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Hotel Coco Lodge
Hotel Coco Lodge - dream vacation

49 avenue de France, Mahajanga

Lokanga Boutique Hotel
Lokanga Boutique Hotel - dream vacation

Lot V W 115 Ambohimitsimbina, Antananarivo

Hotel La Ribaudiere
Hotel La Ribaudiere - dream vacation

18 rue Paul Dussac,, Antananarivo

Hotel Royal Palissandre
Hotel Royal Palissandre - dream vacation

13 Rue Andriandahifotsy- Faravohitra, Antananarivo

Home Sakalava
Home Sakalava - dream vacation

Rue Reine Tsiomeko, Hell-Ville, Andoany

Tana Hotel
Tana Hotel - dream vacation

4 Rue Rabehevitra Immeuble Fumarolli, Antananarivo

Ora Hotel Amarina Hotel
Ora Hotel Amarina Hotel - dream vacation

Bp 202 Amporaha - Hell Ville, Ambohiday, Nosy Be

Madagascar, formerly the Malagasy Republic, is a country located in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. It is the fourth largest island in the world.



  • Antananarivo- the capital and usually called Tana by locals.
  • Ambalavao
  • Ambositra
  • Antsirabe
  • Fianarantsoa
  • Ihosy
  • Morondava
  • Taolagnaro (also commonly known as Fort Dauphin)
  • Toliara (also commonly known as Tulear)

Other destinations

  • Anakao
  • Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
  • Andringitra National Park
  • Ile aux Nattes
  • Isalo National Park
  • Masoala National Park
  • Nosy Be
  • Ranomafana National Park
  • Tsingy de Bemaraha Reserve



Despite its proximity to Africa, language and DNA studies show that the people of Madagascar originally arrived from Borneo and Polynesia between 350 BC and 550 AD. Later, in 1000 AD, migrants crossed the Mozambique Channel and arrived from East Africa, and were followed by Arabs, Indians, and Chinese immigrants. The Malagasy way of thinking, as well as their appearance and fashion style, is a mixture of cultures.

Madagascar is part of the African Union, but was suspended from the organization from 2009-2013. There was political turmoil in Madagascar in 2002 and again between 2009 and 2010, which led to a decrease in tourism, but the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of the international community with the adoption of a new constitution in 2010 and presidential elections in 2013 that were judged to be free and fair. Any continuing political issues seem likely to be debated peacefully with words and not coups or other drastic actions, for the foreseeable future.


Geographically, Madagascar split from India approximately 88 million years ago, and as a result of its long isolation it is home to a massive number of unique plant and animal species, with over 90 % of its wildlife and 80 % of its plants found nowhere else on the planet. Due to its uniqueness some ecologists refer to it as the "eighth continent".

Madagascar is home to nearly 15,000 plant species, with highlights including the massive and ancient baobab trees, the unique spiny forests of the south, over 800 species of orchids, and the dwindling rain forests. Human activity, particularly the fires used for agricultural purposes, have damaged the environment, and since the arrival of humans approximately 90 % of the island's original forest has disappeared.

Animal life on the island is equally impressive, in particular the more than 100 species of lemurs, nearly all of which are rare or threatened. The island is home to over 300 species of birds, approximately 260 species of reptiles, and a massive number of amphibians and insects.

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 xeric shrublands. Madagascar's dry deciduous rain forest has been preserved generally better than the eastern rainforests or the high central plateau, presumably due to historically low population densities.


  • January 1: New Year's Day
  • March 29: Martyrs Day
  • Easter (variable)
  • June 26: Independence Day, (1960) (from France)
  • November 1: All Saints Day
  • December 25: Christmas


The climate is tropical along the coast, temperate inland, and arid in the south. The weather is dominated by the southeastern trade winds that originate in the Indian Ocean anticyclone, a centre of high atmospheric pressure that seasonally changes its position over the ocean. Madagascar has two seasons: a hot, rainy season from November to April; and a cooler, dry season from May to October. There is great variation in climate owing to elevation and position relative to dominant winds. The east coast has a sub-equatorial climate and, being most directly exposed to the trade winds, has the heaviest rainfall, averaging as much as 3,500 mm (137.8 in) annually. This region is notorious not only for a hot, humid climate in which tropical fevers are endemic but also for the destructive cyclones that occur during the rainy season, coming in principally from the direction of the Mascarene Islands. Because rain clouds discharge much of their moisture east of the highest elevations on the island, the central highlands are appreciably drier and, owing to the altitude, also cooler. Thunderstorms are common during the rainy season in the central highlands, and lightning is a serious hazard.

Antananarivo receives practically all of its average annual 1,400mm (55.1 in) of rainfall between November and April. The dry season is pleasant and sunny, although somewhat chilly, especially in the mornings. Although frosts are rare in Antananarivo, they are common at higher elevations.

Get in


Visitors from many countries can obtain a Madagascar Tourist visa upon arrival in Madagascar (information accurate as of February 2016). For longer stays visa on arrival of up to 60 days is €45. and for 90 days is €60. A return ticket must be shown with the address of your first night stay.


Prior to your trip, you should ensure that your routine vaccinations are up-to-date; these include polio, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, MMR and typhoid (check with your doctor). If you are travelling through a country where yellow fever is present then you will be required to show proof of vaccination for yellow fever before you will be allowed entry into Madagascar.

By plane

International flights to Madagascar generally either go to Antananarivo (IATA: TNR) or Nosy Be (IATA: NOS). Air Madagascar ("AirMad") is the national carrier and offers flights from Johannesburg, Paris, Marseille, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Other airlines servicing Madagascar:

  • AirLink provides daily flights to Johannesburg,
  • Air France or Corsair offer flights to and from Europe via Paris
  • Air Austral (French) runs flights to Madagascar form Paris. Flights often transfer on Reunion Island.
  • Air Mauritius. to and from Europe via Mauritius.
  • Kenya airways operates regular service to and from Europe Asia and Africa via Nairobi .
  • Air Seychelles from Europe via Mahe.
  • Comores Aviation from Moroni.
  • Turkish airlines from Europe North America and Asia via Istanbul
  • Ethiopian Airlines from Africa Europe North America and Asia via Addis Ababa.

By boat

The only regular link used to be between Toamasina on the east coast and Mauritius via Reunion. As of December 2014, this service is suspended "until further notice".

Get around

By plane

Air Madagascar serves numerous destinations throughout the country, and provides a much faster option than driving given the poor state of many roads. Be warned that Air Madagascar is notorious for changing flight schedules and cancelling flights. While the airline will provide you with a hotel and book you on the next available flight in the case of a cancellation, beware of booking tight connections and always confirm your flight time the night before.

Passengers who arrive in Madagascar on a long-haul flight with Air Madagascar can get reductions of around 25% on the company's internal flights - call and ask about this discount when booking your domestic flights.

By train

As of 2014 it seems like there's no service connecting Antananarivo. Check madarail for more accurate information.

There are four rail lines in Madagascar :

  • Antananarivo-Ambatondrazaka via Moramanga, you can get on the train between Moramanga and Ambatondrazaka.
  • Antananarivo-Antsirabe
  • Fianarantsoa-Manakara three times a week for both directions.
  • Antananarivo-Toamasina: people can travel between Moramanga and Tomasina approximately twice a week.

