Madagascar holidays: Q&A with the experts
Madagascar holidays: Q&A with the experts
Here at Rainbow Tours, we’re confidently able to assert that we are the UK’s leading specialist tour operator for Madagascar, with a deeper level of involvement and certainly more experience than any other Anglophone tour operator company has. We believe this is down to a few key things; our highly experienced team members know the island inside and out, and we ensure that all of our trips are responsible and conscious, taking care of both the resident people and habitats we facilitate for our guests to explore.
If you’re thinking of planning a visit to the Lost World, we've made that one step easier by giving you the answers to the questions which we are most often asked.
When is the best time to visit Madagascar?
You can visit Madagascar year-round, though we generally do not recommend visiting in February, as this month marks the peak of the rainy season, and traditionally, cyclones can occur. (That said however, it is the time when many cruise ships stop around the country so is by no means without tourists). The Malagasy autumn and winter are from April to August, while spring and summer are from September to March.
Two regions are very seasonal; weather and lack of road access render parts of the West inaccessible from December to early April (Menabe; sections of the Sambirano), and the North-east (Masoala and Marojejy) is really only suitable from late August to mid December, as well as a short window during April and earlier May.
Fosa (Fossa) at night - this species is best sought at Kirindy, from April to late November.
Photographing a Ringtailed lemur at Anja Parc near Ambalavao
Best seasons for wildlife?
- Many of the true lemurs have their young between September and November.
- The magical 'dawn chorus', which signifies the breeding season for much of the birdlife, is at its best from early September to December.
- Migrating whales pass through the coastal waters from June (south-east coast) to October (north-west coast).
- For 'herps' (reptiles and frogs), try to visit from September to December - the later keen 'herp' fans go during that period, the more they stand to see.
Is it easy to get there?
There's no direct flight from the UK to Antananarivo. Air France operates flights via Paris CDG; Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa; Air Mauritius via Mauritius and Kenya Airways flies via Nairobi. There are daily 3-hour flights on SA Airlink between Johannesburg and Antananarivo.
Is Madagascar a good place to take the family?
Yes! Provided the kids are older, absolutely. It can be a wonderful destination for active families who enjoy the outdoors. In particular, the beautiful offshore islands like the Nosy Be archipelago or Ile Sainte Marie are home to some excellent lodges which are well-equipped to cater for families.
Where's the best place to see...
Lemurs: In the eastern rainforests. Andasibe-Mantadia and Ranomafana national parks offer excellent lemur-watching opportunities. In the north, you could visit Ankarana and Lokobe national parks. In the south, set your sights either on Berenty Reserve's dry woods and spiny bush, or nearby Ifotaka Community Forest, as well as Zombitse Forest National Park's wonderful transition forest. If you're visiting the west, head to Anjajavy Protected Area and Kirindy Forest Reserve.
Baobabs: Montagne des Francais and Ankarana in the north; Zombitse or Mikea national parks and Ifaty spiny bush in the south, and Anjajavy or Kirindy and surrounds in the central-west.
Chameleons & reptiles: Montagne d'Ambre, Masoala and Andasibe-Mantadia National Parks are especially good for 'herping' (observing frogs and reptiles). In the west, both Ankarafantsika and Kirindy are very rewarding.
Which Madagascar holidays would you pick to recommend for travellers in 2019?
Here we aim to show you a great spectrum of Madagascar’s wildlife and dramatic landscapes and as can comfortably fit into a two-week trip. The tour takes in a variety of Madagascar’s diverse eco-types, from humid rainforest to seasonally dry woods and limestone pinnacle fields (tsingy).
This route follows the scenic RN7 road journey, which includes some of Madagascar's most rewarding national parks, wildlife hotspots and culturally interesting sites, starting from the high-lying capital city and ending at the arid south-west coast.
What would you suggest for honeymooners or travellers looking for something a little bit special?
Often-times, honeymooners looking for an unforgettable escape are drawn to the stylish and remote Tsara Komba, on the balmy Nosy Be archipelago. An area of beachfront forest has been transformed into a lush tropical garden featuring eight bungalows, perfect for a romantic retreat. (Other very popular options for our honeymoon clients include Anjajavy Le Lodge, Princesse Bora Lodge and Eden Lodge).
Find more inspiration on our social media #ResponsibleRainbow