Madagascar General Travel Information

When it comes to the experience of an island holiday, we believe that a Madagascar holiday is one of most unique and exciting adventures you’ll be able to experience. Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the southeast coast of Africa. It’s comprises of the island itself, along with numerous small peripheral islands. It’s an island that boasts a unique biodiversity, with over 90-percent of its wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.

Highlights of an adventure to Madagascar include the Baobab trees, of which seven of the world’s nine species can be found; the 40 different species of lemurs, a primate group found only on the island; and the various national parks and activities that can be experienced there. We pride ourselves in being able to design a Madagascar holiday worth experiencing, and in offering one of the world’s most phenomenal destinations for natural history and nature lovers.

Local Time

Adjust your clock upon arrival at the airport: add 2 hours during summertime and 3 hours during wintertime to GMT. GMT +2 / GMT + 3MT + 3

Entry into Madagascar

The National Tourism Board of Madagascar has announced that NO ENTRY VISA IS REQUIRED for a stay of a maximum of 30 days, until 31st December 2013.

This is valid for all nationalities entering Madagascar. Clients will not have to pre-purchase a visa before departing, and will not have to purchase a visa on arrival to Antananarivo airport.A visa is required to enter the territory of Madagascar for longer then 30 days. You can get a visa at the Consulate of Madagascar in your country, or more easily, upon arrival at the international airport of Madagascar. Please check if your passport is still valid (at least 6 months before expiry date).

With a valid passport and return flight ticket you can easily obtain a visa at the airport of Antananarivo: it costs 57 € per person regardless of nationality. (subject to change). Please note that, to get a visa at the airport, you do not need to bring photographs.  

Customs

In Madagascar it is forbidden to export rough gemstones, protected endemic plants or animals, and valuable cultural monuments or woods. It is possible to get an official export permit for some polished gemstones and some plants, but it may take a few days to get it. So if you want to buy polished ammonites, fossilised wood, solitary games or other similar items, it is highly recommended to ask for export papers or at least an official invoice when you buy it at the handicraft market, to avoid any problem with customs

Departure Taxes

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 payables in cash, in foreign currencies or in Malagasy Ariary MGA at day rate at cash points at these airports.

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

Health & Hygiene

There is a risk of catching Malaria in Madagascar. It is therefore 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.

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 with you.

Tourism in Madagascar is still in its early stage! Do not eat raw vegetables and do not drink unstamped bottles of water. Please remember to protect your head and skin against sun burn: always use sun creams.

Climate

There are only two seasons in Madagascar: Dry season and wet season. Wet season lasts in most areas for 5 months (from December to April). In eastern Madagascar it rains quite often all year long, whereas it rarely rains in western Madagascar.

On the central parts of Madagascar, winter nights are so cold that the temperature may go down to +5°C. It may even go down to around freezing point in Antsirabe. Please bring warm clothes if you travel to Madagascar  between May and September. From November till March, it is hot in southern and western Madagascar. The temperature in the coastal regions is generally higher than that in inland Antananarivo

Communications

Phone:

It is possible to call abroad from any public phone: you just need to buy phone cards from a Telma (Telecom Malagasy) office. Some cities are now covered by the local mobile phone network, and even some small towns like Moramanga and a small island like Tsarabanjina in the north western Madagascar are covered. There are two mobile phone operators in Madagascar: ORANGE (dial 032) and former Madacom, now CELTEL (dial 033).

If you want to bring your own cell phone, be sure to have international roaming turned on so that you can be reached whenever you are in the big cities of Madagascar. It is also a good idea to buy a local SIM card at some shops, supermarkets or the airport. Expect to pay about EUR 5 for a SIM card that includes only a small amount of credit. Communication by phone in Madagascar is quite expensive and the clarity of the telephone lines is sometimes worse than in other countries.

Cybercafé/Internet:

There are a few Cybercafés in each big city in Madagascar. The Paositra Malagasy (Malagasy Post) also 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 which offer ADSL (broadband).

Electricity

In Madagascar, the two-pronged plug and the European standard socket are the most used with a tension of 220 volts (but it may go down to 170 volts in some areas at peak times).

VERY IMPORTANT

Do not forget to bring a torch for nocturnal visits of parks and for any electricity failures.

Clothing

During winter time, warm clothes and windbreakers are recommended, especially in the Highlands, whereas light clothes made of cotton are needed all year long in western Madagascar and during the hot season. You should always bring raincoats when visiting the humid eastern part of Madagascar and its rainforests.

Shoes : 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.

Gratuities & Behaviour

It has become a habit to tip someone who served you but it is not obligatory. Here are some ideas of the gratuities which 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 Ariary.

Beggars.

There are a few beggars in some villages and mainly in the big cities, especially in Antananarivo. If you do not want to give something to them, then neither speak to nor look at them. But if you wish to give something to beggars, buy something to eat or pens or balls and give them only to the children.

Taboo.

In Madagascar, there are different local beliefs and taboos, known as Fady, related mainly to tombs or other revered places. Please respect those sacred places or tombs: your driver or guide will instruct you on how to have the proper respect and on what you should not do during your trip.

The best updated and trustworthy guidebooks on Madagascar are probably the latest editions of the Lonely Planet guidebook and the books by Hillary Bradt.

Languages

The two main languages spoken in Madagascar are French and the native language Malagash

Responsible Travel in Madagascar

We have a developed a list of tips that you can follow when you are travelling around Madagascar. Madagascar is a lovely destination and we aim at preserving this 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 this fabulous place…

  1. Please do not hand out sweets, pens, money etc at will.  This not only encourages begging and aggression from children, but also promotes expectancy well into later life.  If you want to positively give during your holiday, ask us to incorporate a visit to a school during your trip, or to arrange your donations to go to a school or hospital via your hotel.
  2. Purchase handcrafts from the makers in their respective villages if you can, rather than from a large craft shop in town. 
  3. Spread your buying around various stalls, so that your money benefits many families rather than one.
  4. Remove all excess packaging before you arrive.  Recycling & responsible waste disposal is difficult in remote places.
  5. Buy local produce rather than imported goods.
  6. Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artefacts. 
  7. Use fresh water sparingly – it is very precious.
  8. Do not pick flora, remove seashells, or disturb wildlife.
  9. Learn basic phrases from the local language, such as “please”, “thank you”, and “can you help me?”  Travelling with respect earns you respect.
  10. Bargain fairly and with respect for the seller.  Be aware of the economic realities of where you are.

Haggling is the norm in many cultures, but don’t feel upset that as a visitor who potentially earns 100 times a local’s salary, you are expected to pay slightly more than the local price.

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