FAQ

Q:  Will I need special travel insurance?

A:  If you’re planning an adventure in Madagascar, we recommend World Nomads travel insurance as the perfect companion to keep you travelling safely.  You can buy, extend and claim online even after you’ve left home.  World Nomads travel insurance is available to travellers from more than 150 countries worldwide and offers cover for overseas medical expenses, medical evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

 

Q:  What are the entry formalities?

A: A visa is required to enter Madagascar at Ivato International Airport (Antananarivo).  Visas can be obtained on arrival – no photographs required but you will need a valid passport and a return flight ticket – and the following charges will apply for both adults and minors:

  • Up to 1 month: 80’000 Ar (around €27 *)
  • Up to two months: 100’000 Ar(around €33 *)
  • Up to three months: 140’000 Ar (around €47 *)

* Please note that the Euro amount depends on the rate of exchange applied at visa control. Click  here for the current exchange rate.

We suggest you bring small denomination euro notes as authorities may not have the correct change to give back. We understand that a frontier levy of around €10 per person may be introduced at some point which will replace the tourism levy currently included in nightly hotel rates.  Whilst the introduction of this levy has not been confirmed, it may happen without notice so be prepared for entry fees/levies to change. If you prefer, one- and three-month visas can be obtained from Malagasy embassies and consulates.  Further information is available from http://www.madagascar-consulate.org/visainfo.html

Please check that your passport is valid (at least 6 months before expiry date).

 

Q:  What is the local currency and where can I get it?

A:  The Ariary (AR) is now the local currency, replacing the Franc Malgache (FMG).  You can change foreign currency (EUR, US$ and GBP only) to Ariary at your airport of arrival.  The currency kiosks are open for the arrival of all international flights and exchange rates are similar to those offered by local banks.

 

Q:  Can I use credit cards?

A:  Credit cards (VISA) are only accepted in large hotels, restaurants and some shops, mainly in  Antananarivo. In other major cities, cash is available from ATMs only with VISA Cards. There’s now also an ATM at the airport in  Antananarivo. Don’t rely on ATM machines only; they are often out of order so keep some Euros to hand for emergencies.    

 

Q: Are Travellers Cheques accepted?

A:  Generally not as many banks refuse to accept them.  If travellers cheques are your only option, then bring only cheques of €50, £50 or US$50 face value.  You should also bring the purchase receipt.  In some provinces, it may take several hours to change Travellers Cheques, the rate is generally lower than the bank rate and some banks charge commission.  

 

Q:  What do I need to know about health & hygiene? 

A:  Madagascar is malarial so you should consult your GP or medical practitioner about malaria protection before arrival.  While travelling, use a good insect repellent. No vaccination is compulsory for travelers coming to Madagascar, except if they have been on transit in an infected zone.

Anti-malaria prophylaxis and one injection of gamma globulin against hepatitis are however highly recommended, as well as prevention treatments against cholera and yellow fever.  Regarding pandemics which occur once in a while in the world, Malagasy health authorities have the same level of information and of reactivity as their overseas counterparts.

Hepatitis B is endemic to the region and all travellers are advised to observe extreme caution when dealing with bloody needles or if engaging in sexual activity throughout the course of their visit.

There are hospitals and medical centres spread throughout Madagascar but services are often lacking.  Basic healthcare is free but medical facilities are often under-staffed so health insurance is highly recommended.  Pharmacies are few and far between so bring enough supplies of any personal medication to cover your entire stay and you may want to stock up on basic for stomach upsets, headaches, insect bites etc.

You should also bring high factor sunscreen to avoid sunburn. To avoid stomach upsets, avoid eating raw fruit (unless peeled) and vegetables and drink only unopened bottled water. Check with your government travel advisory service before travel as recommendations can differ depending on where you live.  

 

Q:  What’s the best time to visit?

A:  To avoid the cyclone season (early January to end March/early April) the best time to travel is generally from mid April to the end of December.  Madagascar has two seasons: a hot, rainy season from November to April; and dry season with a cooler temperature from May to October. There is, however, great variation in climate; the east coast has a sub-equatorial climate and, being most directly exposed to the trade winds, has the heaviest rainfall – averaging as much as 3.5 meters annually!  The central highlands are drier and cooler.  The dry season in the highlands is pleasant and sunny but can be chilly in the evenings and early mornings.  The west coast is drier than the east coast and the central highlands as the trade winds lose their humidity by the time they reach this region. The south-west and the extreme south are semi-desert and are generally very dry.

 

Q:  What is the local time difference?

A: GMT + 2 hours during the summer and GMT + 3 hours during the winter.

