Madagascar’s unique biodiversity has made it one of the world’s top destinations for ecotourism. The island’s outstanding natural beauty, eclectic culture and distinctive cuisine are a magnet for intrepid travellers in search of new challenges – and cheap flights to Madagascar are just the start. The descent into Ivato International Airport treats you to a thrilling foretaste of its contrasting landscapes, lapped by the sparkling Indian Ocean. This vast, unspoilt land is an adventure waiting to happen.
High season in Madagascar is the island’s winter – July and August not only coincide with European school holidays, but also bring cooler, dry weather that’s ideal for sightseeing and trekking. You’ll have more luck with cheap tickets to Madagascar in April/May or September to November, although you may find some attractions are closed for the season. The monsoon months of January to March bring tropical cyclones, as well as the biggest discounts on flights and accommodation – you’ll avoid the crowds, but some parts of the island may be inaccessible, especially the east coast which is typically hardest hit by storms.
The island’s airport is located in the capital, Antananarivo, and you’ll need to fly via an international hub or two to reach it. However you’ll be richly rewarded at the end of your long journey, especially if you’ve done your homework on the best transfer times. Turkish Airlines operates a route from London Heathrow or Gatwick via Istanbul and Mauritius, Etihad flies from Heathrow via Abu Dhabi and the Seychelles, while Virgin Atlantic and South African Airways offer a through ticket via Johannesburg. Alternatively, book a Cityhopper from regional airports to link up with KLM’s service from Amsterdam via Nairobi, or Air France’s direct service from Paris.
Ivato Airport is situated around 10 miles north-west of Antananarivo. The easiest way to reach the city centre is via the airport shuttle bus, which is conveniently timetabled around flight arrivals and departures. Tickets for the popular local ‘taxi-brousse’ minibuses are even cheaper, but be prepared to make numerous stops en route. If you prefer the reliability and comfort of a private car, you can hire taxis from the terminal – it’s a good idea to agree on a price before you depart.
Madagascar’s biggest draw is its world-famous wildlife. From its photogenic lemurs and colourful chameleons to its iconic baobabs and astonishing variety of orchids, the island’s unique ecology is internationally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot. Get a glimpse of this bounty on a trek through one of its protected national parks – Isalo is known for its dramatic sandstone rock formations and palm-fringed oases, Masoala encompasses rainforest and marine habitats, while Andringitra ranges from granite peaks to fertile valleys and is one of Madagascar’s most prestigious World Heritage Sites.
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