Madagascar travel advice

Trip planning

Madagascar trip planning advice

Laurenne Mansbridge is the director of our supplier Pioneer Expeditions:
"Dont try and see it all. The logistics arent great and its better to base yourself in one region. That way you get to see things properly, rather than just spending your time travelling."
Mark Huggins, from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations:
"If you fly internally with Air Madagascar, be prepared for delays. There are no other airlines, and while flights are rarely cancelled, they dont always leave when they should. Be prepared that everything might not go to plan!"
Laurenne Mansbridge, Pioneer Expeditions:
"It's better to base yourself in one region. That way you get to see things properly rather than just spending your time travelling."
Mark Jacobs, Azafady:
Travel around and have contact with local communities, rather than just staying in a resort - you will actually get a feel for Madagascar.
Hiking

Madagascar hiking advice

Mark Huggins, from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations, shares his Madagascar travel advice:
"The paths are generally good in the national parks, but you need appropriate footwear with a good grip, because if you are looking for wildlife in a forest you have to go off the main path to find it. This can mean walking a couple of hundred metres from the main track; trainers are not good enough, you will end up slipping around."
Choosing an operator

Advice on choosing an operator

Mark Jacobs, from our supplier Azafady:

"Tourism is incredibly important in Madagascar, but it must be sustainable tourism.
That is absolutely essential. There are good tour companies and bad tour companies; in the better ones you travel around and have contact with local communities, rather than just staying in a resort, and you actually get a feel for Madagascar. A great tour gives a good and honest impression of the country, and takes it beyond being just another tourist resort in an exotic place."
Top tip: A local highlight

Top tip: a local highlight

Laurenne Mansbridge, Pioneer Expeditions:
"The Cafe de la Gare in Tana is a really amazing restaurant set in the old railway station. Architecturally its absolutely stunning; its got great food, a lovely ambience and its really good value. Most flights leave at 1am meaning you need to be at the airport for around 10pm so this is a great way to spend your last night. Youll feel like youve been transported back to the 1950s."

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Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Madagascar or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Health & safety in Madagascar

HEALTH

Malaria exists in Madagascar, so check with your GP or travel clinic before travelling and ensure your children are able to take anti-malarial medication before planning your trip. Make sure you are up to date with routine vaccinations such as MMR, polio and tetanus. Visit your GP at least six weeks before travel to obtain any other vaccinations. Never drink the tap water; bottled water is readily available, even in remote areas. Take plenty of sun screen even in cooler temperatures at high altitudes you will burn quickly and kids even faster. Keep children hydrated much of Madagascar is humid, and children will lose fluids rapidly. Dont eat at roadside restaurants and cafes unless they are recommended by your guide. Avoid ice in drinks (unless you are sure it is not from tap water), and bushmeat. Mosquitoes and other biting insects can cause irritation and diseases not just malaria. Always cover up, use mosquito nets or screened rooms where necessary, and use a strong insect repellent. Be sure you or your guide has a first aid kit if travelling to remote areas you could be more than a day's travel from medical supplies. Ensure your travel insurance covers medical evacuation many procedures cannot be carried out in Madagascar and patients will need to travel to obtain adequate medical care. Consult the latest health advice on Madagascar.

Safety

Be aware that beaches are rarely guarded keep a close eye on your children even if they are only paddling.
From time to time there are political demonstrations in Madagascar. This is unlikely to affect anyone outside of Antananarivo, but keep an eye on the FCO website for up to date information about this and any other local conflicts.
There is a risk of crime in Madagascar particularly in cities and town centres at night and thefts are also frequently reported on beaches. Take precautions dont carry valuables or large amounts of cash, and dont leave your belongings unattended on beaches. Avoid leaving bags and valuables on show in parked vehicles.
Do not drive outside towns at night.

Madagascar advice from travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Madagascar travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
Be prepared for anything! We had a ferry crossing that grounded us on a sandbank, put us on a tiny passenger boat and involved a hot dusty walk through a rubbish dump before arriving at a restaurant serving haute cuisine at local prices.
Gill Berry
"Be prepared for things to be unpredictable and not to expect standards in hotels and lodges to be as in the UK". - Jean Maclean

"We found most things to be much better than we expected and enjoyed extremely comfortable accommodation in most of the places we stayed. We would happily recommend our trip to friends, but with the proviso that "Madagascar is not for sissies!" - Amanda Haley

"Tipping (guides, translators, taxi drivers, porters) may form the greater part of the typical day's expenditure. Such is the local economy that the most modest tip will be well received meaning that the stress, if any, is not the cost but simply having local currency in appropriate small denominations. The advice is therefore to keep tipping amounts separately in your back pocket, for use as required." - Maggie Wood
Do some homework first. We hadn't really done any at all, and didn't quite realise how much trekking was involved to see some of the elusive wildlife and that the rainforest is not misnamed.
"Volunteer tip: Get in touch with the other volunteers in your group before you go and see if there are things you need to take that you can share within the group. Have fun! It's a working holiday, but it's an amazing experience and actually being in such a different environment to day to day life in the UK made it the most relaxing holiday I'd ever had". - Alexis Liming

"Take waterproof bags to put all your clothes and equipment into for canoe trips. Make sure you have a good torch as electricity supplies in hotels are unpredictable. No need for water purifying tablets as bottled water is available everywhere even in the back of beyond!" - Rosemary Llewellin

"Be tolerant of those begging, but don't give to them. Contributing to the local economy by buying local goods, even if you later give them away they are very, very cheap by our standards helps far more". - Linda Brightwell
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: BMR & MAM] [Air Madagascar: Maarten Visser ] [Local communities: Ryan Albrey] [Hiking advice: NH53] [Choosing an operator: Frontierofficial] [The Cafe de la Gare: travelmag.com] [Man and child in canoe: nomis-simon] [Cart: Frank Vassen] [Review 1 - Gill Berry: Cleo Dane Legge, Frontierofficial] [Review 2 - Ann Monk: Annabel Forde, Frontierofficial]
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