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Useful informations for Travelling to Madagascar

Planning a trip to Madagascar? Find the essential and useful informations to prepare yourself: Airlines, Passport, Accommodation, Meals.

Travel documents required  

  • − Original passport
    − Visa
    − International round trip airfare
    − Plane ticket for domestic flights, if any
    − 2 identical photos
    − Yellow fever vaccination certificate for visitors who have been in infected countries for the last six days
    − Travel insurance contract
    These documents are for information purposes only. It is the customer’s responsibility to obtain all relevant information on administrative documents from the authorities.

Passport validity

All foreigners travelling to Madagascar should have a passport that is still valid for 6 months from the date of return and has at least 2 blank pages.

Entry visa to Madagascar :

The visa may be issued:
− By diplomatic or consular representatives of Madagascar abroad.
− On arrival at the airport.
− Or by e-visa on the website of Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Security. www.evisamada.gov.mg

Visa fees

− Stay less than or equal to 1 month: about €35 
− Stay more than 1 month and less than 2 months: about €40 
− Stay more than 2 months and less than 3 months: about €50 

Authorized and prohibited products on arrival and departure

Foreigners travelling to Madagascar have the right to bring with them (arrival and departure) the following products unless otherwise stipulated in the current legislation.

At the arrival

  • Free :

– 2 perfumes and 2 toiletries per passenger
– 2 cartons of cigarettes or 20 packs
– 2 liters of alcoholic beverages per adult over 18
– 250 grams of punched jewelry and 250 grams of fancy jewelry
– Electronics: 1 phone, 1 tablet, 1 lap top, 1 portable camera, 1 other non-professional camera
– Portable musical instruments

  • To declare :

– Fauna and flora, foodstuffs
– Medicinal products not for professional use
– Domestic animals
– Sports and professional equipment
– Phone, drone…
– Weapons and ammunition

At the departure

  • Free :

– Any person travelling abroad has the right to take with him or her foreign currency banknotes exchanged at exchange offices or authorised intermediaries up to 10 000 € or its equivalent in other currencies

– No supporting documents are required up to 1 000 €. Above this amount, a certificate issued by an approved establishment or exchange office is required

– Domestic animals

  • To declare :

– Currencies greater than or equal to 1 000 € or equivalent

– Gold, precious and industrial stones, precious wood or articles of precious wood (ebony, rosewood…)

– 9 kg of rice, 2 kg of vanilla, 1 kg (onion, pepper, coffee, cloves), 5 kg (meat, poisons, seafood), punched jewellery (1 kg for tourists and 250 grams for residents)

– Plants and foodstuffs

– Weapons and ammunition

  • Prohibited

– Endangered wildlife (turtles…)

– Drugs (cocaine, heroin…)

Health

Maintaining a good physical condition guarantees an extraordinary and memorable trip to Madagascar. No vaccination is required to travel to Madagascar unless you have passed through an infected area.

Nevertheless, an injection for the prevention of cholera, yellow fever and antimalarial prophylaxis are recommended, and must be made at least 10 days before departure. Other vaccines are also recommended, such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus…

You will also need a first aid kit (for dressings, mosquito bites…). Mosquito bites are common, so you should have clothes covering the whole body, apply anti-mosquito lotion or swallow tablets as prescribed by your doctor.

Pharmacies, hospitals, medical centers are practically present in the big cities.

Malagasy vocabularies and expressions

The letters C, Q, U, W, X do not exist in the Malagasy alphabet

The letter “e” is pronounced “a” / The letter “o” is pronounced “ou”  / The letter “i” is pronounced “e”

The final vowel is silent

In Madagascar, the word “TOMPOKO” is a form of politeness equivalent to “Madam / Miss” or “Mister” and is added to any speech as a sign of respect.

Hello

Welcome

Fine

What is your name?

Nice to meet you

Have a nice trip

Goodbye

Thank you

Please/ Excuse me

Where are we now?

How much does it cost?

Enjoy your meal

Manahoana tompoko

Tongasoa

Salama tsara

Iza no anaranao?

Faly mahafantatra

Soava dia

Veloma

Misaotra

Azafady

Aiza isika izao ?

Ohatrinona?

Mazotoa homana


Accommodations

We offer you several possibilities of accommodations according to your wishes and to the chosen tour: hotels of all categories, lodges, relays, guest house, hostels, campsites (for campers), bungalows… 

Rooms are in: single, twin, double, triple, and family; with all types of comfort: Luxury, Superior, and Standard.

If at the booking time, the accommodation we have chosen for you is complete, we will look for other accommodation of the same category, the same quality, the same price and the same services.

