Madagascar is a large Island off the East coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean with an incredible diversity of wildlife and flora of which 80% is endemic to Madagascar. Madagascar’s landscapes, people, beaches and undiscovered areas will delight those with a taste for discovery. A holiday to Madagascar can expose you to mountains, rain forest, dazzling beaches & coral reef surrounded by clear warm waters.

Holiday to Madagascar, Madagascar travel and tourism

Air Madagascar Flight
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Madagascar Essential
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Madagascar General Information

Madagascar Time Zone: GMT + 3

Madagascar Official Languages: Malagasy (which is related to Indonesian) and French. Local dialects are also spoken. English is not widely spoken but increasing in the main tourist areas.

Madagascar Power Supply: Mostly 220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Plugs are generally European round two-pin.

Religion on Madagascar: Just over 50% (+- 52%) follow animist beliefs; just over 40% (+-41%)Christian; the remainder of the population are Muslim.

International Dialling code for Madagascar: +261

Madagascar Currency

The pre-colonial Ariary (MGA; symbol Ar) replaced the Malagasy Franc (MGF) in 2003. Note that the new Ariary is worth five times the FMG amount, and both currencies are shown on the notes.

Notes are in denominations of Ar10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200 and 100.
Coins are in denominations of Ar50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1.
Note: Malagasy Francs are no longer legal tender

Approximate exchange rate (Jan 2009) subject to daily change:

  • €1 = Ar2,600
  • UK£1 = Ar2,800
  • US$ 1 = Ar1,900

We recomend you change some money into Ariary at the airport Bureau de Charge on arrival in Madagascar. NOTE: DO NOT TAKE SOUTH AFRICAN RANDS. Euros are the most widely accepted currncy for exchange.

VISA cards are accepted at some Madagascar hotels - other credit cards including Mastercard are NOT widely accepted in Madagascar.

Madagascar Weather

The Madagascar weather is incredibly varied due to the size and diversity of the Island of Madagascar. Southern Madagascar crosses the tropic of Capricorn leaving most of the country of Madagascar in the Indian ocean equatorial tropic region.

  • Rainy season: November to March.
  • Dry season: April to October
  • Cyclone Season: January to March

The south and west regions are hot and dry.
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

Madagascar enjoys 7 to 8 hours of sunshine daily throughout the year.

Visas and Entry Requirements for Madagascar

All visitors to Madagascar require a passport valid for 9 months after date of entry and visa as well as a return or onward ticket.

Visa’s to Madagascar are also required by all nationals, to obtain a visa you will need:

- Valid passport
- Passport photograph
- Completed application form
- Copy of round-trip ticket or itinerary

Approximate visa cost guide as at Oct 2008: US$ 95 per person or R750 in South Africa

Madagascar visa’s are available on arrival at the International airport in Antananarivo for some nationalities - however it is strongly recommended to obtain a visa prior to this.

Contact your nearest Madagascar embassy for further information before departure.

Click here to find your nearest Madagascar Embassy
Download a visa application form from the Madagascar Consulate site here...

Malagasy consulates in Johannesburg South Africa or Durban South Africa issue one month visas for any passport holder. A valid passport is required.

Madagascar Cuisine

In Madagascar, eating well means eating a lot. Malagasy cooking is based on a large serving of rice with a dressing of sauces, meat, vegetables and spicy seasoning. The people of Madagascar enjoy very hot food and often serve dishes with hot peppers. True to its reputation as the Vanilla Island, many of the country's desserts are flavoured with vanilla. Local restaurants are often referred to as hotely. The choice of beverages is limited.

National specialties:

• Ro (beef and pork marinated in vinegar, water and oil, then cooked with leaves, onion, pickles and other vegetables and seasoned with pimento).
• Ravitoto (meat and leaves cooked together).
• Ramazava (leaves and pieces of beef and pork browned in oil).
• Vary amid ’anana (rice, leaves or herbs, meat and sometimes shrimps), often eaten with kitoza (long slices of smoked, cured or fried meat).

National drinks:

• Malagasy drinks include litchel (an aperitif made from lychees).
• Toaka gasy (distilled from cane sugar and rice).
• Three Horses lager.
• Non-alcoholic drinks include ranon ’apango or rano vda (made from burnt rice) and local mineral waters.

Tipping: Not customary, although waiters expect 10% of the bill

Madagascar History, CUlture and People

Madagascar has a population of approximately 19 million people.

The Madagascans are extremely hospitable and welcoming, although their relaxed attitude to time (public forms of transport, for example, will not generally move until they are full – no matter how long it takes to fill the last seat) may be frustrating.

Dress is casual, except for the very smartest hotel and restaurant functions. Visitors are advised not to wear any military-style clothing; locally it is disapproved of and could lead to detention. Entertaining is done in restaurants and bars, and a good degree of acquaintance is necessary before being invited to a family home. Gifts should be offered if staying at a local village, particularly to the village headman, although monetary contributions will be seen as an insult. Respect should be paid to the many local taboos (fady) – but as these vary from region to region this is not always easy; however, it is clear that advice should be sought before approaching tombs and graves. It remains the practice in some regions (though it is increasingly rare due to the enormous cost) to invite an ancestor to a village celebration, disinterring the body so that the ancestor may attend physically, and later re-interring the body with new shrouds; this traditional observance (known as famadihana) demonstrates the continuing hold of traditional beliefs. Visitors invited to such an occasion should consider it a great honour.

A republic since 1992 it gained Independence from France in 1960 The official languages are Malagasy (which is related to Indonesian) and French. Local dialects are also spoken. English is not widely spoken but increasing in the main areas.