Madagascar in detail

Sleeping

Accommodation in Madagascar is affordable compared to Europe or North America, but not as cheap as you might perhaps expect. You should book ahead during winter months (July to September) and around Christmas and New Year.

  • Bungalows Ubiquitous standalone structures, often wooden, always atmospheric. The style changes with the region. They range from basic to luxurious.
  • Hotels Many are made up of bungalows, but not all, especially in cities. They range from simple guesthouse to boutique/luxury affairs.
  • Camping Available in most national parks and the default option on multi-day treks; operators can usually provide all the gear.

Practicalities

Few hotels (except in Nosy Be and Île Sainte Marie) have official low-/high-season prices, although many offer discounts in quiet periods, notably during the rainy season (January to the end of March).

Top-end places are the most heterogeneous, with some luxury resorts costing as much as €500 (Ar1.5 million) per night for a double room with full board.

Because of the depreciation of the ariary, an increasing number of hotels (even midrange ones) are quoting their prices in euros. You then settle in ariarys, at the day’s exchange rate (some places will accept euros).

The vignette touristique is a tax applied to hotel stays; it's charged per night per room and is usually not included in room rates.

Hotels & Bungalows

Hotels in Madagascar come in many guises, from simple pensions to luxury resorts.

Bungalows are ubiquitous in the hotel landscape. They're stand-alone structures, often wooden although their architecture varies depending on the region. They're especially popular in seaside locations and scenic areas. Bungalows can be anything from very basic to plush and elegant.

Hot water is rare in budget accommodation, hit and miss in midrange places, but reliable in top-end places (and in all categories in the highlands, where winter nights are freezing). Central heating is unheard of, however, so you'll have to make do with extra blankets to keep warm.

Air-con is only really necessary in summer months (December to March); on the coast, the night sea breezes are often enough.

All but the most basic hotels provide mosquito nets in coastal areas. They are not commonplace in Antananarivo (Tana) or the highlands, however, despite the fact that mosquitoes are becoming more prevalent.

Camping

Camping is possible, mostly in national parks. Facilities vary, from showers, toilets and well-equipped cooking areas, to nothing more than a cleared area of bush and a long-drop toilet.

Some national parks rent camping equipment, as do local tour agencies (often the same companies organising packages in the parks).

A few budget hotels offer tent pitches on their premises (and use of the shared bathrooms), although you will need to have your own equipment.

Homestays

In rural areas you can sometimes arrange a homestay by politely asking around a village for a place to sleep. Pay a fair fee – about Ar20,000 to Ar30,000 per couple is appropriate.

If you can, bring some rice (the main staple) too – you can generally buy it by the measure (about 300g) in markets and village shops.