Saturday, March 2, 2024
Madagascar Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Madagascar is an island republic in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. Its official name is the Republic of Madagascar, and it was previously known as the Malagasy Republic. The country is made up of Madagascar (the world’s fourth-largest island) plus a number of smaller surrounding islands. Madagascar separated from the Indian peninsula approximately 88 million years ago, following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, allowing native flora and animals to develop in relative isolation. As a result, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot, with over 90% of its fauna found nowhere else on the planet. The encroachment of the fast expanding human population and other environmental challenges are threatening the island’s distinct ecosystems and unique fauna.

The first trace of human foraging in Madagascar goes back to 2000 BC. Austronesian peoples arrived in outrigger canoes from Borneo and settled Madagascar between 350 BC and AD 550. Around the year 1000, Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East Africa joined them. Other tribes continued to settle in Madagascar over time, each leaving a lasting mark on Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is sometimes subdivided into 18 or more sub-groups, the biggest of which being the Merina of the central highlands.

Until the late 18th century, Madagascar was controlled by a jumbled collection of changing social coalitions. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, a succession of Merina nobility unified and governed the majority of the island as the Kingdom of Madagascar. When the island was integrated into the French colonial empire in 1897, the monarchy dissolved, and the country won independence in 1960. Since then, Madagascar’s independent state has gone through four main constitutional eras known as republics. Since 1992, the country has been administered as a constitutional democracy from Antananarivo, its capital. However, during a public revolt in 2009, President Marc Ravalomanana was forced to retire, and presidential power was handed to Andry Rajoelina in March 2009. Constitutional administration was restored in January 2014, when Hery Rajaonarimampianina was elected president following a fair and transparent election in 2013. Madagascar is a member of the United Nations, the International Francophonie Organization, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Madagascar’s population was projected to be slightly more than 22 million in 2012, with 90 percent of the people living on less than $2 a day. Both Malagasy and French are official languages of the country. The majority of the population follows traditional beliefs, Christianity, or a combination of the two. Madagascar’s development strategy includes increased investments in education, health, and private industry, as well as ecotourism and agriculture. These investments resulted in significant economic growth under Ravalomanana, but the gains were not fairly distributed throughout the population, causing conflicts over rising living costs and deteriorating living standards among the poor and certain parts of the middle class. The economy has been damaged by the then-recently ended political crisis as of 2014, and the majority of the Malagasy people continues to live in poverty.

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Madagascar - Info Card




Ariary (MGA)

Time zone



587,041 km2 (226,658 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language

Malagasy - French

Madagascar - Introduction


Despite its closeness to Africa, linguistic and DNA research indicate that Madagascar’s inhabitants originated between 350 BC and 550 AD in Borneo and Polynesia. Later, in 1000 AD, migrants from East Africa crossed the Mozambique Channel, followed by Arabs, Indians, and Chinese immigration. Malagasy culture, as well as their look and dress style, is a fusion of civilizations.

Madagascar is a member of the African Union, but was suspended from membership between 2009 and 2013. Political unrest in Madagascar occurred in 2002 and again between 2009 and 2010, resulting in a drop in tourism, but the situation was addressed to the satisfaction of the international community in 2010 with the adoption of a new constitution and free and fair presidential elections in 2013. For the foreseeable future, any remaining political problems are likely to be addressed calmly with words rather than coups or other extreme measures.


Madagascar separated from India 88 million years ago, and as a consequence of its lengthy isolation, it is home to a vast variety of unique plant and animal species, with over 90% of its animals and 80% of its flora found nowhere else on the world. Some ecologists refer to it as the “eighth continent” because of its uniqueness.

The enormous and ancient baobab trees, the distinctive spiny forests of the south, over 800 kinds of orchids, and the diminishing rain forests are just a few of Madagascar’s approximately 15,000 plant species. Human activity has harmed the ecosystem, especially fires used for agricultural reasons, and about 90% of the island’s natural forest has vanished since people arrived.

The island’s animal life is similarly remarkable, with over 100 kinds of lemurs, almost all of which are rare or endangered. Over 300 species of birds, 260 species of reptiles, and a large variety of amphibians and invertebrates live on the island.

Tropical rainforests may be found on the island’s eastern, or windward side, whereas tropical dry forests, thorn forests, deserts, and xeric shrublands can be found on the western and southern sides, which are in the rain shadow of the central highlands. Because of Madagascar’s historically low population density, the dry deciduous rain forest has fared better than the eastern rainforests or the high central plateau.


Tropical along the coast, temperate inland, and desert in the south, the climate is tropical along the coast, moderate interior, and arid in the south. The southeastern trade winds, which originate in the Indian Ocean anticyclone, a center of high atmospheric pressure that shifts its location over the ocean periodically, dominate the weather. There are two seasons in Madagascar: a hot, rainy season from November to April and a milder, dry season from May to October.

The climate varies greatly depending on height and location in relation to prevailing winds. The east coast has a sub-equatorial climate and the highest rainfall, averaging 3,500 mm (137.8 in) yearly due to its direct exposure to the trade winds. This area is known not just for its hot, humid environment, which is home to tropical fevers, but also for the devastating cyclones that hit during the rainy season, mostly from the Mascarene Islands. The central highlands are noticeably drier and colder due to their height, since rain clouds release most of their moisture east of the island’s highest peaks. Thunderstorms are frequent in the central highlands during the wet season, and lightning is a significant threat.

Between November and April, Antananarivo gets almost all of its average annual rainfall of 1,400mm (55.1 in). The dry season is nice and bright, although a little cold, particularly in the mornings. Frost is uncommon in Antananarivo, although it is frequent at higher altitudes.


The terraced rice fields of Madagascar’s central highlands (left) give way to tropical rainforest along the eastern coast (center), which is flanked by the Indian Ocean’s beaches (right).

Madagascar is the world’s 46th biggest nation and fourth-largest island, covering 592,800 square kilometers (228,900 square miles). The nation is mainly located between 12°S and 26°S latitudes, and 43°E and 51°E longitudes. To the east, the French territory of Réunion and the nation of Mauritius, as well as the state of Comoros and the French territory of Mayotte to the north west, are neighboring islands. Mozambique, to the west, is the closest mainland country.

Around 135 million years ago, the supercontinent Gondwana broke apart, separating the Madagascar–Antarctica–India landmass from the Africa–South America landmass. Around 88 million years ago, Madagascar separated from India, enabling flora and animals on the island to develop in relative isolation. A narrow and steep escarpment spans the length of the island’s eastern shore, holding most of the island’s surviving tropical lowland forest.