With the Malagasy railway network dating from the colonial period, breakdowns are frequent due to poor maintenance, and a line may be closed for several weeks.

The train is not the fastest and most comfortable means of travel, but it lets you admire the magnificent landscapes (especially on the line connecting Fianarantsoa to Manakara) and discover the Malagasy fruits and dishes offered at every stop. You can taste what is in season at little cost: crayfish, bananas, cinnamon apples, sambos, zebu sausages, oranges.

Travelling by train is cheap (1st class from Fianarantsoa to Manakara only 25,000 Ar. You want to choose a 1st class seat; or get up very early if you want to be sure to get a 2nd class ticket since it is always extremely crowded (the train is the only mean of transport for many villagers) and no booking is possible in 2nd class. Unfortunately, the train that runs between Manakara and Fianarantsoa has become less reliable lately (early 2007) due to poor conditions of the tracks.

For short trips, you might be able to board a goods train. Just ask the driver but make sure you get off the train before entering the big cities since this way to travel is not totally legal.

By car

Madagascar's roads are almost all of very low grade (with the exception of 2 routes leading out of Tana). Many roads are studded with potholes and are quagmires in the rainy season. Be warned that travel by road will almost always take much more time than you would normally expect. Hire of a 4WD vehicle can reduce this problem but the cost will be higher but still very cost effective if you are not traveling alone and able to split the rental fee between the members of your group (at least USD70/day/car, updated October 2014). In nearly all cases a car rental will include the cost of a driver and his accommodation, but verify when booking your rental; most companies will not rent a car without a driver, and in many cases the driver can act as your guide and translator as well.

By taxi-brousse

This is the way most natives travel around the country. There are three major modern roads in the country: RN7 from Tana to Toliara, RN2 from Tana to Tomasina (via Brickaville) and RN4 from Tana to Mahajanga. Trips between those towns take about a day whereas traveling between Tana and Taolagnaro, a south-eastern coastal town, would take about 3 or 4 days due to the condition of the road. Travel is cramped and don't expect air conditioning. Expect dust to be a problem in the dry season. Travel by Taxi-Brousse is guaranteed to test one's patience and sanity, but there is quite possibly no better way to meet and interact with the locals and experience Madagascar as the Malagasy do.

Taxi-brousse is by far the cheapest way to travel, but do not expect to leave or arrive on time. Indeed, the drivers wait for their 15 seats small buses to get full before leaving, therefore a few hours delay is never excluded. However, during the trip it allows you to admire the breathtaking landscapes Madagascar holds. Destinations to most national parks and towns can be reached from "Antananarivo", drivers will happily drop you off en route to their final destination.

By taxi-be

In Tana, the cheapest way to get around is by taxi-be, or big taxi, which is a bit larger than a mini-van. There is one aisle with seats to fold down so they can cram in even more people. During peak season, buses run frequently.

By boat

If you are looking for an unusual holiday, a yacht charter to Madagascar might be a good choice.

For those who would like to bareboat, a “guide” is usually included in the price of the yacht charter. Although obligatory, he comes with the price and is essential for the multitude of services he will provide. He will prepare the food, recommend anchorages, know where to fish and refill the water tanks. He will speak the local language and have an established relationship with the local people. He will protect the boat from theft when you leave it to explore on land. The guide lives completely on the exterior of the boat and does not require a cabin. A yacht charter to Madagascar is a bit of a “Robinson Crusoe” adventure. Once you embark, you will not be able to stock up provisions again and must live off the fish and seafood you will catch for yourself (or with your guide). So take great care with your provisioning list.

This problem can be avoided by chartering one of the crewed catamarans. The boats are designed for stability so sea sickness is not really a problem. The crew prepare the boat with linen, food and drinks before your arrival -basically these boats are like a personal floating hotel. Depending on which boat you choose you could receive excellent service and food and suggestions of where to go and what to do. Choose your catamaran carefully as there are some really old ones in service- make sure the crew can speak your language.

By bicycle

Madagascar is a great place to tour by bike and staying in small towns and villages along the way gives a real sense of what the country is all about. A mountain bike or heavy duty tourer at least is required as the roads can be in poor to terrible condition. In the rainy season on the East coast the main North-south road can become impassable, possibly leading to a two day walk - over soft sand in one section - this is not an easily rideable route. Generally there is little to no traffic which makes cruising around a great pleasure. The people are amazingly friendly and you'll be greeted with crowds of children shouting 'Vazaha' in every village.

There are few or no facilities for cyclists, so be prepared to camp rough (ask if it is somebody's land and never too near a family grave) or sleep in very basic guesthouses. Likely you will be invited to stay in people's houses. Bring a spare tire, puncture kit, chain, brake/gear cable, derailleur and all the tools you need.


The entire island speaks one language: Malagasy, an Austronesian language. "Malagasy" also refers to both the language and the people of the island. Because the island is so large there are many different dialects. The Merina dialect is the "Official Malagasy" of the island and is spoken around highlands of Antananarivo. Most Malagasy, however, speak Merina across the island. Attempts by foreigners to learn and speak Malagasy are liked and encouraged by the Malagasy people. Today, Malagasy is the daily language spoken by 98% of the population in Madagascar, and since 1972, Malagasy has been used as the language of instruction in some schools. As an Austronesian language, Malagasy is more closely related to languages spoken in maritime Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands than to other African languages.

French is the second official language of Madagascar, and most individuals encountered in parks and other touristy areas will speak fluent French; speaking some French will make any trip to Madagascar much easier. English is increasingly common and most parks will have at least a few English-speaking guides. Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese are understood to a lesser extent in areas where tourists are likely to visit.

Some basic Malagasy vocabulary that will help relate to the Malagasy people (there are many different regional versions of the Malagasy language across the country):

Malagasy pronunciation treats vowels as if they were French, and consonants as if they were English.


  • Tsingy de Bemaraha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is Madagascar's largest reserve (152,000 hectares). The fascinating raised limestone plateau is decorated with a frail, chaotic razor-sharp collection of pinnacles, the “Tsingy”, also called the Labyrinth of Stone. Areas of deciduous forest also provide the chance to see brown lemurs, a variety of bird life and the rare all white Decken’s sifaka. The great variety of flora includes: aloes, orchids, numerous pachypodium and baobabs. The deciduous forest is home to over 50 species of birds; 7 species of lemurs (including the all-white Deckens sifaka) and the rare stump-tailed chameleon (Brookesia perarmata). The site of Bemaraha is managed under special UNESCO and access is restricted and the areas you are allowed to visit vary from time to time. Located approximately 180 km north of Morondava.
  • Avenue of the Baobabs is an extraordinary stand of huge baobab trees. Located 45 minutes north of Morondava on Madagascar's west coast it is one of the most visited sites in the Menabe Region. A candidate as one of the 7 Wonders of Africa; efforts are underway to protect this unique grove of more than a dozen trees. Some of the trees, Adansonia grandidieri, are over 800 years old and reach a height of 30+ metres. A photographer's paradise, and especially beautiful at sunset.


Most people visiting Madagascar do so for the wildlife, and there are a number of national parks and private reserves scattered throughout the country. Some are easier to reach than others - the dual Andasibe-Mantadia National Park area is just a few hours from the capital via a paved road, while other parks require days of driving and trekking to explore.

