Madagascar travel guide

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Madagascar travel guide

Madagascar is a huge island country located off the southeast coast of Africa. It’s considered one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth and has some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. This Madagascar tour guide has all the essential info you need to know before your trip.

Is Madagascar open for tourists?

Yes, tourists who want to travel Madagascar are welcome to do so. The island nation is a popular destination for travelers thanks to its diverse geography and culture. From the capital city of Antananarivo to the pristine beaches of Nosy Be, there’s something for everyone to enjoy if you are looking to explore Madagascar.

How many days do you need in Madagascar?

If you’re interested in traveling to Madagascar, be sure to check the country’s visa requirements. Many travelers find they need at least six months to obtain a visa, but this time requirement can vary depending on your nationality. Be sure to plan for at least seven days as this African island country is a stunning destination, but it’s also a big place with a lot to see and do.

Is it expensive to visit Madagascar?

Madagascar is a beautiful country that’s been gaining in popularity as a travel destination. But before you pack your bags and head to the island nation, be sure to factor in the cost of travel. It depends on your budget and what you’re looking to do while in Madagascar. A trip to the island can be expensive, but many travelers find that the experiences they have are well worth the price tag. Yes, it can be expensive to visit Madagascar. However, there are a number of ways to cut costs while still enjoying the country. Consider visiting during off-peak seasons or using online travel agencies to find the best deals.

When to go to Madagascar?

April is a great time to visit Madagascar. During the rainy season, it can be quite hot in the jungles, but the beaches will be quiet and the vegetation lush. The temperatures range from 21-24°C (70-75°F) during peak months of June-August. If you’re looking for a bright, warm Madagascar in the spring and fall months, then April to October are your best bet! These months experience a dry, cool season which keeps the island nice and warm all day long. However, if you’re travelling to see wildlife in Madagascar in June-September when the creatures are migrating, November is often recommended as the best time because it’s when the first rains come and bring out an explosion of courting, mating and spawning among amphibians, reptiles, birds and fossa.

Where to go in Madagascar?

The landscapes of Madagascar are mesmerizing, from the lush rainforests to the crazy limestone pinnacles. It’s a land that is sure to take your breath away. Madagascar is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, from the world’s smallest primate, the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, to the iconic and endangered lemurs that call this island nation home. The forests are filled with plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, making it a true wildlife paradise. In addition to the amazing creatures, Madagascar also has stunning beaches, rugged mountains, and unique desert landscapes. From the capital city of Antananarivo to the salt flats of Lac Alaotra, there is something special about Madagascar that makes it an unforgettable destination.

Central Madagascar

Architectural wonders abound in the countryside, from stately rice terraces to bustling provincial towns. Get a glimpse of rural life of the Malagasy people by riding in a horse-drawn buggy, and experience Malagasy customs such as crafts and famadihana ceremonies. Beyond these urban centres lies uninhabited wilderness filled with lemur-rich sanctuaries. Climb up mountains and trek through rainforest in search of elusive animals like the golden bamboo lemur.

Southern Madagascar

Southern Madagascar is home to some of the island’s most compelling attractions. From the gaunt sandstone plateau of Parc National d’Isalo to the towering mountain fastness of Parc National d’Andringitra, you’ll discover stunning landscapes and breathtaking beaches. Elsewhere, you’ll find spiny forests and glorious beaches, surfing and diving in the dry southwest, and the seductive rolling landscapes and scalloped bays wrapping around the port of Fort Dauphin in the far southeast. Despite its many attractions, Southern Madagascar is also one of Madagascar’s poorest regions – a fact that manifests itself in lawlessness on roads and in cattle rustling.

Western Madagascar

Stretching for miles and shrouded in dense forests, western Madagascar is a hidden gem that is sure to surprise anyone who takes the time to explore it. Amidst towering baobabs and rolling farmland, hikers can find all sorts of mysteries waiting to be discovered. In Morondava’s Allée des Baobabs, 300+ baobabs tower above scattered bush and farmland. Some reach heights of 20 metres!

