Before you travel
Take a moment to browse through this section before you travel to Madagascar. It contains tips, practical information and frequently asked questions that help you prepare for your road trip to Madagascar. Is the answer to your question not found here? Drop us a line, we are happy to help.
Is Madagascar a safe self-drive destination?
We occasionally get that question. The answer is yes. We would not want to be in the self drive business in a country where it is not sensible to go on a self drive holiday. Car break-ins or hotel room theft is much less common than in the rest of East Africa. But keep in mind that Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and politically unstable. The inequality between the few rich inhabitants and tourists and the rest of the people is enormous. Also, some regions of the country are hardly visited by any tourists and the local population only speaks Malagas. Therefore, we trust you to travel wisely. That means the following precautions:
- You are NOT allowed to travel after dark, which is after 6 PM. Fellow road users often have no lights or put on their high beam lights, so you can't see a thing. In some rural areas, there have been reports of unexpected road blocks.
- Always travel with cash, a charged mobile with local sim card, airtime an internet bundle, enough water and some food.
- When you fuel up your car, know where the next gas station is.
- Always park your car at a private parking lot.
- Do not go wild camping if you are with a small group, and never without permission of a village chief. If you enjoy camping in the bush, go on a guided wilderness adventure into the remote Makay
- If you have never been to Madagascar before, it is tricky to plan you route and estimate your travel time on the basis of Google Maps and Travel Books only. What might seems a road on Google Maps, in reality isn't. Use one of our suggested routes as a starting point to asses if your plans are realistic.
In general, the reporting of Embassies about travelling in developing countries is overly cautious. In the case of Madagascar, we unfortunately often take notice of reports with great astonishment. How single incidents with little respect to local context can give a totally distorted view about the safety situation and risk.
Having said so, at the time of writing (June 2018), Madagascar is politically unstable. The people are concerned and desperate and the opposition is not happy with the current, new president and they are trying to destabilise he country. This has recently resulted in an armed attack against tourists along the Morondava - Tsingy de Bemahara route. Troubles have always been around the Tsiribihina river and further up north ( very remote area). Its for the first time there have been incidents along the much travelled route to the Tsingy. The Ministry and the Madagascar Tourism Association have declared the Tsingy safe for travel again, but uprisings could happen again. Still one has to take in mind that these type of attacks are very rare for Madagascar and much more common in Kenya and South Africa where many people go to. The west coast from Tulear to Morondava up to Allee Babobab remains quiet, also the rest of the country is safe to travel on a self-drive trip.
As for reportings about incidents in Southern Madagascar (Fort Dauphin, Betroka) - these take place in very remote areas and hardly ever on the main roads. These are local conflicts to which an outsider is not exposed. This region is rewarding and safe to travel but only with one of our experienced driver - guides. This is mainly because of language barriers, French is hardly spoken in these remote areas.