Security

For your safety and peace of mind, remain vigilant and cautious. Being vigilant is simply:

  • – Take only the bare minimum on yourself and currency exchange should be done only in banks or legal agencies.
  • – Avoid aggressive behaviour towards the population.
  • – Respect the customs and the prohibitions of the country (fady). This is a very important point in Madagascar. Off the beaten track, always be accompanied by a guide who knows the fady and customs in the area. However, beware of fake guides, you should always inquire beforehand.
  • – Close doors and windows after installation in a vehicle or if you want to handle your phone.

– And finally, lock your room securely and leave no valuable items lying around if you go out, or put them in a safe, ask for a sealed receipt stating the exact value of what you left behind.

Money

The national currency is Ariary (Ar or Mga) which replaced the Malagasy Franc (FMG).

Several banks and ATM machine are available in major cities.

Banking activities: currency exchange, withdrawal, transfer…

Any purchase and sale of foreign banknotes other than through authorised intermediaries and exchange office is prohibited. You can change currency upon arrival at the airport, before departure or during the trip. The black market exists in Madagascar where the illegal money changers offer interesting rates, but this practice is illegal.

Almost all hotels in Madagascar accept payment by credit card while others require payment in cash (for activities, extras…). The visa card is the most used.

Cash is more efficient and more convenient especially for the payment of small benefits, for purchases, for meals…

Legal tender notes and coins:

  • – Notes: 20 000 Ar, 10 000 Ar, 5 000 Ar, 2 000 Ar, 1 000 Ar, 500 Ar, 200 Ar, 100 Ar.
  • – Coins: 50 Ar, 20 Ar, 10 Ar, 5 Ar, 2 Ar.

Airlines serving Madagascar

Air Madagascar                            Kenya Airways

Air France                                      Air Austral

Ethiopian Airlines                         Air Mauritius

Turkish Airlines                             South African Airways

Tips

This famous gratuity (sum of money or a gift) is paid by a customer to a person as a thank for a service provided or a product offered.

In Madagascar, any tip from you is much awaited and always accepted with joy, obviously not allocated by fixed amounts, because it is customary to offer it.

Haggling

You are in the “moramora country”, negotiate a price is quite normal, propose at a lower price that the fixed price is also feasible (even up to 50%), if it suits both parties the deal is concluded. In addition, some shops adopt fixed or non-negotiable prices.

Phone and internet

While telecommunications are improving over time, there are still some hard-to-reach communities. The mobile network managed by different operators has grown strongly and these companies are working on the possible improvement of the network to cover all of Madagascar.

Madagascar telephone code: +261

For a landline telephone: +261 20 followed by the number of the correspondent (+261 20 22 244…)

For a mobile phone: +261 followed by the number without the 0 (+261 34 08 040 03)

The Orange number begins with 032 (032 08…) Airtel with 033 (033 08…) and Telma mobile with 034 or 038 (034 08… / 038 08…).

It is very interesting to buy a SIM card from a local operator and rather easy to get a phone in Madagascar because of its cost and its manipulation. Then just buy prepaid cards to top up the line.

You can also use your own phone but if necessary unblock it beforehand so that it is compatible with the local network. In addition, you will have access to different social media with a Malagasy chip which will allow you to communicate easily.

The high-speed internet in Madagascar is not yet accessible anywhere and by everyone, but all the hotels that we offer you have a free wifi connection. Large cities are well served by 3G and 4G.

Electricity

The current flow rate used in Madagascar is 220 V, the sockets are all identical but still think to bring an adapter during your trip.

In some areas, electricity is supplied by a generator or solar panels, so the power can be limited and the cut-off can be frequent.

Fortunately, many of the buildings, businesses, hotels are equipped with generators or solar panels that recover the time lost until electricity is restored. In this case, also bring charging alternatives for your phones, cameras, and a flashlight with dynamo.

To put in your luggage

Here are some informations and advices you may need during your trip to Madagascar.

  • – It is preferable to travel with a large and a small soft backpack to facilitate travel during transfers and hiking.
  • – Bring light and comfortable clothing to suit the climate of the island, ideally cotton. But make sure you have some long-sleeved tops to avoid mosquito bites, a polar sweater in reserve and a K-Way in case of rain, (note that it is mainly in the evening, in July and August, that you risk being cold in the highlands due to the heat shock between the temperatures of the day and those of the evening), outfits suitable for hiking or trekking, dress in case there is an evening out.
  • – Do not forget your swimsuits, shorts, tank top, small dress, sarong, espadrilles, flip flops, tennis, hat, sunglasses, towel (beach and bivouac)
  • – Suitable walking shoes, light and comfortable, from preferable to high rod for hiking or trekking, a flashlight front, a twin, a Swiss knife and a small notebook to take some notes during the trip.
  • – Pharmacy kit including high protection sunscreen, after sun or biafine cream, mosquito repellent lotion (highly recommended), disinfectant gel, all first aid products complete, antimalarial tablets, anti-diarrhea, aspirin, motion sickness tablets, dressings, band-aids, soothing lotion for insect bites, earplugs (to reduce noise on the plane or during the stay) and lip balm. Madagascar has very little medical infrastructure, so bring necessary medicines and emergency equipment.
  • – Also bring biodegradable cleaning wipes and tampons or sanitary towels (for ladies).
  • – A canteen and waterproof bags (ziploc).

