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MADAGASCAR            Indian Ocean Enquiry Form
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Madagascar Accommodation Page

Madagascar is a land like no other. An island roughly the size of France, Madagascar is home to more than 200,000 known wildlife species, and of these about 150,000 are endemic—meaning they exist nowhere else.  Unique to the island are more than 40 types of lemurs, 99 percent of its frog species, and 36 genera of birds. Madagascar houses 100 percent of the world's lemurs, half of its chameleon species, 6 percent of its frogs, and none of its toads.

Madagascar has evolved into one of the world's most phenomenal destinations for natural history travel. The world's fourth-largest island contains an immense diversity flora and fauna.  Of 12,000 plant species identified here, 10,000 are endemic to the island including seven of the world's nine species of the iconic Baobab tree, some renowned national parks and UNESCO has listed six rainforest parks in Madagascar as World Heritage sites.

Travel through diverse habitats from 5.000 km of coastal line, 220 small islands to Bio-diversity hot spots. Seek out some of the 40 different species of lemurs, a primate group found only on this unique island.  Madagascar is world-famous for its lemurs — these fascinating animals look something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog. They display a range of interesting behaviours from singing like a whale (the indri) to sashaying across the sand like a ballet dancer (the sifaka).  Also, identify many species of chameleons in their wild habitat as well as some of the world's most bizarre creatures on Earth like the nightmarish hissing cockroach, so-called Dracula ants, and the Giraffe-necked weevil.

There is some debate over who first settled Madagascar. Some anthropologists believe Madagascar was first settled 2,000 years ago by Indonesians, not black Africans, and that mainland Africans did not arrive in Madagascar until a later date. Others suggest that the people of Madagascar descended from Indonesians and Africans who mixed before their arrival on the isolated island. Regardless, most experts agree that Madagascar's inhabitants arrived relatively recently (there is no evidence of a stone age in Madagascar and the island was settled around the time Polynesians reached some of the planet's most isolated islands) and that subsequent migrations have brought other groups (like Arabs and Indians) into the mix.  Today there are more than 20 ethnic groups in Madagascar from the Indonesian-looking Merina in the highlands to Arabic Antaimoro on the eastern coast.

WEATHER   Back to top

Madagascar’s climate tends to be hot and subtropical in the coastal regions and colder in the mountains. Rainy season: November to March. Dry season: April to October. The south and west regions are hotter and drier than the east coast.  The East Coast receives the most rain and is hot and humid during the wet season – it is also prone to cyclones between February and March.  Monsoons bring storms and cyclones to the east and north from December to March. The mountains, including Antananarivo, are warm and thundery from November to April and dry, cool and windy the rest of the year.














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Go to our Weather Page for current forecasts and more.

SPORT & ACTIVITIES    Back to top

Whale watching
Scuba Diving
Bird Watching
Tropical forest walks / hiking

GOOD TO KNOW    Back to top

Time:Local time in Madagascar is GMT +3 hours

Electricity:Electrical current is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are generally two-pin.

Language:  Malagasy is the language of Madagascar. Spoken by around 18 million Malagasy people (Malagasy is both the name of the language and the inhabitants of Madagascar).  French is also spoken, but generally only in business or government.  English, when spoken, is found mostly in the tourism sector.

Telephone dialling codes:  The international dialling code for Madagascar is +261. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa).

Currency / Money:  The Malagasy ariary is the official currency of Madagascar. The ariary is only one of two circulating currencies in the world with division units not based on a power of ten, but instead each ariary consists of five iraimbilanja. On January 1, 2005 the ariary replaced the previous currency, the Malagasy franc. One Malagasy franc was valued at 0.2 ariarys (one iraimbilanja). The banknotes show how many francs they are worth, however it has not been done for the coins.  One problem with the ariary is that it cannot be changed back into hard currency and some banks will only accept Euros or US Dollars.  While travellers cheques can be cashed at certain major hotels and most banks, there are still some banks that will not accept them.  ATMs are available in Antananarivo. Most top hotels, stores and restaurants will accept major credit cards, but they have limited use elsewhere.

Note: Please go to our Currency Converter for the latest rates.

Tipping:Tipping is not usual in most restaurants and hotels.  However, in European-style restaurants and hotels tips of 10-15% are expected

Passports & Visas:  Visa are required for travel to Madagascar.  While certain passport nationalities can obtain these upon arrival, it is advisable to apply for a visa before arriving.  Please ensure that your passport is valid for more than 6 months after your departure from Madagascar and that you have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Note:  Entry requirements change, sometimes with little notice.  Please CHECK with your World Wide Travel West Coast consultant regarding updates at the time of making a travel enquiry.

Health Requirements:  The information shown below is general with regard to health requirements.  These do change on a regular basis so check with your World Wide Travel West Coast consultant at the time of making a travel enquiry.

  • Compulsory vaccinations:  Yellow Fever (if coming from an Endemic Country).
  • Recommended vaccinations:  Hepatitis A & Tetanus
  • Precautions:  Malaria Prophylaxis & advisable to drink bottled water

Note:  The information shown below is general with regard to health requirements.  These do change on a regular basis so check with your World Wide Travel West Coast consultant at the time of making a travel enquiry

General:  It is advisable to not photograph military or police establishments.

Money: The official currency is the Malagasy ariary (MGA), which has been reintroduced to replace the Malagasy franc. Coins and notes display both currencies, but newer notes display the ariary more prominently than the franc. One ariary is equal to five francs. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and official bureaux de change, but the ariary cannot be changed back into hard currency. Some banks will only accept US dollars or Euro. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at most banks and in major hotels, but some banks refuse to accept them. ATMs are available in Antananarivo. Most major credit cards are starting to be accepted in top hotels and major travel agencies in the capital and other major towns, but have limited usage elsewhere.
for the latest rates.

Passport/Visa Note: Passports of all visitors must be valid for at least six months. Visas are required by all passport holders and can be issued on arrival, but it is recommended that visitors obtain visas prior to arrival if possible. At least one blank page is needed in passports, reserved for use by the Madagascar Immigration Authorities. Fee for visa obtained on arrival is MGA 28,000.

Language: Malagasy is the official language, but French is used in business and government and is widely spoken in the main cities. A few people involved in the tourism industry might be able to speak some English, but it is not widely spoken.

Do not photograph military or police establishments.

Duty free:
Visitors older than 21 years may bring 500 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 500g tobacco, as well as one bottle of alcohol into the country without incurring import duty. Visitors are allowed to export a maximum of 100g vanilla without cost.


Please visit the Madagascar Accommodation page for a selection of our favourite hotels on the island.

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