 

Q:  Should I bring my cell phone and/or laptop with me?

A:  Some cities and larger towns are covered by the local mobile phone network.  There are two mobile phone operators in Madagascar – Orange (dial 032) and CELTEL (dial 033).  If you want to bring your cell phone, you should make sure you have international roaming.  You can buy a local SIM card at some shops, supermarkets or the airport. Expect to pay about €5 for a SIM card with a small amount of credit.  Telephone communication is quite expensive and telephone lines are not always clear.  You can call abroad from any public phone but you will need to buy phone cards from a Telma (Telecom Malagasy) office.

There are cyber-cafés in larger cities for internet access.  The Paositra Malagasy (Malagasy Post) also offers an internet connection at their offices.  It is cheap but the connection speed is slow, unless you find one of the few places which offer ADSL (broadband).  Easier access to broadband is promised in the future.  

 

Q:  What is the local luggage allowance?

A:  On international and connecting flights, the allowance is usually 23 kg per person but domestic airlines will usually only allow 20 kg per person (15 kg on Twin Otter flights).  Check your ticket for confirmation of baggage allowances.  

 

Q:  What should I pack?

A:

  • Warm clothes during winter, especially in the Highlands.
  • Cotton clothes during the summer.
  • Bring a rain coat or jacket for eastern Madagascar and the rain forests.
  • Good walking boots or shoes are recommended for the national parks, otherwise normal footwear is fine.
  • Bring binoculars if you have them. A small torch is useful for electricity failures and nocturnal visits to parks.
  • Photography equipment is expensive so bring plenty of stock with you.

 

Q:  What is the electricity supply?

A: Electrical sockets (outlets) in Madagascar usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC and the 2-pronged sockets (European standard socket) are the most used, so you may need to bring an adaptor.

In Madagascar the power sockets are of type C, D, E, J and K

                

 

 

Q:  What about tipping?

A:  Tipping is by no means compulsory but the following guidelines might help:-

  • Around €4-5 per person, per day for a guide or a guide/driver.
  • Around €2-3 for a park guide, depending on your level of satisfaction.
  • Around 5 % of the bill at a restaurant.
  • 200 Ariary per bag for a porter.

As Euro coins cannot be changed into local money in Madagascar, it is advisable to tip in Ariary. We would ask that you please reserve your generosity for tipping for services only, and not providing free handouts to children or adults, as this encourages begging.  

 

Q:  What are the most common languages?

A:  The two main languages are Malagasy and French.  For some helpful holiday phrases, click here  or to listen to a local Malagasy resident pronounce some of the most used words and phrases watch here.  

 

Q:  Can I import or export local goods?  

A:  Free Import

  • 500 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 500 grammes of tobacco
  • 1 bottle of alcoholic beverages
  • Visitors and residents can import up to MGA 400,000 and an unlimited amount of foreign currency. Sums of money greater than EUR 7.500 will need to be declared at the customs department.
  • Visitors and residents can also export up to MGA 400,000 in local currency and an unlimited amount of foreign cash providing a written declaration is made at the customs department.

Prohibited

  • Illegal drugs
  • Weapons, explosives and ammunition
  •  Knives and deadly weapons
  • Plant and plant products – unless permission has been obtained
  • Meat and meat products
  • Pets and animal products – unless permission has been obtained
  •  Electronic equipment
  • Counterfeit money and goods
  • Pornographic materials

Restricted

  •  All passengers planning on re-exporting guns and ammunition will be required to apply for an export permit from their local “Chef de Province”.
  •  All perfume is subject to duty regulations and cannot enter the country for free.
  • Fruit and vegetables will need to be declared and an entry permit obtained before being granted entry into the country.
  • Protected plant and plant materials are prohibited from entering the country.
  • All animals entering the country will be forced to undergo a sanitary inspection upon arrival. The creatures will require a veterinarian health certificate from the country of origin specifying the creature’s condition and lack of any contagious diseases. Dogs over three months and cats over six months old will need to be specifically vaccinated against rabies less than one month and over three months respectively prior to their entry into the country.

A:  Free Export

  • 100g of vanilla
  • 250 grammes of jewellery – only applicable to residents
  • 1kg of jewellery – subject to presentation of currency exchange receipts and only applicable to non residents

Prohibited

  • Illegal drugs
  • Weapons, explosives and ammunition
  • Knives and deadly weapons
  • Plant and plant products – unless permission has been obtained
  • Meat and meat products
  • Pets and animal products – unless permission has been obtained
  • Electronic equipment
  • Counterfeit money and goods
  • Pornographic materials

Restricted – No information available

 

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL IN MADAGASCAR

Please click here for a some responsible travel tips.