Destinations

Madagascar

A weirdly wonderful island wilderness where rare creatures and exceptional landscapes reign supreme.

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This will be a fun, fun family trip for us. It's very hard to coordinate your grown children and husband and have everyone on the same page. Luckily for me Jonty was very patient and answered my many, many questions in a professional, timely fashion. He is even helping me find a perfect way to celebrate my son's 30th birthday! Two thumbs up!!

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Madagascar

The world’s fourth-largest island, Madagascar is more like a mini continent. Its remarkable ecosystem supports large numbers of bizarre creatures, and an incredible 80 percent of the critters that call the forests home are endemic – they are not found anywhere else in the world. From lemurs to dancing sifakas and every rainbow-coloured chameleon in between, Madagascar is a wildlife-lover's dream. And then there are the landscapes – eccentric, colourful and full of contrasts, from tropical jungle and parched desert to grassy plateaus and spiny forests. Add a blend of African, Asian and European cultures, and the country becomes one in a million. A Madagascar holiday may cost more than other destinations on the continent, but it’s worth every cent.


Why you'll love it

Madagascar is a destination with a difference (animals really do change colour before your eyes, and the lemurs really do dance!) with an enticing mix of adventure, wildlife and some chill time on the beach. And if Sir David Attenborough says it’s fantastic….


Off the beaten track

Head to Madagascar’s wild and rugged south. You’ll be greeted by spiny forests and iconic baobabs, ring-tailed lemurs and paradisiacal landscapes (and the drive from Fort Dauphin is pretty good too).


Something to think about

You'd need endless amounts of time (and patience) to visit all of Madagascar, so pick a couple of areas and stick to them. Remember that even though areas may appear to be close together, internal transport is a tricky beast – flights have a habit of being delayed and roads are long and bumpy.

When to go

January

Season: Wet

February

Season: Wet

March

Season: Wet

April

Season: Wet

May

Season: Dry

June

Season: Dry

July

Season: Dry

August

Season: Dry

September

Season: Dry

October

Season: Dry

November

Season: Dry

December

Season: Wet

Need to know

Getting there

Madagascar has one primary international airport, Ivato International Airport (TNR) situated in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. The airport is located 16km northwest of the city center and is the main hub for Air Madagascar and airlines arriving from Africa and Europe.

International flights
We would recommend booking your flights online in order to get the best rates. If you need any help or advice please let us know.

Domestic flights and transfers
Connecting between all the locations on your trip may necessitate a variety of modes: light aircraft charters, domestic commercial flights and road transfers. Please review the inclusions and exclusions on your specific trip page for details. If you need help understanding the best flights to book, please let us know.

From the moment that you land in Madagascar you will be greeted and assisted to your onward connections. You will be looked after from that point on until you are transferred back to the airport in time for your departure flight.

Health

Please consult your personal physician and/or a travel clinic preferably 6 weeks prior to your departure. Vaccine requirements vary based on your country of origin and your travel itinerary and your previous vaccination history. It is best to consult with your physician or the CDC website for guidelines.

Important vaccinations to consider and which may either be required or recommended are: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B and Cholera, among others. Please always carry your "International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP)" (or "Yellow Card") with you.

Malaria
We advise that you consult a medical practitioner at least six weeks prior to travel.
Malaria is present in Malawi. We suggest taking malaria prophylactics before, during and after your visit if you are visiting a known malarial region. Please consult a medical professional regarding which prophylactics will be suitable for you.

In addition to the recommendations of your travel clinic or physician, you may also consider the following proactive preventative measures:

● Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Recommended repellents contain 20-35% DEET but it is a very virulent repellent, and should be used cautiously.
● Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants at dawn and dusk.
● Use a mosquito net if your tent or room isn't screened or air-conditioned; and spray insecticide or burn a mosquito coil before going to bed.

If you come down with flu-like symptoms either during or within four to six weeks after your visit to a malaria area, seek a doctor's advice immediately and let him/her know that you have been in a malaria area.

You can also visit www.malaria.org.za for more information.

Yellow Fever
There is no risk of Yellow Fever in Madagascar; however, vaccination is required for travellers who are arriving from, or have transited through, countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission (e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda or elsewhere worldwide). This requirement can change unexpectedly, therefore, we recommend carrying a Yellow Fever card with you at all times.

Insurance
It is a condition of booking that you carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover yourself, as well as any dependents/travelling companions for the duration of your trip. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities:

Compulsory Insurance:
a. Emergency evacuation expenses
b. Medical expenses
c. Repatriation expenses

Recommended Insurance:
a. Cancellation or curtailment of trip
b. Damage/theft/loss of personal luggage, money and goods

Communication
Madagascar country code: +261

Calling overseas from Madagascar:
From a landline dial 00 followed by the country code plus area code and number.
e.g. USA: 00 1 910 795 1048

When calling from a cell phone dial + prefix followed by the country code plus area code and number. e.g. USA: + 1 910 795 1048

Visas

As a general precaution, we recommend you make several copies of your travel-related documents (passport, traveller’s cheques, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets, insurance cover, visas, etc). Leave one set at home, and bring another set with you, and place it in a location separate from your originals.