Scuba diving and snorkeling is exceptional in Nosy Be, and is also possible in other areas like Toliara. Be aware that the nearest hyperbaric chamber lies across the Mozambique Channel, and that outside of Nosy Be scuba equipment may not be up to expected standards, so exercise caution and be careful to minimize risks when diving. The condition of corals varies from pristine at Nosy Tanikely to completely destroyed elsewhere, and depending on time of year the visibility may exceed thirty metres, or may be reduced to zero by the outflow from rivers, which, due erosion caused by deforestation, can turn the ocean brown. In the far north near Diego kitesurfing and windsurfing are exceptional between April and November when a constant 30 knot wind makes the area one of the best surfing spots in the southern hemisphere. Kayaking and deep sea fishing are always rewarding water activities.

The UNESCO World Heritage site Rainforests of the Atsinanana is made up of six national parks along the eastern coast of Madagascar; Marojejy National Park, Masoala National Park, Zahamena National Park, Ranomafana National Park, Andringitra National Park and Andohahela National Park.



Local money is the Malagasy ariary, denoted by the symbol "Ar" (ISO code: MGA). It is subdivided into 5 iraimbilanja, one of only two non-decimal currencies (the other is the Mauritanian ouguiya).

Credit cards are not widely accepted outside of Antananrivo and Nosy Be, and Visa is often the only card that will be accepted when payment by credit card is an option. Prices for hotels and other services used by travellers will generally be quoted in euros, but expect to make payment in the local currency. You can withdraw money from ATMs in the cities, using a Visa or Visa Electron card. MasterCard can be used with ATMs of the BNI bank.


Vanilla and other spices are cheap in Madagascar compared to Europe or elsewhere, and the quality (especially of vanilla) is very good. (Vanilla is about €2 for 10 pods in Mada, compared to €15 in France.)


Tipping is a matter of much confusion in Madagascar, and is made more confusing because expectations are different when the customer is a foreigner instead of a local. In restaurants and bars you should leave a tip equivalent to ten percent of the total bill, but be aware that locals will generally leave far less. If someone helps you with your bags consider a tip equivalent to $1 per bag. In taxis, rounding the bill upwards is more than sufficient. If you have a private vehicle with a driver, tipping the equivalent of US$10-13 per day is considered extremely generous, while US$5-10 per day is normal for standard service. A good tip for a park guide is approximately $7-$10 per day. Individuals who clean hotel rooms are sometimes not given a salary, so consider leaving a few dollars in the room when you depart (many hotels will have a tip box in the lobby that can also be used to tip the entire staff). When in doubt about how much to tip, consider that even a doctor or university teacher may be making less than 200,000 Ar per month, and remember that in remote areas your tip may set expectations for travelers who follow you, some of whom may be researchers or aid workers with limited funds available (information accurate as of October 2014).


The cheapest way to get a meal is to eat at a "hotely". A plate of rice, laoka (malagasy for a side dish accompanying rice) like chicken, beans or pork, and rice water costs about 1300 Ar. For 200 Ar extra you can get a small glass of homemade yoghurt.

Bananas (hundreds of varieties) and rice cakes (Malagasy 'bread') are staple 'street food' and available everywhere. Coffee is very good, usually hand-made by the cup and served very sweet with condensed milk.

Steak-frites is available in restaurants in the larger towns.

Supermarkets - In Tana there is a supermarket chain called Jumbo Score. This Western style supermarket is well stocked with but the expensive prices reflect the need to import just about everything. There are many Casino (a French Supermarket) branded goods but also some more local produce (veg, spices, etc., far cheaper from any the street markets). Shoprite is a slightly cheaper but usually smaller alternative.


There is no safe tap water so be prepared with bottled water, which is usually easily obtainable. The only other option is ranon'apango (RAN-oo-na-PANG-oo) or rice water (water used to cook rice, which will therefore have been boiled). It's particularly important to plan ahead if visiting rural areas. It is worth taking with you some chlorine tablets, which can be used to make the local water drinkable.

In towns, roadside drink stands, stores and bars are plentiful. Most sell a range of drinks including bottled water, Fanta, Coca Cola and Madagascar's beer, Three Horses Beer ("THB"). You can also try the bubblegum flavoured 'Bonbon Anglais', which is to South American Inka Cola, although it may be sold as 'limonade' - leading you to think it may be lemonade.

Home brewed rum, and creme de coco, is also available in many flavours.


Lodging quality varies dramatically throughout the country, from bug-infested mattresses in dorm style rooms to luxury five star resorts. In most places room prices will be quoted per room, although many luxury resorts quote prices per person. Insect nets and private bathrooms are provided in nearly all of the more upscale lodging, although in lower-quality establishments you may need to provide your own bug net and bedding.


Learn some Malagasy. The single best thing you can do to have a fun and safe trip is to speak the local language. There are a number of guidebooks you can buy to learn Malagasy, or alternatively you can ask someone to teach you. Just a few words will make all the difference.

Stay safe

Madagascar is a fairly safe country. You must, however, respect some simple principles:

  • Don't walk around at night in Antananarivo (other cities are pretty safe).
  • Don't exhibit signs of wealth (cameras, jewels).
  • Similarly, always carry small notes. Paying with large domination notes shows off your wealth, can insult the seller because they will not have change, and opens you up for becoming a target for crime.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings when using public transport or visiting markets where numerous pickpockets swarm.
  • Learn the Malagasy word for thief, "Mpangalatra" which is pronounced "Pun-gul-ah-tra". If someone is trying to rob you in a busy market area scream this. The fact that a vazaha is screaming thief will unsettle the thief as well as alert the people near you to help.
  • Always listen for the words "vazaha" or "vazongo" when spoken in low tones. If you hear these words be aware that someone is talking about you, for better or for worse!

Like any other developing country, there are a lot of beggars. This is sometimes uncomfortable for tourists, but these people should be respected nonetheless. They are, predictably, attracted to foreigners and will not hesitate to ask for a hand-out. If you don't want to give, a simple "Non, merci" or "Tsy Misy (tsee-meesh)" (I have nothing) will do the trick. If they persist, try shouting "Mandehana! (man-day-han)" (Go Away!) It is recommended not to give money, but other useful items, such as a banana, a piece of bread, etc. It is usually accepted with gratitude, and if the beggar is a child, he will run away with a smile on his face. It is imperative not to encourage begging - in Madagascar the people do not really believe in getting something for nothing and will invariably offer you something first. For example a chameleon to photograph.

Stay healthy

Visitors to Madagascar should be aware of a vast number of health concerns. Diseases such as the plague, which are almost unheard of elsewhere, still occur in Madagascar. Drinking water is almost never safe for foreigners; treated or bottled water should always be used, and salads or dishes containing unpeeled fruits or vegetables should be avoided. While the AIDS epidemic has not reached the devastating level found in many southern African countries, it is widely assumed that the incidence of AIDS is underestimated and rising, so you should take no risks and avoid unprotected sex in all cases. When swimming, beware of the possibility of human waste in the water, which can cause cholera, typhoid, and a number of other diseases. Leeches and tropical parasites are also a concern.

