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Madagascar shares maritime borders with Comoros, France (Mayotte and Réunion), Mauritius, Mozambique and Seychelles.

The fourth-largest island in the world has been isolated for about 80 million years, and many of its plants and animals are unique to the island. The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana separated the Madagascar-Indian landmass from Africa around 150 million years ago. 70 million years later, Madagascar split off from the Indian tectonic plate. Due to its isolation in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, flora and fauna on the island had developed independently.

With an area of 587,041 km², the island is slightly larger than France, or twice the size of the US state of Arizona. The island has a subtropical to tropical maritime climate.

Madagascar has a population of more than 28 million inhabitants in 2021. The capital and largest city is Antananarivo. Spoken languages are Malagasy and French. Christianity is the predominant religion, more than 80% of the population are Christians, but traditional beliefs are deeply rooted in society.

What is Madagascar famous for?

  • The island of Madagascar is best known for its unique fauna and flora, It is populated by lemurs, fossas, Malagasy civets, chameleons, frogs, and weird aye-ayes.
  • Madagascar is possibly the oldest island on the planet since the break up of the Gondwana continent.
  • Probably the most famous plants of Madagascar are the iconic baobabs and the traveller’s palm, a national landmark.
  • The chief food crop of Madagascar is rice.
  • About half of the world’s production of vanilla comes from Madagascar.
  • Lambas are the traditional, woven garments of rectangular length (like a scarf or a sash) worn by both men and women.
  • The aloalo is the Malagasy version of a tombstone, a pole sculpture placed on the graves of important people in the southwestern region of Madagascar.

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USEFUL INFORMATION

Currency & banking

Current exchange rate:$1USD = 4,524.32 Ariary

The Malagasy Ariary has been the official currency of Madagascar since 2005. The smallest denomination in 2023 is the 100 Ariary banknote. As of publishing, that’s worth €0.02 or US$0.02. 

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries on Earth. For (most) foreigners, basic goods such as local food are very cheap. But everything geared towards foreigners is unaffordable for most locals. 

Credit Cards
This is uncommon and can only be done at better hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets. It’s also not possible to pay by card when a good hotel is remote. Sometimes you can only pay by card when the boss is present. And lastly, it sometimes doesn’t work temporarily when the internet connection is unstable or gone. Never assume you can pay by card, always have a Plan B.

ATM machines & Banks
ATMs aren’t everywhere in the country and they’re not always well-stocked. That’s why you should always pre-plan how much cash to get from an ATM. The maximum amount of bills you can get out of the ATM in one transaction is 40 banknotes. All ATMs accept MasterCard and Visa in Madagascar, both debit and credit cards.

Tipping

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.

Electronic Devices

You can charge your cameras, phones and other electric items in most accommodations. If you bring more than a couple of chargeable items you might consider bringing an extension with extra outlets since the amount of outlets is often limited. We advise bringing extra batteries for your camera since many lodges generate power with solar or generators and power cuts might occur. Solar-generated lodges will often only have power available in the rooms at certain hours of the day, but you can always use the charging ports in the main lodge area.

The Internet

Hotels across the country offer free WiFi as do many bars and restaurants. Outside urban areas this is not as common.

What to pack?

  • Take your own toilet paper as many public toilets don’t have any.
  • Good quality sunglasses; if you wear contact lenses,
  • Sun hat
  • Small torch /headlamp
  • Good binoculars
  • Camera with a zoom lens
    Waterproof/dustproof bags to cover your cameras
  • Swimsuit as some of the lodges have swimming pools
  • A small daypack to keep with you in the car during the day
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen, moisturiser and lip balm
  • Basic first aid kit.
  • Clothing should be lightweight, loose-fitting and of “breathable” fabrics, such as cotton

Health advice

The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to Madagascar

The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot

They also suggest being vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B and rabies – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.

Recommended Travel Vaccinations for Madagascar

VACCINEHOW DISEASE SPREADSDETAILS
COVID-19Airborne & Direct ContactRecommended for all unvaccinated individuals who qualify for vaccination
Hepatitis AFood & WaterRecommended for most travellers
Hepatitis BBlood & Body FluidsRecommended for travellers
to most regions.
TyphoidFood & WaterRecommended for travellers
to most regions.
Yellow FeverMosquitoRequired if travelling from a country where yellow fever is present.
RabiesThe Saliva of Infected AnimalsModerate risk country. Vaccines are recommended for certain travellers based on destination, activities and length of stay.
PolioFood & WaterWhile there is no active polio transmission in Madagascar, it is vulnerable for outbreaks. Considered a routine vaccination for most travel itineraries. Single adult booster recommended.

