After closing to international flights in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar is partially reopening to foreign visitors on October 1 for the first time in more than six months. For now, travelers will only be able to visit the smaller island of Nosy Be, 31km off Madagascar’s northwestern coast. 

Travel to the mainland of Madagascar is not yet allowed, though some regional airports – but not the main airport in the capital city of Antananarivo – will reopen from 29 October. Tourist sites, including museums and national parks were allowed to welcome locals back in early September.

500px Photo ID: 63762459 - One of the few true jungles left on Madagascar, the Masoala peninsula. Truly amazing primary forest with, like everywhere on Madagascar, a very unique biodiversity (and a lot of slippery stones  ;) )
Visitors are being welcomed back to Madagascar. ©Dennis van de Water/500px

Many of the entry requirements are similar to other countries, including presenting a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours, completing a health form and submitting to temperature checks on arrival, but additional restrictions are also in place. Travelers must have a return ticket, sign a ‘letter of commitment’ that promises to abide by the country’s COVID-19 health measures and carry a local phone card so they can be monitored. It is currently mandatory to wear a face mask in all public places, including in the street, in shops and parks, and a curfew is in place from midnight to 4am.

Tourism makes up about 15% of Madagascar’s GDP, and it’s been estimated that half-a-billion dollars in revenue has been lost from lockdown. The country is a unique haven for wildlife: 5% of all known animal and plant species are endemic here, including weird and wonderful creatures and plants such as baobab trees, lemurs and the smallest known species of chameleon. The landscapes are as diverse as they are epic, and you can travel from rainforest to desert in just 300km.

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