A plateau in the middle of the island, to the west of this ridge, rises from 750 to 1,500 meters (2,460 to 4,920 feet) above sea level. These central highlands, which are the most densely populated part of the island and are characterized by terraced, rice-growing valleys lying between grassy hills and patches of the subhumid forests that once covered the highland region, are traditionally the homeland of the Merina people and the location of their historic capital at Antananarivo. The increasingly dry landscape to the west of the hills eventually slopes down to the Mozambique Channel and mangrove swamps along the coast.

The highest peaks in Madagascar are found in three notable highland massifs: Maromokotro 2,876 m (9,436 ft) in the Tsaratanana Massif, Boby Peak 2,658 m (8,720 ft) in the Andringitra Massif, and Tsiafajavona 2,643 m (8,671 ft) in the Ankaratra Massif. To the east, the Canal des Pangalanes is a 600-kilometer-long network of man-made and natural lakes linked by canals constructed by the French slightly inland from the east coast (370 mi).

Dry deciduous woods, prickly forests, deserts, and xeric shrublands may be found on the western and southern sides, which are in the rain shadow of the central highlands. Madagascar’s dry deciduous woods have fared better than the eastern rain forests or the ancient woodlands of the central plateau due to lower human concentrations. The western coast has numerous sheltered ports, but silting is a significant issue caused by material transported by rivers traversing the vast western plains due to high levels of interior erosion.


Madagascar’s population was projected to be 22 million in 2012. In 2009, Madagascar’s yearly population growth rate was about 2.9 percent. From 2.2 million in 1900 to an estimated 22 million in 2012, the population has increased dramatically.

54.5 percent of the population is between the ages of 15 and 64, with 42.5 percent of the population being under the age of 15. The population above the age of 65 accounts for 3% of the overall population. Only two general censuses have been conducted since independence, in 1975 and 1993. The island’s most heavily inhabited areas are the eastern highlands and eastern shore, which contrast sharply with the sparsely populated western plains.

Ethnic groups

Over 90% of Madagascar’s population belongs to the Malagasy ethnic group, which is split into eighteen ethnic sub-groups. According to recent DNA studies, the typical Malagasy person’s genetic composition has about equal parts Southeast Asian and East African genes, but certain groups’ genetics indicate a preponderance of Southeast Asian or East African origins or some Arab, Indian, or European heritage.

The Merina of the central highlands, who make up the biggest Malagasy ethnic sub-group at about 26% of the population, have the strongest Southeast Asian roots, whereas some groups among the coastal peoples (collectively known as côtiers) have comparatively greater East African origins. The Betsimisaraka (14.9 percent) and Tsimihety and Sakalava ethnic sub-groups are the biggest coastal ethnic sub-groups (6 percent each).

Madagascar has Chinese, Indian, and Comorian minorities, as well as a tiny European (mainly French) population. Emigration has decreased these minority groups in the late twentieth century, sometimes in large waves, such as the departure of Comorans in 1976 after anti-Comoran rioting in Mahajanga. Malagasy peoples, on the other hand, have not emigrated in large numbers. Since independence, the number of Europeans has decreased, falling from 68,430 in 1958 to 17,000 three decades later. In the mid-1980s, Madagascar had a population of 25,000 Comorans, 18,000 Indians, and 9,000 Chinese.


Traditional religion, which emphasizes connections between the living and the razana, is practiced by about half of the country’s population (ancestors). The veneration of ancestors has led to the widespread practice of tomb construction, as well as the highlands practice of the famadihana, in which a deceased family member’s remains are exhumed, then rinsed and re-wrapped in fresh silk shrouds, also known as lambas, before being re-interred in the tomb. The famadihana is a time to honor the memory of a cherished ancestor, reuniting with family and community, and enjoying a festive environment. Residents from nearby villages are often invited to the celebration, which usually includes food and rum, as well as a hiragasy troupe or other musical entertainment.

Adherence to fady, taboos that are maintained throughout and beyond the lifespan of the individual who sets them, also demonstrates reverence for ancestors. It is commonly thought that honoring ancestors in this manner allows them to intercede on behalf of the living. Misfortunes, on the other hand, are often ascribed to ancestors whose memories or desires have been forgotten. Zebu sacrifice is a traditional way of appeasing or honoring the ancestors. Furthermore, the Malagasy believe in a creator deity known as Zanahary or Andriamanitra.

Christians make up almost half of the Malagasy population, with Protestants slightly outnumbering Roman Catholics. The first Christian missionaries were brought to the island in 1818 by the London Missionary Society, who constructed churches, translated the Bible into Malagasy, and started to convert people. Queen Ranavalona I began persecuting these converts in 1835 as part of an effort to limit European cultural and political influence on the island. Queen Ranavalona II, her successor, turned the court to Christianity and supported Christian missionary activities in 1869, destroying the sampy (royal gods) as a symbolic rupture with traditional beliefs.

Many Christians now combine their theological views with traditional ancestor-honoring practices. They may, for example, ask a Christian priest to conduct a famadihana reburial or bless their deceased at church before continuing with traditional burial rituals. The Malagasy Council of Churches, which includes Madagascar’s four oldest and most important Christian groups (Roman Catholic, Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, Lutheran, and Anglican), has long been a powerful political force.

Newer religious organizations, such as the Seventh-day Adventists, are quickly expanding in rural regions, establishing intellectual discussion groups, clinics, and churches.

On the island, Islam is also practiced. Arab and Somali Muslim merchants introduced Islam to the island in the Middle Ages, establishing numerous Islamic schools along the island’s eastern shore. The acceptance of Islamic astrology and the use of Arabic writing and foreign phrases expanded throughout the island, but the Islamic faith failed to take root in all but a few southeastern coastal towns. Muslims now make about 7% of Madagascar’s population, with the majority living in the northern regions of Mahajanga and Antsiranana. Sunni Muslims make up the overwhelming majority of Muslims. Malagasy Muslims, Indians, Pakistanis, and Comorians make up the Muslim population. Hinduism was brought to Madagascar more recently via Gujarati immigrants from India’s Saurashtra area in the late 1800s. At home, the majority of Hindus in Madagascar speak Gujarati or Hindi.