Northeastern Madagascar

The lush forests of Madagascar are a precious natural resource, and have been heavily impacted by human activity. However, pockets of forest remain, protected by UNESCO as part of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana group of World Heritage Sites in Danger. These forests are home to many endangered species, and provide vital environmental resources for the people of Madagascar.

Nosy Be

Ambatolampy is a historic iron-smelting and forging town that still retains its association with metalwork and crafts. Visitors can admire colorful metal toys, baskets, and statues of the Virgin Mary from roadside stalls. Musical instruments are also popular here, with nicely made local violins, banjos, and other instruments available for around 20,000–40,000 AR.

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

The lush forests and orchids of this area are a feast for the senses, with over 110 species of birds living here, seventy-eight species of reptiles and 100+ frog species. This makes it one of the most frog-rich areas on Earth!

Isalo National Park

The landscape here is so wild and scenic that it’s a perfect place to hike. The tarmac highway twists by the cliffs, but there are plenty of hiking trails to follow if you want to explore the area more. The springs and streams flow through forest canyons, making for gorgeous swimming spots. This place is truly a hikers’ paradise!

Tsingy de Bemaraha

Toliara, a former slave port located behind straggling stands of mangroves on the muddy flats of Tuléar Bay, may not be the most photogenic place to visit in Madagascar, but it’s certainly worth a stop if you’re interested in learning more about the country’s turbulent history. The townspeople are often very political and unafraid to speak out against decisions made outside of their town. As you stroll around, keep your eyes open for zebu carts decorated with symbols from popular culture – typically music and film stars.

The best things to see and do in Madagascar

This Madagascar travel guide has all the information you will need for your trip to Madagascar. If you’re in Madagascar and want to see some of the country’s most iconic trees, head to the Avenue of the Baobab. These trees can grow up to 30 meters tall and 11 meters wide, and can live for 1,000 years! If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, consider heading to Nosy Be. This small island is home to white sand beaches and expensive restaurants that erupt each Sunday.

For a unique wildlife experience, check out Lemur Island. Here you can find four species of lemurs that have been rescued from being pets. If they can’t make it on their own in the wild, they stay on Lemur Island as part of their rehabilitation process. Admission is only 12,000 MGA.  Finally, don’t forget to visit the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few places in the world where limestone formations are found.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation, than check out Île Sainte Marie. Located off the eastern coast, this former pirate capital is a funky, relaxed island full of little coves, a pirate graveyard, and delicious seafood. The beaches here aren’t as good as some of the other resorts in Nosy Be, but there’s a beautiful white sand beach in the south of the island that few people visit. It’s also great place to watch whales while on vacation! Round trip flights here cost around 810,000 MGA.

If you’re looking for a perfect spot to explore lemurs, then Ranomafana National Park is the place to be! This park home to twelve different lemur species, as well as many other wildlife. In addition to lemurs, you’ll likely see giraffe beetles and numerous birds. Be sure to hike the trails in both the morning and afternoon/evening so that you can see the majority of the park. However, due to its popularity, there is a daily limit on visitors so it’s best go during low season. Admission costs 22,000 MGA per day and guides cost between 80,000-120,000 MGA.

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, Toliara is the perfect place! The town is home to a large population of expats, who love to enjoy its delicious pizza and stunning beaches. If you’re ever feeling adventurous, be sure to check out the Great Reef – this diving spot offers stunning views of tropical fish and coral reefs. Driving here along the N7 is an unforgettable experience, as you can take in some of Madagascar’s most beautiful nature sights! A dive at Ranomafana National Park costs 180,000 MGA.

Antananarivo, or Tana as it’s called by the locals, is a bustling city with terrible traffic. However, there is a lot of history and culture here that makes it worth visiting for a short period of time. See the lemur park and the Rova (the old palace), get a sense of the international scene in Antananarivo and use it as your launching pad for exploring further parts of Madagascar.

