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.
Madagascar political map courtesy of www.mapofworld.com
Also known as 'Tana', the Malagasy capital is about 1250 m above sea level in the Central Highlands. With a population of around 2 million people, Tana is the centre of the Merina tribe, who resemble the Malayo-Polynesian component of the first Malagasy settlers. The city is set in a basin surrounded by 12 hills. Much of the surrounding countryside is devoted to rice paddies. The houses of highland towns are typically multistoried brick constructions, often with wooden staircases and balconies, built along narrow, cobbled streets and alleyways. Visit the markets, the Parc de Tsimbazaza zoo, museum, botanical gardens and enjoy the restaurants and night-life.
Ariary (AR) is now the local currency being used in Madagascar, in place of Franc Malgache (FMG). Many people still refer to the Franc Malagasy (FMG) when selling or buying something, as they are used to it, but all payment must be done in Ariary (1 AR = 5 FMG). To check the updated rates, please have a look at the official website of the Central Bank of Madagascar
Credit cards (the most useful credit card is VISA CARD) are only accepted in large hotels, restaurants and some shops, mainly in Antananarivo. In the other big cities, you can get cash from Automatic Cash Machines (ATM) only with VISA CARDS. There's now also an ATM at the airport in Antananarivo. Don't rely on ATM machines only; they are often out of order. Keep some cash in Euro for emergencies.
Travellers Cheques (TC) such as Thomas Cook, American Express etc. are also not recommended, as many banks refuse to accept them. But if you really want to bring Travellers Cheques then bring only TC of EUR 50 or USD 50 face value, and do not forget to also bring the invoice or receipt of where you bought the TC. In some provinces, it may take you up to a few hours to change Travellers Cheques; the rate is also generally higher than when exchanging cash and some banks charge you commission