Health care

Much of the healthcare in Madagascar is robust, with several hospitals and health care centres spread throughout
the country. However, services are sometimes lacking, and whilst basic healthcare is free, hospitals are often woefully
under staffed. Health insurance is strongly recommended; it should include cover for emergency repatriation. Private
healthcare is also available. Pharmacies are thin on the ground so visitors should stock up and pack plenty of
medication for stomach upsets as effective remedies in the country will be limited. There is no emergency ambulance
service on the island, although a private air ambulance service is available. The emergency number for police is 17.

Food safety

Visitors should not drink the tap water in Madagascar. Water quality country-wide is likely to be contaminated so
water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should be sterilised or boiled first. Milk is unpasteurised and so
the widely-available powdered or tinned milk is advised. Dairy products are also best avoided. Vegetables should be
cooked and fruit peeled. Check all food is well-cooked, especially meat and fish.

Safety

Crime
Robberies, theft and street crime occur frequently in towns and cities, in nature reserves and on beaches. Carjacking and theft from cars has become more frequent. Passengers in bush taxis have been robbed.

Be vigilant in the capital Antananarivo, particularly in markets and busy areas and especially vigilant at night. Don’t touch any suspect packages.

Never leave your bags unattended. Keep large amounts of money and valuable items including jewellery, cameras, computers and phones out of sight when walking outside. Use a hotel safe whenever possible to safeguard these items. Avoid walking alone in city centres after dark alone and be vigilant at all times. Foreigners are preferred targets for pickpockets and muggers. You should be vigilant when travelling around the city.

Beware of pickpockets in crowded areas like street markets and airports. You should carry your passport with you, but keep it concealed and secure. Leave copies of your travel documents, especially passports and flight tickets, in a safe place (e.g. hotel safe) and further copies with friends or family in the UK.

Be alert to the possibility of acts of disorder by security personnel and avoid any actions that might antagonise them (eg taking photographs). If you’re stopped by the police, show respect and stay calm. Ask for ID as there have been reports of individuals falsely claiming to be police.

If you’re attacked, don’t resist. Stay calm and consider handing over a small sum of money. Report the incident to the police and take a copy of the police report.

Useful phone numbers

  • Police: 17 or 117 from a mobile phone (emergencies).
  • Fire Brigade: 18 or 118 from a mobile phone.
  • Gendarmerie: 19 or 119 from a mobile phone.

Local Laws and Customs

In many parts of Madagascar, aspects of daily life are regulated by taboos, known as ‘fady’. These vary from one region to another. Fady can range from forbidden foods to restrictions on clothing. Some areas subject to fady may be forbidden to foreigners. If you intend to visit remote areas, seek advice either locally or from your tour operator and respect local fady to avoid causing offence.

If you plan a longer stay in a village, ask to pay your respects to the head of Fokontany (administrative subdivision), the head of the village or ‘Ray aman-dreny’ (wise man).

Due to random police checks, you should carry your passport with you at all times. Always keep a photocopy of your passport, visa and insurance details somewhere safe, and leave further copies with family or friends in the UK.

Drug smuggling is a serious offence. Punishments can be severe.

Although homosexuality is not prohibited by law, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. 

Paying for sex is punishable by 5 to 10 years imprisonment and / or a fine of €1,500 to €7,000. The campaign against sexual abuse of under age children (under 18 years) is strictly enforced with particular regard to foreign tourists. Identity cards of women are often faked.

The import and export of foodstuffs (including fruit), protected plants and animal products without prior permission is illegal. Removing protected plants (especially rosewood) and animals and animal products is illegal.

When leaving you may take the following, after declaring to Customs:

  • Up to a maximum of 2kg of vanilla
  • Jewellery: for residents, max 250g (hallmarked); for non-residents, max 1kg subject to presentation of currency exchange receipts
  • Up to 400,000 Ariary
  • Up to 1kg of pepper or cloves
  • Some other plant and animal products, gold and currency may be exported if permission is obtained

