Madagascar

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  • Baobabs
  • Princess Bora
  • Lemurs

Overview

Lying off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, home to a unique ecological environment. The island split off from the ancient landform of Gondwana some 88 million years ago and has since remained an isolated landmass. This has resulted in the spectacular biodiversity for which Madagascar has become known, with an astonishing 90% of its wildlife unique to the island. Similarly, 80% of the island's plant life is found nowhere else in the world. Governed by France until 1960, it has a population of 22 million and a landmass approaching 600,000 square kilometres, so it is relatively sparsely populated and has a rich mix of ethnic groups.  

Due to its unique flora and fauna, Madagascar can offer safari holidays like very few other destinations. Around 10% of its area is designated as a protected natural reserve of some kind. It has 21 national parks with six of these - Andohahela, Andringitra, Marojejy, Masoala, Zahamena and Ranomafana - have been jointly awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. You will not find big game like elephant or lion in Madagascar, but you will find lemurs here and nowhere else. This is a broad family of mammals, from the smallest mouse lemur to larger Indri lemurs. There is also an astonishing variety of amphibians and reptiles, with all sorts of chameleons and geckos, most only found on the island.

Safari tours on Madagascar take place at a different scale to those on mainland Africa. There are no large predators on Madagascar which has meant that the smaller animal inhabitants have been allowed to flourish as well as little danger to humans from the wildlife. Your safari guide can therefore allow you out of the jeep and into the forest to experience the natural world at first hand. This makes it a great destination for families with lots of hands-on activities available to fascinate the children. 

When your safari itinerary is complete, you can enjoy some of the many other charms of this fascinating island. The capital, Antananarivo, is a rich tapestry of paddy fields and buildings from the country's colonial past. With scents of jacaranda rising from Lake Anosy in the city centre, the capital also treats the senses with its cuisine, a mix of local specialities and French influences. Madagascar is a year-round destination with a dry season from April to October and a wet season from December to March. The Christmas period can be especially busy in the most popular tourist areas.

 

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Quick Facts - Madagascar

Travel Seasons

  • Jul - Aug - High Season. Winter means balmy weather during the day and cooler nights. It can be much colder in the highlands. 
  • Apr to Jun, Sep to Dec - Shoulder Season. A great time for travelling with warm weather and fewer tourists. There will be rain about and this can close some of the national parks in November (opening again in June).
  • Jan - Mar - Low Season. Rainy season with the possibilty of cyclones, the east coast is more likely to bear the brunt of bad weather. If you are hardy enough there are some great discounts be had.


General Info

  • Capital city - Antananarivo
  • Currency - Malagasy Ariary
  • Languages - Malagasy, French and English
  • Size - 587 041 sq km – about twice the size of UK
  • Population - 24.89 million


Health and Safety

  • Travel insurance is essential for all international travel. Click below to find out more:



  • The CDC recommends the following vaccinations for Madagascar: hepatitis A and typhoid. Check with your doctor which other vaccinations you might need and make sure your routine vaccinations are all up-to-date.
  • Malaria is a risk so get medical advice on which prophylaxis you should take.
  • It is best to stick to drinking bottled water.


Tourist Information

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Unique ecological environment
  • Endemic fauna and flora
  • Home of the lemur - 60 species
  • Low human population
  • Epic landscapes
  • Amazing baobabs 

Cons

  • Park encroachment
  • Rustic accommodation
  • Can be expensive
  • Road network is bad
  • Busy times of year especially Christmas 

 

Travel Info

Arriving in Madagascar

  • The only way to arrive in Madagascar by air is into Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo. There are taxis to the city centre and most major hire car brands are represented there
  • There are flights from Europe and mainland Africa

Getting Around

  • Madagascar is a huge country with a bad road network so travel times can be long and arduous
  • Planning you route and timings is essential 
  • Internal charter flights can be arranged between all the major safari areas

Visas

  • Visas are required for all other foreign passport holders, check before travel - Madagascar visas >>

 

 

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