Research malaria prophylaxis options, and follow through. If you are not taking any prophylactics, be sure to always use a mosquito net for sleeping, and apply mosquito repellents once dusk sets in. On-skin repellent (only repellents containing ~40% DEET are effective, such as NoBite, Azeron Before Tropics etc.) is good but should be used in combination with on-clothes repellent (i.e. NoBite). The clothes repellent is odorless approximately an hour after application, and clothes can be washed up to 4 times before it needs to be re-applied. If you wear long-sleeve clothing treated with the repellent and apply on-skin repellent to the skin parts not covered, you will be very safe against mosquito bites and can skip the prophylaxis with its notorious side effects. Be sure to take the repellent issue seriously, though, as it's very easy to fall into a more 'relaxed' mode after you've spent some time in the country.

Areas inhabited by humans will invariably have large populations of stray dogs. Avoid stray dogs, and although bites are rare, if bitten seek medical assistance promptly as rabies is not unheard of.

Remember that Madagascar is in the tropics and take precautions against sunburn and heat exhaustion seriously. Wear lots of sunscreen and keep hydrated. Remember that a cloudy day does not mean you won't get burnt.


Everyday life in Madagascar is regulated by numerous fady (taboos) which vary from one region to another. They can forbid foods (pork, lemur, turtle... ), wearing clothes of a particular colour, bathing in a river or a lake. Observance of "Fady" is mostly limited to rural areas, as tourists will most likely not encounter this problem if they stay in the main towns. However, there are Fadys in places such as Antananarivo but most Vazaha are exempt.

Fady are attributed to ancestors, to whom Malagasy adopt a respectful attitude whatever their religion. It is safest to respect these prohibitions and not violate them, even if you feel they don't make sense. Inform yourself about local fady when you arrive in a new place.

When addressing anyone older than you or in a position of authority (e.g. police, military, customs officials), use the word "tompoko (toom-pook)" the same way you would use "Sir" or "Ma'am" in English. Respect for elders and authority figures is important in Madagascar.

Do not ever take photos of a tomb without permission. Always ask permission before taking photos. Also, if you go to a remote village or hamlet it is fomba or tradition that you first meet with the head of the village if you have business in the village. Meeting this person can save you a lot of time if you have work to do there.


Ed. Note: This time of year we see lots of gift guides, almost always filled entirely with free products that companies sent editors so that they’d be included in their gift guides.

Since all the stuff people offered to send us was rather lousy, we turned to someone who knows how to pick a good gift, my wife. Her gifting has become legendary, and not just because she once kidnapped me for a Tokyo escape on my 30th birthday (but that’s a pretty good example). She finds little things that others ignore, and pulls a package together in ways you can’t always imagine.

So in a move that combines both nepotism and public service, we turned to her for holiday travel gift guide advice. You last-minute shoppers can direct your thanks to her Twitter account.

–Jason Clampet

You’re making a list and checking it twice. Your peeps love to travel and you want to get them something awesome. But you don’t want to get them a passport holder or a yoga mat holder or anything that they will open and say, “Wow. Thanks… This is… Nice.”

So here is our very discerning pick of the best gifts to get people who love to travel.

Stocking Stuffers

Have a friend who’s totally stressed out. Give her a $9.95 month long subscription to Dave Romanelli’s “Meditate On.” The meditations are short, not overly New Age and full of Dave’s mellow, surfer vibe. Check out the sample, Meditate On Hawaii.

The New York Oyster Map

The New York Oyster Map

Food maps from All You Can Eat Press are limited to New York, but anyone who loves food would appreciate one of these in their stocking. No matter where you live, it’s worth it for the inspiration alone:

We love the:

Many things at Flight 001 are fantastic (even the passport holders we promised not to mention), but we like these little pouches with travel encouragement:

In our house, we can’t keep these En Route notecards in stock:

En Route Notecards

Illustrated En Route notecards.

The Aromatherapy Associates Mini Bath and Shower Oil Collection is great for travel. But it is also great for when no trip is on the agenda and you want to close the bathroom door and pretend like you’re at a Four Seasons.

Each mini vial is good for one shower or bath and the scents are: ontains Relax Light, Relax Deep, De-Stress Mind, De-Stress Muscle, Revive Morning, Revive Evening, Support Breathe, Support Equilibrium, Support Lavender and Peppermint

We especially like to order this from Net-A-Porter and get it wrapped in their beautiful signature black box with the grosgrain ribbon:

The Try the World food boxes send monthly selections from some of our favorite places like Paris and Istanbul. Their special holiday box includes 8 full-size items including Urbani white truffle oil from Italy, authentic Swedish gingerbread thins and Favarger heritage Swiss chocolate. Just the thing for the holidays when people drop by unexpectedly. Oh, do people not drop in unexpectedly at your house? Our bad.

One of our favorite cookbooks this year was Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. You can nab a signed copy at Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, GOOP for the very low price of$29.95.

Not a fan of the Gwyneth? Understand. But this is signed.

Gifts for Children


Let’s Go Adventuring double sleeping bag.

This is by far, above and beyond, our favorite book to give as a present to kids. Around the World with Mouk is the story of a French bear who goes around the world from Greece to Madagascar, from Burkina Faso to Bondi Beach. Mouk’s itinerary is inspiring for both little ones and grown-ups alike, the bear and the author, Bouvant, have both got mad travel game:

Another great book, Kiki and Coco in Paris, and the doll that inspired the book, a collectible, handmade, rag doll by artist Jess Brown. Both are available at Land of Nod:

We love a camper and this Jetaire play tent will be the starting point of dozens of imaginary trips, while a double sleeping bag will carry your little ones from the front porch to the back yard to points beyond. Let’s Go Adventuring? Yes, please, thank you.

Pricey Gifts

An Airline or Cruise Line Gift Card: Jet Blue recently discontinued their gift card service, but Delta has picked up the slack. They do both egift cards and physical gift cards with a fetching photo of a plane on it. Nothing says, “Come see me!” or “I miss you!” or “Go have an awesome adventure” like a gift card that can actually be applied to travel:

We are not ashamed to say that we love a good cruise. Having recently sailed Royal Caribbean’s newest Quantum of the Seas, we would be very happy to get even a $25. gift card from that line. We had the most delicious breakfast at Devinely Decadence, the healthy restaurant by Biggest Loser Chef Devin Alexander.

A Relais & Chateaux gift box.

A Relais & Chateaux gift box.

We loved the roller skating, the rock climbing and all the maxing and relaxing we did in the solarium. And dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian was as good as some of the best meals we’ve ever had on land.

Royal Caribbean gift cards come in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500.

Relais and Chateaux Gift Box: These gift boxes can be used for hotel stays, meals or a combination of both. They are pricey, but so worth it. (Note most of the hotels and restaurants are abroad so do read the fine print about these fine establishments.)

  • The Tasting Celebration Box, 249 Euros is good for a three or four curse dinner and a glass of wine or champagne for two at 196 restaurants around the world (although only one in the U.S., the White Barn Inn).
  • The Romantic Getaway (389 Euros) is good for an overnight stay, a 3 course-dinner for two and breakfast for two at 159 properties around the world.

… And Everything Else


A Globee Hong Kong city globe.

Globes can be cliché, these clever mini globes (some are also night lights and savings banks) are not.

