587,041 km 2 (226,658 square miles)
Indigenous beliefs, Christian, Muslim
Malagasy ariary (MGA)
The remote island of Madagascar is one of the most enchanting tourist destinations you will ever set your eyes upon. You can find beautifully dreamy landscapes, spiny and dry deciduous forests, spectacular coral reefs, and world-class beach resorts that look out to the Indian Ocean. These are just some of the many reasons to set out on a holiday vacation to Madagascar.
The island has some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. Did you know that 90 percent of Madagascar’s wildlife is not found anywhere else on the planet? Of roughly 200,000 known species found on Madagascar, about 150,000 are endemic. Unique to the island are more than 100 types of lemurs, 99 percent of its frog species, and 36 genera of birds. Madagascar houses 100 percent of the world’s lemurs, half of its chameleon species and 6 percent of its frogs. It is home to the world’s smallest known chameleon and frog species. Some species found in Madagascar have their closest relatives not in Africa but in the South Pacific and South America.
The Malagasy people are thought to be descendants of Africans and Indonesians who settled on the island more than 2,000 years ago. Malagasy pay respect to their ancestors and spend a lot of effort on ancestral tombs. The tombs are opened from time to time, so the remains can be carried in procession before being rewrapped in fresh shrouds.
Earth Trip specialises in compiling a bespoke itinerary to match your tastes and preferences. Call us today to get expert advice on your holiday plans.
Madagascar Holidays: About Madagascar
Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of southern Africa, east of Mozambique. The capital, Antananarivo, is in the Hauts Plateaux (high plateau) near the center of the island. The highest point is Maromokotro, in the Tsaratanana Massif region in the north of the island, at 2,876 meters (9,436 ft). It has a total area of 587,040 km 2 (226,660 sq mi), with 581,540 km 2 (224,530 sq mi) of land, 5,500 km 2 (2,100 sq mi) of water and 4,828 km of coastline. It is four times the size of England and roughly two and a half times the size of Great Britain.
Madagascar is the world’s fourth biggest island after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. Because of its isolated location, half its birds and most of its mammals and plants exist nowhere else on earth.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting Madagascar, your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive, and with at least 2 blank visa pages. You should be able to show confirmation of your travel dates.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are visiting Madagascar for less than 15 days, there is no visa requirement. However, travellers must pay a 10 Euro administrative fee on arrival.
You can buy a 30 or 60 day single entry tourist visa on arrival at the airport in cash using US$, Euros, or Malagasy Ariary. Up to date information on visa fees is available on the Ministry of Tourism website.
You can also apply in advance of travel to the Madagascar Embassy in London for a tourist or immigrant visa.
You will be asked for evidence of onward or return travel at check-in and on arrival in Madagascar.
Make sure an entry stamp is recorded in your passport, and that your visa is valid for the period and purpose of your journey. A tourist visa can be extended during your stay in Madagascar up to a total stay of 90 days. Overstaying may lead to detention and deportation.
Tourism Health information
On 11 August 2022, the Malagasy government lifted all COVID-19 health restrictions for travellers to Madagascar. Pre-departure PCR tests and testing on arrival are no longer required for entry to Madagascar. Proof of vaccination status is not required for entry. Further details and travel alerts can be found on the Madagascar Tourism website.
You will need a non-immigrant visa to enter or travel through Madagascar as a short term visitor for stays over 15 days, or an immigrant visa for stays over 90 days.
See Visas section for more information.
Madagascar: Weather and when to go
As Madagascar is one of the biggest islands on Earth, the weather varies between different regions and topography. Earth Trip have carefully prepared a weather guide to Madagascar, where you can choose the best month for your holiday. The island can be divided into a few significantly different regions to demonstrate and explain the weather patterns. Generally speaking, the North is hot and humid, the East is wetter, and the South is arid. The wettest season is January-March, with a possible cyclones in February, but outside of these months the best time to go depends on your itinerary.
September – November period is great for lemurs – babies are born at this time. Birds breed from September to December, while humpback whales arrive to Madagascar in June until mid-September and whale sharks in October in Nosy Be. Antananarivo and highlands are much cooler than the rest of the island, therefore it is advised to not focus your holiday plans on weather in areas that are situated in high altitudes.
Firstly, please see the general weather summary for visiting Madagascar:
+++ the best time to visit
++ good time to visit
+ good time with some rain expected
– not a good time to visit (cyclone season)
Month by month weather in Madagascar:
- January – March
During these months the island is experiencing the cyclone season in the central highlands and the north coast. Many hotels, lodges and national parks will be closed due to unpredictable weather, strong winds and lots of rain and mud. However, the south is fine at this time of year but you would need to skip all the rainforests if you like to visit during this time. In general, we would advise against travelling to Madagascar during this time.
- April – June
Following the wet months, Madagascar is now lush and green. It is a great time of year to observe both reptiles and lemurs making great appearance all over the island. The temperature is very pleasant and makes an ideal condition. Visiting the north at the end of May marks the time for Nosy Be’s biggest cultural event of the year: The Donia Festival. It is a festival of culture where you can witness vibrant traditional dance and music. If you like beach time, you could visit the island of Saint Marie where in June you can spot the humpback whales.
- July – August
This is a good time to try spotting humpback whales in Saint Marie Island (average temperature 24°C) and in Anakao (average temperature 27°C). The rainforests in July and August are buzzing with life, although some small species, such as dwarf lemurs and chameleons go into hibernation. Good conditions for snorkelling.
- September – October
This is the best time to visit Madagascar for various reasons. It is a great time to observe native birds nesting in this birding paradise. Moreover, some lemurs are starting to give births to the young and this is an amazing opportunity to see them on the trees. September is still good for whales in many regions of the island. September brings warmer temperatures and a more peaceful atmosphere. Hibernating creatures also become active again thanks to a rise in temperature, so you really get the best of both worlds. This is also the peak of Madagascar’s bird breeding season. Many of the native birds have spectacular plumage and unique characteristics, and you may discover observing them is one of the highlights of your trip.
- November – December
December can sometimes be the start of the rainy season but at the beginning of the month, rainfall should be at a minimum and lizards, snakes and chameleons are usually quite active during this time giving the best opportunity for photographers. Visit during this period for a combination of great weather and abundant wildlife. December is definitely the best time to visit Madagascar if you are hoping to hit the beach.
What to consider when planning to visit Madagascar?
- Cyclones reach the island in February – the high winds and severe floods leave many thousands of people homeless each year.
- Changing weather patterns mean the cyclones are less predictable, so avoid January and even March to be on the safe side.
The southwest, including Tulear and the Spiny Forest, is one of the hottest, driest regions. November to December temperatures can reach 40 °C
Madagascar is a very popular destination therefore there are many direct and indirect flights from all over the world. Whether you live in Europe, the Americas, Asia or Australasia, flying to Madagascar is possible with a simple connection. There is no direct flight from the UK, but we can arrange very easy connections.
Air Austral (French) runs flights to Madagascar from Paris with a transfer on Reunion Island.
Travellers from Europe and Asia can also fly with Air Mauritius, South African
Flights from Johannesburg, South Africa, using Air Madagascar code shared with SA Airlink.
At The Earth Trip we will design and plan your personalised itinerary according to the exact requirements of your trip. Whether you prefer to be on a mountaintop or under a waterfall; wake up in the middle of a jungle or have a picnic with locals in the tea plantations – we select the accommodation and activities in order to suit not only your preferences, but also your budget.Discover Tailor-Made