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Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean 250 miles off the eastern coast of Africa across the Mozambique Channel, just south of the equator. Over 1000 miles long and 350 miles wide, Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island. Its most prominent feature would have to be the steep mountain range paralleling the entire eastern coast. A nature-lover's paradise, this sparsely-populated land occupies an area more than twice the size of Great Britain, and it is crisscrossed by no less than six different micro-climates! Madagascar's highest mountain, Mt. Maromokofro, towers an impressive 9450 feet over the island's northernmost regions. The eastern slopes of Mt. Maromokofro and her numerous companions give way to a narrow coastal plain. There, you will find mighty rivers, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and the remains of an ancient rainforest.

Climate: Madagascar's climate is tropical, with two seasons. During the rainy season (December-April), the island receives between 12 and 340 inches (30-355 cm) of rainfall annually. During the dry season (May-November), average midday temperatures range from 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) in the highlands and 86 degrees F (30 degrees C) on the coast. Along the Eastern coastal plains, high humidity is tempered by almost-constant ocean breezes. Visas: Travel Madagascar. Visas can be obtained on arrival at Antananarivo Airport.

All visitors need visas. Malagasy consulates in Johannesburg/South Africa or Durban issue one month visas for any passport holder. A valid passport is required.

Currency: As soon as you have cleared through customs, change some money into Ariary / Malagasy Francs (FMG) at the airport bank. Since the 01 August 2003 the government changed the local currency from Malagasy Franc (FMG) to Ariary. Please be warned that the new Ariary is worth five times the FMG amount. Both currencies are shown on the notes. Ariary / FMG can be converted back into hard currency prior to leaving Madagascar. Do not take South African Rand to Madagascar.Credit cards MasterCard is rarely accepted, recommend you take a Visa Card as most hotels happily accept Visa.

Tipping: be careful not to be persuaded or bullied into over tipping. The average porter at the airport only earns approximately 10000 Ariaries a week (about US $6) They have been known to ask for 10000 Ariaries just to push your trolley.

When to go: This depends on your interest. Nature enthusiasts should go from late August to January. Certain parts of western Madagascar are not accessible in summer (December - March) after rains. Avoid the northeast from March to July. Cyclones occur in January to mid February. July to September is also good for whale watching on the east coast.

Time zone: GMT + 3 hours

Power supply: 220 V; European round two-prong plugs.

Health requirements: No immunizations are necessary. Malaria prophylactics are essential. Drink only bottled water or take water purification tablets. Travel insurance is essential (medical cover).

What to pack: Comfortable, casual and light clothing. Well-worn walking shoes or sneakers are essential. Pack warm clothing for winter nights. Take insect repellent and protective wear for the tropical sun and rain. If visiting Perinet Lemur forest a Dry Mac is recommended as the rainy season is all year round and it can be chilly in the evenings.

Luggage allowance: 20 kg and a hand luggage.

Language: Malagasy is the first language; French the business language and English is spoken by people in the tourism industry. An English to French phrase book could be your best companion if you are not familiar with speaking French.

Getting there: from South Africa: Air Madagascar operates two flights per week between Antananarivo/ Madagascar and Johannesburg/South Africa. (Thursdays and Saturdays). Flight duration is three hours. Inter Air flies there and back on Tuesdays. Getting around: Air Madagascar serves 60 domestic airports. There are wonderful overland routes. We will arrange all transfers.

Accomodation: Visitors to Madagascar must understand that Madagascar is fairly new to the international tourist market, hence the Madagascar hotel accommodation standard, though good, may not be up to the same international accommodation standards that you would expect in the west, however believe that this only adds to the mystic of the island of Madagascar.


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