For guys, you can’t go wrong with Paul Smith for printed laptop sleeves or the flight bag.

And while the Paul Smith Havana wash bag is supposedly for men, we think it makes a chic clutch for the chicas.

We get it. You love your Kindle. It’s so light. You’ve got a hundred books in your backpack and it’s light as air, yadda yadda yadda. We have two words for you: Juniper Books. They package collections of great books that look as visually stunning on the shelf as they are extraordinary to read.

A custom collection of Hemingway novels.

A custom collection of Hemingway novels.

More than ever, we travel via our plate. Gift the gourmand in your life with the World Spice Gift set. An amazing cookbook and 13 custom blended spices to whip it all up. Need convincing, check out this sneak peek recipe.

Veronica Chambers is the author of over 20 books for adults, young adults, and children, including the James Beard-award winning “Yes, Chef” and the memoir “Mama’s Girl.” She focuses on gifts at Gifty McGifty

The post A holiday travel gift guide that doesn’t stink appeared first on Gadling.

Madagascar is known for its abundant and diverse wildlife. Have a close encounter with some lemurs, who exist only in Madagascar and the surrounding islands.

HERE ARE 35 places around the world to strap on your GoPro, do some underwater exploring, and come back with amazingly clear imagery.


Linapacan Island, Palawan, Philippines

MatadorU Photography faculty member Scott Sporleder shares this image from Palawan, the Philippines' most remote province and home to many beaches with super clear water.Photo: Scott Sporleder


The Maldives

The 26 atolls that make up the Maldives sit in the Indian Ocean about 400km southwest of the tip of the subcontinent. Abundant reef wildlife (including whale sharks) + incredibly clear waters bring in a lot of tourists. It's also one of Matador's 9 places to experience now before they literally vanish.Photo: Rishwan (Richy)


Dog Island, San Blas, Panama

Another from Scott Sporleder, here is a shot from one of Panama's San Blas Islands, the largest of the politically autonomous reservations of the Kuna Indians.Photo: Scott Sporleder

Intermission 181

35 places to swim in the world’s clearest water

by Hal Amen

25 places we’re dying to explore right now

by Matador Team

How to: Independently trek Nepal’s Annapurna sanctuary

by Matt Huntington

Cayo Coco, Cuba

A resort island on Cuba's north coast, Cayo Coco is linked to the mainland by a 27km causeway. The adjacent reef and clear waters have earned international recognition as a dive destination.Photo: O.Taillon


Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Spain

At the south end of the Mediterranean island of Menorca, the beach at Cala Macarelleta can only be reached on foot or by boat -- probably one of the least-crowded beaches you'll find in Spain.Photo: visualpanic


Sua Trench, Samoa

We sent MatadorU student Abhimanyu Sabnis on a photojournalism assignment to Samoa. He came back with this insane gallery.Photo: Abhimanyu Sabnis


Crater Lake, Oregon

Visibility in Crater Lake has been measured at 43.3m -- among the highest in the world. Photographer Rhett Lawrence adds this note about swimming here: "[It's] allowed, but there's only one access point down to the lake -- a steep, mile-long trail (it's easy enough on the way down, but my then-4-year-old daughter did not appreciate the climb back up). Since that's the only access point, you've got to really want to jump in the lake to do it -- especially since it's so damn cold -- but it is permitted by the Park Service."Photo: Grant Montgomery


Bak Bak Beach, Borneo

A shot from the northern tip of Sabah, Malaysia, near Kudat Town. From the photographer: "It takes 3 to 3 1/2 hours' drive from Kota Kinabalu city. I wanted to shoot a longer exposure but I had a difficulty judging the light or maybe because I was lazy ? kidding. I had to go further the beach, thigh deep and very clear water. Stacked 2 Cokin GND filter P121s, manual exposure 0.25sec, F13."Photo: Nora Carol


Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China

In the north of Sichuan province, the Jiuzhaigou Valley is a national park, nature reserve, and UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to several crystal-clear lakes, it's a region of multi-tiered waterfalls and snowy mountains. Tourism arrived late but is growing strong, and while swimming isn't allowed...there's always night-time skinny dipping.Photo: Who is taking pictures?

Intermission 445

10 volunteer opportunities for free travel

by Matt Scott

Your top 20 bucket list trips

by Joshywashington

Banff and Lake Louise might be the most gorgeous places to ski on the planet. Here’s proof.

by Ailsa Ross

Sabah, Malaysia

Another one from the remote Malaysian state, which covers the northern portion of Borneo and is ringed by reef-rich islands. This photo was taken near Semporna, which is a hub for people who come to dive Malaysian Borneo.Photo: Zahriel


Jenny Lake, Wyoming

Jenny Lake sits right below the peak of Grand Teton and is a landmark for many hiking trails, backcountry trails, and climbing routes. Despite the fact that motorboats are allowed on the lake, its waters are still considered "pristine."Photo: Jeff Clow


Rio Sucuri, Brazil

Located in the Pantanal region of Brazil, Rio Sucuri is a spring-fed river that has some of the measurably clearest water on Earth. Multiple tour outfits run trips that let you snorkel the river.Photo: Luiz Felipe Sahd


Calanque de Sormiou, France

Calanques are steep-walled coves, and there's a series of them along the 20km stretch of coast between Marseille and Cassis. Sormiou is one of the largest of these, and it's popular for its nearby climbing routes as well as its beach.Photo: Paspog


Panari Island, Okinawa, Japan

Panari, also called Aragusuku, is one of the Yaeyama Islands, the most remote area of Japan. The photographer notes: "The islands are also known as one of the world's best diving destinations, having a number of coral species and marine lives as large as those in the Great Barrier Reef. (Over 400 types of corals, 5 types of sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and all kinds of tropical fish species all live around Okinawa.)"Photo: ippei + janine


Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

The most populous town in the Galapagos still sits right up next to some amazingly clear ocean water. Even here in Academy Bay, you can see pelicans, iguanas, sea lions, herons, rays, and other iconic wildlife.Photo: Bill Bouton

Intermission 1K+

20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world

by Jason Wire

9 places to visit before they change forever

by Morgane Croissant

20 charming illustrations of Christmas traditions from around the world

by Ailsa Ross

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

The photo above was taken in the Bonsai Rock area, on the east shore of the lake, which apparently flies under the radar. Says the photographer: "30 years in Tahoe, and until this winter I'd never heard of it."Photo: SteveD.


Cayos Cochinos, Honduras

Rounding out the Sporleder collection, this one comes from the central Caribbean coast of Honduras. For more images, check out the full photo essay.Photo: Scott Sporleder


Primosten, Croatia

On the Adriatic Coast north of Split, Primosten is most famous for its vineyards, in addition to beaches that have been voted the best in the country.Photo: Mike Le Gray Photography. See more at his website.


