Evolution has occurred more or less in isolation on this remote island – located 400 kilometres off Africa’s east coast – with the result that much of its indigenous wildlife is found nowhere else on earth. Madagascar’s menagerie of weird and wonderful creatures includes the world’s biggest and smallest chameleons and over 70 species of lemur – long-tailed primates endemic to the island. The Madagascan landscape is no less compelling than the resident wildlife, with terrain ranging from lush jungles and palm-fringed beaches to the knife-edged karst tsingys of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park’s ‘stone forests’. Madagascar is an otherworldly paradise where visitors are offered a unique glimpse into a fantastical one-of-a-kind world.
Any time of year is fine for a visit except from January to March, when heavy rainfall in many areas can make some roads all but impassable, and when there’s a high risk of cyclones in the east and northeast. In general, the best time to travel in most areas is April and October/November. The coolest time to travel anywhere is during the dry season (May to October), but during this time the hauts plateaux (central highlands; which include Antananarivo) can get cold and windy, with freezing showers.
The west and southwest get searingly hot during summer, but the winter months in these regions are pleasant, with blue skies, cooler temperatures and little rain. Most rain in the northeast falls from July to September.
Average maximum temperatures vary from about 30°C in coastal areas (higher in summer) to around 25°C on the hauts plateaux. In Antananarivo and other highland areas, temperatures during winter can drop to 10°C and even lower during the night.