There is no highway in Madagascar, so the speed of travel by mountain vehicle, train, barge or canoe is always reduced; however, the trips are never monotonous, these are a whole part of the journey especially if it’s possible to ask the pilot to stop whenever the show deserves it.
On the road, it is not a matter of going from point A to point B but of opening your eyes so as not to miss anything of what will arise between A and B! Anyway, potholes will keep you from sleeping …
Road trips happen exclusively during the day. Respect the schedules so as not to force the guide to drive at night. It is better to take the evening meals in the places of accommodation so as not to leave a secure enclosure at night.
The heat, the rain and the little beasts
The heat can seems to be hard, especially when it is freezing in the northern hemisphere. A cap or hat is recommended against sunstroke, good sunglasses, protective clothing and creams against sunburn.
Thunderstorms are often short but severe. Remember to bring a cape.
Mosquitoes are not too many on the proposed circuits but they are potentially dangerous: you can choose either preventive anti-malaria medecines (with the associated intestinal constraints and inconveniences) or to protect yourself against insect bites (repellents, clothes covering the body, mosquito nets and bag sheets…).
In Madagascar, there are no dangerous animals (except crocodiles) or poisonous snakes. But beware of centipedes and scorpions.
Take only bottled drinks (Eau Vive, THB) or boiled water (teas).
Malagasy cuisine is excellent and varied
The preventive use of pills regenerating the intestinal flora is recommended as well as anti-diarrhea as a curative treatment …
Money, theft, begging, donations, tips
20,000 Malagasy Francs (FMG) or 4,000 Ariary (Ar) are exchanged for just one Euro ! It’s big wad of money to be hidden in one’s skirt. Transactions are made in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000 or 5000 Ar.
The tourist ,called also “vazaha”, attracts the beggar and the thief, as everywhere in the world. Walking around ostensibly showing signs of wealth (jewelry, camera, bananas full of banknotes, etc.) inevitably provokes envy. Keep discreet, otherwise too bad for you!
It is tempting to distribute sweets or few paper money to children. Once you start doing it, you will quickly be surrounded by others. Beware of the riot! Limit your donations to judicious moments, always keep small paper money in your pockets … but give without showing.
Do not load your suitcases with heavy gifts: there are on-site school supplies, balloons and treats at lower prices.
Porters or guides in parks and museums often live of your tips; don’t forget to slip them money if you are satisfied with their performance.
Customs and civilities
You will certainly come across “fady” places (or taboo places). Access is denied by the local community, very often due to a dramatic event. Do not enter for two reasons: firstly so as not to act against local customs, then because there can really be an unexpected danger (crocodiles, water-borne diseases, etc.).
It’s so important not to forget:
– The powerful headlamp (LED, USB) for night walks in the parks,
– Light binoculars, sound recorder, camera or camera,… and all the batteries to load them (220V in all hard drive accommodation).
– Small travel accessories, difficult to find on site: multiple sockets, wipes, liquid detergent, strong glue, sewing kit, writing and drawing kit, zip bags…
And according to the circuit:
– Bathing clothes (and accessories for snorkeling).
– Hiking clothing (walking shoes and light backpack).