Nearly all nationalities require a visa for Madagascar. Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel and past the date of expected departure from Madagascar and there must be at least TWO (we recommend four) consecutive blank VISA pages in the passport (not endorsement pages). Please contact a representative in your country who can advise you on how to obtain a visa or visit: http://www.madagascarconsulate.org.za/visa-info/ for more information. Visa Central is also a good resource.

Money
The currency in Madagascar is the Malagasy Ariary (MGA). Although this is the official unit of currency in Madagascar, many of the island’s people still use their old unit; the FMG (Franc Malagasy). This can be a little confusing as prices are often given in FMG, while notes are denominated in Ariary. 5 FMG is equal to 1 Ariary and the exchange rate is approximately US$1 = 3000 Ariary or 15,000FMG.

ATMs are widely available, please check with your bank for charges and advice when using international ATMs. It is advisable to have some cash for smaller shops and for tipping. Please note, Maestro and American Express are seldom accepted, so we recommend using a VISA credit/debit card instead.

IMPORTANT: When bringing foreign currency (e.g. USD, GBP, EUR) into the country, be sure to bring new format with no damage or marks.

What to pack

Climate
Madagascar offers a highly diverse subtropical climate with the rainy season lasting from December to March. The dry season runs from April until October, peak months are July and August. July is the coolest month, with mean monthly temperatures around the island ranging from the low 50s F (low 10s C) to the high 70s F (mid-20s C), and December is the hottest month, with temperatures between the low 60s and mid-80s F (mid 10s and high 20s C). Temperatures generally decrease with elevation, being highest on the northwest coast and lowest on the plateau.

Dress Code
Standard clothing is acceptable in the bigger towns and cities in Madagascar and dependent on the climate. Comfortable beach wear is fine on the coast, just be sure to take sun cream because the sun gets very strong in the summer months.

When on safari, light layers of clothing in neutral safari colours of green, khaki and beige are the best items to bring with you, as well as a warmer jacket or fleece for the colder evenings. A hat is also a must have! Bright and dark colours like yellow, red and purple are discouraged, or sometimes not allowed (on a bush walk) if you are going on safari.

What to Pack
• Layers - long and short sleeve shirts and trousers
• A warm fleece or jumper
• A lightweight waterproof jacket
• Comfortable but sturdy shoes
• Flip-flops
• Swimming costume
• A hat or baseball cap
• Sunglasses
• Sunscreen – a must!
• Toiletries – most camps will provide shampoo, shower gel and soap
• A small torch
• Spare batteries, plug adaptors and charging equipment
• A good pair of Binoculars
• Books or a fully loaded Kindle / iPad for siesta time

Most camps and lodges will have a small medical and first aid kit, but we recommend bringing your own supply of essentials - cough medicine, plasters, vitamins, aspirin and paracetamol, and anything else you use on a regular basis.

Camera Equipment (for the enthusiasts)
• A telephoto lens (200/300mm)
• Flash and fast film (400 ASA) for night photography
• Lots of film (64,100,200,400 ASA) if you’re using an SLR cameras
• Spare memory cards for digital cameras
• Camera cleaning equipment and a good dust proof bag
• Bring spare batteries as although you may recharge your batteries at the camps, charging capacity can be limited

Luggage
Please check with your airlines for the specific luggage restrictions relevant to your flight schedule. Many international airlines have a baggage allowance of 20kgs or more per person and commercial airlines generally permit two (2) pieces of checked luggage per person. The carry-on bag must be of such dimensions and weight as set by the airlines.

Luggage Restrictions on Internal Flights
Light aircraft flight luggage is strictly limited to one SOFT duffle bag and one small carry on. The combined weight must not exceed 20kgs (45lbs), unless otherwise noted in your personal itinerary.

Electricity
In Madagascar the standard voltage is 127 / 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Please note, in Madagascar more than one voltage is being used (127 / 220 V). It can depend on the region, the city or hotel, which voltage you will encounter. You cannot use your appliances if the local voltage exceeds the maximum voltage of your appliances. We recommend bringing a voltage converter.

Gratuities
Gratuities are not compulsory or expected; rather it is an reward for excellent service. If you are pleased with the service you receive, you are more than welcome to tip your guide or the staff. Tipping is usually done at the end of your stay. You may tip the staff individually, give the tip to the manager to distribute or do both. Tips can be made in the local currency, USD, GBP or EUR.

Gratuities suggestions:
Safari Camp lead guide: $10 - $15 per person per day
Transfer drivers (e.g. in cities or between airport and hotel/lodge): $2 per person per transfer
Porter: $1 per bag
Ranger or any “ancillary” guides on ad-hoc basis for a specific activity: $3 - $5 per person per activity
General Camp staff (put in a central box in each camp’s main area): $7 - $10 per person per day
Waitstaff in a city restaurant: 10%-15% (large group may incur automatic service charge, please check)

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