Zebu beef is a popular type of beef in India. It’s a workhorse that you’ll find all over the country, often used as a dowry in weddings. The meat is tough and best cooked in a stew, which is definitely something you should try while you’re here.

If you’re traveling to Madagascar, don’t miss Route Nationale 5 (N5). This road is a potholed-filled expedition through some of the rawest and most pristine areas of the country. It’s also your best chance to see the famous aye-aye lemur (which kind of looks like a possum). A journey through the jungle, over flowing rivers and through small villages is a unique experience in one of the most undeveloped parts of the country. Driving it can be challenging but well worth it.

During the summer months of June and July, thousands of humpback whales leave Antarctica to migrate to Madagascar in search of breeding grounds. In November, these mammals return to their home waters. This means the whale watching here is some of the best in the world. As we were taking the boat to Île Sainte Marie, we saw a couple of whales jump from the water and splash around. It was beautiful to watch their graceful movements in the water. When you’re in town, explore the island on foot – there’s plenty to see and learn. Plus, because so few tourists visit, you’ll have the island all to yourself! Adult humpback whales can grow up to 16 meters (52 feet) and weigh over 30 metric tons (66,000 lbs.) You can also see the less-common Omura whale around Madagascar as well. Tours cost 135,000 MGA.

Mantadia National Park is a beautiful place to visit. It’s located 160 kilometers east of the capital, and spans 155 square kilometers. There are 14 lemur species living here, along with over 115 different bird species and 84 different amphibian species. You’ll see lemurs almost everywhere you go! Admission to the park costs 45,000 MGA and a local guide is required for an additional 60,000-80,000 MGA. If you’re looking for a place to stay overnight in the park, there are several lodges that offer great prices. You can stay at one of these lodges for 57,000 MGA per night.If you’re planning a trip to Mantadia National Park soon, be sure to check their website for more information.

At Lokobe National Park, you’ll find a untouched forest with some amazing wildlife. Black lemurs, panther chameleons, and several endemic birds call this park home. To get to the park, you’ll need to take one of the pirogues (rowboats) from Nosy Be. The trip takes about 20-40 minutes and costs 55,000 MGA. If you’re looking for a true wilderness experience, Lokobe is definitely worth a visit!

Relax on Nosy Mangabe, an island deep inland on the north-eastern edge of Madagascar. This small island is famous for its booming populations of bug-eyed aye-aye lemurs and huge fig trees. In the secluded bays of bright yellow sand, ruffed lemurs and Mantella frogs meet to exchange secrets. The softly lapping waves provide a tranquil backdrop to these charming creatures as they chat and frolic in the shallow water. It’s a stunning landscape tosay the least. Want to visit the beautiful island of Maroantsetra? All you need is a boat, some permits, and your appetite for adventure! Admission is 45,000 MGA.

Ambohimanga is a sacred royal hill located 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the capital. It is the home of the Ambohimanga Queen and her court of fantastical creatures. Visitors can explore the hilltop palace, enjoy stunning views of the city below, and experience traditional Malagasy ceremonies. This was once the home of the country’s kings, and is now the modern country’s first capital. The imposing walled complex contains a wealth of architecture and history, from crumbling fortifications to majestic tombs. The grounds are filled with impressive palaces and burial grounds, as well as crumbling walls that hint at the complex’s former strength. King Andrianampoinimerina launched his now-famous campaigns to reunify the country here from this location in the 18th century following more than seven decades of civil war. Admission is 10,000 MGA and you can get a guide to show you around for free (just be sure to tip them).

Antsirabe is a beautiful city with a rich history. It’s home to some of the best thermal springs in Madagascar, making it a popular healing retreat. Additionally, Antsirabe is a delicious food destination – you can’t go wrong trying out any of the restaurants here!