Malagasy, an Austronesian language, is spoken by everyone on the island. The term “Malagasy” also refers to the island’s language and inhabitants. Because of the island’s size, there are many dialects. The Merina dialect is the island’s “Official Malagasy” and is spoken in the Antananarivo highlands. The majority of Malagasy, on the other hand, speak Merina across the island. The Malagasy people appreciate and support outsiders’ attempts to learn and speak Malagasy. Malagasy is now the everyday language of 98 percent of Madagascar’s people, and it has been utilized as a language of instruction in certain schools since 1972. Malagasy is more closely linked to languages spoken in maritime Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands than to other African languages as an Austronesian language.

French is Madagascar’s second official language, and most people in parks and other touristic places speak fluent French; knowing a little French can make any trip to Madagascar a lot simpler. Most parks will have at least a few English-speaking guides, since English is becoming more widely spoken. Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese are all spoken to a lesser degree in tourist-friendly regions.

Entry Requirements For Madagascar

Visa & Passport

Upon arriving in Madagascar, visitors from a variety of countries may acquire a tourist visa. The cost of a visa on arrival for a stay of up to 60 days is 45 euros. It costs 60 euros for 90 days. You must provide a return ticket together with the location of your first night’s stay.


Prior to your travel, make sure you have all of your regular immunizations, including polio, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, MMR, and typhoid (check with your doctor). If you are traveling via a country where yellow fever is prevalent, you will be asked to provide evidence of yellow fever vaccine before being admitted to Madagascar.

How To Travel To Madagascar

By plane

Antananarivo (IATA: TNR) and Nosy Be are the two main international airports in Madagascar (IATA: NOS). Air Madagascar (“AirMad”) is Madagascar’s national carrier, with flights to and from Johannesburg, Paris, Marseille, Bangkok, and Guangzhou.

  • AirLink flies to Johannesburg on a daily basis.
  • Flights to and from Europe are available through Paris on Air France or Corsair .
  • Air Austral (French) flies from Paris to Madagascar. Flights often connect in Reunion Island.
  • Air Mauritius. flies to and from Europe.
  • Kenya airways flies to and from Europe and Africa on a regular basis through Nairobi.
  • Air Seychelles from Europe via Mahe.
  • Comores Aviation from Moroni.
  • Turkish airlines from Istanbul

By boat

Toamasina on the east coast and Mauritius through Reunion used to be the sole regular connection. This service has been stopped “until further notice” since December 2014.

How To Travel Around Madagascar

By plane

Given the terrible condition of many roads, Air Madagascar services a number of locations across the country, making it a considerably quicker alternative than driving. Air Madagascar is known for abruptly altering flight schedules and canceling flights.

In the event of a cancellation, the airline will supply you with a hotel and put you on the next available flight; however, avoid scheduling tight connections and confirm your departure schedule the night before.

Passengers arriving in Madagascar on a long-haul trip with Air Madagascar may receive a 25% discount on the company’s internal flights if they phone and ask for it while booking their domestic flights.

By train

As of 2014, it seems that there is no service linking Antananarivo with the rest of Madagascar. For more precise information, go to madarail.

In Madagascar, there are four rail lines:

  • Antananarivo-Ambatondrazaka – You may take the train from Moramanga to Ambatondrazaka via Moramanga.
  • Antananarivo-Antsirabe
  • Fianarantsoa-Manakara three times a week for both directions.
  • Antananarivo-Toamasina: usually twice a week, individuals may travel between Moramanga and Tomasina.

Breakdowns are common owing to inadequate maintenance on the Malagasy railway network, which dates from the colonial period, and a line may be stopped for many weeks.

The train is neither the quickest or most pleasant mode of transportation, but it allows you to take in the breathtaking scenery (particularly on the route between Fianarantsoa and Manakara) and sample the Malagasy fruits and cuisines available at each stop. Crayfish, bananas, cinnamon apples, sambos, zebu sausages, oranges… are all available in season at a low price.

Train travel is inexpensive (first class from Fianarantsoa to Manakara is MGA25,000, or less than €10). You want to pick a 1st class seat; or you want to wake up very early if you want to be sure of getting a 2nd class ticket since it is usually very busy (the train is the sole mode of transportation for many villages) and no reservations are available in 2nd class. Unfortunately, owing to poor track conditions, the train that travels between Manakara and Fianarantsoa has been less dependable recently (early 2007).

You may be able to board a freight train for short journeys. Simply ask the driver, but make sure you exit the train before entering any major cities, since this mode of transportation is not entirely allowed.

By car

The roads in Madagascar are nearly all of a very low slope (with the exception of 2 routes leading out of Tana). During the rainy season, many roads are clogged with potholes and become quagmires. Be aware that traveling by car will almost always take considerably longer than you anticipate. The cost of renting a 4WD vehicle will be greater, but it will still be extremely cost efficient if you are not traveling alone and can divide the rental price among your party members (at least USD70/day/car, revised October 2014). A vehicle rental almost always includes the cost of a driver and his lodging, but double-check before making your reservation; most businesses will not rent a car without a driver, and in many instances, the driver may also serve as your guide and interpreter.

By taxi-brousse

The majority of locals move throughout the nation in this manner. The RN7 from Tana to Toliara, the RN2 from Tana to Tomasina (via Brickaville), and the RN4 from Tana to Mahajanga are the three main modern highways in the nation. Going between those cities takes approximately a day, while traveling between Tana and Taolagnaro, a south-eastern coastal town, takes 3 or 4 days owing to road conditions. Expect a tight journey with no air conditioning. During the dry season, expect dust to be an issue. Traveling by Taxi-Brousse will challenge your patience and sanity, but there is probably no better way to meet and connect with the people and see Madagascar as the Malagasy do.

The cheapest mode of transportation is a taxi-brousse, but don’t expect to depart or arrive on time. Indeed, the drivers wait until their 15-seat tiny buses are completely filled before departing, so a delay of a few hours is never ruled out. However, it enables you to enjoy Madagascar’s beautiful scenery while on the journey. Most national parks and villages are accessible from “Antananarivo,” and vehicles will gladly drop you off on their way to their ultimate destination.

By bicycle

Madagascar is a fantastic location to cycle through, and stopping in tiny towns and villages along the route allows you to get a true feel of the country. Because the roads may be in bad to catastrophic condition, a mountain bike or heavy duty tourer is needed at the very least. The major North-South road on the East coast may become inaccessible during the wet season, perhaps resulting in a two-day trek – through soft sand in one stretch – this is not an easily rideable path. There is usually little to no traffic, which makes driving about a lot of fun. The locals are very welcoming, and you’ll be welcomed in every hamlet by groups of youngsters screaming ‘Vazaha.’

