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Madagascar Safari Holidays

The only place in the world where you can see lemurs in the wild, Madagascar is home to a unique plethora of wildlife. Boggle-eyed chameleons, dancing lemurs, and leaf-tailed geckos are just the start.

Madagascar is a destination like no other and has even been named the ‘8th continent’ for its enchanting beauty and resplendent breadth of diversity. An early breakaway from the earth’s single landmass Gondwanaland over 165 million years ago, this stunning island, located 250 miles off the coast of East Africa, is the world’s fourth-largest. The majestic Red Island's landscapes vary from palm and forest-fringed beaches, to semi-arid deserts, limestone pinnacles, volcanoes, and grassy plateaus. Combined with the immense diversity of the wildlife on offer, Madagascar is often referred to as the 'Galapagos of Africa', still providing to this day, one of the most unique and unheard of wildlife adventures left on the planet.

Why NWS for your Madagascar Safari?

Our Founder & CEO, Will Bolsover, spent many years guiding in Madagascar, while several other members of the team have also now spent extended periods of time in the depths of the country. Whilst others shy away from Madagascar, we have an in depth knowledge and passion for this fantastic country having several contacts and personal friends in-country who we can rely on day in day out. Using the very best English-speaking guides you will also always have both a private naturalist guide and driver; this is a destination where you want your driver to keep his eyes on the road, not sharing stories and information while looking out for points of interest. Our focus is wildlife, including up-close and personal encounters.

How much does Madagascar cost?

A Madagascar holiday is actually still very good value for money, especially when you compare it to mainland Africa. For a 7-day safari in Madagascar, we recommend a starting price of £4000 per person. This will generally include accommodation at three different lodges, transfers and private guides. If you are looking to stay in some of Madagascar’s most iconic and best loved lodges, you’ll need to increase the budget to £35000 per person including private light aircraft and helicopter flights, intimate lemur encounters and private guides. But that is for the bees’ knees…!

MAD Russ Maclaughlin Madagascar Lemur Sifaka

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The Madagascar Safari Experience

A safari holiday to Madagascar is not like other traditional African safaris where you explore by 4x4, here you take in the wildlife on foot. A prime destination for getting up close and personal with the wildlife you meet along the way, learning about the small things as much as the big, and taking in the sheer diversity of one of our planet's forgotten havens. Madagascar drifted from mainland Africa way before any big cats, elephants or apes evolved, making this one of the most diverse and unusual wildlife safari hotspots in the world today. Madagascar safaris in themselves can be challenging; roads are rough, transport infrastructure is minimal, and distances are long. However, the efforts you need to put in are more than compensated for by the friendliness of the Malagasy people, the wide choice of comfortable accommodation, and the diversity of the culture, geography, climate, wildlife, and people. If you are prepared to put up with some of the hardships, then Madagascar is well worth the investment of your time.

You may wish to include the following in your Madagascar itinerary:

  • Whale Watching - The east coast is the hot spot for some world class sightings as humpback whales migrate through this eastern oceanic corridor, even using it for calving
  • Track Lemurs - From the tiny egg-cup sized mouse lemur to the morning calls of the teddy bear-esque Indri, Madagascar offers something truly unique for the wildlife lover
  • Medicinal Baobabs - Visit the Avenue of Baobabs for an incredible photography location
  • Beach Relaxation - From private islands to luxury retreats, there are a many options available if you want to wind down at the end of your safari
  • Incredible Hikes - Discover the unique landscapes that Madagascar has to offer including the hot southern deserts and dramatic rock formations of Isalo

Where to stay in Madagascar?

From remote camping in undiscovered parks, to luxury beach hideaways and jungle lodges, Madagascar now has a great selection of truly diverse places to stay. If you are looking for primary rainforest, tropical coastlines, and truly wild lemurs, then look no further than Masoala Forest Lodge. A family run property owned by Pierre and Maria every guest is made to feel at home in thatched tented bandas overlooking the beach. For a luxury beach retreat, escape to the private island destination of Miavana with stunning villas and ocean views. Read more about where to stay in Madagascar.

When to go on a Madagascar Safari

The best time to visit Madagascar is from April to October. This dry season brings fewer rain showers, meaning optimal conditions for seeking out wildlife, hiking and enjoying the beach. Whilst Madagascar holidays can be enjoyed year-round, the principal wet season is from late December through to the month of March; often involving cyclones, it is probably best avoided! Being prepared for all weather conditions is always recommended as weather patterns do not necessarily stick to the traditional seasons. Madagascar is a huge country and therefore climate varies hugely subject to your geographic location. Read more about when to go to Madagascar.

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Madagascar Safari Holidays FAQs

Can I drink tap water in Madagascar?

No, we recommend that you always drink bottled, boiled or treated water during your time in Madagascar. You can buy purification tablets or iodine to treat water during your travels, and vitamin C tablets are good for hiding the taste. If you are buying bottled water, ensure the bottle is sealed when it is handed to you. Always ensure that any ice in drinks is purified or made from bottled water rather than tap.

Which languages are spoken in Madagascar?

The official first language of Madagascar is Malagasy, and the official business language is French. Your guides and some hospitality staff in hotels and lodges will speak English but speaking some basic French could come in handy.

What money should I take?

The local currency in Madagascar is Malagasy Ariary, although most major currencies are accepted. US Dollars and Euros are usually the preferred currency. There are not very many opportunities to change money in Madagascar, so when you arrive at the airport (or before you depart) try to change enough to last you at least a week. Credit card use is very limited throughout Madagascar (the most widely accepted is Visa), but very useful as a back up.

What is the food like in Madagascar?

Malagasy food is heavily rice based, influenced by the many cultures of Madagascar, including Indonesian and European. The closer to the coast you are, the better the seafood. In Antananarivo, as with many big cities, there is a huge variety in international restaurants and cuisine.

For those who eat meat, there are lots of pork, beef and fish dishes, including a traditional dish made from pork and cassava leaves. Vegetarian and vegan options can be quite limited - often there will be a choice of omelettes or spaghetti and sometimes there will be some sautéed vegetables on offer with rice and noodles. Let us know your dietary requirements in advance and we will do our best to arrange something for you in destination.

Is Madagascar safe?

Madagascar is one of the safest and friendliest countries we have travelled to. The locals, staff and guides are all welcoming and friendly, happy to answer your questions and keen to talk. Remember that Madagascar is a very poor country and there are some cases of petty theft in the capital, so make sure you don’t walk around flaunting jewellery or money. You must ensure, as with travelling in any destination, that you look after you belongings, keep money in separate places in case of loss or theft and ensure you’re not out alone at night. In regards to the wildlife, there are very few animals that pose a threat to humans. Listen to your guides, you will remain in safe hands.

Do I need a visa to go to Madagascar?

At present, tourist visas are required by all nationalities entering Madagascar. These can be gained upon arrival in Antananarivo, however we do recommend you look into obtaining it in advance. Visas for Madagascar are approximately EUR35 per person, to be organised on arrival at the airport, but things change regularly so contact your local Embassy for more details. Obtaining the correct visa is your responsibility.

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