Country guides Africa
Madagascar Travel Guide
An exciting and unusual tourist destination, Madagascar is frequently described as the eighth continent due to its unique flora, fauna and landscapes. The island, which is the fourth largest in the world, is where bizarre animals and extraordinary plant life evolved independently for centuries. This explains why it is blessed with thousands of endemic species found nowhere else on Earth. The chance to see animals such as aye-ayes, flying foxes, fossas, tenrecs and many different kinds of lemurs and chameleons makes Madagascar a dream destination for nature lovers and the most famous tourist attractions in the country are the incredible natural parks and reserves.
Madagascar is a challenging destination, lacking in basic infrastructure and plagued by poverty and crime, but it richly rewards adventurous visitors. For those who want to experience the beautiful beaches of the country, without the challenges of travel in undeveloped regions, the resort island of Nosy Be, off the northwest coast, is a romantic and safe island paradise offering plenty of activities in the ocean and the rainforest.
Best time to visit Madagascar
Madagascar's climate is subtropical with a rainy season between November and April and heat and humidity all year. The comparatively cool and dry months between May and October are the best time to visit the island.
What to see in Madagascar
-Watch the sunset at the beautiful and ancient Avenue of the Baobabs.
-Visit the Berenty Reserve to get close to some remarkably tame lemurs.
-Enjoy romance, watersports and stunning beaches at Nosy Be.
-See the wildlife of Madagascar at Parc Ivoloina, part zoo and part reserve.
What to do in Madagascar
-Explore the rainforest, volcanic lakes and waterfalls of Amber Mountain National Park.
-Spend some time lounging on the pretty beaches of Antsiranana Bay.
-Take an excursion to The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga to get a taste of the island's history and culture.
-Hike around the UNESCO-listed Ranomafana National Park to see diverse wildlife.
Getting to Madagascar
Most international flights to Madagascar land at Ivato International Airport, situated 11 miles (17km) from the capital, Antananarivo. From this airport it is possible to fly to a number of local destinations.
The Aye-Aye and I: A Rescue Mission in Madagascar by Gerald Durrell.
Listen to local Tsapika and Salegy music.
Madagascar (2005), and Madagascar, A Journey Diary (2010).
Litchel (made from lychees) and taoka gasy (distilled from sugar cane and rice).
Spicy traditional stews and vanilla-flavoured desserts.
What to buy
Finely woven cloths and textiles, silver jewellery and wooden sculptures.
What to pack
Pack plenty of insect repellant as a number of mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, are found in Madagascar.
What's on in Madagascar
Although generally not a travel destination celebrated for its festivals and events, Madagascar has a number of fascinating cultural celebrations, including the Malagasy New Year, Alahamady Be, which takes place annually in March. Visitors also flock to the coast for the annual Whale-Watching Season between July and September.
Did you know?
-Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world.
-There are more than 70 species and sub-species of lemur on the island.
-Madagascar is the world's largest exporter and producer of vanilla.
A final word
A challenging and beautiful destination, Madagascar is ideal for adventurous nature-lovers looking for off-the-grid travel.