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Travel tips for Madagascar: Discover this beautiful island

by Pilar Dujan | August 17, 2023
Travel tips for Madagascar to spot wildlife

Madagascar, the land of lemurs, is a renowned world traveling destination because of its unique, endemic wildlife and stunning beaches. 

Since it has a distinct culture and it’s not a place widely visited, Visagov has put together some travel tips for Madagascar that will make your journey a lot easier. 

Vaccines to travel in Madagascar tips

There are no vaccine requirements for traveling in Madagascar. However, if you have a layover or you’ve visited a country in mainland Africa in the previous 6 months, you will need to get the yellow fever vaccine and show the vaccination certificate.

Other recommended vaccines include: Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Flu, Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), Polio, Shingles, Rabies and Hepatitis A and B.

Another disease to keep in the back of your mind is malaria. Some of the most important travel tips for Madagascar include bringing anti-malaria tablets, avoiding exposing your skin to mosquito bites (especially after dark), always sleeping under a mosquito net and packing the strongest insect repellent you can find.

Madagascar tips about internet connectivity

Free WiFi is available throughout the island, mainly in hotels and restaurants. There are also internet cafés in which you can pay for internet access. They could prove useful in smaller towns and rural areas.

Another option to gain independence is to buy a local SIM card, which can be done easily at the airport or in town. Remember that you will need your passport for the registration even if you buy the SIM card in a shop. The companies that work better are Orange and Airtel.

Since landlines almost don’t work in Madagascar, it’s easy to find people selling data credit for cell phones: they depend on their mobile phones to stay connected.  

If you use up all your data plan, you can recharge it with scratch cards or tele-charging from the phone of the salesperson. 


What is the currency of Madagascar?

The Malagasy Ariary is Madagascar's official currency (MGA) and the only currency accepted in the country. In some hotels or more touristy areas, it may be possible to pay by credit card, although it's always advisable to carry cash. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the airport, at official exchange offices or the country's banks.

You can also withdraw cash from the cash machines of the country's main banks, although there will be a limit and a commission will be applied to each transaction.

Madagascar travel tips: is it necessary to leave tips?

It depends on the situation. For example, tour guides and drivers are usually tipped, as well as hotel porters. A tip is also expected in fancier restaurants. That’s not the case for taxi drivers and local bars. 

Some good travel in Madagascar tips are to break large bills into smaller ones and to keep them separate from the rest of your money. This will make tipping easier. 

Haggling in Madagascar tips

Haggling is part of Malagasy culture, you will have to do it at some point or another. It will come in handy in the busy city markets, but not in places that have set prices (restaurants and souvenir shops, for example). 

What to pack to travel in Madagascar tips

Here’s a list of things that will be useful when traveling in Madagascar:

  • Long-sleeved shirts and pants in light fabrics for trekking. It will keep you safe from mosquito bites in Madagascar’s jungles or national parks. It’s better if they are in neutral colors like green or brown.
  • Binoculars
  • Warm clothes (jackets, gloves, etc.). Nights can get chilly so it’s good to be prepared. 
  • Comfortable and closed hiking shoes.
  • Protection against the sun: sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen (in a sufficient amount for the entire trip). Madagascar tips that you may not have heard are to bring organic sunscreens as the non-organic kinds have a negative impact on the natural environment of the island.
  • Swimsuits 
  • Insect repellent and anti-malaria tablets
  • Rain jacket
  • Universal plug adaptors and portable chargers
  • Flashlight or headlamp, especially for night trekking
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Portable and refillable water bottles
  • Light but not too revealing clothes for the day heat

small waterfall in the jungle

Useful phrases in Malagasy: travel tips for Madagascar

First of all, it’s important to know that the Malagasy are fluent in French so, if you studied it at some point, it could be a good time to refresh your knowledge. However, it’s not necessary or mandatory to speak French in Madagascar (they don’t like French people very much). 

Madagascar travel tips usually recommend learning some phrases in Malagasy to communicate successfully with the locals:

  • Hello: Manao ahoana
  • Goodbye: Veloma
  • Please: Azafady
  • Thank you: Misaotra
  • Yes: Eny
  • No: Tsia
  • Sorry (excuse me): Fisaorana
  • How much is this?: Ahoana ny vola?
  • Toilet: Trano biriky / Trano fivarotana
  • Do you speak English?: Afaka miresaka anglisy ve ianao?
  • Help: Vonjeo
  • I’m lost: Tsy hita maso
  • I don’t understand: Tsy mahay

Madagascar tips for seeing the wild animals

When is the best time to travel to Madagascar?

The climate of Madagascar is subtropical. The best time of year to travel is between April and November, as these correspond to the country's dry season where temperatures range from 22 to 27 degrees. The worst time to travel is during the rainy season. This season is from January to March and apart from the typical rainfall, you may encounter typhoons.

Is it safe to travel to Madagascar?

One of the greatest dangers in Madagascar is the health situation in the country. Small outbreaks of bubonic plague have been detected in some regions and it is an endemic area for malaria and yellow fever. Most of the country's water is not safe to drink, so using it can be a serious health risk. You must always drink bottled water. The water in Madagascar is not potable, so even for brushing your teeth, it is advisable to use bottled water.

Small-scale robberies and theft aimed at tourists are commonplace, but this generally happens at night. It is not advisable to travel after dark when zebu poachers have been known to take advantage of the situation to rob travelers. 

You must be extremely careful when traveling by boat, as there may be a danger of Somali piracy in some areas. These Somali pirates often make routes from the coast of Somalia to the coast of Madagascar and it is possible to find them through the Mozambique channel.

Important travel in Madagascar tips

  • You must always carry your passport when traveling in Madagascar, and ensure your Madagascar visa is attached.
  • Although not compulsory, it is highly recommended to obtain travel and medical insurance. Health services are scarce in the country, so your insurance should have coverage for hospitalization in a nearby country if required.
  • You should certainly avoid drinking liquefied juices, ice cream, or bottled drinks with ice.
  • It is also advisable to avoid eating raw vegetables, salads or fruit without a peel. It is best to peel oranges and the like yourself.
  • Do not eat raw food in street stalls, and whenever possible, eat in restaurants in tourist areas or hotels. Meat should always be eaten in restaurants or hotels, as street stalls do not have refrigerated spaces or sufficient sanitary measures.
  • It would be best if you traveled with an emergency kit, and with any necessary medications as medical supplies are limited within the country.
  • It is common for people to carelessly walk through vehicle lanes, so you should be especially vigilant if driving. In addition to being dangerous, this tends to cause huge traffic jams.
  • If you want to bring a special gift for small village children (instead of just giving them money), they would love a soccer ball! For adults, gifts that can’t be bought in the country are greatly appreciated.