Madagascar Travel Guide: Land of Baobabs and Lemurs

Explore Madagascar with this helpful Madagascar Guide and fall in love with its unique flora and fauna!





Madagascar Travel Guide

Madagascar, also known as the Eight Continent, is the largest island on earth, full of unique and endemic flora and fauna, that can't be found anywhere else in the world.

When you travel to Madagascar you will experience surprisingly diverse landscapes from high mountains, canyons, and limestone rock formations to lush green rainforests, beautiful countrysides, pristine lakes, and paradise beaches. Madagascar, part of Africa, is renowned for its massive baobabs and different species of lemurs and chameleons, but the Treasure Island of Madagascar has a lot more for you to discover.

With 19 official Madagascar National Parks, 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites there's enough to see! 

Check out this ultimate Madagascar guide where I share the most popular places to visit in Madagascar including some of the best things to do and things to know before you travel to Madagascar, for example, the best time to visit.

Interesting Facts Madagascar

  Flag of Madagascar

Madagascar country flag

  Madagascar's National Animal

Ring-tailed Lemur

  Madagascan Dish
Romazava, a stew made of local greens and zebu meat, served with rice.

  Currency in Madagascar

Malagasy Ariary (MGA)

  Madagascar Time Zone
East African Time Zone or EAT (GMT+3 hours)

Best time to visit Madagascar

The best time to travel to Madagascar depends on what you want to see and do. Except for the wet season with risks of cyclones (December to March), Madagascar is an all-year-round travel destination with a varied climate. 

  • Madagascar is more green right after the rainy season in March;
  • The best time to spot whales on Ile Ste Marie is between July and September;
  • In December the wildlife seems to be the most active.

In general, the best time to visit Madagascar is between April to October during the cooler, dry season. 

Things to know before you travel to Madagascar

Safety in Madagascar

Madagascar's crime rate is lower than in most African countries and is considered safe to travel. Every country has crime issues once in a while and also Madagascar has some rural areas with crime issues like armed robberies. I felt safe all the time and the people are very friendly! Just use your common sense. Stay away from crowds, don't go out much at night/alone, and consider hiring a reputable local guide if you want to travel to certain areas. 

Do I need a visa when traveling to Africa?

Visa requirements for Madagascar

All foreign nationals require a visa to travel to Madagascar. You can obtain a Madagascar visa through the embassy or consulate, but you can also apply for an online (e)visa or a visa upon arrival. Just be sure your passport is valid for 6 months. The eVisa tourist is a single entry visa with a maximum duration of 90 days. For more details and an online visa application, visit the official website of the Republic of Madagascar for the management of online visa applications (evisamada).

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel Choices for Traveling to Africa

Responsible Travel in Madagascar

Madagascar is known for its unique flora and fauna, but also suffers from a worrying amount of deforestation threatening their natural ecosystems, biodiversity, and climate as 90% of Madagascar’s endemic species live in or heavily rely on the forest. Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. For example, Madagascar's infrastructure is underdeveloped compared to other (African) travel destinations. Eco-Tourism has many beneficial effects on Madagascar’s national and local economies. It is best to organize your trip through a responsible, reputable, local tour operator, to stay at locally owned eco-hotels, to use local guides, and to buy local food. Search for organizations that are not only working with local people but also teaching and supporting them to create their own sustainable independence.

Which vaccinations and antimalarials do I need for Africa?

Vaccinations & anti-Malaria tablets for Madagascar

Required vaccinations depend on what you will be doing in Madagascar, which places you will be visiting, and how long you will stay. However, most travelers to Madagascar require Hepatitis A, TDAP, and Typhoid. There is no Yellow Fever risk in Madagascar, but vaccination is required if you're coming from - or was in transit in - a high-risk country for Yellow Fever. Malaria is a risk throughout Madagascar (except for Antananarivo). Use mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, and antimalarials if you are traveling to Madagascar. Consult a travel clinic for personal advice regarding your travel plans.
What language do they speak in Africa?

Spoken languages in Madagascar

The two official languages of Madagascar are Malagasy and French. Malagasy is the national language of Madagascar. 

What is the Time Zone and Time Difference in Africa

Time Zone in Madagascar

The time zone in Madagascar is (GMT+3), like the East Africa Time Zone (EAT).

Things to do in Madagascar to cross off your bucket list

Magical sunset at Avenue of the Baobabs in Morondava, Madagascar

Visit Avenue of the Baobabs in Morondava

One of my personal number one reasons to visit Madagascar was to witness these majestic 'upside-down trees' with my own eyes. Don't miss out on the sunset at Avenue of the Baobabs to shoot some epic sunset photos. A must-do when you travel to Madagascar!

Spot King Julian of Madagascar the Movie in the wild in Madagascar

Spot Lemurs in Madagascar's National Parks

Madagascar is best known for its endemic Lemurs, which most of us know from Madagascar the Movie. There are about 110 species of Lemurs in Madagascar, found nowhere else on our planet. They belong to the primates, live in the wild, and play a very important role in Madagascar’s forests, serving ecological roles from seed dispersal and pollination to maintaining forest structure. Today and in the future, their most important role is being an international magnet for ecotourism with growing numbers of tourists visiting Madagascar each year to see these wonderful animals. In most of Madagascar National Parks and on several Islands you are able to spot various species of lemurs in their natural habitat.
Nosy Iranje: a paradise Island in the Nosy Be archipelago in Madagascar

Explore the paradise beaches of the Nosy Be archipelago

The Nosy Be archipelago is a group of paradise islands along the northwest coast of Madagascar, located in the Mozambique Channel. Popular and beautiful Islands to add to your Madagascar Itinerary are Nosy Be, Nosy Komba, Nosy Sakatia, and Nosy Tanikely. The Nosy Be archipelago is known for its white sandy paradise beaches and amazing marine life. It's also the place where you can find one of the smallest frogs and the smallest chameleons in the world. Apart from that, the islands are home to different species of lemurs. Every island has a unique reason to visit and therefore a must-do when you travel to Northern Madagascar.

Visit Isalo National Park Madagascar (best things to do)

Camp inside Isalo National Park, underneath millions of stars

Isalo National Park is one of the natural wonders of Madagascar. It’s famous for its rugged Jurassic terrain that has been formed into beautiful canyons and gorges by eroding winds and rain. Isalo National Park is a hikers paradise with breath-taking panoramic views and natural water pools to cool off. Experience the best of Isalo by camping inside Isalo National Park; you will get treated to a stunning sunset, a sky full of stars, and a beautiful sunrise over the rock formations. Add this National Park to your Madagascar itinerary.

Meeting Local Malagasy on a road trip along the RN7 in Madagascar

Self-drive the RN7, the most scenic route of Madagascar

Route Nationale 7 or highway 7 includes some of the best places to visit in Madagascar and is a great route to do a self-drive road trip. Highlights along the RN7 are Antsirabe, the Crater Lakes around Antsirabe, like Lake Tritriva, the small town of Ambositra, the rainforest of Ranomafana National Park, the serene and peaceful Lake Sahambavy near Fianarantsoa, the ring-tailed lemurs in Anja Reserve, the beautiful peaks of Andringitra National Park, the rock formations of Isalo National Park, and Zombitse National Park. The best road trip in Madagascar!

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