Best Time to go: April to October (dry season / winter).
Best For: Vanilla (Unique product), Island relaxation.
Madagascar is the world`s fourth largest island. Ringed by golden beaches and palm trees, it has an interior that is resplendent in its variety, from grassy plateaus to volcanoes and opaque forests and natural reserves.
Explore the impressive national parks and nature reserves. In Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps are home to a variety of rare and endangered birds and lemurs. Rocky landscapes and limestone uplands are cut into large peaks with a mass of limestone needles.
The main centres are Nossi Bé (also known as Nosy Be), Nossi Lava, Toliara and Ile Ste-Marie. Many offer beautiful white sand beaches and coral reefs. Scuba-diving centres are located on the north and west coasts.
Explore Nossi Bé and its neighbouring islands of Nossi Mitsio, Nossi Radama and Tanikely. Exotic perfume plants such as ylang-ylang, vanilla, lemongrass and patchouli are grown here.
There are also some excellent beaches. Antseranana is a cosmopolitan seaport overlooking a beautiful gulf at the northernmost tip of the island with many lakes, waterfalls and grottoes. There are more fine grottoes at Anjohibe.
For up to date Health & Visa information click here
Capital: Antananarivo (TNR)
Currency: Ariary (MGA) (The Ariary cannot be converted back into other currencies.
Language: Malagasy and French. English is not widely spoken, but may be understood in the tourist areas.
Dialling code from SA: + 261
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +3 hours (1 hour ahead of South Africa)
Side of the Road: Right. South African drivers` licences are recognised in SADC countries (Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe). It is recommended that a letter of verification be obtained from the South African Department of Transport.
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are generally two-pin.
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Milk is unpasteurised.
Health: Medical facilities are very limited. It is advisable to carry basic medical supplies. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended and it should include emergency air evacuation coverage.
Customs: One should neither disrespect fady (taboos) nor try to go around them by using a foreign logic and reasoning. The use of the French “tu” (familiar “you”) does not exist in the Malagasy grammar. Do not use “tu” when addressing somebody. Malagasy do not appreciate demonstrations of anger or irritation. Dress should be conservative, but casual.
Local Offences / Laws: Military style clothing should not be worn. Do not photograph military or police establishments. Identification should be carried at all times.
Travel Tips / Warnings: Few hotels and tourist sites have facilities that are child-friendly or disabled – friendly. Arrangements should be made ahead of time. Check the local political situation before finalising travel plans.
Duty Free: The following goods can be imported into Madagascar without incurring customs duty by persons 21 years of age and over:
• 2 cartons or 20 packs of cigarettes.
• 2L of alcoholic drinks.
Prohibited Imports: Unauthorised firearms and ammunition, and endangered species (unless accompanied by a CITES permit). Plants, fruit and vegetables require a phytosanitary certificate.
Prohibited Exports: Endangered species (unless accompanied by a CITES certificate). You must obtain a certificate/permit to export animals and plants and their products, precious wood and precious stones. Tourists should be aware that many items on sale may have been manufactured illegally and may not be taken out of the country, with or without a permit. For certain goods, there are limits to the quantities you can export from Madagascar. For example, you can export up to 2kg of vanilla or 1kg of precious stones (250g for residents), and 4 different crocodile skin items (bought from certified sellers; the holders must present the purchase receipts and the authorizations signed by the forestry administration)