Now you're probably thinking what is a pack of Tuc doing here. I hope you are familiar with these renowned salty biscuits. If not, fly with Air Mad and you'll know because you get a whole pack on each internal flight, together with a big bottle of soda pop.
At first it was strange, then it became hilarious as we discovered you do get them on every flight. And then we were actually looking forward to it. I'll never eat Tuc again without thinking about those scary little Air Mad planes which turned out to be flown and landed in the most secure and stable way!
We booked air France to get to Antananarivo , the capital city- from Paris. Now the price is something that bothers a lot of people. It IS expensive. But I like to give you some tips how we booked our ticket much cheaper. The airplane was full , so I wouldn't count on last minute options. I booked well in advance - with travelocity and had the ticket send out to us.
-we got a good insurance already , so no need to take one extra from the site.
-make sure if you do that , you got a good annulation insurance too - you can take that separate , if you travel frequently , take if for the whole year? If you got a gold card - credit card - that annulation insurence might be in it.
There are some disadvantages on booking NOT on the air France site.
We had to leave from Brussels , and the flight was just after ten in the morning.
You can make it to the plane , if you take the fast train Thalyss , but only with the special help of the Air France memers. You pay hard cash for that , and they don't want to deliver the service if you booked train and flight seperately. (I think that is a shame , we are all custumors right). So we booked ouselves a night near the airport. ( a more relaxing way to leave)
Air France has modern aircrafts. The staf is friendly and professional. They got individual screens for computergames , movies , news , video , radio...that was good. When we left from France , it was the best aircraft food we've had so far. Coming from Madagascar...that was something different. Yakkes. It is a night flight , and they serve breakfast (awful) just before landing. (I didn't liked that).
Oh , and the flight wasn't on time when we left. But in Madagascar we flew 4 times and none of them was on time.
Try the charm of ricksaw transportation in cities such as Antsirabe, Toamasina and Mahajanga and Toliara. Though tourists may feel not at their ease on those ricksaws, think of Tana ricksaw pullers have even harder work. Indeed, Tana ricksaws don't carry humans, they cary heavy lumbers, iron rods...
"Pousse pousse" means "Push push", though it rather means "Pull pull" :-)
Above all, they are part of lucky ones who have a job... So, do not hesitate, use this tip, especially in hot areas such as Mahajanga. It would save you energy as walking is sometimes harsh there, esp. at noons and early afternoons.
Bargaining is a rule in Madagascar BUT since pousse-pousse tariffs are really low, there is no point in bargaining. Those guys only have this as a job.
A plus for pousse-pousse pullers, they know their cities by heart and may show you hidden jewels as well. Isn'it nice? A win-win deal, indeed.
Tip also applies to motorcycle and other outdoor activities.
Bear in mind that in winter, (June- September), sun sets at 5.30 pm. That means that you'd better calculate your timing for visiting specific isolated and remote areas. In addition, as directions in Madagascar roads are always missing and in case you travel without a guide, better head to a hotel in the nearby and make an early leaving the day after.
Off course, the tip also applies for picture taking. No light at 5.30 pm
- from May to October, sun rises at 5.00 am and sets at 7.00 pm,
- from June to September, rises at 7.30 am and sets at 5.00pm.
While touring in Madagascar, bring extra fuel supply (in jerry cans) as you would sometimes travel in desert areas with noone around (neither oil station).
While having a stop over villages, fill up as you can... or be sure your chauffeur thinks of it... Sounds weird but you would see, sometimes, cars (esp. taxi-brousse and taxi-be) that are hanging around on roadsides, waiting for fuel to come from another convoy of taxi-brousses. Well, it would be nice to rest or walk a bit, take pictures but what if it's dark and isolated? Scarry, he...
So as for bottled (and sealed) water, only one you can afford to drink BTW. Same tip applies for extra tyres.
Notwithstand with all of that, taxi-brousses and railtripping are nice and cheaper alternatives to internal flights. I had some reserve regarding trains in Madagascar but recent developments made me optimisitc. The rail company has nearly collapsed in the 90s. Now, lines are being rebuilt and some are functionning again. Click here to read my insight of taxi-brousses and train rides. For sure, you will have to plan internal trips when visting this big country.
Plus, there are some nice railtrips to be done in Madagascar. Fianarantsoa-Cote Est (FCE) is one of them. The low speed (20-35km/hour) allows you to appreciate the landscape, from thick forests to bamboo forests and ricefields. A real turning off!
Air-Madagascar or Air Mad (!) is our national air company. Just released a new website.
- Departures from and arrivals in Paris (CDG)
Reunion, Mauritius, Kenya, South Africa, Comores... Schedules in below website (you'll have to key in departure and arrival days, destinations and Schedule Search Engine) :
- As for prices, contact your local Air Mad rep.:
Though I prefer roadtrips to discover amazing landscapes (see my albums on Big South journey for instance), I give tips on internal flights as well
If you travel TO Madagascar with Air Madagascar, it may be interesting to include internal flights in your package rather than buy them separately in Madagascar. In fact, 50% off for internal flights for those who travel TO the country with our national company. Check with agencies for that.
