Madagascar Travel Information
When it comes to the experience of an island holiday, we believe that a Madagascar holiday is one of the best destinations for outstanding and exciting travel. Find travel info on Madagascar, an island country, located south east of Africa in the Indian Ocean. It’s made up of the island itself and small peripheral islands. The island boasts a unique biodiversity – with over 90-percent of its wildlife found nowhere else on earth.
Jenman Safaris prides itself in planning your dream Madagascar holiday right down to the very last detail. We recommend that anyone wishing to go on a Madagascar holiday reads the information provided to learn more about the island and important travel details. It also ensures that you’re able to enjoy your holiday with us and the Malagasy people.
By equipping our valued guests with this information, we hope to further entice you to visit the wonder that is Madagascar. Apart from its biodiversity, the island has so much to offer in the form of activities, adventure and attractions. We encourage you to read our website with regards to what a holiday to Madagascar can entail, and to contact us with any inquiries that you may have.
Highlights of an adventure to Madagascar include the Baobab trees featuring seven of the world’s nine species. Lemurs are the island’s most famous animals and about 40 different species can be found; they are endemic to Madagascar. The various national parks and activities are wild and luscious. We pride ourselves on being able to design a Madagascar holiday worth experiencing, offering one of the world’s most phenomenal destinations for nature and history lovers.
If you’re planning an adventure then World Nomads Travel Insurance is the perfect companion to keep you travelling safely. You can buy, extend and claim online even after you have left home. Recommended by Lonely Planet, World Nomads is available to people from over 150 countries and is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
A security/ departure tax will be payable by all passengers departing from the following airports in Madagascar:
- Antananarivo/Ivato [TNR]
- Nosy Be [NOS]
- Toamasina / Tamatave [TMM]
- Mahajanga [MJN]
- Antsiranana / Diego Suarez [DIE]
- Taolagnaro / Fort Dauphin [FTU]
- Toliara / Tulear [TLE]
- Saint Marie [SMS]
Charges are due at departure and are payable in cash in foreign currencies, or in Malagasy Ariary MGA at the day rate at airport cash points.
- Domestic flights from above mentioned airports: US$ 2.50 per person
- Regional Network TNR – JNB: US$ 14.50 per person
- Long-haul network: US$ 14.50 per person
Madagascar forbids the export of rough gemstones, protected endemic plants or animals, and valuable cultural monuments or woods. It is possible to get an official export permit for certain polished gemstones and plants, but it may take a few days to get it. If you want to buy polished ammonite, fossilised wood, traditional solitaire games or similar items, it is highly recommended to ask for export papers or an official invoice from the handicraft market. This is to avoid problems at customs.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL IN MADAGASCAR
We have developed a list of tips that you can follow when you travel around Madagascar. Madagascar is a lovely destination and we aim at preserving to preserve the area and its people on our Madagascar holidays – it’s important to us and we hope you feel the same. We ask that you act responsibly when you travel through this beautiful country.
EUR, USD and GBP are the most practical and convenient currency to exchange into Ariary at the Airport. Airport banks are open whenever an international flight arrives, and their rates are similar to the rates of banks in town.
Credit cards are only accepted in large hotels, restaurants and some shops, mainly in Antananarivo. Visa is the most useful credit card. In other big cities, you can only get cash from Automatic Teller Machines (ATM). There is now also an ATM at the airport in Antananarivo. Don’t rely on ATM machines only as they are often out of order. Keep some cash in Euro for emergencies.
Travellers Cheques (TC) such as Thomas Cook, American Express etc. are also not recommended as many banks refuse to accept them. But if you really want to bring Travellers Cheques, then bring only TC of EUR 50 or USD 50 face value, and do not forget to also bring the invoice or receipt of where you bought them. In some provinces, it may take you up to a few hours to change Travellers Cheques. The rate is also higher than exchanging cash and some banks charge commission.
Since 2005, Ariary (AR) is the local currency in Madagascar replacing the Franc Malgache (FMG). Many people still refer to the Franc Malagasy (FMG) when selling but all payment must be done in Ariary (1 AR = 5 FMG). Make sure to clarify which currency is being quoted, especially in rural areas. To check the updated rates, have a look at the official website of the Central Bank of Madagascar.
The biggest banknote currently available is Ar 10,000. But as a restaurant meal costs between Ar 10,000 and Ar 15,000, larger denominations will have to be printed in the future.
HEALTH AND HYGIENE
There is a risk of catching Malaria in Madagascar. It is highly recommended to ask your doctor’s advice about anti-Malaria drugs before leaving your country. Bring a good mosquito repellent with you! Please also bring sunscreen to avoid sunburn; the sun in Madagascar can be very harsh.
