Madagascar in detail

Flights & getting there

The vast majority of travellers arrive in Madagascar by air, with only a smattering of intrepid travellers making the crossing from southern Africa or neighbouring Indian Ocean islands. Cruise ships are increasingly popular too, although passengers usually only alight for day trips and excursions.

Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Air

Opening Madagascar's skies to competition over the last few years has increased the number of destinations serving the country and has significantly decreased airfares. It's still going to be a one or two stopover job for most travellers, but at least you have more options about where you break the journey.

Airports & Airlines

Long-haul international flights come into Ivato airport, 20km north of Antananarivo (Tana) and Nosy Be (notably charter flights). Most regional airports also handle flights to/from Réunion, Mauritius, the Comoros and South Africa.

Air Austral French carrier linking Réunion and Mauritius with several cities in Madagascar.

Air France French carrier with up to five flights a week between Paris and Antananarivo.

Air Madagascar The national carrier has direct flights from France (Paris and Marseille), Thailand, Guangzhou (China), South Africa (Johannesburg) and neighboring Indian Ocean islands.

Air Mauritius (www.airmauritius.com) Flies between Mauritius and Tana six times a week.

Air Seychelles (www.airseychelles.com) Flies between Tana and Mahé twice a week.

Ethiopian Airlines (www.ethiopianairlines.com) Flies between Addis Ababa and Tana and Nosy Be four times a week.

Kenya Airways (www.kenya-airways.com) Two flights a day between Nairobi and Tana.

South African Airlink (www.flyairlink.com) Daily flights between Johannesburg and Tana and two weekly flights between Johannesburg and Nosy Be.

Turkish Airlines (www.turkishairlines.com) Flies between Istanbul and Antananarivo four times a week.

Departure Tax

Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.

Sea

Yachts regularly sail to Madagascar to/from South Africa, Mozambique, Mayotte, Réunion and Mauritius, and travellers may be able to join the crossing as crew members. Your best option to find a boat are online forums, word of mouth and asking around at ports (Nosy Be in particular).

Tours

The following European, American and Australian tour operators offer trips to Madagascar, whether tailor-made or as part of a group:

Adventure Associates (www.adventureassociates.com; Australia) Runs two trips a year to Madagascar.

Baobab Travel (www.baobab.nl; Netherlands) Offers a south and east circuit.

Cortez Travel & Expeditions (www.air-mad.com; USA) Well-established operator with an agency in the USA and one in Madagascar. Offers organised tours as well as customised trips.

Madagaskar Travel (www.madagaskar-travel.de; Germany) General and specialist fauna-and-flora itineraries.

Natural High Safaris (www.naturalhighsafaris.com; UK) Specialises in top-end itineraries, including dedicated family itineraries.

Priori (www.priori.ch; Madagascar) Cultural and wildlife tours, run by a Swiss national who is a long-time Madagascar resident.

Rainbow Tours (www.rainbowtours.co.uk; UK) Specialist and general-interest guided trips to Madagascar; highly recommended by travellers.

Wildlife Worldwide (www.wildlifeworldwide.com; UK) Specialist wildlife-viewing tours, including some led by wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt.

Zingg Event Travel (www.zinggsafaris.com; Switzerland) Individual and group circuits.

Cruises

Madagascar is receiving an increasing number of cruise ships. Peak cruise season is December and January, although there are trips throughout the austral spring and summer.

Madagascar is usually bundled in combination with other southern African and Indian Ocean destinations ranging from Tanzania and the Seychelles to South Africa and Mozambique. The length of time spent in the country varies greatly, from just a couple of days to the bulk of the trip.

Noble Caledonia (www.noble-caledonia.co.uk; UK) Reputable operator that runs expedition cruises on small vessels; guest lecturers by country experts are a major feature.