There are little or no amenities for bicycles, so be prepared to sleep in extremely modest guesthouses or camp rough (ask if it is someone’s property and never camp too close to a family cemetery). You will almost certainly be asked to stay at people’s homes. Bring a spare tire, a puncture kit, a chain, a brake/gear cable, a derailleur, and any necessary equipment.

Destinations in Madagascar

Regions in Madagascar

Province of Antananarivo (Antananarivo, Antsirabe)
Many tourists arrive at the capital, which serves as a hub for both domestic airline and land transportation routes. Tiny villages renowned for their artisan workshops, as well as small reserves with lemurs, may be found outside of the city.

Province of Antsiranana (Antsiranana, Masoala National Park, Nosy Be)
This area, which includes the gorgeous tropical island of Nosy Be and its neighboring sub-islands, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, with luxury resorts and pristine beaches.

Fianarantsoa Province (Fianarantsoa, Ambositra, Ambalavao, Andringitra National Park, Ranomafana National Park) is located south of the city and is accessible through the RN7 highway.

Province of Mahajanga (Mahajanga, Tsingy de Bemaraha Reserve)
Mahajanga is home to beautiful wetlands and a few secret resorts only accessible by private aircraft or boat.

Toamasina Province (Toamasina, Vatomandry, Ile aux Nattes, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park) is home to the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, which is home to the Indri lemurs, as well as other lesser-known locations along the eastern coast.

Toliara Province (Toliara, Anakao, Isalo National Park) The spiny forest covers the southern half of the nation, with hot and dry temperatures creating a harsh habitat that is home to a diverse range of lemurs, reptiles, birds, and insects.

Cities in Madagascar

  • Antananarivo – the capital and usually called Tana by locals.
  • Ambalavao
  • Ambositra
  • Antsirabe
  • Fianarantsoa
  • Ihosy
  • Morondava
  • Taolagnaro (also commonly known as Fort Dauphin)
  • Toliara (also commonly known as Tulear)

Other destinations in Madagascar

  • Anakao
  • Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
  • Andringitra National Park
  • Ile aux Nattes
  • Isalo National Park
  • Masoala National Park
  • Nosy Be
  • Ranomafana National Park
  • Tsingy de Bemaraha Reserve

Things To See in Madagascar

Tsingy de Bemaraha is Madagascar’s biggest reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (152,000 hectares). The intriguing elevated limestone plateau is adorned with the “Tsingy,” also known as the Labyrinth of Stone, a fragile, chaotic, razor-sharp assemblage of pinnacles. Brown lemurs, a diversity of bird life, and the uncommon all-white Decken’s sifaka may all be found in deciduous forest areas. Aloes, orchids, many pachypodium, and baobabs are among the diverse flora. Over 50 bird species, seven lemur species (including the all-white Deckens sifaka), and the uncommon stump-tailed chameleon all live in the deciduous forest (Brookesia perarmata). Bemaraha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where entry is limited and the places you are permitted to see change from time to time. It’s around 180 kilometers north of Morondava.

The Avenue of the Baobabs is a spectacular grove of massive baobab trees. It is one of the most frequented attractions in the Menabe Region, located 45 minutes north of Morondava on Madagascar’s west coast. This unusual grove of more than a dozen trees is a contender for one of Africa’s Seven Wonders, and efforts are underway to preserve it. Some of the trees, such as Adansonia grandidieri, are over 800 years old and grow to be 30 meters tall. It’s a photographer’s dream, and it’s particularly lovely at sunset.

Things To Do in Madagascar

Most people visiting Madagascar do so for the wildlife, and there are a number of national parks and private reserves scattered throughout the country. Some are easier to reach than others – the dual Andasibe-Mantadia National Park area is just a few hours from the capital via a paved road, while other parks require days of driving and trekking to explore.

Scuba diving and snorkeling is exceptional in Nosy Be, and is also possible in other areas like Toliara. Be aware that the nearest hyperbaric chamber lies across the Mozambique Channel, and that outside of Nosy Be scuba equipment may not be up to expected standards, so exercise caution and be careful to minimize risks when diving. The condition of corals varies from pristine at Nosy Tanikely to completely destroyed elsewhere, and depending on time of year the visibility may exceed thirty metres, or may be reduced to zero by the outflow from rivers, which, due erosion caused by deforestation, can turn the ocean brown. In the far north near Diego kitesurfing and windsurfing are exceptional between April and November when a constant 30 knot wind makes the area one of the best surfing spots in the southern hemisphere. Kayaking and deep sea fishing are always rewarding water activities.

The UNESCO World Heritage site Rainforests of the Atsinanana is made up of six national parks along the eastern coast of Madagascar; Marojejy National Park, Masoala National Park, Zahamena National Park, Ranomafana National Park, Andringitra National Park and Andohahela National Park.

Food & Drinks in Madagascar

Food in Madagascar

Eating in a “hotely” is the cheapest method to acquire a meal. A plate of rice, laoka (a side dish served with rice in Madagascar) such as chicken, beans, or pig, and rice water costs approximately MGA1300. A small glass of handmade yoghurt is available for an additional MGA200.

Bananas (of which there are hundreds) and rice cakes (Malagasy ‘bread’) are ubiquitous’street food.’ Coffee is delicious, and it’s typically prepared by the cup and served with sweetened condensed milk.

At the bigger towns, steak-frites is offered in restaurants.

Supermarkets – Tana is home to the Jumbo Score supermarket chain. Although this Western-style store is well-stocked, the high costs reflect the need of importing almost everything. There are a lot of Casino (a French supermarket) branded items, but there’s also a lot of local food (veg, spices etc., far cheaper from any the street markets). Shoprite is a somewhat less expensive, though often smaller, option.

Drinks in Madagascar

Because there is no safe tap water, bring bottled water, which is generally readily available. The only other choice is ranon’apango, or rice water (RAN-oo-na-PANG-oo) (water used to cook rice, which will therefore have been boiled). When visiting remote regions, it’s very essential to prepare beforehand. It’s a good idea to bring some chlorine pills with you in case the local water is unfit to drink.

