Baobab Trees in Morondava, Madagascar
Baobab Trees in Morondava, Madagascar

Morondava

Beautiful alley of baobab trees at sunrise.
Photo by Yasmine Arfaoui

MADAGASCAR

Africa

Madagascar Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Antananarivo

Location:

Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique

Currency:

Malagasy ariary (MGA)

Area:

587,041 sq km

Population:

27,534,354 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Malagasy (official) 99.9%, French (official) 23.6%, English 8.2%, other 0.6% (2018 est.)

Religion:

Christian, indigenous, Muslim

TimeZone:

UTC+3

Tel Code:

+261

Weather

Climate

Madagascar is an island country located off the coast of East Africa, and it has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. The country has two main seasons: the rainy season (November to April) and the dry season (May to October).

During the rainy season, the country experiences heavy rainfall and high humidity, while the dry season is characterized by less rainfall and lower humidity. The temperature during the year ranges between 20°C - 30°C (68°F - 86°F)

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Madagascar depends on the type of activities you want to do and your preferences. The dry season, from May to October, is considered the best time to visit as the weather is more stable and the chances of rain are lower. This is also considered the peak tourist season, and the prices for accommodations and activities may be higher.

The rainy season, from November to April, is considered the low season for tourism, but it's also the time when the nature is more lush and the wildlife is more active, making it a great time for nature lovers. The weather during the rainy season is still warm and tropical, with occasional rain showers.

It's worth noting that Madagascar is a popular destination for wildlife viewing, and the best time to see the lemurs and other unique fauna is throughout the year.

Transportation

Air travel

Madagascar has several international airports including Ivato International Airport (TNR) in Antananarivo, the capital city and Fascene Airport (NOS) in Nosy Be, which is one of the major tourist destination in the country. From there, you can take a domestic flight to reach other destinations in Madagascar.

Bus travel

Buses are a popular and convenient way to travel around Madagascar, with extensive networks of long-distance and local buses that connect most of the cities and towns. Bus travel is relatively inexpensive, but it can be less comfortable than other options.

Car rental

Car rental is a great option for those who want to explore Madagascar at their own pace, it's widely available in most cities and towns. It's worth noting that the road conditions can be challenging in some remote areas and it's important to have a valid driver's license and insurance.

Taxis

Taxis are widely available in most cities and towns, and they are a convenient and safe way to get around. It's worth noting that it's best to use a licensed taxi and to agree on the fare before starting the journey.

Motorbike and scooter rental

Motorbike and scooter rental is also an option in Madagascar, it's widely available in most cities and towns. It's worth noting that the roads can be challenging and it's essential to have a valid driver's license and insurance, also be aware of the traffic and driving rules.

Accommodation

Hotels

Madagascar has a wide range of hotels, from budget-friendly options to luxury resorts. You can find hotels in most of the major cities, towns, and tourist destinations. Many of the hotels in Madagascar are eco-friendly and have a strong focus on sustainability.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are a popular option in Madagascar, as they offer comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations. They are typically run by local families, and they offer a unique way to experience the local culture and hospitality.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals such as apartments, villas, and houses can be rented on a short-term basis. This is becoming an increasingly popular option in Madagascar, and it can be a great option for those looking for more privacy and space.

Tented camps and lodges

Tented camps and lodges are a popular option for those who want to experience the natural beauty of Madagascar, they are typically located in the national parks and reserves, and they offer comfortable and eco-friendly accommodations.

Homestays

Homestays are a great way to experience local culture and hospitality. They are typically run by local families, and they offer comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Madagascar Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Madagascar, an island country located off the coast of East Africa, is a truly unique and captivating destination. With its diverse landscapes, fascinating culture, and incredible wildlife, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Madagascar. Here are the top 10 things to do in Madagascar that should not be missed:

      1. Explore the Streets of Antananarivo

      Antananarivo, also known as Tana, is the capital city of Madagascar and home to a rich culture and history. Visitors can explore the city's bustling streets, colorful markets, and impressive palaces and tombs.

      2. Visit the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

      The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the most unique and breathtaking landscapes in the world. Visitors can explore the limestone formations, caves, and canyons, and see the diverse wildlife, including lemurs, lizards and birds.

      3. Discover the Lemurs of Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

      Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is known for its population of Indri lemurs, the largest lemurs in the world. Visitors can go on guided walks and see these fascinating primates in their natural habitat.

      4. Explore the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga

      The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a sacred place for the people of Madagascar. Visitors can explore the palace and tombs of the Merina kings and learn about the history and culture of the island.

      5. Relax on the Beaches of Nosy Be

      Nosy Be is an island off the northwest coast of Madagascar, known for its beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. Visitors can relax on the beach, go snorkeling or diving, and see the diverse marine life.

      6. Visit the Isalo National Park

      The Isalo National Park is known for its unique landscapes and diverse wildlife, including lemurs, lizards, and birds. Visitors can go hiking and see the park's canyons, rock formations, and waterfalls.

      7. Explore the Baobab Avenue

      The Baobab Avenue is a unique and surreal landscape, where a group of baobab trees line a dirt road. Visitors can take a drive or a walk down the avenue and see the impressive trees up close.

      8. Visit the Avenue of the Baobabs

      The Avenue of the Baobabs is a unique and surreal landscape, where a group of baobab trees line a dirt road. Visitors can take a drive or a walk down the avenue and see the impressive trees up close.

      9. See the Sakalava Tombs

      The Sakalava Tombs are a group of tombs located in the western part of the island, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors can explore the tombs and learn about the history and culture of the Sakalava people.

      10. Experience the Festivals

      Madagascar is known for its vibrant festivals, such as the Famadihana, or the "turning of the bones" ceremony, which is a traditional custom of the Malagasy people of exhumation and reburial of their ancestors remains. And the other one is the Fandroana, celebrated at the end of the rainy season, is a traditional annual festival that showcases the rich culture and tradition of the country.

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