Madagascar

Unlike anywhere else on earth, the colourful island of Madagascar is in a world of its own. Madagascar is home to an astonishing collection of flora and fauna and is world renowned for the bright eyed lemurs that reside on the island. Linking vivid scenery with a culture submerged in taboo and magic, Madagascar also offers outstanding beaches with serene, glistening, pure turquoise water.

When to Visit

The best time to travel in most areas is April to May and September to November where the temperatures range from 25-30ºC, while the heavy rains from January to March can make many roads muddy and impassable. The Central Highlands and Antananarivo can experience cold winter nights from May to October.

Highlights

ISALO NATIONAL PARK The Isalo National Park is Madagascar’s “Grand Canyon”.

RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK Visit the Ranomafana National Park and search for various species of lemur and reptiles in this lush tropical paradise.

ANDASIBE RESERVE The Andasibe Reserve includes two protected areas - the Perinet Special Reserve and Mantadia National Park.

MANTADIA RESERVE When visiting the Mantadia Reserve keep an eye out for lemurs, birds, chameleons and plant life endemic to this area.

SOUTH MADAGASCAR Take a drive to the coastal town of Ifaty and the local beaches, passing by baobabs and the impressive decorated tombs of the Mahafaly and Antandroy people of southern Madagascar.

PERINET RESERVE Walk through the Perinet Reserve and hear the Indri Indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur, singing.

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Useful Information

Getting around

Most locals in Madagascar travel by taxi-brousse (shared jeep/car) – they are a really affordable way to get around and to make some Malagasy friends. However… they are also notoriously slow and somewhat uncomfortable. The island is enormous so you may well want to consider hiring a driver or taking domestic flights with Air Madagascar to make the most out of your trip. The rail system is very scant too ie pretty much non-existent. Hiring a car is also a possibility if you’re up for the challenge of fording rivers and negotiating seriously unkempt roads.

Language

Malagasy, French

Customs

There is some variation in etiquette between ethnic groups but there are idealized behaviors shared by many ethnic groups. With the exception of honored guests, when male and female family members eat together elder men are served first and tend to be given the choicest food. If male and female family members eat in separate groups, the eldest member of each group will be served first. These behaviors are easily identified during ceremonial meals but are much more relaxed in daily practice. Often the youngest children are served before older more dexterous children, so that they will have adequate food. Traditional social norms for interaction such as eating from a common pot that were prevalent as recently as the 1960s are beginning to give way to more Western behavior.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Madagascar. Frequent or long stay travellers to Madagascar should consider vaccination against Hepatitis B. Vaccination against Typhoid should be considered particularly if travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene. As Dengue Fever occurs in Madagascar insect avoidance measures may be necessary depending on your itinerary. Regardless of destination, all travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations, including a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Madagascar should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

Electricity

Electrical Plug type: Europe Voltage: 220-240 volts Modem: France

Communications

Country Code for Ethiopia: Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Operator Assistance: Emergency Services: 117 The emergency services may not always have English speaking staff. In this case, you should have a local call on your behalf or contact the New Zealand High Commission

Shopping

Shoppers keen to take back local  handicraft should look out for lamba - cloth squares patched together using a variety of traditional patterns and designs; zafimaniny or marquetry done on furniture, chessboards and boxes; silver items such as mahafaly crosses and vangavanga bracelets; jewellery made from shells and precious stones; mats, baskets, bags and hats woven from reeds, raffia and straw; antemore paper decorated with dried flowers and blouses, skirts and linen incorporating traditional styles of embroidery done by the local women. Any product or by product using native flora or fauna is on the restricted list and will require an export permit before it can be taken out of the country.

Tipping

Tipping in Madagascar isn’t very common for locals, but as a foreigner it is expected to tip. It is very common in the tourist industry and that’s how most of the workers make their wages.

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

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