Beaches & Baobabs of Northern Madagascar
Madagascar is the world's 4th largest island at 587,000 square kilometers (227,500 sq miles). Madagascar lies off the Mozambique coast in the Indian Ocean. It's main landforms are an interior highland and flanking lowlands, which are narrow on the east coast and broad on the west. The island's highest peak, Maromokotro at 2,879 m / 9,440 ft located in the far north of the country. The Ankaratra Massif is in the central area south of the capital Antananarivo. Further south is the Andringitra massif which has several peaks over 2,400 m / 7,900 ft including Pic Boby (2,658 m / 8,720 ft).
The eastern, or windward side of the island is home to tropical rainforests, while the western and southern sides, which lie in the rain shadow of the central highlands, are home to tropical dry forests, thorn forests, and deserts and shrublands. Madagascar's dry deciduous rain forest has been preserved generally better than the eastern rainforests or the high central plateau.
Extensive deforestation has taken place in parts of the country, some due to mining operations. Slash-and-burn activity, has occurred in the eastern and western dry forests as well as on the central high plateau, reducing certain forest habitat and applying pressure to some endangered species. The resulting increased surface runoff from burned lands has caused significant erosion and resulting high sedimentation to western rivers.
The time in Madagascar is GMT + 3 hours.
Madagascar's official language is Malagasy. French is the second language. It often appears alongside Malagasy in governmental documents and is understood by many people. Fewer people speak English and it is not easy to get by with English alone. We do recommend that you take a pocket phrase book with you and learn some basics such as common greetings. Any attempt to speak the local language is usually warmly appreciated and is all part of the fun of adventure travel.
Madagascar's climate is tropical, with two seasons. During the rainy season (December-March), the island receives between 12 and 340 inches (30-355 cm) of rainfall annually. During the dry season, Antananarivo and the west coast has a pleasant, temperate climate with a temperature range of 18°C to 22°C (64°F to 72°F). The highland areas are cooler and wetter than the coast and some rainfall can be expected here even in the dry season. At night in the highlands it can be quite cold with temperatures dropping down to near freezing levels overnight.
The unit of currency in Madagascar is the Ariary (MGA). For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
It is not possible to obtain local currency prior to departure. Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in Madagascar, however the Euro is used more than other currency's. In some of the larger hotels and restaurants you can also pay in Euros. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash. If you prefer not to carry all of your spending money in cash, it is possible to withdraw money from ATMs at the airport and in Antananarivo in using your debit or credit card.
A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity) and a Madagascar Visa are required for this trip. The visa can be obtained in advance from the Madagascan Embassy in your home country. You can also get the visa on arrival in Antananarivo, which is free of charge. Up-to-date information on visa's will be sent to you when we confirm your booking.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis ‘A'. Malarial prophylaxis is required for this trip. Yellow fever is not required unless travelling to Madagascar from a country where Yellow Fever is endemic.
A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Madagascar: Hilary Bradt (Bradt Guides)
Madagascar & Comoros. Lonely Planet
Birds of Madagascar: Peter Morris
Madagascar Wildlife : Nick Garbutt & Hilary Bradt (Bradt Wildlife Guides)
Reise Know-How Verlag. 1: 1,200,000
Madagascar: Topographic Survey Maps. 1:500,000
Lonely Planet - www.lonelyplanet.com