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Madagascar Travel Guide

Located off the coast of East Africa, Madagascar is about as isolated as you can get – which makes for an exciting destination filled with endemic species that cannot be found elsewhere in the world. As for the terrain, you will find bizarre boab trees, volcanic lakes and limestone karsts dotted along the 5,000 kilometres of unspoilt coastline.

The Highlights

  • Avenue of the Baobabs

    Unlike anywhere else in the world, the Avenue of the Baobabs is one of the most iconic destinations in Madagascar that you need to visit. This must-see spot is where you can find over 20 baobab trees lining the trail between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar – with some up to 800 years old.

  • Antananarivo

    As one of the most vibrant and eclectic cities in Africa, Malagasy capital (Tana, as it is universally known) is not to be missed. Visitors can enjoy taking in the colourful sights and sounds of the hillside city filled with palaces, historic buildings with churches along uneven, cobbled streets. For the food lovers, there are many high end (and local) restaurants to tempt your inner gastronome.

  • Isalo National Park

    We mentioned earlier that the terrain of Madagascar is rich and varied, and Isalo National Park is no exception. Possibly one of the most popular sights in Madagascar, the landscape is filled with Jurrasic-style sandstone formations, dry grasslands and forests. If you’re searching for lemurs or hoping to see the white sifakas dancing and jumping around, this is where you need to go.

  • Nosy Be

    For travellers looking to swim, splash, dive or relax in unspoilt waters, Nosy Be is the place to go.  As Madagascar’s top beach destination, the Nosy Be are ideal for swimming due to the shallow and calm waters. Despite being the top attraction in the area, tourists are few and far between – meaning your experience will be both peaceful and undisrupted.

  • Ranomafana National Park

    Possibly one of the most spectacular national parks in Madagascar, Ranomafana was created in 1991 to protect the golden bamboo lemur after its discovery in 1986. Aside from the golden bamboo lemur, there are plenty of other mammals hiding among the trees including the Malagasy striped civet, mongooses and bats.

  • Tsiribihina River

    If you’re searching for one of the most authentic experiences at one of the greatest landmarks, your best bet is to cruise along the Tsiribihina River in a pirogue (a traditional long narrow canoe) or in one of the more modern canoes. You can extend your journey by camping on the riverbank while surrounded by a blanket of stars, or simply revel in the experience during the day.

The Basics

When to Visit

when to visit
  1. Peak Season

    June to August

    During the summer months, Madagascar boasts an incredibly hot climate (with average highs of 30°C in Nosy Be) where the days are windy and dry. As this is the peak season for tourism in Madagascar due to the European school holidays, visitors may find some hotels will have limited availability. If you’re hoping to spot the majestic humpback whale, June is when they begin to arrive along the coasts to give birth. Another notable occurrence for this time of the year is harvesting of the country’s vanilla between July and October. If you’re hoping to visit the vanilla-growing northeast region, make sure you book ahead and plan accordingly.

  2. Low Season

    January to March

    Visitors will need to be aware that cyclone season is rampant through the months of January to March and the east coast is particularly vulnerable due to its location. The cooler months might be more enjoyable for some travellers, however, it is important to note that heavy rain will fall in most areas of Madagascar and some areas will be inaccessible. The positive side of this, however, is that the more arid areas will become green and filled with luscious vegetation. During February, this is also the time when snakes and frogs come out of hibernation and can be frequently spotted across the country. Visitors travelling to Madagascar during this time will enjoy fewer crowds and lower flight or hotel prices.

Madagascar Tours

FAQs about Madagascar

  • Do you tip in Madagascar?

    Tipping in Madagascar isn’t very common for locals, but as a tourist, it is expected to tip and will always be appreciated. For porters, Ar200 or Ar500 is acceptable, and for restaurants or bars, 10% to 15% will be appreciated.
  • What is the internet access like?

    Hotels across the country offer free WiFi as do many bars and restaurants. Outside urban areas this is not as common.
  • Is the tap water safe to drink?

    In general, the water is not safe to drink in Madagascar. Make sure to only drink from sealed water bottles, or take a portable water purifier.
  • Can I use my credit cards?

    The use of credit or debit cards is mostly restricted to larger hotels and restaurants frequented by international visitors. We suggest for you to carry enough cash to last a few days and withdraw funds as needed.  
  • What are the public holidays?

    Along with common public holidays such as New Year’s Day, Christmas and Easter,  Madagascar celebrates Martyr's Day in March, Labour Day on May 1 and Independence Day June 26, All Saints’ Day November 1, just to name a few.
  • Is it safe to travel in Madagascar?

    While Madagascar is safe to visit, there are many precautions you should note. It is not safe to walk after dark and it is recommended that you travel by taxi at night. As for other crimes, pickpocketing frequently occurs, so be careful with your belongings.
A TRAVEL MAGAZINE BY TOURRADAR