St. George, Bermuda

The oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in the New World features many historic forts, like the small Gates Fort pictured above. Also: some damn clear water.Photo: JoshuaDavisPhotography


Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Visit on a weekend during high season and you'll be surrounded by busloads. If you can get it on a slow day with clear conditions, though, it's some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii.Photo: ThomasOfNorway


Pupu Springs, New Zealand

At the very top of the South Island, on Golden Bay, the photographer says: "14000 liters of crystal clear water comes out of these springs per second!"Photo: pie4dan


Calanque d'En-Vau, France

Another calanque on the southern coast of France, d'En-Vau has a narrower, steeper channel than Sormiou, giving a real feeling of seclusion and emphasizing the clarity of the water in this cove.Photo: afer92 (on and off)


Rio Azul, Argentina

Put in to the Confluence section of the Rio Azul near El Bolsón, Patagonia, Argentina. Matador Senior Editor David Miller notes, "This was the first river I've ever paddled, played, and swam in where the water was clean enough to drink. The entire Rio Azul watershed is born in the glaciers and snowfields of the Andes and the water is incredibly clear and pure."Photo: David Miller


Corfu, Greece

Corfu sits in the Ionian Sea, off the northwest coast of Greece. Prior to the 1900s, most of the tourists that visited were European royalty. Today, its clear waters draw a lot of package-tour-style action.Photo: smlp.co.uk


Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Matador Co-Founder Ross Borden visited the Cook Islands for a week and came back with images and video of epicly clear water.Photo: Ross Borden


Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand

Made famous when its smaller neighbor, Koh Phi Phi Leh, was used as the filming location for The Beach, the main island sees a lot of traffic from both backpackers and luxury travelers these days. Water like this is a big part of the draw.Photo: mynameisharsha


Playa Blanca, Colombia

This is a 45-minute boat ride from Cartagena and well worth the trip. In between swims in that crystal-clear blue water, be sure to snag some fresh ceviche from one of the vendors walking up and down the beach.Photo: Ross Borden


Blue Lake, New Zealand

One of many bodies of water in this list that someone or other has claimed has the clearest water in the world, Blue Lake is located in Nelson Lakes National Park, in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.Photo: Kathrin & Stefan


Königssee, Germany?

This one's made the rounds on the internet, but no one really seems to know where it was taken, or by whom. The best guess I found was the Königssee, a lake in southern Bavaria, near the border with Austria. If you have any info, clue us in.Photo: ??


Valle Verzasca, Switzerland

The clear waters of the Verzasca River run for 30km through this rocky valley in southern Switzerland. A dam of the same name, featured in the James Bond movie GoldenEye, blocks the river's flow and forms Lago di Vogorno. Just downstream from it, the river empties into Lake Maggiore.Photo: http://i.imgur.com/ukgxS.jpg


Tioman Island, Malaysia

This photo comes from the town of Kampung Genting on Tioman Island, off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Away from its beaches, there's significant rainforest terrain in the interior, where you can see the endemic soft-shelled turtle and the Tioman walking catfish.Photo: Chang'r


Belo Sur Mer, Madagascar

Ross Borden explains: "I started in Moronvada, on the west coast of Madagascar and hired a boat and driver to take me down the coast to Belo Sur Mer, a super-isolated section of coastline known for diving, fishing and the fact that almost no one makes the trip down there. Belo Sur Mer is amazing on its own, but when the owner of the eco-lodge there told me about a string of uninhabited islands 80km off the coast, we jumped back in the boat and pointed it west, towards Mozambique and mainland Africa. What we found was four uninhabited gorgeous islands and one that had a tribe of "sea gypsies" living on it. These fascinating and hospitable people live off the rich fishing stocks of the Mozambique channel. We camped and lived with them for two days and they even took me along on an all-night fishing expedition in one of their sailboats in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was one of the most amazing travel experiences of my life. During the day I would go snorkeling. Shoving off these tiny islands the water gets several hundreds of feet deep very quickly; I was out there with massive schools of deep ocean fish."Photo: Ross Borden


Lake Marjorie, California

From the photographer: "Lakes in the High Sierra come in a number of colors. Lake Marjorie, at 11,132' has an aquamarine "swimming pool" tint. Crater Mountain dominates the skyline, with Pinchot Pass to the south. I was happy to see clouds at dawn, but by noon a fast moving storm was spitting hail, thunder, and lightning as we cleared Mather Pass. Damn, this spot is gorgeous."Photo: SteveD.


Bodrum, Turkey

Along the southern coast of the peninsula of the same name, Bodrum has an ancient history and was the site of one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus). It also has some amazingly clear water. From the photographer: "[It's] so clear at certain places that boats appear to be floating in mid-air! It reminded me of Luke's Landspeeder from Star Wars."Photo: Oky - Space Ranger


Mystery spot

Another unidentified location. Anyone have an idea?Photo: Imgur

ABOUT 300 million years ago, Earth did not have seven continents (or eight if you count Zealandia), but one supercontinent called Pangea, which was surrounded by one ocean called Panthalassa. About 200 million years ago, the supercontinent began to break up and the world as we know it today started to take shape.

Reddit user LikeWolvesDo, used a map of the ancient supercontinent and drew our current international borders on it — the result is rather fascinating. Greenland and Portugal were once neighbours, India was stuck between Madagascar and Antarctica, and Florida was a hop, skip and a jump away from Guinea.

It’s important to note that the map of the world as we know it with seven (or eight) continents will not remain the same. According to Live Science, “Right now, for instance, Australia is inching toward Asia, and the eastern portion of Africa is slowly peeling off from the rest of the continent.” Another supercontinent is likely underway.

To be able to zoom in on the map and see more details, click here.


Map: Reddit user LikeWolvesDo

More like this: This is how green our planet really is

All photos by the author

A vast portion of Madagascar’s fabled coast is accessible only by boat. I embarked on a ten-day expedition (organized by ALEFA) throughout the northwestern part of the island. I visited remote communities, beautiful empty beaches, had encounters with some of the rarest animals in the world, and a chance to see places few travelers ever have. Each day was different. I foraged, spear-fished and/or traded food with local fishermen. I found fresh water to bathe in and amazing snorkeling and hiking. Exploring the coast of the Grand Terre — the Great Land — as the Sakhalave people of the region call it, was unforgettable. 1

A fisherman spends an afternoon on a pristine white sand beach and repairs his nets by hand.


We departed Nosy Be, in the northwest of Madagascar, taking with us some fruit and putting out beef to dry as we sailed. We later ate the beef barbecued, with local rice, for snacks.


Every day, we would stop to barter, buy or fish for food- but more often than not, our skilled crew would spearfish on the reef.


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We couldn't resist beautiful sandy beaches. Every day, we would sail and decide where we would go. Behind this beach, a gorgeous warm freshwater stream allowed us to wash off the salt of our travels.


The huge dhow was made by hand and required six to eight men to hoist up the sail.


Local children were a delight to meet and play with.


Camping on remote beaches was one of the best parts of the trip.


Our dhow was called Mahatsara, “the beautiful one,” and was custom-built by the owner. Dhows have been used by traders on these coasts for hundreds of years.


Gorgeous turquoise waters and white sandy beaches to explore.


The 24 coolest towns in the USA – 2017

Photo essay: Avenue du Baobab, Madagascar

It’s the International Day of Human Space Flight. Here are some of the most beautiful photos taken from space.


In the remote Ramada archipelago, our search for the extremely rare blue-eyed lemur took us through dense mangrove forests.


The blue-eyed lemur is one of the rarest mammals in the world. It lives only in a tiny section of remote Madagascar. The male is black with blue eyes and the female reddish blonde with the same bright eyes. Being able to see these animals was one of the high spots of our unique trip.


