Travel Safety: How Dangerous is Madagascar?

The island of Madagascar, located off the coast of Africa, is an unexpected tourist spot that is worth visiting. Known for its gorgeous and diverse landscape, it provides travelers the opportunity to visit thick jungles, swamps, deserts, and miles of stunning coast land. Visitors are able to view wildlife and foliage that they would likely never encounter anywhere else in the world. Additionally, visitors are able to get a glimpse into a culture that has been largely untouched by western culture.


However, Madagascar is currently in the midst of political instability and travelers should take caution during their visit, though it is generally a safe area for tourists. The following tips will provide information on avoiding potential dangers, scams, and annoyances that may be experienced.

Currency:

The currency is the Ariary. It can only be obtained and used in the country of Madagascar. Pay careful attention to the exchange rate. The Ivato airport has a bureau de change office where you will receive the best exchange rate. Never make an exchange with a random individual who approaches you and offers a better exchange rate. They, frequently, give you the old form of currency, the Malagasy Franc, which is now worth nothing. If they do give you an Ariary, you will get significantly less than you would from the change office. Always carry small denominations for your purchases because people may not offer you change.

Theft:

There is a risk for petty theft so be certain to only carry essential items when traveling throughout the country. Never store money in an external pouch or money clip. Always make certain that you carry your passport in case you are stopped by the police. If you are arrested, request that the U.S. Embassy be notified quickly. This is only done if an individual requests it.

Mosquitoes:

Mosquitoes are incredibly annoying here and they can carry malaria. Dengue and chikungunya are also transmitted by mosquitoes. It is very important to wear insect repellent, especially at dusk and dawn. Use bed nets while sleeping.

Disease:

Be aware that there is a threat of rabies due to an excess of stray dogs that roam the town. Before traveling, speak with your physician regarding any preventative vaccinations you should be given and make certain you receive them early enough to be effective during your trip. In the event you are bitten by an animal, wash the area for ten minutes with soap and running water. Then, seek, medical attention at the Institute Pasteur in Antananaviro.

Transportation:

Be aware that there is sufficient, though unreliable, public transportation, but there is a risk of injury when entering and exiting vehicles. Vehicles usually do not come to a complete stop when letting passengers on or off. There are no pedestrian crossings and there is always a risk associated with crossing the street. Sidewalks are not available in most areas of the country and wheelchair accessibility is very limited.

Roads are in poor condition and are unpaved and uneven. If you are driving, be aware that there are no traffic signals and it is local practice to blow your horn before going around a curve. This is because most roads are one way.

As you would when traveling to any tourist destination, avoid visiting rundown areas, particularly at night.

January 20, 2014