Madagascar Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, Antananarivo tourist information, Madagascar food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in Antananarivo. Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Madagascar Travel Guide

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Full country name: Republic of Madagascar
Area: 587,041 sq km
Population: 20,65 million (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: Antananarivo
Language: English (official), French (official), Malagasy (official)
Religion: indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%
Government: Caretaker government
Time Zone: UTC+3
Dialing Code: 261
Electricity: 127/220V 50 Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
Currency: Ariary (MGA)

Money & Costs:
Average yearly salary: USD 1,000

Budget: USD2-10
Mid-range: USD10-20
High: USD30+
Budget: USD5-15
Mid-range: USD20-80
High: USD150+

Geography: The island notion of Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean by the coast of Southern Africa. The Mozambique Channel separates the island from Mozambique, its closest neighbor. The principal island, Madagascar, is the fourth largest island in the world. Madagascar's terrain consists of narrow coastal plain, mountains in the center of the island and high plateau.

Climate: Madagascar's climate is subtropical, with two distinct seasons: a hot and rainy season (November - April), and a cooler dry season (May - October). The west coast is usually much drier than the east coast and the central highlands, whereas the southern part of the country is a semi-desert region, with very little rain. The eastern regions receive the most rain and are mostly hot and humid. The average yearly temperature along the coast ranges from 27 C to 32 C (81 F to 90 F) during the wet season, and 18 C to 22 C (64 F to 72 F) during the dry season. The best time to visit Madagascar is from May to October.

Recommended clothing: Warm clothes and windbreakers are recommended for the winter season and when traveling to highlands. Lightweight cotton clothes are advised throughout the year in western region of Madagascar and for the summer season. Rainwear is essential all year round, especially when visiting rainforests. Comfortable shoes/boot are advised for national parks.

Social conventions: You will quickly notice how friendly, welcoming and extremely hospitable Madagascans are. However, there is one thing that may seem annoying  their relaxed attitude to time. Public transport, for example, will not move until the last seat is taken, no matter how long will it take.

Food & Drink: Eating well means eating a lot in Madagascar. Madagascar's cuisine is traditionally based on rice, that are served with some kind of dressings, vegetables, meat and spicy seasoning. Malagasy enjoy very spicy food, therefore many dishes are prepared with hot peppers or any other spices. The dishes are usually flavored with garlic, ginger, onion or curry, whereas desserts are flavored with vanilla. Some of the typical Malagasy food include: Ro (beef and pork marinated in vinegar, water and oil, then cooked with leaves, onion, pickles and other vegetables and seasoned with pimento), Ravitoto (meat and leaves cooked together), Ramazava (leaves and pieces of beef and pork browned in oil), Vary amid anana (rice, leaves or herbs, meat and sometimes shrimps), kitoza (long slices of smoked, cured or fried meat). The choice of beverages is limited, but some of the national drinks are: litchel (an aperitif made from lychees), Toaka gasy (distilled from cane sugar and rice), Three Horses lager. Non-alcoholic drinks include: ranon apango or rano vda (made from burnt rice) and local mineral waters.

Health: Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all travelers (from 1 year of age), who are arriving from a country in the yellow fever endemic zone. Since, tap water is not treated, you should stick to bottled water instead. Health insurance is strongly recommended, since health facilities are limited.

Public Holidays:
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Mar 29 Commemoration of the 1947 Rebellion
Apr 5 Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
May 13 Ascension Day
Jun 26 Independence Day
Aug 15 Assumption Day
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

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