Getting There - Visas: A 1 month tourist visa can be obtained upon arrival (free during 2010 or $30). 3 month visas (fee) must be arranged in advance with your local Malagasy Embassy. Antananarivo (Ivato Airport) receives direct international flights from France (Paris, Marseille), South Africa (Johannesbourg), Comoros, Mayotte, Réunion, Mauritius, Kenya (Nairobi), Thailand (Bangkok) and China (Guangzhou). Madagascar is expensive to fly to. Only Air Madagascar or Air France can carry boards (reliable but pricey). The new, cheaper Kenyan Airways route via Nairobi (which connects to London) currently can't take boards in the hold, but this may change (boards can be sent cargo - slow and risky). Occasional direct flights from Réunion to Fort Dauphin on Air Madagascar, who also do the 1.5hr internal flight to Fort Dauphin (Tolagnaro) from Antananarivo ($235 o/w). There can be disruptions to the internal flight schedule so it is wise to check your flight details the day before and be prepared for delays or changes.
Getting Around - Think of this as an adventure; give yourself ample time, book early and fly as much as possible as the road system across the South is virtually non-existent. There are plenty of taxis in and around Fort Dauphin but Zebu cow carts are the local, extremely rudimentary, form of transport in rural areas. Taxi-brousses (local buses) travel between towns at about 15km/h (10mph) only departing when packed with people, not to a schedule. It's hard to rent motorised dugouts; most are sailing (SW) or paddle (SE) pirogues (expect to pay $25/d). A 4WD with driver is the best and often the only reliable way of getting around, however they are expensive ($75/d + fuel).
Weather - The climate of Madagascar is generally sub-tropical with two seasons: a hot, rainy one from November to April and a cooler, dry one from May to October. Neither the trade winds nor the monsoons reach the southern part of the island, which consequently receives little rain and is, in places, a semi-desert. The dryness is aggravated by a cold offshore current. Annual average rainfall is 390mm (16in). Thunderstorms are common during the rainy season and tropical cyclones are an important climatic feature; the island has already been significantly damaged by their impact. Temps vary between 14-28
© ~Dan Haylock~