Local boys pose on a beautiful day on the beach.


Sometimes we camped on remote beaches; other times we anchored, then stayed in small villages, in which the incredibly friendly locals were a delight.


Fish are dried to save for future meals.


A little boy plays with a toy boat made from raffia wood and cloth.


A fisherman fixes his net at the beach.


A Malagasy beauty queen. On this coast, the animist religion means that each region has its own royalty. They are crucial in the everyday hierarchy of the community.


A fisherman checks out the cargo inside a trading ship. before he heads out to fish at sunset.


Zebu pull a cart used to load up boats that will bring cargo from surrounding villages and take away coconuts and precious minerals.


Hilary Bradt

Madagascar, the naturalist's 'promised land', attracts visitors with its stunning scenery and endemic wildlife, from lemurs and aye-ayes to mantella frogs and sunbirds. From the Nosy Be archipelago to the enchanting coastal town of Fort Dauphin via the capital Antananarivo and the bizarre limestone plateau at Ankarana, Bradt's Madagascar covers all the national parks and protected areas, with itineraries to suit all interests and budgets. Co-authors Daniel Austin and Hilary Bradt have guided mesmerised visitors on more than 30 trips to Madagascar and their personal anecdotes and unparalleled knowledge, combined with input from around 50 experts, make this the most informative and indispensable guide on the market.


Lonely Planet Madagascar (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Madagascar is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Watch chameleons and lemurs in mountainous national parks, haggle like a local at the Marche Artisanal de la Digue, or snorkel incredible coral reefs; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Madagascar and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Madagascar Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, local life and customs, arts, cuisine, environment, wildlife. Over 45 maps Covers Antananarivo, Central Madagascar, Southern Madagascar, Western Madagascar, Northern Madagascar, Eastern Madagascar and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Madagascar, our most comprehensive guide to Madagascar, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Africa.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Wildlife of Madagascar (WILDGuides)

Ken Behrens

The Indian Ocean island of Madagascar is one of the world's great natural treasures and ecotourism destinations. Despite being an island, it is home to nearly an entire continent's variety of species, from the famous lemurs to a profusion of bizarre and beautiful birds, reptiles and amphibians. Wildlife of Madagascar is a compact and beautifully illustrated photographic guide, and an essential companion for any visitor or resident. With an eye-catching design, authoritative and accessible text and easy-to-use format, it provides information on identification, distribution, habitat, behaviour, biology and conservation for all the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies likely to be seen.

The most comprehensive single-volume field guide to Madagascar's wildlife Attractive layout features more than 900 stunning colour photographs Covers the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies, and some of the other invertebrates and plants, most likely to be seen Provides key information about identification, distribution, habitat, behaviour and conservation Introductory sections provide background information on Madagascar and its unique environments

Madagascar 1:1 000 000 inclued Antananarivo inset (International Travel Maps)

International Travel maps

2nd edition. 2 sides map. Printed in Canada.

Madagascar Wildlife (Bradt Guides)

Daniel Austin

Lavishly illustrated and completely updated, this fourth edition of Bradt’s Madagascar Wildlife is a celebration of the island’s extraordinary flora and fauna, 90% of which is endemic. The pace of change in Madagascar's biodiversity is staggering, over the past decade a new species of frog has been discovered at a rate of one every six weeks, and this is the only guide to keep abreast of such scientific developments. Containing over 280 colour photographs, updated information on 22 of the country’s top parks and reserves, plus lively species descriptions, this handbook is perfect for natural history enthusiasts and travellers alike.



Reise Know-How Verlag

Folded, indexed, road map of Madagascar, showing all major and many minor roads, cities and towns, at a scale of 1:1,200,000 (1 " to 19 miles). Map shows national parks, mountains, viewpoints, places of interest, rivers, beaches, railways, and lakes. Legend is in German, English, French, and Spanish.

Chamberlain's Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles and the Comores

Olivier Langrand

This book describes the bird life of the region embracing Madagascar, the Seychelles group, the Comoros and the Mascarenes (comprising Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues) – a region that hosts nearly 400 species, many endemic. All are fully described, giving ID features, preferred habitats, status, calls, distribution maps and full-color illustrations. The book includes useful guide-type maps and practical birding tips. The 70+ superb plates are by Norman Arlott, Hilary Burn, Peter Hayman and Ian Lewington - among the world’s leading bird artists. Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands is the comprehensive guide to the bird life of a region that embraces Madagascar, the Seychelles group, the Comoros and the Mascarenes (comprising Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues). Together, these magical islands and the warm surrounding ocean host a total of nearly 400 regularly encountered species, many of them endemic to the area. All bird species of the region are fully described, giving identification features, preferred habitats, current status and vocalization. Accurate distribution maps accompany all species. Full-color illustrations show diagnostic plumage features. A special chapter, incorporating useful guide-type maps, discusses the practicalities of birding in the region’s main locations.

Madagascar (Bradt Travel Guide Madagascar)

Daniel Austin

A new, thoroughly updated 12th edition of Bradt's Madagascar, the leading and most comprehensive guide to this unique island nation, written by Hilary Bradt, who first visited in 1976 and has returned roughly 35 times, and Daniel Austin, who has visited 12 times and continues to travel there annually. Bradt's Madagascar is by far the most thorough guide to the country in English and is written and updated by established experts whose unparalleled knowledge of Madagascar combines with contributions from over 50 experts in a book which has been the most authoritative guide to the country for three decades. It covers national parks and protected areas and includes itineraries to suit all interests and budgets, plus details of around 1,000 hotels and restaurants.Madagascar is like nowhere else on earth. It is fascinating not only zoologically and botanically, but culturally, linguistically, historically and geologically. This vast island is the fourth largest in the world and also the oldest. This is part of the reason why it has evolved into an incredible hotspot for biodiversity, with a truly unique flora and fauna that is more than 80% endemic to the island, and with new species being described virtually on a daily basis. Madagascar is also the only place where you can see wild lemurs. Almost a quarter of the world's 450-or-so primates exist only here. And Madagascar is the world's largest grower of vanilla orchids, the bulk of which is supplied to the USA for flavouring ice cream and Coca Cola.With Bradt's Madagascar you can visit tropical rainforest and seek out its incredible flora and fauna; explore the otherworldly eroded limestone spires, most famously at Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park – Madagascar's most striking landscape; discover the beach-fringed islands around Nosy Be with their fabulous scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, whale-watching and fishing opportunities; and make the most of a host of adventuring and sporting possibilities, including surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, rock climbing, tree climbing, caving, river trips, mountain biking, distance running, quad biking, trekking and hiking. Also covered are the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ambohimanga; the renowned Avenue des Baobabs, one of the country's most photographed scenes, and information on the best birdwatching spots: Madagascar has almost 300 avian species, with a high proportion of endemics, including five whole endemic families.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Nosy Be

Violent demonstrations took place in Hell-Ville and Ambatoloko (Nosy be) in early October 2013. Two foreigners were killed. Exercise increased caution.

Anosy region

Since June 2012, a number of violent incidents involving cattle rustlers have occurred in the Anosy Region of southeast Madagascar, killing several people. Exercise extreme caution and maintain a high level of personal security awareness if you are travelling to the southeast region of the country, as tensions remain.