– Do not forget your camera protected by a cover which resists everything (sand, humidity…) with a solar charger and spare batteries to bring wonderful memories home. Consider having multiple memory cards or a hard drive to store your photos or videos instead of bringing your computer.

Time difference

The time difference between Madagascar and Europe is more than one hour in summer and more than 2 hours in winter. South Africa, Reunion Island and Mauritius: one hour. Thailand and Hong Kong: 4 hours. Singapore: 5 hours. USA: 8 hours.

Advice from an airline:

  • – Carry earplugs that are useful for reducing noise.
  • – Chew gum to avoid ear pain.
  • – Get up every 50 minutes to stretch your legs, effective against back pain.

Meals

During your trip, meals included are programmed and usually detailed in each tour, namely in:

  • – B&B (bed and breakfast).
  • – Half Board: dinner and breakfast.
  • – Full Board: dinner, breakfast and lunch.

For meals that are not included, they are paid directly on site at your expense.

The price of a meal per person, without drink, is:

  • – Around €13 at the hotel and restaurant.
  • – Around €4 in a small local restaurant.

Drinks

Several choices are available to you to refresh or just to get in the local atmosphere during your stays.

– Water: it is not recommended to drink tap water. Buying bottled mineral water if necessary and always checking that it is well sealed.

– The famous Rice Juice: Ranovola or Ranon’ampango. It is a drink obtained by adding water to the pot where we cooked the rice without removing voluntarily the burnt crust that remains, we boil it to drink at any time especially when it is hot and amber.

– Natural juices: this is the nickname given to locally produced fruit juices. As an example of some delicacies: corossol, grenadelle (passion fruit), guava, mango, tamarind, lemon, orange, litchi…They are refreshing and cheap.

– Beers: the best known and preferred by all is the THB “Three Horses Beer”. It is a pilsner and cheap beer made by the Star brewery, the market leader in beer in Madagascar. There are also other beers such as Gold (very successful in its white version), Skol, Queen’s, Libertalia and Guiness (the only stout beer in Madagascar).

When you order a beer, a bottle of water or a soft drink, you will always be asked: “PM or GM?” «Small Model for PM» and «Big Model for GM».

– Wines: Malagasy people are not too fond of wine. But good wines always exist in Madagascar, whether white, red, rosé or grey. Eg: Lazan’ny Betsileo, Maroparasy, Maromby, Clos Malaza, Piloboka, Grand Cru d’Antsirabe…

– Alcohol: Malagasy people love drinking alcohol on every occasion, especially if it is a special event (wedding, family reunion, religious holidays, holidays, or on the weekend for a beautiful Friday, typical of Malagasy).

On the one hand, all the variants of the traditional Malagasy rum are nicknamed «Toaka Gasy». The Betsileo call it Galeoka, it is one of the flagship products of the Southern and South-Eastern regions of Madagascar, and it is based on sugar cane. In a large cask, the mixture is carefully blended and left to soak in the sun for a while, then mixed with laro or harungana madagascarensis to give the rum taste. Fermentation is very important before cooking.

On the other hand, the Betsa-betsa came from the East Coast, it is a fermented and flavored cane juice with bark or juice from wild fruit. We can also find in this region the famous palm wine or Trembo which is prepared by fermenting the sap of the Coconut trees.

These rums are illegal products, manufacturers do not control the amount of alcohol that can be contained in each liter of the beverage. As in all cases of alcoholic beverages, it is strongly advised to drink them in moderation and not to abuse.

Then, there is mainly rum sold at the markets, the most famous and consumed in the whole island is the Dzama coming from the sugar factory Dzamandzary in Nosy be. There are also: casanove, mongoose, arranged colds, oksen…

– And finally, coffee: consumed by the majority of Malagasy at breakfast and also sold in cup on the streets between 100 and 500 Ariary, it is one of the most popular drinks in Madagascar.

It is often taken very sweet or with condensed milk. Some do not start the day without taking their dose of coffee, and others cannot concentrate at work or study without taking it. Coffee is present in almost all convivialities, one finds in each house this infuser of coffee suspended in the kitchen. Whether it is raw coffee grilled in a frying pan and crushed by hand or already ground sold in different formats. The coffee from Madagascar is strong.