Roadside drink stalls, shops, and taverns abound throughout cities. Most offer bottled water, Fanta, Coca-Cola, and Madagascar’s Three Horses Beer, among other beverages (“THB”). You may also sample the bubblegum-flavored ‘Bonbon Anglais,’ which is similar to Inka Cola from South America, but it may be marketed as ‘limonade,’ leading you to believe it is lemonade.

Many flavors of home-brewed rum and crème de coco are also available.

Money & Shopping in Madagascar


The Malagasy ariary (MGA) is the local currency, which is split into 5 iraimbilanja and is one of only two non-decimal currencies in the world (the other is the Mauritanian ouguiya). €1 Equaled MGA3,327 in September 2014, and the exchange rate has been quite steady for a few years.

Outside of Antananrivo and Nosy Be, credit cards are not commonly accepted, and Visa is sometimes the only card accepted when paying with a credit card. Prices for hotels and other travel-related services will often be offered in euros, but plan to pay in the local currency. You may use a Visa or Visa Electron card to withdraw money from ATMs in the cities. MasterCard may be used at the BNI bank’s ATMs.


In comparison to Europe or abroad, Madagascar’s vanilla and other spices are inexpensive, and the quality (particularly vanilla) is excellent. (In Mada, vanilla costs approximately €2 for ten pods, compared to €15 in France.)


Tipping is a source of considerable debate in Madagascar, and it’s made even more complicated by the fact that expectations vary depending on whether the client is a foreigner or a native. In restaurants and bars, a tip of ten percent of the entire bill is recommended, although be warned that locals will often leave much less. Consider tipping $1 per bag if someone assists you with your luggage. In taxis, just rounding up the fare is adequate. Tipping the equivalent of $10-$13 per day if you have a private car with a driver is regarded very generous, while $5-$10 per day is typical for basic service.

A reasonable gratuity for a park guide is $7-$10 per day. Because hotel room cleaners aren’t often paid, try putting a little cash in the room before you check out (many hotels will have a tip box in the lobby that can also be used to tip the entire staff). When deciding how much to tip, keep in mind that even a doctor or university professor may earn less than 200,000 Ar a month, and that in remote regions, your tip may set expectations for others who follow you, some of whom may be researchers or relief workers with little money.

Accommodation & Hotels in Madagascar

The quality of lodging varies significantly throughout the nation, from bug-infested beds in dorm rooms to five-star luxury resorts. The majority of establishments will offer hotel rates per room, but several premium resorts may quote pricing per person. Nearly all of the more expensive lodgings offer insect nets and private toilets, but lower-quality places may require you to provide your own bug net and bedding.

Traditions & Customs in Madagascar

Everyday life in Madagascar is governed by a variety of fady (taboos) that differ by area. They may prohibit certain foods (pork, lemurs, turtles, etc. ), the wearing of certain colors, and swimming in a river or lake. The practice of “Fady” is mainly confined to rural regions, since visitors who stay in major cities are unlikely to experience this issue. There are Fadys in locations like Antananarivo, but the majority of Vazaha are exempt.

Fady are ascribed to ancestors, to whom Malagasy, regardless of their faith, show reverence. Even if you don’t agree with the restrictions, it’s best to follow them and not break them. When you first arrive in a new location, learn about the local customs.

Use the term “tompoko (toom-pook)” in the same manner you would “Sir” or “Ma’am” in English when addressing someone older than you or in a position of authority (e.g. police, military, customs officials). In Madagascar, respect for elders and authoritative figures is essential.

Never photograph a grave without first obtaining permission. Before taking pictures, always get permission. In addition, if you have business in a distant village or hamlet, it is fomba or custom that you first meet with the local chief. If you have job to accomplish there, meeting this individual may save you a lot of time.

Culture Of Madagascar

Each of Madagascar’s numerous ethnic sub-groups has its own set of beliefs, customs, and lifestyles that have historically contributed to their distinct identities. However, there are a number of cultural characteristics that are shared throughout the island, resulting in a strong Malagasy cultural identity. Traditional Malagasy values emphasize fihavanana (solidarity), vintana (destiny), tody (karma), and hasina, a sacred life force that traditional communities believe imbues and therefore legitimizes authority figures within the community or fa. Male circumcision, strong family connections, a widespread belief in the power of magic, diviners, astrology, and witch doctors, and a historic separation of social classes into aristocrats, commoners, and slaves are all cultural features present across the island.

Despite the fact that social castes are no longer legally recognized, ancestral caste membership has a significant impact on social status, economic opportunities, and communal responsibilities. According to an ancient astrological system established by Arabs, Malagasy people consult Mpanandro (“Makers of the Days”) to choose the most auspicious days for major occasions such as marriages or famadihana. Similarly, the ombiasy (from olona-be-hasina, “man of great virtue”) of the southeastern Antemoro ethnic group, who trace their lineage back to early Arab immigrants, were often employed by the nobility of numerous Malagasy towns in the pre-colonial era.

The many roots of Malagasy culture may be seen in its physical manifestations. The valiha, Madagascar’s most iconic instrument, is a bamboo tube zither brought to Madagascar by early immigrants from southern Borneo, and is remarkably similar in shape to those seen today in Indonesia and the Philippines. In terms of symbolism and structure, traditional homes in Madagascar are comparable to those in southern Borneo, with a rectangular plan, peaked roof, and central support pillar. Tombs are culturally important in many areas, reflecting a widespread reverence of the ancestors. They are usually constructed of more durable materials, such as stone, and have more ornate ornamentation than living-rooms. Madagascar’s national garment, the woven lamba, has developed into a diverse and sophisticated art form, with silk manufacturing and weaving dating back to the island’s first inhabitants.

Malagasy cuisine reflects the Southeast Asian cultural influence, with rice served at every meal and usually complemented by one of a number of delicious vegetable or meat dishes. The holy significance of zebu cattle and their representation of their owner’s riches, both traditions originating on the African continent, show African influence. Cattle rustling, which began as a rite of passage for young men in Madagascar’s plains areas, where the largest herds of cattle are kept, has evolved into a dangerous and sometimes deadly criminal enterprise as herdsmen in the southwest try to defend their cattle with traditional spears against increasingly armed professional rustlers.


