM or an exchange bureau. Euro and US$ are accepted almost every hotels/lodges but the exchange rates could be very low.
Is tipping allowed in Madagascar?
Yes, tipping is gladly received with joy so basing on the satisfaction of the service you will receive, you can surely go ahead and offer a tip however it is not mandatory. Below is a guide you can follow while tipping in Madagascar.
Your safari guide or driver-guide: approximately 4 € (around 10’000 Ariary) per day
The park guide: approximately 2 € (about 5000 Ariary) basing on your satisfaction
Staff at the restaurant: approximately 5% of your bill
Porter: 200 Ariary per bag
Where possible you can tip in the local currency especially if you do not have smaller notes of the foreign currency (dollar, pond or Euro)
What is the electricity current in Madagascar?
Madagascar runs on electricity current of 220 Volts with a customary frequency of 50 Hz, although in some areas this may drop down to 170 Volts especially during the peak times. They use the two (2) pin plug and European customary sockets.
Can I use my mobile phone while in Madagascar?
Madagascar has good cellular coverage so during your visit; you will be required to switch on your internationally roaming especially while in the large cities and that way you will be able to reach your people you left back home. Alternatively, you could buy a local SIM card from any of the local phone shops and these are very affordable, then you credit it with little money and you will be good to go. I should also point out that clarity of telephone lines is pretty bad as compared to other countries on the African continent. You can also call overseas using Telma phone card on a public phone from the Telma office. The smaller towns and islands such as Tsarabanjina and Moramanga have good coverage of the local mobile networks with Celtel (dial-code 033) and Orange (dial-code 032) being the only service providers.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Madagascar?
It is not safe to drink tap water while in Madagascar. For that reason, we recommend that you only drink bottled water and you should ensure that the seal on the bottles is not tampered with. Where possible we recommend that you also use bottled drinking water while brushing your teeth.
In case I am a vegetarian or I have dietary need / allergies, can I visit Madagascar?
Fortunately many hotels, lodges and resorts in Madagascar cater for holidaymakers who are vegetarians or those with special needs, those who are gluten free as well as lactose intolerant. However, the most important thing is to do is to always let your tour operator as well as the management at the accommodation you will be staying ahead of time to enable then prepare for you adequately. In case you are halaal or even kosher, we greatly advise that you choose vegetarian meals.
Can I access internet while in Madagascar?
When you visit the large cities in Madagascar, you will find several internet cafes. In addition, a number of hotels and lodges also offer internet services to their guests which will enable you get in touch with the people back home. When you visit the offices of the Malagasy Post / Paositra Malagasy, you will be able to access internet there as well. I should point out however that the connection is slow in some parts of this island country.
Is photography allowed in Madagascar?
Yes you are allowed to take as many photos as you want while in Madagascar however they are not allowed taking photos of military airports, military personnel as well as military installations. In case you are taking photographs of local people it will be very kind of you if you first asked for permission before doing so. While visiting the lemurs, flash photography is not accepted and even when photographing other wildlife as it may cause some disturbances. It is very important that you carry enough memory cards for storage as well as spare batteries for your camera to avoid any disappointments on your Safari.
Is smoking allowed in Madagascar?
Although you will be allowed to smoke in a number of places on this island country, it is highly advise against smoking in the wildlife national parks as the rules and regulations governing these places do not permit it.
What to wear on a Safari in Madagascar?
As one of the general rules for any one visiting any of the African countries, it is highly recommended that you wear clothing that are respectful and modest but most of all comfortable. Especially for the ladies, avoid wearing clothes that reveal a lot of flesh especially when going to public places. the plains in Madagascar are generally warm so light weight summer clothing will be very appropriate for the day during the dry season, however, the nights become cold mainly in the hilly parts of the country, as a result, do not forget some warm clothing like a sweater, a jacket or a scarf. Some formal clothes will be recommended especially for the evening dinners.
keeping in mind that the largest number of holiday makers who visit this island country do do because to enjoy its beaches, you should pack swim wear or even brief shorts for the resorts and beaches, however please do not take these to the streets, villages or even the town as they are considered in appropriate.
Can I do my laundry in Madagascar?
Majority of the hotels and lodges in Madagascar offer laundry services at a small affordable cost; please consult at the reception to know the cost of this service beforehand. In some budget facilities, the laundry may be hand washed and put out on wires to dry for that reason we recommend that you do not had in any of your delicate clothing for laundry while in Madagascar. When it comes to underwear, you are advised to personally hand wash it for yourself. In case you need washing powder the hotel staff will gladly provide it to you.
How is the accommodation in Madagascar?
Although the hotels, resorts and lodges found in Madagascar cannot be matched as those on the neighbouring mainland of eastern and southern Africa, this island country has a number of good accommodation facilities many of which have been situated in all the different tourist destinations varying from the affordable budget facilities, the mid-range and then the luxury facilities. In fact, majority of the hotel rooms have en-suite bathroom facilities with running hot water although I can’t fail to mention that some accommodations found in the more remote areas have been constructed in an eco-friendly way with commitment not only to conserve the natural environment but also give back to the communities nearby.