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 occur then. (That said however, it is the time when many cruise ships stop around the country so is by no means without tourists). 

Autumn and Winter are from April to August, while Spring and Summer are from September to March.

Two regions are highly seasonal:

* Central-west: rainy weather and consequently impassable roads, render parts of the West inaccessible from December to early April. In the Menabe region; we now ensure clients complete visits to Tsingy de Bemaraha by late October.

* the far North-east (Masoala and Marojejy National Parks) is really only suitable from end of August to end of November, as well as a short window during April and earlier May. 

The South can be visited year round as it has a semi-arid climate. With a more or less temperate climate, the Central Highlands too, may be visited year round. 



Best seasons for wildlife?

  • Many of the true lemurs have their young between September and November.
  • The breeding season for much of the birdlife, is at its best from the very end of August/beginning September to December.
  • Migrating Humpback whales pass through the coastal waters from July to September. 
  • For 'herps' (reptiles and frogs), try to visit from November to March - the later keen 'herping' fans go during that period, the more they stand to see as critters are in force during hot, wet weather.


Is it easy to get there?

There's no direct flight from the UK to Antananarivo. Air France operates regular flights via Paris CDG; Ethiopian Airlines flies via Addis Ababa to Antananarivo and to Nosy Be; Air Mauritius flies via Mauritius and Kenya Airways operates regular flights via Nairobi. Turkish Airlines operates flights from selected UK airports via Istanbul and Mauritius. There are daily 3-hour flights on SA Airlink between Johannesburg and Antananarivo and once weekly flights between Johannesburg and Nosy Be.  


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; Ile Sainte Marie are home to some excellent lodges which are well-equipped to cater for families. Upscale properties like Anjajavy and Miavana make Madagascar a great destination for the most discerning of travellers who have a taste for something out of the ordinary with a little light adventure.

Click here to explore our range of Madagascar family holidays


Where's the best place to see...


* In the Eastern rainforests. Andasibe-Mantadia and Ranomafana national parks offer excellent lemur-watching opportunities. Andasibe's resident indris never fail to impress, while at Ranomafana highlights include three species of Bamboo lemur.

* In the North, you can visit Ankarana and Lokobe national parks for lemurs confined to far Northwest and the Sambirano Domain.

* In the South, set your sights either on Berenty Reserve or the nearby Ifotaka Community Forest, as well as Zombitse Forest National Park's wonderful transition forest and Isalo nearby. Flagship Southern lemurs include Verreaux's sifakas and Ring-tailed lemurs.

* If you're visiting the West, head to Kirindy Reserve (especially its various nocturnal lemurs), or to Anjajavy Forest Reserve.



* Rainforests: all birding itineraries include visits to the Eastern rainforests of Andasibe-Mantadia and Ranomafana, where one can seek the majority of the island's rainforest-dependent endemics. A 3-night stay at both of these places, is suitable. Some birders add a few nights on at remote Masoala National Park, where certain endemics, such as Helmet vanga, are easier to locate. 

* The dry South-western quarter including Ifaty for its Spiny bush habitat; Zombitse Forest National Park's marvellous transition forest and the dry mountains of Isalo, are also included in all specialist birding trips. 

* Keen birders mostly then tend to complete their itineraries with a visit to Ankarafantsika in the North-west; a wonderful site at which to tick off the island's Western endemics. 


Reptiles and frogs (Herps): Montagne d'Ambre, Masoala National Park and Andasibe-Mantadia National Park are especially highly praised for 'herping' (observing frogs and reptiles).

Montagne d'Ambre is notable for protecting various species of Uroplatus (leaf-tailed) geckos, while Andasibe-Mantadia, Ranomafana and Masoala are home to an impressive variety of Chameleons and Frogs.



Key sites for the island's endemic Baobabs include Kirindy Reserve and the nearby 'Baobab Alley' for the three 'Southern' species (Adansonia za, A. grandidieri and A. rubrostipa); Montagne des Francais for the Suarez baobab (A. suarenzis) and Anjajavy Forest Reserve or Montagne des Francais for the large Northern species A. madagascariensis.  Ask us if you wish to include a stop in your itinerary to see the Critically Endangered Perrier's baobab, found only in a few discreet locations in the the far North. 



Which Madagascar holidays would you pick to recommend for travellers in 2024?

Rainforests, Wildlife, Tsingy & Beach

This sample itinerary takes in a lovely selection of Madagascar’s wildlife hotspots; its dramatic landscapes and a discreetly located beach spot. Explore humid rainforests; limestone pinnacle fields (tsingy) and coral reefs. 

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Madagascar Overland

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. In-between, explore wildlife-rich rainforests and hike in sandstone canyons.

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What would you suggest for honeymooners or travellers looking for something a little bit special for a seaside break after having explored some of the country?

Often-times, honeymooners looking for an unforgettable escape are drawn to the stylish and remote Tsara Komba, in 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 popular options for our honeymoon clients include Eden Lodge and Constance Tsarabanjina).


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