Madagascar has produced a broad range of oral and written literature. Oratory, as represented in hainteny (poetry), kabary (public speech), and ohabolana, is one of the island’s most important creative traditions (proverbs). The Ibonia, an epic poem that exemplifies these traditions, has been passed down through the generations in many versions throughout the island, providing insight into the varied mythologies and beliefs of traditional Malagasy groups. In the twentieth century, artists such as Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, Africa’s first modern poet, and Elie Rajaonarison, an example of the new generation of Malagasy poetry, carried on the tradition. Hundreds of regional musical styles, such as coastal salegy or highland hiragasy, enliven village gatherings, local dance floors, and national radios in Madagascar. Madagascar also has a developing classical music culture, which is promoted through youth academies, groups, and orchestras that encourage young people to participate in classical music.

Plastic arts are also widely practiced on the island. Aside from the silk weaving and lamba manufacturing traditions, raffia and other indigenous plant materials have been woven into a variety of useful products such as floor mats, baskets, wallets, and caps. Wood carving is a well-developed art form, with regional styles seen in the ornamentation of balcony railings and other architectural components. Sculptors make a wide range of furniture and domestic items, as well as aloalo funeral poles and wooden sculptures, many of which are marketed to tourists. The Zafimaniry people of the central highlands’ ornamental and utilitarian woodworking traditions were placed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008.

The Antaimoro people have a long-standing practice of making paper with flowers and other natural elements incorporated in it, which they have started to sell to eco-tourists.

Clothing, as well as tablecloths and other household textiles, are embroidered and drawn thread work by hand and sold at local craft fairs. A small but increasing number of fine art galleries in Antananarivo and other metropolitan areas sell paintings by local artists, while yearly art events like the capital’s Hosotra open-air show contribute to the country’s continued growth of fine arts.

Sport and recreation

In Madagascar, a variety of traditional hobbies have developed. In coastal areas, moraingy, a kind of hand-to-hand fighting, is a popular spectator activity. It has historically been a male-dominated activity, although women have lately started to partake. In several areas, zebu cattle wrestling, known as savika or tolon-omby, is also performed. A broad range of games are played in addition to sports. Fanorona, a board game popular across the Highlands, is one of the most famous. According to mythology, King Andrianjaka’s succession after his father Ralambo was influenced in part by Andrianjaka’s elder brother’s preoccupation with playing fanorona at the expense of his other duties.

Over the last two centuries, Madagascar has been exposed to Western leisure activities. Rugby Union is considered Madagascar’s national sport. Football is also well-liked. In pétanque, a French game comparable to lawn bowling that is extensively played in urban areas and across the Highlands, Madagascar has produced a world champion. Football, track and field, judo, boxing, women’s basketball, and women’s tennis are some of the most popular school sports. Madagascar participated in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1964, and has also competed in the African Games. In Madagascar, scouting is represented by a local federation of three scouting groups. In 2011, 14,905 people were projected to be members.

Antananarivo was awarded the rights to host several of Africa’s top international basketball events, including the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship, the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship for Women, the 2014 FIBA Africa Under-18 Championship, the 2013 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championship, and the 2015 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championship for Women, thanks to its advanced sports facilities.

History Of Madagascar

Early period

Madagascar’s settlement is a topic of continuing study and discussion. Cut markings on bones discovered in the northwest and stone tools discovered in the northeast suggest that foragers visited Madagascar about 2000 BC. Archaeologists have often assumed that the first inhabitants came in consecutive waves between 350 BC and 550 AD, but others are skeptical of dates older than 250 AD. In any event, these dates place Madagascar as one of the world’s last major landmasses to be colonized by humans.

Outrigger boats brought the first immigrants in from southern Borneo. Slash-and-burn agriculture was used by early immigrants to remove the coastal rainforests for crops. The earliest inhabitants came upon Madagascar’s abundant megafauna, which included gigantic lemurs, elephant birds, huge fossa, and the Malagasy hippopotamus, all of which have now gone extinct owing to hunting and habitat degradation. By 600 AD, groups of these early immigrants had started destroying the central highlands’ forests. Between the seventh and ninth century, Arab merchants first arrived on the island. Around 1000 AD, a wave of Bantu-speaking migrants from southeastern Africa arrived. They introduced the zebu, a long-horned humped cow with huge herds that they maintained.

Irrigated paddy fields had been established in the central highland Betsileo Kingdom by 1600, and a century later, terraced paddies had been spread across the adjacent Kingdom of Imerina. By the 17th century, the central highlands had been completely converted from a forest environment to a grassland ecosystem due to increased land cultivation and an ever-increasing need for zebu pasturage. The Merina people, who may have arrived in the central highlands between 600 and 1000 years ago, tell of meeting an established community known as the Vazimba in their oral histories. The Vazimba were assimilated or driven from the highlands by the Merina monarchs Andriamanelo, Ralambo, and Andrianjaka in the 16th and early 17th century. They were probably descendants of an earlier and less technologically sophisticated Austronesian colonization wave. Many traditional Malagasy tribes see the Vazimba spirits as tompontany (ancestral rulers of the land) today.

Arab and European contacts

In the early years after human colonization, Madagascar was an important transoceanic trade center linking Indian Ocean ports. The Arabs established trade stations along Madagascar’s northwest coast by at least the 10th century, bringing Islam, the Arabic script (which was used to transcribe the Malagasy language in a form of writing known as sorabe), Arab astrology, and other cultural aspects with them. The Portuguese sea captain Diogo Dias first saw the island in 1500, and it was the start of European interaction. In the late 17th century, the French built trade stations along the east coast.

Madagascar rose to popularity among pirates and European merchants, especially those engaged in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, between 1774 and 1824. Some historians have suggested Nosy Boroha, a tiny island off Madagascar’s northeastern coast, as the location of the fabled pirate paradise of Libertalia. Many European sailors were shipwrecked off the island’s beaches, including Robert Drury, whose diary is one of the rare documented accounts of life in southern Madagascar during the eighteenth century. The riches produced by marine commerce fueled the development of organized kingdoms on the island, which by the 17th century had become very strong. The Betsimisaraka alliance on the east coast, as well as the Sakalava chiefdoms of Menabe and Boina on the west coast, were among them. The Kingdom of Imerina, based in the central highlands and with its headquarters at Antananarivo’s royal palace, arose about the same period, led by King Andriamanelo.

