Madagascar Travel Advice
Best Time to Visit Madagascar
You can visit Madagascar throughout the year, but try to avoid going during the cyclone season between January and March as the heavy rainfall may prevent you from getting to certain areas due to roads being flooded.
The best time to visit Madagascar would be during the cool, dry season of April to October, although the central highlands can get cold and windy during this time.
The west and southwest can reach very high temperatures during the summer months, but the winter months in these regions are pleasant, with blue skies, cooler temperatures and little rain. Most rain in the northeast falls from July to September.
Madagascar has two seasons:
Winter (dry season) April to October-mainly dry and mild climate
Summer (wet season) November to March- mainly hot and rainy climate
The east of Madagascar suffers from cyclones in February and March
Average maximum temperatures vary from about 30°C in coastal areas (higher in summer) to around 25°C on the hauts plateaux.
In Antananarivo and other highland areas, temperatures during winter can drop to 10°C and even lower during the night.
Flights & Getting Around to Major Cities
Ivato International Airport is the main airport and is situated 16kms from the capital of Madagascar. As the roads in Madagascar are in bad condition, Air Madagascar travels to most destinations throughout the country, including to small community villages. Should you wish to travel by road there are also taxis that run within the towns and between villages. During peak season, buses run frequently. The train is not the most comfortable or fastest, but you get to view the landscapes and experience the local foods offered at every stop.
Visa & Passport Requirements
All visitors must have a visa to enter Madagascar. You can obtain a visa free on arrival at the international airport of Madagascar. Please make sure that your passport is still valid for at least 6 months after date of travel. Visas can be arranged in advance at any Malagasy embassy or consulate. Visas are valid for up to three months from the date of entry and must be used within six months of the date of issue.
It is advised to visit your local travel clinic or doctor at least 6 weeks before date of travel. Malaria is a risk throughout the year and is highest on the coast. Malarial mosquitos are most active in the early mornings and evenings so cover up and use repellent at those times. You will need to take malaria prophylaxis to avoid getting malaria.
The Following vaccinations are recommended: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Rabies and Cholera. All travellers coming from a country with yellow fever require an inoculation against the disease.
The currency of Madagascar is the Ariary, although Euros are widely accepted, and US dollars are sometimes accepted in Antananarivo, major cities and tourist areas.
You can withdraw money from ATM's in the cities, using a Visa or Visa Electron card. MasterCard can be used with ATM's of the BNI bank.
Credit cards are rarely accepted, except at some upmarket establishments and larger travel agencies. The most accepted card is Visa, with MasterCard also accepted in very few places. Most major banks change traveller’s cheques and cash in major currencies.
Unless you are staying at an expensive hotel, tipping is not customary in Madagascar. It is generally discouraged by local tourist authorities, but if you received good service and wish to leave a tip there is no harm in doing so. It is entirely at your discretion.
What to Pack
Your clothes will greatly depend on the season you are traveling as well as which regions you are travelling to, as climate varies greatly from one to the other. Light weight cotton and linen fabrics are best suited for the hot weather during the day. Longer light weight sleeves and pants for hiking and night time helps keep mosquito bites at bay. During winter time, warm clothes and windbreakers are recommended. You should always bring raincoats when visiting the humid eastern part of Madagascar and its rainforests, as well as comfortable walking shoes. Unless you are staying at 4 or 5 star lodges or hotels it is advised to take a mosquito net with you for extra protection.