Travel to Madagascar
When to visit
April to November offers dry and relatively cool conditions ideal for beach holidays and exploring the national parks. If your timing isn’t dictated by European school holidays, avoid the peak months of July and August. The rainy season of December to March, is also best avoided.
Visas and paperwork
US citizens require a valid passport and visa to enter Madagascar. Single entry tourist visas for stays of up to 90 days can be bought on arrival, or you can obtain an e-visa in advance.
Did You Know?
Did You Know?
At a Glance/Highlights
The verdant volcanic islet of Nosy Be, hemmed in by a series of gorgeous palm-lined beaches, functions as a self-standing holiday destination complete with its own international airport. Activities include snorkeling, whale-watching, wining and dining, hikes to crater lakes, and boat trips to see the habituated black lemurs of Nosy Komba.
If you visit only one national park, make it Andasibe-Mantadia. The main attraction of this accessible park is the presence of Madagascar’s largest lemur, the Critically Endangered indri, a cuddlesome panda lookalike with an unforgettable far-carrying call. Several other lemurs occur here alongside a wealth of endemic birds, frogs, chameleons and orchids.
The capital Antananarivo has been the political hub of Madagascar for more than 400 years. Precolonial edifices include the three-storey Manjakamiadana Palace, constructed over 1839-40, and the hilltop Rova Ambohimanga, an out-of-town UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with palaces and tombs dating back to the 18th century.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tsingy de Bemaraha is the world’s largest ‘stone forest’, a surreal 50-mile-long karstic formation of tall jagged limestone pinnacles and labyrinthine valleys that supports a rich xerophile flora and fauna.
Situated 300 miles east of mainland Africa, Madagascar is a lushly vegetated tropical island whose long Indian Ocean coastline is adorned with picturesque swimming beaches. What sets the so-called Eighth Continent apart, however, is its staggering biodiversity: a tally of 10,000 unique plant and animal species, including more than 100 varieties of lemur, and a similar diversity of endemic chameleons and birds, protected in a network of roughly 50 hiker-friendly national parks.
Serviced by several international carriers, Ivato International Airport (TNR), 10 miles north of Antananarivo, is the main hub for domestic flights and tours. Flights to Nosy Be’s Fascene Airport (NOS) cater mainly to people on package holidays to this popular standalone beach destination.
Health and safety
The risk of contracting Malaria is highest in the rainy season and in low lying areas; nevertheless, is it advisable to take prophylactic drugs wherever and whenever you visit. Crime levels are low, but it pays to be cautious and to avoid walking after dark in the capital Antananarivo. Nocturnal travel in rural areas is inadvisable due to a small but real risk of bandit attacks.