How to save money when traveling to Madagascar

In order to save money when traveling to Madagascar, you can travel during the off-season when flights are cheaper (October-April). Although this time of year may not be ideal for visiting, your flight is your biggest expense. Visiting during the shoulder season can go a long way to saving money. Use public minibusses when travelling between towns – fares are only 20,000-50,000 MGA.

Be patient when arriving at your destination – but you’ll save a lot of money over hiring a driver and they’re better than the regular bus. Skip car rental and use a driver – drivers in Madagascar are familiar with the driving conditions and many know about the country and landscape too. Avoid hotel restaurants – food at hotels is often double what you would pay in restaurants elsewhere in town, so bring your own food or get a local SIM card which costs 4,000 MGA.

Bring a reusable water bottle – tap water in Madagascar is not safe to drink so avoid using single-use plastic by bringing your own bottle and filter like LifeStraw. You’ll save money, stay safe, and help our environment!

Food and drink in Madagascar

Madagascar’s food culture is built around its national staple, rice. And even ardent rice lovers eventually tire of it. Fortunately, there are a variety of interesting flavors to go with it. The main options for dining out in Madagascar are hotelys (local Malagasy restaurants with simple menus that primarily consist of rice dishes), your hotel dining room, and foreign imports.

Madagascar’s food culture is built around its national staple, rice. Even enthusiastic rice lovers tend to tire of it eventually, but fortunately there are plenty of interesting flavors to accompany it. The main options for eating out in Madagascar are hotelys (local Malagasy restaurants with a simple menu of staple favourites), your hotel dining room, or foreign imports. There are a variety of restaurants to choose from when looking for a delicious and affordable meal. From pizza joints and crêperies to Italian, French, Indian, and Chinese specialist restaurants, street food is often excellent and very cheap. Options might include rice and sauce dishes, brochettes of beef, fish or prawns, roasted or baked plantains, bananas, cassava or sweet potato fritters, stews and vegetable dishes. Madagascar’s two great drink offerings are spiced and flavoured rum in an almost infinite variety of flavors known as rhum arrangé, and THB beer pronounced “Tay-Ash-Bay” (short for Three Horses Beer).

Is Madagascar safe for tourists?

If you’re traveling solo and want to make sure you stay safe, avoid walking around at night in Antananarivo. The roads are terrible and accidents are common, so it’s best to stick to well-lit areas or use a taxi or Uber when you need to get around. The Malagasy people are generally friendly towards tourists but you need to take some precautions when you travel to Madagascar.

Is Madagascar safe to travel alone?

Are you planning on traveling to Madagascar in the near future? If so, be sure to read this article first. Madagascar is a beautiful country, but it’s not without its risks. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the dangers that you may face when traveling to Madagascar alone. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to avoid these dangers. So if you’re thinking about traveling to Madagascar, be sure to read this article first.

Madagascar Tourist Guide Raharisoa Rasoanaivo
Introducing Raharisoa Rasoanaivo, a seasoned and passionate tourist guide hailing from the captivating landscapes of Madagascar. With an intimate knowledge of the island’s rich biodiversity, cultural heritage, and hidden gems, Raharisoa has been crafting unforgettable journeys for explorers from around the globe for over a decade. Their deep-rooted connection to Madagascar’s diverse ecosystems allows for immersive experiences, whether trekking through lush rainforests, encountering unique wildlife, or exploring vibrant local communities. Raharisoa’s infectious enthusiasm and warm hospitality guarantee a journey filled with not only breathtaking sights but also a genuine appreciation for this remarkable island. Trust Raharisoa to transform your adventure into an extraordinary odyssey, leaving you with cherished memories and a profound love for Madagascar.

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Official tourism websites of Madagascar

The official tourism board website(s) of Madagascar:

Unesco World Heritage List in Madagascar

These are the places and monuments in the Unesco World Heritage List in Madagascar:
  • Royal Hill of Ambohimanga

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