Getting there & away
Immigration officials generally just check or issue your visa before letting you go on your way.
It’s possible to travel to and from Madagascar by boat, but you will need plenty of time and determination. Travel is likely to be on cargo ships – unless you find a ride on a yacht as a crew member – so sleeping and eating conditions, combined with sometimes turbulent seas, can make it a rough trip.
Mombasa (Kenya) and the island of Zanzibar (Tanzania) are the main places to look for cargo boats to Madagascar. It’s also sometimes possible to find passage on a yacht heading from South Africa, Réunion or Mauritius to Madagascar.
Intercontinental flights arrive at Ivato airport, 12km north of Antananarivo.
Air Madagascar is the national carrier, and with recent improvements to the fleet and service, is now relatively efficient.
The following airlines fly to and from Madagascar:
Air Madagascar (MD; 22 222 22; www.airmadagascar.mg) Hub Antananarivo.
Air Mauritius (MK; 22 359 90; www.airmauritius.com) Hub St Maurice.
Once you’re in Madagascar, Dodo Travel & Tours (22 690 36; www.dodotraveltour.com; Lalana Elysée Ravelomanantsoa), in Antananarivo, is a useful place to seek information about flights within this region.
The main hubs for flights to Madagascar are Johannesburg in South Africa and Nairobi in Kenya. There are flights several times weekly between Johannesburg and Antananarivo (about €500 return) on Interair, and twice weekly on Air Madagascar. Travel between Madagascar and Nairobi (about €500 return) generally works better if you purchase your ticket directly from Air Madagascar in Kenya or Madagascar.
Air Madagascar has recently commenced a direct route from Antananarivo to Bangkok, Thailand. Air Mauritius has flights several times weekly from Singapore and Hong Kong to Mauritius, and South African Airlines flies regularly to Johannesburg from both cities. There are regular connections from Mauritius on Air Austral to Antananarivo, and from Johannesburg you can also connect with an Air Madagascar or Interair flight to Antananarivo.
There are no direct flights servicing Australia and Madagascar; the shortest (and often cheapest) route is to travel via Mauritius. Air Mauritius has weekly flights connecting both Melbourne and Perth with Mauritius from about A$1500 return. From Mauritius there are regular connections on Air Austral to Antananarivo.
Alternatively, Qantas and South African Airways both have flights connecting Sydney with Johannesburg from A$1600 return in the low season. From Johannesburg, you can connect with an Air Madagascar or Interair flight to Antananarivo. Try these agencies:
The main European hub for flights to/from Madagascar is Paris. Air Madagascar and Air France fly three to four times weekly between Paris and Antananarivo. Prices from Paris on both airlines usually start from about €1400 return.
It’s also possible to fly from many European capitals to Johannesburg, Nairobi, St-Denis (Réunion) or Port Louis (Mauritius), and from one of these cities to Antananarivo. The best connections are usually via Réunion or Mauritius, which are linked by Air Austral flights to Antananarivo (from €350 return), as well as by several flights weekly to other places in Madagascar. Contact one of the following agents to get you started:
Air Fare (020 620 5121; www.airfair.nl, in Dutch) A well-respected Dutch travel agent.
Nouvelles Frontières (08 03 33 33 33; www.nouvelles-frontieres.fr) A good French option, with group tours to Madagascar.
Trailfinders (020-7938 3939; www.trailfinders.com) Excellent, reliable UK travel agent with huge amount of experience.
The cheapest way to fly from North America to Madagascar is generally via Paris. It may work out cheaper to get separate tickets – one from North America to Europe, and then a second ticket from Europe to Madagascar.
Another option is to fly from Atlanta or New York to Johannesburg, with a connection to Antananarivo. In the USA, the main travel agency specialising in Madagascar is Cortez Travel & Expeditions (800-854 1029; www.air-mad.com). It has information on good-value airfares and can book Air Madagascar flights. The following companies might also be able to help:
Cheaptickets (www.cheaptickets.com)A good source of online fares.