Travel to Madagascar
Currency: Ariary (MGA)
Exchange rate: 4323.39 MGA per 1 € (15.06.2020)
Time zone: GMT + 3
Country code (phone): +261
Climate (for capital): Subtropical (savanna) climate
Entry and residence regulations
The Federal Foreign Office in particular provides up-to-date information on entry requirements for Madagascar. German citizens need a visa to enter Madagascar, which is issued on arrival at the international airport of Antananarivo-Ivato, but also at all other airports with international connections (Nosy Be, Antsiranana, Toamasina, Tuléar) for a stay of up to 90 days. More information, especially about last-minute changes in visa issuance and the costs incurred, can be obtained from the Madagascar embassy in Berlin. The consular department of the German embassy in Antananarivo closed its service in 2012 – all consular matters in the administrative district of Madagascar are handled by the German embassy in Dar es Salaam / Tanzania. When entering the international airport Ivato – 15 km from downtown Antananarivo – there is often a customs check after the passport, during which hand luggage is also checked. The best way to avoid chaos at the airport is to make a hotel reservation in advance and to be picked up from the airport building. Furthermore, you can use the latest information to estimate whether planes will land on time or late.
There are numerous exquisite French restaurants in Antananarivo, but they also have their price. But there are also Chinese, Indian and Creole restaurants of the upper and middle class. In traditional restaurants, the dishes are much cheaper to get, but they are not necessarily worse, but often reflect the culinary individuality of Malagasy cuisine best. Snack bars, cookshops and simple restaurants can be found in large numbers in the cities and are mostly of good quality and cleanliness.
Malagasy cuisine is generally rich in stews and stews, which is part of the French heritage. Rice dominates all dishes, most of the time rice is already eaten for breakfast. Other staple foods rich in carbohydrates include cassava, potatoes and pasta. Those who can afford it can combine different types of meat (beef, pork, poultry) or fish and seafood and vegetables such as “brèdes”, green beans, carrots, aubergines, cabbage or tomatoes. Chinese spring rolls resemble the “nem”, dumplings baked in batter with a vegetable filling. The triangular sambos are just as common(also known as samosas, sambossas or sambousas), an import from the Arab world. As in many East African countries, the “Brochettes” (Masikita) – marinated meat skewers made from different pieces of meat, mostly zebu or chicken – are a culinary delight. This is usually served with pickled, spicy cabbage and rice.
A common drink is “Ranovola”, water that is cooked in a pot with rice. Tap water cannot be consumed uncooked, but mineral water (mostly “Eau vive”) can be bought everywhere and the well-known lemonade beverages offered around the world are available in several variants across the board. Many Madagascans swear by the good quality of the “Skol” beer, but other types of beer are also offered. In the coastal areas, people like to drink the ubiquitous and extremely refreshing coconut milk, which can be transformed into various punch drinks such as the popular “Punch au Coco” in every way. Wine is also made in Madagascar produced, but when it comes to judging by taste, opinions apparently differ.
Milk and milk products are traditionally offered less and only consumed slightly. The government wants to revitalize the dairy industry, but it must also ensure that, for example, the price is reduced and availability increased. At the moment the milk is very expensive due to the low milk yield of the cows and many imported milk products are cheaper than locally produced goods.
“Manasa hihinam-bary” – “Come and eat rice”: In Madagascar, rice is of great nutritional and cultural importance. Per capita consumption was 95 kg in 2009, other figures go above this (120-130 kg per capita) (Germany: 5.4 kg). Madagascar is still the largest rice producer in sub-Saharan Africa, but production and acreage has been declining for years, so that Madagascar is forced to import expensive Asian rice. Under Ravalomanana there was a strategy of increasing production in the “Madagascar Action Plan”, but not much has changed until today. They are aware of the problem and present strategies to promote rice production.: the plant is a gift from the ancestors. Rice should not be missing from any ceremony or festival. Rice fields are precious – the top priority is to preserve them for the family. Rice panicles above the door promise a constant supply of rice and even with the fetish cult, rice is synonymous with prosperity.
Travel in the country
According to programingplease, the often poor and inadequate infrastructure in Madagascar makes it difficult for travelers to cover long distances quickly and comfortably. The size, topography and vegetation density (e.g. on the east coast) of the island, lack of financial resources and also the recurring destructive cyclones / weather events are reasons why there are still difficulties with road construction and maintenance despite international support from the infrastructure sector. The gasoline supply is also a major problem: the gas station network is patchy, gasoline is expensive and there is no fuel in the event of strikes, political unrest or storms. When traveling to remote areas, you should estimate the fuel consumption beforehand. Also the railways are not a travel alternative, they only serve a few routes and the trains and locomotives are mostly old and in need of repair.
The road conditions in Antananarivo are characterized by long traffic jams and car exhaust fumes, especially at the beginning and end of the office and on public holidays. Because many vehicles are often in poor condition and the drivers drunk or drive carelessly, serious accidents are not uncommon.
You shouldn’t drive a car at night: there are a lot of not necessarily visible potholes, unlit vehicles often block the way and people and cyclists without lighting are on the roadside. More worrying, however, is the increasing number of night-time raids on streets – not just in cities – which have also left injuries or deaths.
Safe and healthy in Madagascar
Crime and security situation
Due to the current stable political situation, you can move freely and safely in Madagascar. Nevertheless, one should be careful – in Antananarivo there are repeated demonstrations and raids at night. In Madagascar, too, thefts and break-ins are mainly a problem in urban areas, mostly in markets where pickpockets (Antananarivo) can be found. The Federal Foreign Office’s recommendations also warn against the willingness to use violence and the use of weapons have increased overall. Night walks – especially alone – are dangerous. When driving in cities, it is advisable to lock the doors from the inside and keep the windows closed if possible.
Violent crimes are quite rare in Madagascar, but crime has increased significantly since 2009 and many police and military officers are corrupt themselves or rent their weapons to gangs of thieves.
Even if the international community tries to reduce the risk of pirate attacks in the waters adjacent to Somalia and its neighboring countries, there is an increased risk here.
Madagascar is repeatedly hit by natural disasters such as cyclones and hurricanes. Travelers should inform themselves in advance about the infrastructure, the seasonal weather conditions and, if necessary, alternative destinations. When cyclones pass through, high wind speeds are often reached and flooding occurs due to heavy rain, so it is best to stay in closed rooms.