Madagascar island offers
diverse and spectacular scenery: mountains, deserts, rainforests,
dazzling beaches fringing the Indian Ocean and island archipelagos
linked by coral reefs and clear turquoise waters.
Ringed by golden beaches and palm trees, Madagascar
island has an interior that is resplendent in its variety, from
grassy plateaus to volcanoes and opaque forests and natural reserves.
Many species that are unique to the island have evolved, including
3,000 indigenous species of butterfly. Madagascar is legendary for
the profusion of its wildlife and flora, 80% of which is found nowhere
else on earth.
The main Madagascar island is the fourth-largest island in the
world but Madagascar the country includes several much smaller islands.
A central chain of high mountains, the Hauts Plateaux, occupies
more than half of the main island and is responsible for the marked
differences (ethnically, climatically and scenically) between the
east and west coasts
Also known as 'Tana', the Malagasy capital is about 1250 m above
sea level in the Central Highlands. With a population of around
2 million people, Tana is the centre of the Merina tribe, who resemble
the Malayo-Polynesian component of the first Malagasy settlers.
The city is set in a basin surrounded by 12 hills. Much of the surrounding
countryside is devoted to rice paddies. The houses of highland towns
are typically multistoried brick constructions, often with wooden
staircases and balconies, built along narrow, cobbled streets and
alleyways. Visit the markets, the Parc de Tsimbazaza zoo, museum,
botanical gardens and enjoy the restaurants and night-life.
Flag of Madagascar
Ariary (AR) is now the local currency being used in Madagascar,
in place of Franc Malgache (FMG). Many people still refer to the
Franc Malagasy (FMG) when selling or buying something, as they are
used to it, but all payment must be done in Ariary (1 AR = 5 FMG).
To check the updated rates, please have a look at the official website
of the Central
Bank of Madagascar
Credit cards (the most useful credit card is VISA CARD) are only
accepted in large hotels, restaurants and some shops, mainly in
Antananarivo. In the other big cities, you can get cash from Automatic
Cash Machines (ATM) only with VISA CARDS. There's now also an ATM
at the airport in Antananarivo. Don't rely on ATM machines only;
they are often out of order. Keep some cash in Euro for emergencies.
Travellers Cheques (TC) such as Thomas Cook, American Express etc.
are also not recommended, as many banks refuse to accept them. But
if you really want to bring Travellers Cheques then bring only TC
of EUR 50 or USD 50 face value, and do not forget to also bring
the invoice or receipt of where you bought the TC. In some provinces,
it may take you up to a few hours to change Travellers Cheques;
the rate is also generally higher than when exchanging cash and
some banks charge you commission