Climate

Current Weather Forecasts

Antananarivo
Sunday
main-weather-icon
76°
few clouds
clouds-icon
Clouds20%
humidity-icon
Humidity38%
wind-icon
Wind12mph
Mon
Min51°
Max80°
Tue
Min51°
Max77°
Wed
Min51°
Max71°
Thu
Min49°
Max76°
Toliara
Sunday
main-weather-icon
84°
clear sky
clouds-icon
Clouds0%
humidity-icon
Humidity53%
wind-icon
Wind12mph
Mon
Min71°
Max85°
Tue
Min71°
Max84°
Wed
Min72°
Max84°
Thu
Min71°
Max84°
Morondava
Sunday
main-weather-icon
83°
scattered clouds
clouds-icon
Clouds44%
humidity-icon
Humidity64%
wind-icon
Wind14mph
Mon
Min74°
Max83°
Tue
Min75°
Max83°
Wed
Min75°
Max83°
Thu
Min75°
Max83°

The best time to visit Madagascar depends on what you want to do and see. The country is green and fresh after the rain that falls between January and March, with lemurs and reptiles active and easy to spot. While there are some heavy downpours from April to June, these are interspersed with sunshine, while July and August are cool and dry, making this an ideal time for exploring.

The whales arrive on Île Sainte-Marie in July and remain until the end of September. Between September and November the weather is particularly lovely, remaining fine and warm. This is also when jacarandas are in flower and many lemurs have young. While December is hot, lemurs, reptiles and tenrecs are active, which makes for good wildlife viewing.y-Month

Visiting Maadagascar in January to March

January to March is cyclone season, so we would advise against travelling to Madagascar during this time.

Visiting Madagascar in April to June

Heavy downpours can still be expected in April, May and June, but between these showers the sun will usually shine. Following the rainy season the landscape is lush and green, with wildlife such as lemurs and reptiles often making an appearance.

Visiting Madagascar in July & August

This is a good time to try spotting humpback whales as they begin to arrive in Île Sainte-Marie. The weather is cool and dry, making this a comfortable time to explore.

Events & Festivals
  • Spot humpback whales (July to September): Humpback whales migrate from the Antarctic at this time of year to calve, making for unforgettable sightings from the shore or on a boat expedition around the island of Île Sainte-Marie.
Visiting Madagascar in September

The weather is fine and warm. Humpback whales can still be seen in Île Sainte-Marie until the end of the month, while lemurs begin to give birth to young.

Events & Festivals
  • Spot humpback whales (July to September): Humpback whales migrate from the Antarctic at this time of year to calve, making for unforgettable sightings from the shore or on a boat expedition around the island of Île Sainte-Marie.
Visiting Madagascar in October

Temperatures begin to increase around the country and jacarandas are in bloom, displaying their vibrant purple flowers.

Events & Festivals
  • See fossa in western Madagascar: Endemic to Madagascar, fossa are cat-like, carnivorous mammals. October and November are a great time to spot them in the deciduous forests of western Madagascar such as Anjajavy Private Nature Reserve.
Visiting Madagascar in November & December

Temperatures continue to increase around the country, although there is a little bit more in the way of rain. Lemurs, reptiles and tenrecs can often be spotted at this time..

Events & Festivals
  • See fossa in western Madagascar: Endemic to Madagascar, fossa are cat-like, carnivorous mammals. October and November are a great time to spot them in the deciduous forests of western Madagascar such as Anjajavy Private Nature Reserve.

Visa requirements

eVisa Madagascar instructions

  • STEP 1: I enter personal information
    • create an account on evisamada.gov.mg in the « Visa Application » tab, then click on « register » by entering my name, personal email address and password.
    • authenticate wit account. A new window « Create a new application » appears. I click on « online application » and fill in my form.
  • STEP 2:
    • confirm my travel dates
    •  choose the duration of my stay, I communicate my date of arrival in Madagascar
  • STEP 3:
    • download my landing permit
    • validate the application and download my disembarkation authorisation which I present at the eVisa counters upon my arrival in Madagascar.

Register for eVisa

APPLICABLE FEES

1 to 15 days16 to 30 days31 to 60 days
 115000 MGA135000 MGA
10 USD37 USD45 USD
10 EUR35 EUR40 EUR

 

Electrical

In Madagascar, the power plug sockets are of type C, D, E, J and K. The standard voltage is 127 / 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

Which power plugs and sockets in Madagascar

  • In Madagascar the power plug sockets are of type C, D, E, J and K. Check out the following pictures.
Power plug sockets type D are used in South AfricaPower plug sockets type C are used in MadagascarPower plug sockets type N are used in South Africa
Type D: This socket has no alternative plugsType C: This socket also works with plug E and FType N: This socket also works with plug C
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