Antananarivo Travel Guide
BasicsTime: Local time is GMT +3.
Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are generally of the two-pin variety.
Money: The official currency is the Malagasy Ariary (MGA), which has been reintroduced to replace the Malagasy Franc. Coins and notes display both currencies, but newer notes display the Ariary more prominently than the Franc. One Ariary is equal to five Francs. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and official bureaux de change, but the Ariary cannot be changed back into hard currency. Some banks will only accept US Dollars or Euros. ATMs are available in Antananarivo. Most major credit cards are starting to be accepted in top hotels and major travel agencies in the capital and other major towns, but have limited usage elsewhere.
Currency Exchange Rates
Language: Malagasy is the official language, but French is used in business and government and is widely spoken in the main cities in Madagascar. A few people involved in the tourism industry might be able to speak some English, but it is not widely spoken.
Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Madagascar. A 90-day visa can be obtained on arrival.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Madagascar. A 90-day visa can be obtained on arrival.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Madagascar. A 90-day visa can be obtained on arrival.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australians must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Madagascar. A 90-day visa can be obtained on arrival.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Madagascar. A 90-day visa can be obtained on arrival.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Madagascar. A 90-day visa can be obtained on arrival.
Passport/Visa Note: Foreign visitors to Madagascar of most nationalities can obtain a tourist visa on arrival, provided they have at least one blank page in their passport reserved for the Immigration Authorities of Madagascar, and return/onward flight tickets. Tourist visas are valid for a maximum of 90 days and cost around MGA 200,000 (or equivalent in USD or EUR). Shorter stays cost less. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Madagascar, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health: Malaria is a risk throughout the year and the risk of infection is highest in coastal areas; visitors should take appropriate measures to avoid contracting the disease. All travellers coming from a country with yellow fever risk are required to prove they have been vaccinated against the disease to enter Madagascar. Vaccinations are also recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and influenza, and those at risk of animal bites should also consider a rabies vaccination. Tap water should not be drunk unless it has been boiled or chemically treated. Medical facilities are severely limited in Madagascar, and outside of the capital medical care may be difficult to find. Limited French medications are available in Tana; however, it is advisable to bring along a medical kit for private use. If you require specific prescription medications it is best to bring them with you, in their original packaging, along with a signed and dated letter from your doctor stating what they are and why they are needed. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.
Climate: Madagascar has a pleasant, subtropical highland climate. The hot, rainy season runs from November to April and a cooler, dry season from May to October. Antananarivo experiences regular thunderstorms during its rainy season, with average highs peaking at 80°F (27°C) and lows dropping to 62°F (17°C). July is the coolest month, with average highs of 68°F (20°C) and lows of 50°F (10°C). The best time to visit is in April, October, and November.
Safety Information: The political situation in Madagascar is unstable, especially in central Antananarivo and the Ambohijatovo, Lac Anosy, Antaninarenina and Analakely areas. Violence is possible at any large gatherings and political or military installations. It is advised to travel with an established agency, and solo travellers should continually monitor the local media. Precautions against opportunistic crime, especially in the urban areas, should be taken. Pickpockets operate at the airport and in crowded areas such as markets. Travellers should carry a photocopy of their passport at all times. At night, avoid walking around city centres and road travel outside urban areas as there have been occasional hold-ups on the main routes. The height of the cyclone season is from January to March and affects the coastal regions. Piracy is a significant concern in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, and there have been several attacks against private vessels and kidnappings.
Local Customs: Do not photograph military or police establishments while in Madagascar. Identification should be carried at all times by visitors. In rural areas, locals may abide by a number of taboos called fady, which should be respected by visitors at all times.
Communications: The international dialling code for Madagascar is +261. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). To make an international call to Madagascar, the dialling code of 261 must be followed by a two-digit operator code (e.g. 34 for TELMA, the most reliable), then the regional code (e.g. 22 for Antananarivo) and then the five-digit number. A GSM 900 network is in use, covering major cities and main roads, and some operators have also introduced 3G networks. Public internet access exists in large cities.
Duty free: Visitors may bring 500 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 500g tobacco, as well as one bottle of alcohol into the country without incurring import duty.