Madagascar : Travel Information before you go!
226,597 sq mi
A direct flight of approximately 12 hours. 14 to 15 hours with a connection. Antananarivo
is 5,646 mi from London.
Ivato international airport is 7.5 miles away from Antananarivo, the capital city.
With the weakening of government authority and rising unemployment, muggings and robberies are occurring with increasing frequency, not only in urban areas but in nature reserves and on beaches. There have also been increasing numbers of robberies from bus taxi passengers.
During the current political crisis, there have been a number of instances of large-scale looting of shops and stores. The potential for further similar instances remain. You should keep clear of any street disturbances and not leave your bags unattended. You should keep large amounts of money, jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight when walking in town centres. Avoid walking in city centres after dark. You should also take sensible precautions in crowded areas such as street markets and airports, where pick-pocketing is common. Safeguard valuables, important documents and cash. Deposit them in hotel safes, where practicable. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves.
Vehicle theft and theft from cars has become more frequent during recent months.
(Ref. Foreign & Commonwealth Office - Travel Advice)
Malagasy and French are the official languages. English was briefly deemed an official language, but this was disputed, and it was subsequently removed from the list.
Required travel documents for
The embassy issues visas. Bring a passport valid for six months after your return date, an official form from the embassy of Madagascar, a photocopy of your round-trip ticket or an attestation of booking from your travel agency, and 2 ID photos.
It is also possible to get a visa upon entering the territory, at the counter in the Antananarivo airport. Plan a wait between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on how busy it is. There has been continued political unrest in Madagascar since January 2009. The political situation remains fluid and is subject to unexpected change. Check the political situation here.
Most Malagasies are either Christian, Muslim or Buddhist. They also worship their ancestors. A number of prohibitions (fady) govern their daily lives, such as certain foods that should or should not be eaten or types of clothing that can be worn. These fady can vary from region to region, so it's a good idea to become familiar with them before travelling.
The Malagasy Franc was taken out of circulation in 2004 and replaced by the Ariary.
£1 Sterling is equivalent to approximately 3,362 Ariary (as of January 2011) but the rate of the Ariary can change very quickly.
ATM machines are very rare here, but there are some in Tananarive. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and shops but it is best to bring cash and travellers cheques. Make sure you have enough cash before leaving Tananarive, as you will not find any banks outside the cities. Banks are open from Monday to Friday, from 8:00am to 3:00pm.
Internal flights are served by Air Madagascar. The company shuttles between 50 towns and villages, either in a small charter or Boeing plane. Not all the destinations are served with the same frequency. The company gives preference to passengers who flew in from abroad on board their planes.
There are 3 train lines from Antananarivo which service Antsirabe, Toamasina and lake Alaotra. There is 1 line from Fianarantsoa to Manakara.
There is also a ?tourist' train from Antananarivo to Toamasina. You travel in a carriage dating from 1932.
If you want to travel by car there are 3 asphalted roads from Antananarivo, which lead to Mahajanga, Toamasina, and Toliara respectively. The rest of the island has earth-surfaced or sand paths that are often destroyed by trucks. A 4x4 is essential, especially during the rainy season. It is advisable to get a driver. You can rent a car if you are 23 years old and if you have had a driver's license for more than a year.
Taxis are affordable in Madagascar, costing £1-2 within Antananarivo. As a precaution, check the state of the vehicle and the fare before you go out of the cities.
Shared taxis (25-seaters) shuttle between several areas with affordable fares and an average speed of around 30 mph.
The yellow fever vaccine is required if you are making a stop in east Africa. If you are an avid traveller, it's a good idea to get vaccinated against yellow fever so that you will not have to worry about it anymore as it is valid for 10 years. Vaccinations against typhoid fever and hepatitises A and B are recommended, especially if meals and beverages are taken on the markets or in non-tourist restaurants.
Malaria is present all over the country. It is recommended to take savarin pills during and after your visit. In the country, mosquito nets and repellent products are absolutely necessary.
Respect the basic recommendations: drink mineral water, peel your fruit yourself, do not consume ice cubes or squeezed fresh juices, and most importantly, wash your hands frequently.
Voltage of 220 V.
Taxes and tips
On your way out, at Antananarivo airport, a tax of £14 is collected.
For domestic flights, a 12,000 MGF tax (2,523 MGA or £0.8) has to be paid.
To call Madagascar from the UK, dial 00 261 + regional code (Antananarivo 22, Diego Suarez 82, Nosy Be 86, Toamasina 53, Mahajanga 62, Antsirabe 44, Fianarantsoa 75, Tulear 94, Fort-Dauphin 92) + the number you are calling.
To call the UK from Madagascar, dial 00 44 + the number you are calling without the initial 0.