An otherworldly group of islands off the east coast of Africa, Madagascar broke away from the continent 88 million years ago, with the result that its landscapes and wildlife are totally unique – over 90% of the wildlife here is not found anywhere else on the planet (lemurs being the most recognized of Madagascar’s animal species). Largely untouched, it’s an ideal destination for those looking for adventure and to avoid mass tourism – it’s on the rugged side with an as yet underdeveloped tourism and transport infrastructure. With incredible natural scenery and huge biodiversity (several regions have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites) – the landscape ranges from sandstone canyons, to mountains, rice paddies and forests of every kind, not to mention the beaches.
The climate of Madagascar is subtropical with a hot and rainy season between November and the end of March (summer) and a cooler dry season from May to October (winter). However at all times of the year there is a big variation in temperature depending on location (and largely determined by altitude). The west coast is drier than the east coast while the far south and southwest is a semi desert that experiences very little rainfall. Temperatures are much cooler in the highlands and higher along the coast, but for specific conditions, you’d be advised to go by the region you’re visiting.
As it’s relatively underdeveloped, and so largely unspoilt (which is a large part of its charm), getting around isn’t easy or fast, and visiting the more remote parts of the country (the smaller islands for example) may require charter flights, helicopter transfers or hiring a 4×4 with a driver. This naturally will raise the cost. Bear in mind Madagascar is a large island, so don’t try and combine the entire island’s attractions into a single trip. If well planned however, Madagascar can be really affordable – many of the sights are free or very reasonable, and accommodation is available on a sliding scale. April to June and September to November (the shoulder seasons) will also see flight prices decrease, so if budget is a concern, that’s the time to travel.