Kingdom of Madagascar (1540–1897)

The highland kingdom of Imerina was originally a small force in comparison to the bigger coastal kingdoms when it arose in the early 17th century, and it became much weaker in the early 18th century when King Andriamasinavalona split it among his four sons. Imerina was restored in 1793 by King Andrianampoinimerina (1787–1810) after almost a century of warfare and hunger. This Merina monarch quickly extended his authority over surrounding kingdoms, first from Ambohimanga and then from the Rova of Antananarivo. King Radama I (1810–28), his son and successor, succeeded in bringing the whole island under his authority, and was acknowledged by the British administration as King of Madagascar.

In 1817, Radama signed a contract with the British governor of Mauritius to prohibit the profitable slave trade in exchange for military and financial support from the British. The London Missionary Society sent artisan missionary envoys to Madagascar in 1818, including James Cameron, David Jones, and David Griffiths, who established schools, transcribed the Malagasy language into the Roman alphabet, translated the Bible, and introduced a variety of new technologies to the island.

In response to growing political and cultural encroachment by Britain and France, Radama’s successor, Queen Ranavalona I (1828–61), issued a royal decree banning the practice of Christianity in Madagascar and forcing most foreigners to leave the country. Residents of Madagascar might accuse one another of a variety of crimes, including robbery, Christianity, and, most notably, witchcraft, for which the tangena experience was almost always required. Between 1828 and 1861, the tangenaordeal claimed the lives of approximately 3,000 people each year.

Those who remained in Imerina included Jean Laborde, a monarchy-backed industrialist who built munitions and other businesses, and Joseph-François Lambert, a French adventurer and slave trader with whom then-Prince Radama II signed the Lambert Charter, a contentious trading deal. Radama II (1861–63), who succeeded his mother, tried to ease the queen’s strict policies, but was deposed two years later by Prime Minister Rainivoninahitriniony (1852–1865) and an alliance of Andriana (noble) and Hova (commoner) courtiers, who wanted to end the monarch’s total authority.

Following the coup, the courtiers offered Radama’s queen Rasoherina (1863–68) the chance to reign provided she agreed to share power with the Prime Minister—a new social contract that would be sealed by their political marriage. Queen Rasoherina consented, marrying Rainivoninahitriniony first, then deposing him and marrying his brother, Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony (1864–95), who would subsequently marry Queen Ranavalona II (1868–83) and Queen Ranavalona III (1883–97).

Several measures were implemented during Rainilaiarivony’s 31-year term as Prime Minister to modernize and solidify the central government’s authority. Schools were built all across the island, and attendance was made compulsory. British experts were hired to educate and professionalize troops, and army structure was enhanced. Polygamy was abolished, and Christianity, which had been proclaimed the official religion of the court in 1869, was embraced by an increasing number of people alongside traditional beliefs. Three European-style courts were created in the capital city, and legal rules were revised based on British common law. Rainilaiarivony also successfully defended Madagascar against numerous French colonial invasions in his dual capacity as Commander-in-Chief.

French colonisation (1897–1960)

In 1883, France invaded Madagascar in what became known as the first Franco-Hova War, mostly because the Lambert Charter had not been honored. Madagascar gave France the northern port town of Antsiranana (Diego Suarez) and paid 560,000 francs to Lambert’s heirs at the conclusion of the war. The British recognized the complete legal installation of a French protectorate on the island in 1890, but the government of Madagascar refused to recognise French control. In December 1894 and January 1895, the French bombed and seized the harbors of Toamasina on the east coast and Mahajanga on the west coast, respectively, to compel surrender.

After that, a French military flying column marched into Antananarivo, with many soldiers succumbing to malaria and other illnesses. Algeria and Sub-Saharan Africa sent reinforcements. The column attacked the royal palace with heavy artillery when it arrived in September 1895, inflicting severe fatalities and forcing Queen Ranavalona III to surrender. The Merina monarchy was disbanded and the royal family was exiled to Réunion Island and Algeria when France invaded Madagascar in 1896 and proclaimed the island a colony the following year, abolishing the Merina monarchy and sending the royal family to exile to Réunion Island and Algeria. In the aftermath of the French seizure of the royal palace, a two-year resistance movement was successfully put down at the end of 1897.

Plantations were developed during colonial authority to produce a range of export crops. Slavery was abolished in 1896, freeing about 500,000 slaves; many stayed in their former owners’ houses as servants or sharecroppers; strong discriminatory attitudes towards slave descendants are still maintained in many areas of the island today. In Antananarivo’s capital, wide paved boulevards and meeting spaces were built, and the Rova royal complex was converted into a museum. Additional schools were constructed, especially in rural and coastal regions where the Merina’s schools had not yet reached. Between the ages of 6 and 13, education became compulsory, with an emphasis on the French language and practical skills.

The French maintained the Merina royal practice of paying taxes in the form of labor, which was utilized to build a railway and roads connecting important coastal towns to Antananarivo. During World War I, Malagasy soldiers fought for France. In the 1930s, Nazi political theorists devised the Madagascar plan, which identified the island as a possible destination for Europe’s Jews to be deported. The Battle of Madagascar, fought between the Vichy administration and the British, took place on the island during WWII.

The occupation of France during WWII tainted the colonial administration’s reputation in Madagascar, igniting a burgeoning independence movement that culminated in the Malagasy Uprising of 1947. As a result of this campaign, the French established reformed institutions in 1956 under the Loi Cadre (Overseas Reform Act), and Madagascar began its peaceful transition to independence. On October 14, 1958, the Malagasy Republic was established as an independent state inside the French Community. With the ratification of a constitution in 1959 and complete independence on June 26, 1960, a period of temporary administration came to an end.

Independent state (since 1960)

Madagascar has gone through four republics since achieving independence, each with its own constitution modifications. Under the leadership of French-appointed President Philibert Tsiranana, the First Republic (1960–72) was marked by a continuance of strong economic and political relations with France. French expatriates occupied many high-level technical jobs, while French instructors, textbooks, and curriculum were utilized in schools throughout the nation. Tsiranana’s support for this “neocolonial” arrangement sparked a series of farmer and student demonstrations in 1972, which overthrew his government.

In the same year, Gabriel Ramanantsoa, a major general in the army, was named temporary president and prime minister, but he was forced to resign in 1975 due to poor popular support. Colonel Richard Ratsimandrava, his successor, was murdered six days after taking office. After Ratsimandrava, General Gilles Andriamahazo governed for four months before being succeeded by another military appointment, Vice Admiral Didier Ratsiraka, who led the socialist-Marxist Second Republic from 1975 until 1993.

