Madagascar is one of the few destinations in the world with many unique features. Its location begins its startling feature. The country is an Island nation that was once a part of a larger continent (Gondwana supercontinent) connected to Africa and India. Some million years ago, it pulled out of Africa and later India to form what some ecologists call the 8th continent. well, not everyone believe Madagascar is worth being a lone continent, but the effect of its standalone is significant, it has made it an ecologically distinctive area classified by Conservation International as a biodiversity hot spot because of its abundant plants and animals which are found nowhere else on earth.
The abundant endemic wildlife and flora of Madagascar, couple with its character as the world’s fourth largest island as well as its distinct culture and beach holiday sites have made it a surreal destination that many people want to visit, and it won’t be a bad idea to spend your next holiday there.
Interesting as the prospect of visiting Madagascar can be, the trip to Antananarivo can raise a little trepidation even for an avid traveller. In this piece, we shall consider a few points to bear in mind before you travel to this island nation.
The cliché tip for a trip to anywhere, and Madagascar in this case, is that you should consider your budget, traveling style, when you are going, how long you’ll stay, weather condition, best time to visit the destination and the key things you want to see or do. These clichés are in fact true for a large place like Madagascar.
For instance, because of its size, it is impossible to see the whole of Madagascar in few weeks, so, except you have several months of holiday, it will be best to prioritize the important things you want to see and plan around them. Even within your plans, you need to create some contingencies because things might not always go as you planned.
The code word in Madagascar is “mora mora,” meaning, “slow slow”. The gist of it is that things are not done in a rush there; your flight might be cancelled or postponed for hours or even shifted to the next day and you may encounter some other delays, all you need do is take a breath and just suck up the magnificence of Madagascar.
Here is a practical one; the trip from the US to Madagascar for instance is quite a lengthen one that will see you cross at least 8 time zones depending on the coast you are traveling in from. The trip itself is not less than 15 hours.
You don’t want to finish such a long journey and end up in a crappy apartment as your hotel room. Worse still is to make the trip during Madagascar’s rainy season from November to May.
What this means is that you really have to research the destination before you go and if you don’t have the time, simply contacting a travel agent or tour operator will be better.
Quite frequently, travellers are advised to use Madagascar tour companies to book the land portion of their vacation and book their international and internal flights separately. There are cost benefits in doing this but you have to be sure that you are choosing the right company. You should also carefully negotiate the details of the deal including the insurance package, the type of hotel you want and ask for a tour guide who can speak the language you understand (Malagasy and French are the popular languages in the country)and possibly ask if the deal covers your feeding.
It is possible to sort the bills before your trip so that you only have to travel with a few cash. Bear in mind that in Madagascar, it is better to have cash on you because credit cards are accepted only in few places and you will need to pay for a few things even if you had paid for the bulk of what you need. Examples of such things include tips, bottled water, park guides (note that the law requires that you have a guide when going into any of the national parks), among others.
Let me close with what you already know, depending on your nationality, you may need a visa to enter Madagascar, you always need to sort your medical need before making the trip and ensure you don’t pack unnecessary stuff with you on the trip
Usifo Mike-Alvin is a creative writer with a knack for budget traveling and adventure. He travels across Africa and reports for www.afrotourism.com
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