Tourism in Madagascar is still in its early stage. Do not eat raw vegetables and do not drink un-stamped bottles of water.
When visiting Madagascar you do not need any vaccinations unless you have been to certain African countries where there is a danger of contracting yellow fever. Vaccination against yellow fever is compulsory. We also recommend vaccination against Hepatitis A. As medical cures and medicines are only available at hospitals in big cities, it is recommended that you bring your own basic First Aid kit.
Adjust your clock upon arrival at the airport: add 2 hours during summertime and 3 hours during wintertime to GMT. GMT +2 / GMT + 3
WEATHER AND SEASONS
There are only two seasons in Madagascar: dry season and wet season. Wet season lasts for 5 months (from December to April) in most areas. In eastern Madagascar, it often rains all year long but it rarely rains in western Madagascar.
On the central parts of Madagascar, winter nights are cold and temperatures may drop down to +5°C. It may even go down to around freezing point in Antsirabe. Bring warm clothes if you are travelling to Madagascar between May and September. From November till March, it gets very hot in southern and western Madagascar. The temperature in the coastal regions is generally higher than inland.
Phone: There is some cellular coverage in Madagascar. Turn on international roaming if you want to be reached whenever you are in Madagascar’s big cities. The alternative is to purchase a local SIM card and an inexpensive phone at a shop, supermarket or airport. Expect to pay about EUR 5 for a SIM card but it usually includes only a small amount of credit. Communication by phone in Madagascar is expensive and the clarity of the telephone lines is worse than in other countries.
It is possible to call abroad from any public phone using a phone card from a Telma office (Telecom Malagasy). Some cities, small towns like Moramanga, and even small islands like Tsarabanjina, are covered by the local mobile phone network. There are two mobile phone operators in Madagascar: Orange (dial 032) and Celtel (dial 033).
Internet: There are a few internet cafés in every big city in Madagascar. The Malagasy Post, called Paositra Malagasy, offers an internet connection at their offices. It is very cheap but the connection speed is slow unless you are lucky and find one of the few places that offer ADSL Broadband.
If your luggage gets lost during a transit flight handling, then your suitcases will arrive in Madagascar a few days later. It is recommended, if possible, to put very important items and some clothes into your hand luggage. From Paris or Milan and on your connecting flights, you are sometimes allowed to have 30 kg of luggage allowance. Be warned: some airlines only have a maximum baggage allowance of 20 kg. We recommend you check your ticket. The luggage allowance on domestic flights is also 20 kg only (15 kg on Twin Otter flights) but the tariff for excess luggage is cheap in Madagascar.
Please make sure that you carry your passport, air tickets, money, credit card and all other travel documents in your hand luggage or on your person.
During the cyclone season and winter, rain jackets and warm clothes are essential especially in the Highlands. During the high season, light cotton clothes and sun protection is necessary especially in western Madagascar. Always bring a raincoat when visiting the humid eastern part of Madagascar and rainforests.
Light mountain boots are recommended when visiting national parks especially the rainforest parks. Waterproof sandals are recommended for beaches. In other places, you can wear almost any shoes.
Do not forget: bring a torch for nocturnal park visits or electricity power outages.
FILMS AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Films, battery and photography kits are expensive in Madagascar. Film rolls – especially special film like APS or slide film – are rare. Buy them in your home country.
The two-pronged plug and the European standard socket are used with a tension of 220 volts are used in Madagascar (but it may go down to 170 volts in some areas at peak times) with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.
BEHAVIOUR AND TABOO
You can tip if you are satisfied with the service – but it is not obligatory. Here are some ideas of the gratuities that are expected:
- Around 4 € per day (about 10’000 Ariary) for a guide or a guide/ driver
- Around 2 € (about 5000 Ariary) for a park guide, depending on your satisfaction
- Around 5% of the bill at the restaurant
- 200 Ariary per bag for a porter
As Euro coins cannot be changed into local money in Madagascar, it is advisable to tip in the local Ariary currency.
There are a few beggars in villages but mainly in the big cities – especially in Antananarivo. If you do not want to give something to them then do not speak to look at them. But if you wish to give something to beggars, buy the person something to eat and give pens and balls to the children.
In Madagascar, Fady is the name for different local beliefs and taboo behaviour related mainly to tombs or sacred places. As visitors, it is important to respect those places or tombs. Your driver or guide will instruct you on how to show the proper respect and what you should not do during your trip.
The most trustworthy and regularly updated guidebooks on Madagascar are probably the latest editions of the Lonely Planet guidebook and the books by Hillary Bradt.
The two main languages spoken in Madagascar are French and the native language Malagasy.
The Lonely Planet has a comprehensive online directory with information on Madagascar such as: when to visit, weather, getting there and around, practical information, history, study tips, maps and interesting facts.