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Miscellaneous: When you're heading for an unfamiliar destination, it's often hard to know how much money to allocate for your expenses. It would be tragic to risk spoiling the trip of a lifetime because you've blown your budget, so for what it's worth, these are some of the items that we discovered that we had to incorporate into our Madagascar travel fund.
* When we visited (November 2008), there was a visa requirement - can't remember exactly how much, but it was of the order of US$100 per person (the only advantage was that this could be bought on arrival in Tana). This requirement has been waived at the time of writing (May 2010), but Governments have a nasty knack of reintroducing visa requirements without sufficient warning or publicity, so make sure you check prior to your trip. Thankfully, at the time of writing, there is no departure tax (a speciality of many developing world countries that usually comes to light as a most unwelcome hidden extra and never fails to make my blood boil)
*Secondly, internal airflights are expensive - there are only a few carriers, and there may be unexpectedly stiff competition for seats on certain routes - for example, on the Fort Dauphin- Tana route with expats flying in and out to Rio Tinto's new minerals sand mine. The alternative forms of transport - really only road, as only a handful of railway services are functional and there are few ferries to speak of - are painfully slow even along what would seem to be major routes, and so if you have limited time available, chances are you'll have to bite the bullet and pay for an internal airflight or two to make best use of your time
* If you are visiting national parks (and, if not, why are you going to Madagascar?) then you will need to be accompanied by an ANGAP guide. Note that thw requirement to hire an ANGAP guide still applies even if you have hired your own guide/driver for a customised tour. This is an excellent scheme - both in terms of creating employment opportunities and helping to ensure that tourists get the most out of their visit - since the ANGAP guides are almost always people from the local area, and can be extremely knowledgeable. However, although the rates are not excessive (see an up-to-date travel guide for prices), these costs can add up quickly if you're visiting a few reserves, so budget accordingly (including a tip for good service)
* If you are travelling with a guide and/or driver, then you will need to budget for their accommodation. Whilst most hotels have relatively affordable hostel-type accommodation for guides, beware that some more up market establishments (Berenty - shame on them - is a particular culprit) will insist on guides paying the full tourist rate for accommodation, which can really inflate the cost of your trip.
* As a general rule of thumb, it is not advisable to drink tap water in Madagascar, so you will need to buy bottled water. Much of Madagascar is hot and/or humid, so I would budget on 4 litres per person per day to ensure that you don't get dehydrated (this may seem excessive, but given that most things in Madagascar don't run on time, you will often find yourself with significant unexpected delays, in which case it is prudent to overcater on the water front)
* Food in Madagascar is not particularly expensive. However, in remote areas, there may be fairly little choice and you may have to choose between a restaurant that is more upmarket than you might ordinarily prefer, and street food, with no options in between. Usually I am a very adventurous eater who would prefer to eat from food stalls than in hotels, but as everyone that I have ever met who has travelled to Madagascar has been laid low with a stomach bug at one point or other, I would veer on the side of caution, and pay a little more to eat in places where hopefully the hygiene is a little better. Which reminds me, be sure to pack the Imodium and Pectrolyte to deal with Malagasy Belly when (and not if) it hits you!
Updated Feb 8, 2012
Miscellaneous: You should bring a power strip for your electronic equipment. Most hotels I stayed at had only 1 power outlet for the room. Since most of my eqipment have US plugs, I was able to buy a cheap multi strip that accommodated a plethora of plug types. The strip was only 8,000 Ariary (about USD$4). All outlets in Madagascar are EU 2 pin or French Schuko (grounding pin sticking out of the outlet). BTW, all of my electronic equipment is 100v-240v, just make sure you have all of your equipment the same. One hotel had such a bad fluctuation that at 1 point in time the voltage was only 110v and went up to maybe 200v but never got to 240v. This fluctuation had no affect on my equipment.
Updated Jan 1, 2012
Luggage and bags: If you are travelling to Anjajavy you will have to fly in a small plane so soft bags are better than a hard suitcase.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Sturdy walking boots, preferably waterproof are best for Mantadia as the slopes are steep and slippery and it is quite muddy and wet.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Insect Repellant for Berenty! And burning coils too. Mossies here get in everywhere.
Photo Equipment: Zoom lense is useful for Perinet (Andasibe Mantadia) as the Indries are up in the trees.
Miscellaneous: Andasibe Mantadia is very damp. It is difficult to keep your clothes dry. I would have taken sealable plasic bags to prevent clothes I wa not using there from getting damp if I had known it was so damp.
Updated Oct 13, 2007
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: July, August, September, bring 1-2 jumpers, pull-overs.. A K-Way windbreaker and sometimes, warm pajamas for cold nights in highlands.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Anti-malaria medecines. Prior to your trip to Madagascar, take anti-malaria treatment, have yourself correctly vaccinated against C Hepatitis. Anti-tourista medecines. Ask your tropical specialist as it seems that malaria strains in Madagascar resist to ordinary anti-malaria medicines..
Syringe needles are always in short supply in some areas. So, bring yours (as many as you can, in order to not use/ share used needles). Risk: HIV and C Hepatitis.
