My partner is really keen to go to Madagascar - tell me what’s so special?
Madagascar has truly unique wildlife that you won't find anywhere else in the world, incomparably diverse flora and some landscapes unlike anything you would have seen before. With its fascinating culture, Indian Ocean beaches and colourful coral reefs, we both feel this complex island really is in a class of its own. To give you an idea of places that work well together, browse through our selection of hand-picked Madagascar holiday & tours, or ring us to talk through what'd like to see.
How do we get there?
There are no direct flights to Madagascar from the UK. It is possible to take an Air France flight from selected UK airports via Paris CDG; Ethiopian Airlines fly via Addis Ababa; Air Mauritius flies via Mauritius, and Kenya Airways via Nairobi. SA Airlink has just resumed operating direct flights between Johannesburg and Antananarivo.
Contact our travel specialists for more information as it may be possible to arrange some nights in your stop-over destination if you wish.
How do we travel around the country?
Four-wheel drive vehicles are essential. Air Madagascar offers an extensive network of flights so it is possible to reach the most remote parts of the island in comfort. Do note that Air Madagascar's (now Madagascar Airways/Tsaradia) flight schedules are changed on a fairly regular basis, so our team will do the very best possible to work around sudden or unforeseen changes to your itinerary. Long drives on sometimes poor, rutted roads may be unavoidable if you want to experience the best of the island's contrasts.
If there was one thing I shouldn’t miss, what would you recommend?
That's a hard question to answer for both of us as we each have our personal favourites. Maybe Andasibe-Mantadia National Park as it is the one place visited more than any other in the country for its beautiful rainforests, iconic wildlife and because it is a simple 5 hours drive to the east of the capital.
Is Madagascar safe?
Yes, it’s a very friendly destination although we have been keeping clients out of the central parts of the capital, Antananarivo, for about a decade due to petty theft. Note that tourists driving from Morondava (west coast) up to Tsingy de Bemaraha are accompanied by security personnel in a separate vehicle. We have all spent a lot of time in Madagascar and have felt safe and welcomed.
Can I drink the tap water?
No. Tap water is not safe to drink anywhere in the country. Bottled water is available everywhere though. When buying bottled water, make sure the bottles are sealed when handed to you.
Is English widely spoken?
No. Malagasy is the first language and French is the official business language. English is spoken by guides and by some people in the hospitality industry. It’s handy if you have some basic French.
Should I expect very basic facilities in all Madagascar hotels and lodges?
Not at all - in the last decade a number of excellent boutique hotels and lodges of a high standard, have opened and these receive very favourable reviews from the most discerning of travellers. See our selection of hand-picked Madagascar hotels & lodges, and call us if you would like more information on any of the hotels & lodges that we feature. That said, accommodation at most protected areas and at some urban centres is of the no-frills type and not of the same standard as one may encounter in more developed destinations such as Kenya or South Africa. Please do note if you plan on travelling during the height of peak season (October) that certain lodges and hotels have been known to overbook.
What is the local food like?
It is one of the highlights of any Madagascar trip, according to guide book guru Hilary Bradt. It has elements of Indonesian and European culinary styles and is heavily rice based.
How much of a culture shock is travelling to Madagascar?
It is one of the world’s 12 poorest countries and many westerners are taken aback by the poverty. While vast wilderness areas remain, it is also one of the world’s most environmentally degraded countries and the continued destruction of its forests by fire in particular, is a shock to those who witness it. As is the case elsewhere in the tropics, the 2020-2021 pandemic left the country poorer and due to lack of maintenance, many of the roads are in need of repair.
How can I contribute to the local economy and conservation programmes?
You can ask either of us for information about inspiring local initiatives which you can contribute to during or after your visit. Money for Madagascar is a reputable UK-based charity through which people can give much needed funds to many projects in Madagascar, including reforestation schemes, conservation programmes, orphanages and implementation of water sanitation works in villages. It's a wonderful country and all our clients come back raving about their time there and often want to feel that their trip has made a difference.
Here is an updated list of items which are very much appreciated, if you wish to donate to centres such as Akany Avoko in Antananarivo:
Any school supplies; craft or sewing materials, including embroidery threads; First Aid supplies including medicines such as children’s vitamins and paracetamol syrup (e.g. Calpol); E45 or Sudacrem, as many children have problems with their skin when they first arrive at a centre. Baby clothes and children’s clothing; puzzles, jigsaws and games with minimal language content; balls - especially a football / basket ball and pump; balloons; picture books and educational posters; even unneeded laptops (please supply European 2-pin adaptor).
Anyone returning from Madagascar with surplus Ariary can post this to exemplary charity Money for Madagascar at the following address: MFM, Langthwaite House, Lancaster, LA2 9EB, United Kingdom.
Do I need to get any vaccinations ahead of travel and/or malaria tablets?
There are no compulsory health precautions for travel to Madagascar. However Malaria is present year round so taking prophylactics is essential.
I'm pregnant, can I travel to Madagascar?
As Madagascar is a malarial country, travel is not recommended during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor before travel.
Call us if you'd like to start planning a trip.
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Why Choose Us?
Passionate travel experts
- We've been leading wildlife travel since our first South Africa tours over 25 years ago
- Our Travel Specialists have lived in their specialist area for years
- We work with local guides to immerse you deeper in our diverse range of experiences
Personal & tailor-made
- You'll speak to your own expert who'll share their first-hand knowledge
- We'll make your itinerary seamless with 24/7 emergency contact available
- Your Travel Specialist will listen to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the wildlife you love
Responsible by nature
- We take care to actively contribute to the conservation of environments we visit
- For select countries, we make a charitable donation on your behalf when you make your booking
- We've partnered with conservation experts and NGOs to curate responsible tours