Madagascar! Here we are. Baobabs, Turtles, Lemurs! Another place I never thought I would visit in my life and I can now my scratch it off my personalized world map: the best present my sister ever got me! I think myself very lucky with all the countries I visited and every time I look at it there are still so many countries left!! That trip was just amazing and here is my little guide if you plan to visit that beautiful island, where to go, what to do and where to stay.
HOW TO GET THERE ?
We flew with Air Seychelles from Abu Dhabi, with a stopover in Mahe, Seychelles. You can also fly from Dubai with Kenya Airlines. We went in December, the weather is great at this time apart from the West Coast but we didn't get much rain. It was sunny and hot all the time
DO YOU NEED A VISA ?
Yes but you will get it at the airport, you can chose a 30, 60 or 90 days visa, a visa for 30 days costs 80000 mga /27 euros. Have euros or dollars when you get to Tana airport as you won't be able to change your dirhams.
HOW TO TRAVEL ON THE ISLAND ?
Madagascar is such a big island but a place you might visit only one time in your life so it's probably a good choice to visit different places once you are there. We really wanted to see the Baobabs, the amazing & unique wildlife and some paradise beaches. We took domestic flights with Air Madagascar to gain some time as we had only two weeks.
What you need to know about Air Madagascar is that the flights are expensive and never on time so do not plan a connection flight after flying with them. They send you an email the day before the flight to let you know at what time you are actually flying!! Two times we had around 6h delay...
If you are on a budget and you have time you can travel with taxi-brousse which is very cheap but time-consuming.
WHERE TO STAY IN TANA?
We stayed at three different places and my favourite was :
We spent two days there.
Their rooms are modern & immaculate with private balcony & amazing view. You will love the pretty terrace and the food is beautiful as the place is a restaurant before being a guesthouse. The lamb curry is a must try and the breakfast was perfect "A la Française".
The staff was friendly and helpful.
We used their driver Harry, he took us to Lemur island close to Andasibe national park for 300 000 mga and to the airport for 50000 mga. Very nice guy and reliable.
We also stayed at :
WHAT TO DO IN TANA?
Visit hotel Vakuna private reserve and their forest lodge with a beautiful restaurant, just passed Andasibe-Mantadia national park, 130km from Tana; about 3h drive. It is a bit far but worth it! It is better to visit the private reserve than the national park as you are guarantee to see lemurs, the commun ones, the big black and white ones and the dancing lemurs as well.
On the way you can visit the "Reserve Peyrieras" (15000 aviary) to see cameleons, frogs, snakes, gekkos...another beautiful place not to miss.
If you don't have time there is a lemurs park 22 km away from Tana but it is not as nice as they are not wild like at the Vakuna reserve.
We took a flight from Tana which is only an hour away. If you are on a budget you can take the taxi-brousse but it will take you 12h. Morondava is a seaside town located on the west coast with nothing special in itself, the beach is not really nice to swim. However, it's a good base to visit Tsingy or Kirindy parks and the famous Baobabs.
WHERE TO STAY IN MORONDAVA?
We stayed five nights at Palissandre Cote Ouest Resort & Spa. This is the only 3 stars hotel in Morondava. We loved our little peaceful bungalow on the beach, the nice big pool with had for ourselved, the beach bags & towels, the pool table. Breakfast and diner were included and it was ok. They can organise all the tours for you and they offer massages as well in their spa. The wifi only works around reception and we were one of the few clients there so don't expect huge parties but apparently in high season it is busy.
600aed/night (500 000 mga/night)
WHERE TO EAT?
We went a few times to the Baobab cafe, the food is nice and they have a lovely view on the mangroves. Other restaurants to try are Renata and Chez Maggie.
WHERE TO HAVE A DRINK?
Have a beer at Tsarajore/Epibar Or at the Reggae bar, Jean le Rasta
WHAT TO DO?
AVENUE or ALLEY OF THE BAOBABS
Go for sunrise or sunset of both that's what we did. It is on the way to Kirindi and Tsingy so you can also stop on the way if you are visiting those places.(200 000 mga)
we walked around the forest for about 2h trying to see lemurs and we did but if you are lucky you can also see fossa the biggest predator in Madagascar, you also see beautiful birds, lizards, cameleons... (500 000 mga)
A 2 hours trip on a pirogue boat on the mangroves to the fishing village of Betania. Depending on the tide it is better to go at certain times. You will visit the poor fishermen village of Betania, they don't have water or electricity over there, only a few solar panels, don't forget to take pens or sweets with you as all the children ask for them.
TSINGY DE BEMARAHA
This is a 3 days adventure to a national park with amazing scenery and suspended bridges. The road is quite bad, a dirt road quite bumpy and you will need 8h to reach. Also in rainy season you can get stuck or not be able to reach there due to some flooding. You can contact Madagascar touring, they organize that tour every week.
Another hour flight from Tana and you get there, Nosy Be is a a little paradise, beautiful & green island with lots to do located at the North of Madagascar.
WHERE TO STAY IN NOSY BE?
Vanila Hotel is located on the west coast about 45 min from the airport. It is a beautiful garden with 2 restaurants & bars, 3 Infiniti pools which offer all comfort and excursions as well. The rooms are big and clean, we took the ocean view type ( 500aed/night 400 000 mga/night) and it was perfect. The only thing is that breakfast was not included and they always do buffet with a lot of choice but if you are not very fond of buffet like me there is no other choice.
WHAT TO DO IN NOSY BE?
This is a day trip NOT TO MISS. The boat trip can be a bit rough with lots of waves & bumping for about one hour and a half but it is worth it as the place is stunning. One of the most beautiful beach I have ever seen.
NOSY TANIKALY AND SAKATIA
We went to Nosy SAKATIA as it was right next to our hotel anc it was an amazing day trip swimming with giant sea turtles.
The highest point of the island at about 300m. Take a taxi & go just before sunset, take a taxi there, you will see one of the most beautiful view of the island.
We didn't go at the end but apparently you can go with a 4x4 or a quad.
THE SACRED TREE
A tree that was given to the queen by the Indians. It is so impressive to see how that tree grew and how big the tree is now. They will give you fabrics to cover you before entering and the guide will explain all the history.
NATURAL RESERVE OF LOKOBE
You can Row a pirogue to the reserve and back.You will see lots of lemurs, chameleons, boa and plantation of Ylang Ylang. Go with Jean Pierre from Nosy Be tourism. He is supposed to be a great guide.
The most beautiful beach on the island & a 5 star hotel.
WATCH BARE KNUCKLES FIGHTING
Every Sunday's at 5pm at Tjambalaba or the capital, ask the locals before. Boxing like you never saw it before.
A street with beach view restaurants and shops.
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