Look inside a camera pointed at Madagascar and you’re bound to see cheeky lemurs singing while sashaying across the vanilla vines of the forest. Then point your camera slightly to the right and feast your eyes on the bluest sea you’ve every seen in your life. On a map, Madagascar’s location is the envy of every African country – it’s surrounded by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean yet close enough to the continent so it’s not completely isolated.
Nature lovers booking flights to Madagascar will be spoilt for choice once they arrive. The island is blessed with pristine rainforests, flowing waterfalls and coral-rich beaches. Divers from all over the world book their Madagascar flights to lunge deep into the turquoise waters to explore the magnificent marine life living beneath. The dive site at Tsarabanjina is famous for its Mitsio coral reefs while Ifaty in the southwest off Tulear is renowned for its selection of sharks, making it a good choice for more experienced divers. Those in search of a more laid-back island experience should head up north to Nosy Be or “Perfume Island” where scents of ylang-ylang and frangipani welcome visitors to its white sandy beaches.
The climate is subtropical, it varies according to geography and altitude. The eastern part of the country is the wettest and gets cyclones and rainstorms. The west and southwest are much hotter and drier. The coast is hot with temperatures reaching between 27 and 32 degrees.
Madagascar’s summer is from November to March. Although it’s the wettest period, it’s also the best time to see book flights to Madagascar and when the flora and fauna is in all its glory. July to September is whale watching season when humpback whales migrate. The best spot to watch them is from Isle Sainte Marie, a 60km-long island off Madagascar’s north-east coast.
Rainy season, which is also its summer, is from December to March. From April to October the weather is milder and drier.
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Island hopping is easy with the country’s national carrier Air Madagascar. If you feel like flying like royalty you could charter a private aircraft and have the plane all to yourself.
Renting a car is possible but there are many hazards on the road that could make driving very frustrating. Instead, most visitors hire a car and driver or a taxi.
If you’d rather travel like a local then hop on to one of their bush taxis which are shared vehicles: trucks, cars or minibuses; although most of these are quite uncomfortable and can be rather dangerous. When taking a short trip around town the easiest way to do so is by brightly coloured hand-drawn rickshaws or pousse-pousses.
Adventurous travellers can rent a bicycle, moped or motorcycle and explore the island’s rainforests, hillsides and white sand beaches.