Photo Equipment: Special films for humid areas. Special equipment for your scuba-diving pics! Also bring some material (cover) to protect equipment from waterspills, dust when cruising or going through dusty areas.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Solid boots for trekking, climb hills. Thick socks. Sun block creams (especially high SPF ones) as light is strong over there. A hat for sensitive skins and preliminary preparations for "sunbathers". A cotton scarf (like a chech) to cover your mouth & nose from the dust: very useful in winter when it's dry & dusty & you are having a fun trek on dirty roads. Now, to pack light, you could buy the hat, the cotton scarf upon your arrival in Tana. OK, you can check pic2... lol
Extra tip for who intending to walk dusty areas !!! Bring Eucalyptus essential oil (Local brands such as Homeopharma & Bioaroma have a wide range od essential oils - see Shopping tips for addresses) as you'll need them to regularly "clean" your nostrils from dust. Also, very convenient to counter those light colds, sore throats....
Miscellaneous: For lense-wearers, bring extra-units of your lenses and cleaning products. I am not sure shops there do have those in constant assortment.
Updated Sep 18, 2006
Luggage and bags:
If you go to Madagascar , take a cover with you for your luggage.
That cover should be waterproof. When you take a taxi brousse they will transport your luggage on the roof. We noticed that they cover the stuff themselves when we came from Mantadia-Andasibe since it is very likely to rain. But there is another reason. Madagascar seems to be covered with very fine , red dust. That dust finds it way everywhere - even in the trunk of a closed 4x4. I didn't covered my luggage then , and I should have done that. I didn't expect it to find my bags. (when we arrived in Paris , we only realised how dirty we were. I had our clothes washed before returning , but still , traces of that dust ...)
Written Nov 23, 2005
Toiletries and Medical Supplies:
Concerning water... the water in Madagascar looks very clean. But it is safer for you to buy bottled water. We also made it an habbit if we stayed in a hotel to fill a bottle with water from the tap , and ad some purifier in it.(to brush our teeth)
Pay attention , there are different kinds of purifier. The best one is a bit more expensive , you'll need to wait for 20 minutes to make sure that all the bacterias are killed - and the more expensive one contains a substance that keeps the water free of harmful bacteria.
If you go camping for several days and you are not able to take bottle water , you'll need this for sure. A little bottle of purifier can make 1000 liters of water safe for you.
NOW , not all regions in Madagascar have clean water in abundance. In the north that clean water for a large city like Diego Suarez or Antsiranana (100 000 people) is depending on the 'lac verte' - green lake in the national parc montagne d'Ambre. You are in a national parc...how do you feel about using soap and detergents , and how about toothpaste?
To my modest opinion , it might be best to use it as little as possible and to pay some attention if you buy the products. Bio-degradeble toothpaste is availeble in our western shops. It is up to you to make that decision.
Written Nov 22, 2005
Let me explain! I didn't had any good walking shoes. Well I did , but they were not suitable for all purposes... I had the perfect shoes for walking long distances in Belgium , but not for Madagascar.
You'll need some shoes with serious ridges under it. I was walking this cave at Ankarana - it wasn't like the once I visited before , - no electricity , no wooden stairs making it easier - I lost grip , because of my shoes and I went a couple of meters down. Everybody was scared up. lol But I used my knees as brakes.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies:
Well now I come to think of it. You also need some gear to wash out wounds. To disinfect wounds for sure , and to be able to cover them during night. You'll also need something to soften those wounds. On knees they tend to burst open every time you...
I added a picture from my knee - YOU DON'T HAVE TO LOOK AT IT!!!
YOU CAN LEAVE THAT PICTURE CLOSED.
Written Nov 22, 2005
We took our little tent with us. We did that to be able to stay at the national parcs. There is a good reason to stay overnight since Malagasy wildlife tends to be nocturnal. There are often more species of animal busy at night then during the day. Seems like all the animals are waiting for the light to go out to start hunting , searching for food and above all -----to make some noise.
If you go camping at montagne d'Ambre it get quit cold at night and especially near the morning. Not only the animals start making noise at night , there was also a hard wind coming from nowhere. So you'll need to bring some gear to seal your tent for sure.
We also camped at the reserve special de l'Ankarana , but tent there were installed and the climate was much nicer , even warm at night.
Written Nov 21, 2005
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: On several occasions, people asked if I had any t-shirts or hats. Especially liked were baseball style hats with city names on them, and t-shirts with pictures or advertising. You will receive similar gifts if you are doing business or volunteer work.
Updated Jun 30, 2004
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: The potential for sickness is very high. Food borne illnesses are likely. Take what your doctor recommends for such things.
Photo Equipment: Be aware they they can charge you a special duty on video cameras upon entry. Check with immigration before you decide to take video gear. Still pictures are not subject to this duty.
Miscellaneous: In the modern age of banking, we can carry only debit or credit cards to most places. Madagascar is, surprisingly, not much different. I was in Antananarivo and Antsirabe in 2004 and Bank cash machines are readily available in both those places. You will need to have your PIN number to use them with your card. It is much faster and more convenient than having to go into a bank to change money or traveler's cheques. Many of the nicer restaurants and hotels will accept your cards as well. I think you get a better exchange rate at the cash machine. I was with a group, and found myself getting cash for others and taking their money home with me. Do not get too much, as Malagasy money is worthless outside the country.
Written May 31, 2004
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