Now that you’ve landed in Madagascar, what’s next? Do you hail for a taxi or the tuk tuk to get to your hotel? Or instead do you head to hire a car for the next two weeks? Madagascar is a gorgeous country but unfortunately is a bit behind on its infrastructure compared to nearby countries like South Africa. Visitors are also often caught off guard by how people drive or the conditions of the roads in some parts of the country. Getting around Madagascar can be an intimidating experience but it doesn’t have to be if you come armed with the knowledge of these five helpful tips to get around.
Avoid the taxi drivers lined up at the Airport
Ivato International Airport is located in central Madagascar in its capital, Antananarivo, which makes it easier for travelers to get to their final destinations or maybe to spend a few days in the city. After collecting your luggage, you’ll find taxis lined up at the front, waiting to coax tourists in to their cabs. When you’re greeted by taxi drivers standing around in the airport, do not go along with them to their cabs. Instead, head outside and flag one down or wave at one of the cabs parked on the curbside. Taxi drivers that approaches tourists tend to charge more. Also to note, locals here speak a mixture of French and Malagasy with not much English, so you’ll want to brush up your French to navigate your way through the country.
Hire a private driver or rental car
When traveling from town to town, you may want to hire your own private driver or get a rental to get around. Taxi-Brousse (minibuses) are notorious for being painfully slow moving and can rob you of your time that could’ve been spent exploring the country. Taxi-Brousse drivers take frequent breaks at toilet stops and drive at a much slower pace. The minibuses are usually very old so you run into the risk of having it break down along the way. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead with a car rental or a personal taxi driver.
Try a tuk tuk for short trips
For those of you who wish to get around in the cities without having to walk everywhere or rely on cars, the tuk tuk or rickshaws come in handy. Use the tuk tuk or rickshaw only to get around the town you’re in, and do not use them to commute to other towns. This form of transportation is open air, allowing you to see the best of the country and take in the fabulous weather.
Skip the drive and fly
Did you know that Madagascar has two local airlines to take you across the country? If you’re pressed for time, skip the drive and fly from one end of the country to the other. Air Madagascar and Madagasikara Airways is available to take you to another city in a heartbeat. However it has its own downfall as booking tickets are not cheap and its common to see delays and cancellations on domestic flights. This way of transportation is ideal for families traveling with children, senior citizens or travelers who are visiting for a limited set of days to make sure they aren’t wasting too much time in transit.
Be touristy and sign up for a tour package
Some people like to have their tours completely organized and it doesn’t hurt to sign up for tour packages that can last as long as 14 days. Visitors will share tour buses with other travelers, rest in mid-range hotels in various locations and have meals prepared for them. Tours are generally escorted by a personal guide who will narrate the trip as he or she takes them to popular destinations throughout the country. However, expect to compromise as you’ll not always get to do the things you want to do. But many travelers are comforted with traveling with other visitors and guides that share the same language as they do.
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