Recent elections culminated with the presidential inauguration in Antananarivo on January 25, 2014; however, the political situation remains tense and the possibility of politically motivated violence continues to exist. A grenade exploded hours after the presidential inauguration, causing one death and dozens of injured. In September 2013, a bomb was detonated in front of the Plaza Hotel, and two other bombs were found in the centre of Antananarivo. A militant group claimed responsibility for the September bombing, while criticizing recent international involvement in Madagascar’s domestic politics. These developments represent an increase in security threats, particularly to foreigners, in the period surrounding and following the elections. Remain vigilant, avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.


Robberies and break-ins, often violent, have increased, especially in and around the capital, Antananarivo, but also in rural and isolated areas. Muggings, purse snatchings and pickpocketing also occur. Crime rates in Antananarivo are expected to increase in the lead-up to the holidays. Be particularly vigilant in areas frequented by tourists, including the steps leading to Rova, avenue de l’Indépendance, the Analakely market, the road leading to the Soarano train station, café de la gare and tsaralalana. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure, especially in airports and crowded places.

There have been a number of instances of large-scale looting of shops and stores in recent years. The potential for further similar crimes remains. Keep clear of any street disturbances. Do not leave your bags unattended or go near unattended bags.

Gangs are known to commit home invasions and kidnappings and to patrol areas where foreigners tend to congregate. Employees of non-governmental organizations may also be targeted.

Certain districts of Antananarivo should be avoided, especially at night. Contact local authorities for areas of concern. Be wary of persons representing themselves as "guides," particularly on beaches and in coastal tourist areas, where there have been reports of attacks and robberies. Avoid visiting these areas alone. Armed robberies have also been reported in some national parks. Seek advice from a tour operator or the park administration prior to visiting national parks.

Thefts from vehicles occur. Thieves target cars stuck in traffic for smash-and-grab robberies. When driving, you should keep the windows up, doors locked and valuables out of sight. Attacks on taxis and public transport are frequent, especially at night.

Armed attacks occur on main highways, especially at night. Road travel and hiking in the southern region of the country between Fianarantsoa and Tulear are the activities most vulnerable to this type of incident.


Avoid all demonstrations, even those expected to be peaceful, as they could turn violent without notice. The situation remains volatile. The government ban on public protests, imposed in April 2009, has not been lifted, but public protests remain a possibility until a credible political agreement to return a legitimate government to power is reached. Avoid the vicinity of historical monuments in Antananarivo, where violent incidents have occurred. Be watchful of suspicious, unaccompanied packages or bags left in public places as there have been intermittent bombings in and around Antananarivo in spring 2012. Should unrest occur, airports may be closed with little notice and other departure options may be limited. Ensure that you have adequate supplies of water, food, fuel, money and medications, and that your documentation remains up-to-date. Monitor the situation on a regular basis and follow the instructions of local authorities.

National parks

Armed attacks targeting tourists have recently been reported in the Montagne d’Ambre and Ankerana national parks in northern Madagascar. Be extremely vigilant when visiting national parks.


Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

Road travel

Traffic drives on the right, yielding the right of way to vehicles coming from the left. The use of seat belts is mandatory. The use of mobile telephones while driving is illegal, even when fitted with a hands-free device.

You are advised against driving in Madagascar; the vast majority of rental agencies only rent cars with drivers. Roads are in poor condition, except for a few main streets in the capital and some well-maintained roads to towns on the outskirts of the capital and to a few large towns elsewhere in the country, such as ToamasinaMahajangaFianarantsoa and Toliara. Use four-wheel-drive vehicles if you must drive.

Rural roads are poorly marked. Road conditions may get worse during the rainy season, especially in the northern provinces. Bridges are frequently washed away. Operation of river ferries may be irregular. Check with the local authorities before setting off to find out whether your chosen route is passable. Pedestrians, roaming animals, as well as slow-moving and poorly maintained vehicles, pose hazards.

Local authorities occasionally set up roadblocks throughout the country. Follow their instructions and carry personal photographic identification at all times, preferably a certified true copy of your passport’s identification page.

Air travel

Inadequate maintenance and severe cyclone damage in some areas in recent years has left the road and rail networks of Madagascar in a dismal state. The poor state of the roads and railways, however, has led to the development of an extensive domestic airline network, reaching all parts of the country.

Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Public transportation

Public transportation (including bush taxis) is unreliable, as vehicles are poorly maintained. There is a semi-luxury minibus service between Antananarivo and Tamatave. Urban transport in regional towns generally closes down, as do most public activities, at about 8 p.m., leaving the rickshaw or pousse-pousse as the sole means of travel.

General safety information

Avoid walking in or travelling outside urban areas after dark and exercise caution when visiting beaches or other isolated areas. Tourist facilities are available but vary in quality.

Travel outside of Antananarivo at night is not recommended.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.



  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities and supplies are limited to extremely limited outside the capital. The availability of both prescription and over-the-counter medications is also limited. Bring sufficient supplies of medication for the duration of your stay and carry a copy of the original prescription.

There are no decompression chambers in Madagascar.

Immediate cash payment is expected in private clinics. Medical evacuation is necessary for cases of serious illness or accidents.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

An export permit is required for items such as precious or semi-precious stones, jewels, wooden sculptures, butterflies, hewed stones and vanilla. The permit must be provided by the seller, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce Craft and Tourism, or the Ministry in charge of mines. There are strict restrictions on the export of gemstones and vanilla. It is strictly forbidden to export rare fossils, funerary statues in ancient wood, food, protected plants, and animals, including crocodile products. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar for further information regarding customs requirements.

Canadians travelling for the express purpose of having sex with children or prostitutes should know that such activities are punishable with prison sentences of five to 10 years and/or a fine of 4,000 ariary. Consult our booklet entitled Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime for more information.

Photography of military and government installations is prohibited.

It is an offence for civilians to dress in camouflage or other military-style clothing. Wearing military-style clothing can lead to detention and fines.

Drug smuggling is a serious offence. Penalties and punishment for drug offences, including those involving "soft" drugs, are severe and include prison sentences.

Homosexuality is not a punishable offence, but is not widely accepted.

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are severe.

An accident involving injury or death leads to a mandatory court case, and the losing party is required to pay all costs. If you are involved in such an incident, you must stay in the country at your own expense until the case is resolved.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.


The currency, the Malagasy ariary (MGA), may not be exported. There are still foreign currency shortages in Madagascar due to the ongoing economic crisis. Some banks will not reconvert local currency to hard currency. Upon arrival, you must declare your foreign currency if you have the equivalent of 10,000 euros or more.

An increasing number of stores, hotels and banks in Antananarivo accept credit cards. Traveller's cheques are accepted by some stores, hotels and banks in the capital and in major cities. VISA cash advances can be obtained from a limited number of automated banking machines in Antananarivo (personal identification number required), one of which (located in the lobby of the Madagascar Hilton) offers 24-hour service.


The rainy season extends from November to April. Some roads may become impassable during this period. Cyclones can occur from late December to late March. They affect mainly the eastern part of the island, but some years they make landfall on the western part as well and cause destructive floods. Monitor local weather forecasts and follow the advice of authorities.