Madagascar Country Information

Madagascar Country Information

From the point of view of the traveler (curious, quite heat-resistant and very wealthy – others do not go here), Madagascar is a “continent in miniature”, literally overflowing with exotic life forms, many of which are found only on this island. There are extinct volcanoes and high mountains, valleys and rivers (including the Tsiribihina River), tropical forests and semi-deserts. There are no luxury hotels in Madagascar: this is a place for those who are looking not for luxurious rooms, but for new experiences and one hundred percent exotic.

Geography:

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world after Greenland, N. Guinea and Kalimantan. Located in the western part of the Indian Ocean, 400 kilometers from the coast of Mozambique. South latitude is between 11°.57′ and 23°38′. East longitude – 50°17′. The length of the island (from north to south) is 1580 km. Width (from east to west) – 580 km. The length of the coastline is 5000 km. The Republic of Madagascar occupies the island of the same name and several small islands with a total area. 587 thousand km2 – slightly less than Ukraine, but slightly more than France, Belgium and Luxembourg combined.

Climate of Madagascar:

Tropical and equatorial monsoon. In different parts of the island, the climate can vary greatly. The average temperature in the capital is +18°C, on the coast – +24…+26°C. Coastal areas of the island often suffer from destructive cyclones.
The hottest areas of the island are the northwest coast and the Bemaraha plateau, where the average temperature reaches +34 °C. On the tops of mountain ranges, significant drops in temperature and frosts occur.

Cuisine and restaurants:

The basis of Malagasy cuisine is rice, which is served with vegetables and extremely hot capsicum, corn, zebu meat, fish, pieces of cheese and spices. Dishes are usually very spicy. The most famous national dishes are “ravitutu” (beef fillet with mashed cassava leaves and coconut) and “rumazava” (meat stew with tomatoes and spices). Fans of European cuisine will appreciate the local goose liver. Sea cuisine (lobsters, crabs, oysters, sea urchins) is widespread on the coasts. Fruit is plentiful all year round. The country has a well-developed production of wine and alcoholic beverages – which is not surprising, given that in the past the country was a French colony for a long time.

Helpful information:

Tourists should not take a lot of money with them and leave valuables unattended! It is recommended to visit sights accompanied by a guide or as part of a group. In the provinces, the situation is generally calmer, but even there the advice of the guides should be followed. In Madagascar, women are usually accompanied by a sister, brother or friends. Tourists are advised to take antimalarial pills before visiting the country. In addition, you need to follow basic safety measures: make sure that there are no mosquitoes in the room and avoid mosquito bites.
Raw or untested water on the island should not be drunk in any case. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice must be boiled.
Safe places to swim in the ocean are lagoons and areas protected by coral reefs. In other places, sharks are often found, and dangerous reptiles are found in estuaries and in mangrove forests.

Transport

The easiest and cheapest way to travel around the country is by bus. The flight schedule is usually posted at the airport and on special stands of the airport terminal. The most convenient way to get around the cities is by taxi. There are two types of cars: licensed ones with the Adema emblem and meters, as well as numerous “unofficial taxis”, which usually do not have a meter, but prices are fixed and depend on distance and traffic density. The cost of the trip should be negotiated in advance, before boarding the car. You can also bargain in private taxis. Specific types of local transport are fast and convenient “taxi-be” and cheaper, but slower “taxi-bars”. They are a cross between minibuses and ordinary taxis. Stops always have timetables. The fare should be agreed in advance, before boarding the car.

Rent a Car

Car rental is not widespread, there are rental agencies only in the main tourist centers and at the airport. Therefore, it makes direct sense to rent a car in advance, even before departure to the country. All you need to rent is a credit card (sometimes a deposit is required) and a national driver’s license. The rental price is almost the same as in Europe. Most of the main roads are in good condition, which cannot be said about the roads between small settlements. Malagasy drivers are quite careful and unhurried. Overtaking on the highway is rare, in the city the rhythm of traffic slows down even more. Often pets, children and local residents come out on the road – and, I must say, they feel at home on it. In the dark, the roads are practically not illuminated.

Tourist safety in Madagascar

The criminal stop in the capital is quite calm, but there are certain security problems. So tourists should not take a lot of money with them and leave valuables unattended. It is recommended to visit sights accompanied by a guide or as part of a group. In the provinces, the situation is generally calmer, but even there the advice of the guides should be followed. Tourists are advised to take antimalarial pills before visiting the country. In addition, you need to follow basic safety measures: make sure that there are no mosquitoes in the room and avoid mosquito bites. Raw or untested water on the island should not be drunk in any case. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice must be boiled. Safe places to swim in the ocean are lagoons and areas protected by coral reefs.

Madagascar Hotels

Categories of Madagascar hotels are indicated by the usual “stars”, from one to five. But the rules by which these “stars” are hung are often beyond the understanding of a European: for example, some “five-stars” are almost identical to “three-stars” in terms of the range of services offered and the level of service. Mains voltage 110-220 V, 50 Hz. Two-pin sockets. High-end hotels have two types of rates, one for their own citizens and the other for foreigners. Guess which rate is higher. In addition, payment from “non-local” is taken in foreign currency.

Banks, exchange offices and tips

Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 15:00. Currency can be exchanged at any bank branch, at the airport, at exchange offices and some hotels. The last option is the least profitable, as a commission is charged. It is forbidden to change money on the street in the country. Slots into which it will be possible to put international credit cards will be found only in the capital and in major tourist centers. To travel around the province, you will have to stock up on Malagasy francs in small denominations, since the standard of living of the population there is low, and it will be almost impossible to change large denominations. Tips are best given in local currency. In restaurants, they make up about 10% of the total order value. In restaurants and hotels in the capital, the same 10% is automatically added to the bill.

Shopping and stores

Shops are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 17:00-17:30, on Saturdays from 8:00 to 13:00. Most shops are closed on Sunday. In the southern and southeastern regions of the country, most retail outlets close for the afternoon siesta from 12:00-13:00 to 15:00-16:00. You can bargain almost everywhere, but the locals themselves usually hardly bargain. Sellers rarely cheat or overcharge when they see a foreigner, so prices are more or less adequate everywhere.

Madagascar Country Information