Getting Around Madagascar
The best way to get around Madagascar is to hire a car with a driver or join an organized tour. Car rentals commonly come with a driver as part of their rates and give you the most flexibility with your itinerary. Tours, however, generally cover the cost of accommodations and some or all meals, but you'll have to stick to a set schedule and travel with other visitors. Limited public transportation options are also available, but these affordable services are slow and often uncomfortable and unsafe. For longer trips between select towns, traveling by plane can be arranged. Getting to the island will require flying into Ivato International Airport (TNR) in Antananarivo or arriving by cruise ship to various Malagasy locales, including Antsiranana, Nosy Be and Tamatave, via cruise operators like Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises.
Most car rental companies include the use of a driver in their hire rates. Relying on your own set of wheels with a driver gives you the freedom to visit sights as you please. What's more, most drivers are also employed as local guides, meaning they can offer insider tips and attraction specifics throughout your trip. You may have the option to hire a car without a driver as well, but driving yourself is not recommended, especially in the wet season when roads are often inaccessible due to heavy rains. Cars can be rented from some tour operators, at Ivato International Airport or at a limited number of agencies in central Antananarivo.
If you don't want to plan trip details like itineraries and accommodations, consider exploring Madagascar with a local tour operator. Organized tours, which are for trips lasting three or more days, generally cover hotels, attraction fees, in-country transfers and some or all meals in their rates. However, tours are not private (most operators allow up to 16 people per tour), and age restrictions may apply. You'll also be limited to stops included in tour itineraries. Depending on the tour, you may visit attractions like the Avenue of the Baobabs, Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve and Isalo National Park. Although tour rates vary by company and trip duration, expect to pay roughly $420 to $5,553 per person.
|Taxi-Brousse||Taxis-brousse (or bush taxis) are minibuses that carry approximately 15 to 30 passengers between various Malagasy towns. Each town has one or more taxi-brousse station. Minibus conditions differ depending on the popularity of the route, with widely used lines allocating one seat per passenger. More desolate routes, meanwhile, commonly overfill minibuses, meaning all seats are shared with multiple passengers. Older taxi-brousse vehicles are also prone to breaking down. All taxis-brousse include restroom and meal breaks along the way, and luggage is strapped to the roof of the vehicle. Timetables are rarely adhered to on any taxi-brousse, but popular lines are more likely to leave on time; some lines will not leave until minibuses are completely full. Minibus fares vary by route and service type, but most taxis-brousse charge about 10,000 Malagasy ariary per 100 kilometers (or $3 for every 62 miles traveled). Minibuses with fewer passengers per seat cost more to use, and reserving a seat with a seatbelt generally incurs an extra fee. Tickets can be purchased at kiosks located near each taxi-brousse station.|
|Taxi||Most cities and large towns here have taxis, which feature rooftop taxi signs and cream-colored bodies. Taxi services are not metered, but determining rates will vary by location. Some towns have set fees for any trip within town limits, while other locales – including Antananarivo – rely on negotiated prices decided before starting your journey. Expect to pay approximately 800 to 3,000 Malagasy ariary (less than $1) per ride, though rates may be higher for rides at night and in larger vehicles.|
|Tuk-Tuk||Motorized rickshaws (known locally as tuk-tuks) are readily available in large towns. A popular way to get around a small area, tuk-tuks feature open-air cabs that can fit up to three people. However, these vehicles are not ideal for traveling from town to town. Tuk-tuks can be hailed on the street for a flat fee of 500 to 1,000 Malagasy ariary (or less than $0.50).|
|Pousse-Pousse and Cyclo-Pousse||Pousse-pousse (pulled rickshaws) and cyclo-pousse (bike rickshaws) can be found in some Malagasy cities. Though these modes of transportation offer a unique way to travel, they are slow and cannot be used for long distances. Prices for cyclo-pousse are generally higher than those for pousse-pousse, and rates for both are dependent on the weather, distance traveled and time of day. On average, fares are between 500 and 2,000 Malagasy ariary (roughly $0.20 to $0.60) per ride.|
Planes are a quick way to travel around the country, especially if you're based in Antananarivo. Two airlines – Air Madagascar and Madagasikara Airways – offer flights year-round, but flying comes with some drawbacks. Domestic airlines regularly delay and cancel flights, daily options are generally limited and rates are not cheap – expect to pay at least 240 euros ($269) for every full-priced ticket for a one-way flight. To save some money, seniors, children and adults ages 18 to 27 can purchase discounted tickets; reduced rates for domestic flights are also available for passengers who fly Air Madagascar internationally.
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