When I think of Madagascar I remember baobabs, lemurs, chameleons, the ocean, adventure, and also relaxation. Pure bliss!

You can have it all, and more. Madagascar is an almost forgotten tourist destination. One that will challenge you, and charm you at the same time.

Sunset madagascar

Antananarivo (Tana)

Madagascar’s capital city and home to its main airport, Ivato Airport, is like so many other African cities. You are greeted by over-eager chaps to provide transport and show you the way, but don’t let that put you off. I recommend you pre-book your airport transfer either through the hotel, or a reputable service provider. 

I’ll give some links at the end of the article to service providers that will make your trip smooth-sailing.

See and do in Antananarivo:

  • Visit the royal palace from the 17th century. Namely, the Queen’s Palace.
  • The Zoo de Tsimbazaza has also a botanical garden with a museum.
  • Shop at the Analakely market, the most visited market in Madagascar. They have a nice range of unique souvenirs. Don’t just pay the first price they offer, barter instead. By the way, the Lisy shops also have similar souvenirs and a better option if you don’t like to quibble about the price.

There is not much to do in the city which is crowded with stray dogs, child, and adult beggars, and people trying to scam something. Don’t fall for any of the scams and don’t exchange money on the street. Again, make use of reputable service providers recommended by your hotel. 

Speaking of which, let’s look at your stay in Antananarivo.

Madagascar Market fruit
Above & Below: Analakely Market
Madagascar market colorful bags

The hotel is about 33 min (18.6 km) via Rue Ravoninahitriniarivo from Ivato Airport. It has a nice view of the lake and is by far great value for your money.  Which reminds me, hotel accommodation can be pretty expensive. Conversely, if you go for something cheaper you may not be as comfortable, safe, and secure. 

Two to three nights should be enough time to see the city’s highlights.

Stay safe

That brings me to personal safety and security. It is not a good idea to walk around in the streets without a professional French-speaking tour guide. You don’t want to be the target of gangsters and so on. Madagascar’s crime level is not the highest in Africa, but it sure is still a concerning factor for tourists. 

Public transport is a challenge in terms of being squashed with other passengers and the reliability thereof.

Highlights of Madagaskar – Nature

If you are into wildlife and nature, I recommend a 14-day tour which is more inland based. Some of the sights that are worth seeing are Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Antsirabe, Ranomafana National Park, Ambalavao, Ranohira, Isalo National Park, Ifaty, and Toliara.

The animal life is unique to the area and an unforgettable experience.

Highlights of North Madagascar with Nosy-Be

If you can cope with:

  • Relax on the white sandy beaches and in the blue seas of Nosy Be.
  • Explore spectacular caves and meet several fish and crocodiles.
  • See endemic flora and fauna as well as impressive baobab trees.”

…then this is for you! 

This is by far my favorite because there are not so many stops and it’s the ultimate in relaxation. It is a very popular destination for Christmas and New Year seasons, so best you book well in advance. 

Honeymoon 9 Days East Madagascar

Lastly, the ultimate romantic getaway.

Go for a partially guided tour to see so many exquisite animals, possible. The guides are well-informed and very knowledgeable. They know where and when to go…

Also, you have some whale watching (in July) and the various destinations are of good quality. For instance,

  • The Maromizaha reserve (pack hiking boots and comfortable clothing) with the lemurs playing above you in the trees,
  • Vohimana reserve (make sure your camera is well-charged to capture the most beautiful endemic chameleons),
  • Sainte-Marie and îles-aux-Nattes (small islands in the Eastern part of Madagascar).

Do you plan to go to Madagascar over the Christmas period?

Then you will want to read about the Christmas traditions in Madagascar.

Cheap flights to and from Antananarivo

Ivato International Airport (TNR) is the main international airport serving Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, located 16 km northwest of the city center.

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