During this time, there was a political alignment with Eastern Bloc countries, as well as a move toward economic isolation. These policies, along with economic constraints brought on by the 1973 oil crisis, led to the fast collapse of Madagascar’s economy and a severe fall in living standards, with the nation declaring bankruptcy in 1979. In return for a bailout of the country’s shattered economy, the Ratsiraka government agreed to the IMF’s, World Bank’s, and other bilateral donors’ requirements of transparency, anti-corruption measures, and free market policies.

Ratsiraka’s waning popularity peaked in the late 1980s, when presidential guards opened fire on unarmed protestors during a demonstration. Within two months, Albert Zafy (1993–96), who went on to win the 1992 presidential elections and inaugurate the Third Republic (1992–2010), had formed a transitional administration. The new Madagascar constitution created a multi-party democracy and a division of powers, giving the National Assembly considerable authority. Human rights, social and political freedoms, and free commerce were also highlighted in the new constitution. Economic downturn, accusations of corruption, and Zafy’s drafting of laws to grant himself more authority tarnished Zafy’s tenure. In 1996, he was impeached, and Norbert Ratsirahonana was named as temporary president for the three months leading up to the next presidential election. Ratsiraka was subsequently re-elected for a second term on a platform of decentralization and economic reforms, serving from 1996 until 2001.

The disputed 2001 presidential elections, in which then-mayor of Antananarivo, Marc Ravalomanana, ultimately won, resulted in a seven-month stalemate between Ravalomanana supporters and Ratsiraka supporters in 2002. Ravalomanana’s progressive economic and political policies, which promoted investments in education and ecotourism, enabled foreign direct investment, and developed regional and international trade relationships, eventually offset the negative economic effect of the political crisis. During his presidency, the national economy expanded at an annual pace of 7% on average. Ravalomanana was chastised by local and foreign observers in the latter part of his second term, who accused him of growing authoritarianism and corruption.

Andry Rajoelina, the opposition leader and then-mayor of Antananarivo, spearheaded a campaign in early 2009 to remove Ravalomanana from office in an illegal procedure generally seen as a coup d’état. Rajoelina was named President of the High Transitional Authority, an interim governmental body tasked with preparing the nation for presidential elections, by the Supreme Court in March 2009. In 2010, a new constitution was approved by referendum, creating the Fourth Republic and maintaining the previous constitution’s democratic, multi-party system. Hery Rajaonarimampianina was proclaimed the winner of the 2013 presidential election, which was considered fair and transparent by the international community.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Madagascar

Stay Safe in Madagascar

Madagascar is a relatively safe destination. You must, however, adhere to a few basic guidelines:

  • In Antananarivo, don’t go out late at night (other cities are pretty safe).
  • Don’t show off your riches (cameras, jewels, …).
  • Similarly, have a modest amount of cash with you at all times. Paying with big denomination bills flaunts your riches, offends the vendor since they won’t have change, and puts you at risk of being a criminal target.
  • When using public transportation or visiting marketplaces where pickpockets abound, keep a watch on your valuables.
  • “Mpangalatra,” pronounced “Pun-gul-ah-tra,” is the Malagasy term meaning thief. Scream this if someone is attempting to rob you in a crowded market. The fact that a vazaha is shouting thief will both frighten the thief and alert nearby people to assist.
  • When uttered in low tones, always listen for the phrases “vazaha” or “vazongo.” If you hear these words, know that they are being spoken about you, for better or worse!

It’s also worth noting that, like in any poor nation, the presence of beggars is never overlooked. Tourists may find this unsettling, but these folks should be honored nonetheless. They are drawn to outsiders, as expected, and will not hesitate to beg for a handout. A simple “Non, merci” or “Tsy Misy (tsee-meesh)” (I have nothing) would enough if you don’t want to be harassed. If they continue, yell “Mandehana!” (man-day-han) which means “Go Away!” It is preferable to offer something practical than than money, such as a banana or a slice of bread. It is generally received with appreciation, and if the beggar is a kid, he will grin and run away. It is critical not to promote begging; the people of Madagascar do not believe in receiving anything for free and will almost always give you something first. Consider photographing a chameleon.

Madagascar is currently classified as “Exercise a high degree of caution” by the Australian government. Keep in mind that, as the political situation evolves, it has previously been classified as “Reconsider your need to travel.”

Stay Healthy in Madagascar

A wide range of health issues should be considered by visitors visiting Madagascar. In Madagascar, diseases like the plague, which are virtually unheard of elsewhere, still exist. For foreigners, drinking water should almost always be treated or bottled, and salads or meals with unpeeled fruits or vegetables should be avoided. While the AIDS pandemic has not yet reached the catastrophic levels seen in many southern African nations, it is generally believed that AIDS is underreported and on the rise, therefore you should take no chances and avoid unprotected sex at all costs. When swimming, keep an eye out for human waste in the water, which may cause cholera, typhoid, and a variety of other illnesses. Insects such as leeches and tropical parasites are also a problem.

Investigate malaria prophylactic alternatives and take action. If you’re not taking any preventatives, be sure to sleep with a mosquito net and use insect repellents as darkness falls. On-skin repellent (only repellents containing at least 40% DEET, such as NoBite, Azeron Before Tropics, and others) is effective, but it should be used in conjunction with on-clothes repellent (i.e. NoBite). The clothing repellant is odorless after about an hour, and it may be washed up to four times before it has to be re-applied. You will be very safe against mosquito bites if you wear long-sleeved clothing treated with the repellent and apply on-skin repellent to the skin parts not covered. You will be able to avoid the prophylaxis with its notorious side effects if you wear long-sleeved clothing treated with the repellent and apply on-skin repellent to the skin parts not covered. However, be careful to take the repellent problem seriously, since it’s all too easy to slip into a more’relaxed’ attitude after you’ve been in the nation for a while.

Human-populated areas will always have a significant number of stray dogs. Avoid stray dogs, and although bites are uncommon, if you are bitten, get medical attention right away since rabies is not unheard of.

Remember that Madagascar is in the tropics, so sunburn and heat exhaustion are significant concerns. Keep hydrated and use plenty of sunscreen. Remember that just because it’s overcast outside doesn’t mean you won’t get sunburned.



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Antananarivo, often known as Tana in French colonial abbreviation, is Madagascar’s capital and biggest city. Antananarivo is located at 18.55′ South and 47.32′ East, roughly...