From 29 March 2004: re-opening of Madagascar - Comoros Islands flights. From 2 April 2004: opening of direct liaison between Tolagnaro (: Fort-Dauphin) and Saint-Denis (La Réunion).
June 2004: Direct flights Antananarivo - Milan & Antananrivo - Bangkok would be launched (as of April 2004).
Rather hire a chauffeur to move around cities, especially in Tana... as traffic jam and ignorance of circulation code would turn you mad :-)
As for traffic jams, an exemple: In the 80es, it took me 45 minutes to join urban area from our place in North Tana. Nowadays, it takes my Dad 1.30 min - 2 hours to do so...
Alternative: Rather hire a chauffeur to move around cities.. and choose a hotel located in urban area.
For long trips, you can experience driving by yourself (with the help of maybe a chauffeur to alternate). One thing however: if you intend to only visit nature reserves and national parks, hire a driver to lead you there.. and hire ANGAP guide while entering parks and reserves. It would cost you less and money would go to those guys who know about animals, plants, hidden places and best moments to find them
One thing interesting in long trips is that they enable you to drive while escaping from crowded urban cities like Tana and, why not, drive in empty roads. Thus, a chauffeur is not always needed for your long trips, guiding is mandatory. First, without a guide, you would miss hidden gems. Second, he would serve as translator if needed. Third, he would know about how to preserve safety....
Beware of fake guides though!! => See my tourist traps tip
One thing however: if you intend to only visit nature reserves and national parks, hire a driver to lead you there.. and hire ANGAP guide while entering parks and reserves. It would cost you less and money would go to those guys who know about animals, plants, hidden places and best moments to find them
By Taxi Brousse you can come pretty much everywhere in Madagascar. Taxi brousse go from Tana to all other big towns around Madagascar. It is a cheap way of going from one place to another.For example, a Taxi Brousse ride from Tana to Tulear cost you around 140.000 fmg. ( around 12 euros). You cqn hire private vehicles for such trips but they are very expensive.
My friend Myriam Erdmann started a travel agency Tsara Travel (Dutch) in 1999. She specialises in 'Tailor Made' Individual travel to Madagascar.
Myriam knows Madagascar very well and has excellent contacts with local touroperators. She used to be tourleader in Madagascar for a well known Dutch company. Since she started Tsara Travel, she made yearly studytrips to Madagascar to keep up to date and I accompanied her twice.
If you want to know more, just give her a call or an email and she will be more than happy to 'infect' you with her passion for Madagascar.
we hired a travel agent in madagascar to arrnage all the accomodation and transport. it wasa fraction of the price you would pay in england. arranged everything over the internet.
we had a private car with a driver and a guide for the two of us, 1 day we went on a boat trip in Lokaro near Fort Dauphin, had a car driver, a guide, a boat driver and a personally chef
We never went on the public transport, however we did see many public buses. Think of the normal number of people on a bus, triple and double again, imagine people hanging on the back. that would be a public bus in madagascar
Air France (from Paris 3 times a week) or Air Madagascar (also from Paris).
Note: Air Madagascar does not seem to fly anymore. The planes were taken back by the company that owned them after the presidential elections in 2002. Seemed the rent wasn't being paid.
Transportation used by locals: rickshaw, taxi brousse.
And for those Malagasy that are better off: Air Madagascar and 4x4's with chauffeur.
The rickshaw is called a pousse pousse in Mada. French for 'push push' thought 'tirer tirer' (pull pull) might be more correct!
Air Madagascar: when you fly to Sainte-Marie, expect this kind of plane, a Twinotter (photo). No meals, just some sweets. The flight is about an hour from Antananarivo and not as uncomfortable as you might expect.
Air Madagascar is also nicknamed: AIR MAD !
But this is a more local way of getting around: taxi brousse... twelve of us (10 in the back) + 2 in front + driver and all our luggage on top. If you're travelling with taxi brousse, just count on it that a 25 km. drive will take you about 3 hours due to the bad roads (sand and dirt roads).
But it is an adventure in itself!
Sainte Marie (Nosy Boraha) is only a small island but it took us 2 hrs to get from the airport to the hotel.
We drove 23 km. north from Tuléar (in the south) and that took us 3 1/2 hrs. Because the taxi broke down about 5 times during the trip!
Résidence Lapasoa Isoraka BP 3650 Antananarivo Tél :22 611 40. 180.000 FMG Beautiful colonial...more
Le Royal Pallisandre is a very good quality hotel in the heart of the city. The rooms and public...more
Lot 66 B Antanetibe Ivato, Antananarivo, 105, Madagascar
Good for: Solo
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