Accommodation in Madagascar is cheap compared to Europe or North America, but not as cheap as you might perhaps expect.
Madagascar’s winter months (July to September) are the busiest. It’s a good idea to book ahead at this time of year, particularly in popular destinations such as Nosy Be, Île Sainte Marie or Parc National des Tsingy de Bemaraha.
Few hotels 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).
Full-board accommodation rates includes three meals a day and half-board includes breakfast and dinner.
In 2016 the vignette (tourist tax) of Ar600 to Ar3000 per night, which was included in prices, was abolished and replaced with a one-off €10 charge at the airport upon arrival in Madagascar.
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.
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.
Hotels & Bungalows
Hotels in Madagascar come in many guises, from simple pensions to luxury resorts.
Bungalows are stand-alone structures. They are often wooden and 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.
Fair Trade Tourism
In 2014 Madagascar got its first six hotels certified under the Fair Trade Tourism (www.fairtrade.travel) label. Accredited hotels must:
- Comply with all existing legislation (including labour and tax requirements) and follow governance best practice (training for staff, HIV awareness etc)
- Respect the local natural and cultural heritage
- Make meaningful community engagement
- Monitor their environmental impact (renewable energy, carbon and water footprint etc)
The Ends of the Earth
The end of the Earth: it’s a term you’ll hear used to describe many a place in Madagascar. But what does it mean? There seem to be several factors: isolation, natural beauty, the sea, and a distant horizon, forming a reflective place where the world appears to stop, and the spirit deepens. With that in mind, here are our favourite end-of-the-Earth hotels in Madagascar:
Le Domaine d’Ambola, Ambola
Analatsara Eco-Lodge, Île aux Nattes
Tea Longo, Lavanono
Longomamy, St Augustine
Masoala Forest Lodge, Masoala Peninsula
Sakatia Lodge, Nosy Sakatia
Ecolodge du Menabe, Belo Sur Mer