Flora & Fauna

Particularly pampered by the nature, our big island in the Indian Ocean is globally known for its richness in biodiversity. On a world scale, Madagascar represents exceptional diversity making it one of the most important regions in terms of rare habitats and leading species. 80% of the animal species and 90% of vegetation is endemic to Madagascar. lemurs are known worldwide, but the red island counts several endemic species of chameleons, fossas, frogs, birds, snakes, jumping rats, baobabs, carnivorous plants, orchids, and many more strange “living beings”! With 80% of its flora, 40% of its birds, and 98% of its reptiles being endemic. From the rainforest to the desert, from limestone pinnacle forests to white paradise beaches to highland mountains, it’s all scattered across this impressive island. You have to travel to Madagascar and experience it for yourself to actually believe it.

Ramartour is happy to introduce you to Madagascar’s amazing flora and fauna.

National holidays

Madagascar’s diversity is reflected on its plentiful colourful festivals. Alahamady Be opens the traditional Malagasy year, followed by the rice harvest (May) and Donia, a celebration of traditional music on Nosy Be resort island (May/June). The ‘turning of the bones’ (July-September) and ‘cleansing of the relics’ (September-November) ceremonies fill out the calendar. Alongside the old traditions are the Catholic spiritual calendar – Easter, Assumption (August 15th), All Saints Day (November 1st) and of course, Christmas – and the calendar of political milestones: the 1947 uprising against French rule (March 29th), Independence Day (June 26th), with the Republic’s Anniversary on New Year’s Eve bringing in the New Year.

In addition there are the following holidays:

1st January

New Years Day

29th March

Martyrs’ Day

6th April

Easter Monday

1st May

Labour Day

14th May

Ascension Day

26th June

Independence Day

15th August


1st November

All Saints’ Day

25th December

Christmas Day


Today there are 18 different tribes in Madagascar all sharing the same language, Malagasy. There are not many countries in the world that can communicate so easily despite all the cultural differences. The 18 ethnic divisions are the following:  Antefasy (East Coast, Farafangana); Betsimisaraka (Tamatave); Antemoro (East Coast, Manakara); Bezanozano (East, Moramanga); Antesaka (East Coast, Vangaindrano); Mahafaly (Southwest, Betioky, and Ampanihy); Antankarana (North, Diego Saurez); Merina (Antananarivo); Antambahoaka (East Coast, Manajary); Sakalava (West, Tulear to Nosy Be); Antanosy (Fort Dauphin); Sihanaka (East, Ambatondrazaka); Antandroy (South, Ambovombe); Tanala (Forest region of the East); Bara (Centre South of Ihosy); Tsimihety (North East, Centre of Zafisoro and east region of Farafangana); Betsilio (Fianarantsoa); Mikea (South West, North of Tulear).

The Malagasy language is completely unrelated to any of the African languages and instead originated from Southern Borneo.


About half of the population practice traditional religion. This religion highlights the connection between the living and the ancestors. Deceased famimembers’r remains are exhumed periodically and re-wrapped a fresh silk before being placed back in the tombs. This tradition practiced in order to celebrate the ancestor’s memory and to reunite them with the family and community.

Also, approximately half the of Malagasy people practice Christianity. However, many of the Malagasy people integrate their Christian beliefs with their traditional ones.

Only 7 percent of the population practice  Islamic religion.

Approximately half of the country’s population practices ice traditional religion,[12] which tends to emphasize links between the living and the razana (ancestors). The veneration of ancestors has led to the widespread tradition of tomb building, as well as the highlands practice of the famadihana, whereby a deceased family member’s remains may be exhumed to be periodically re-wrapped in fresh silk shrouds before being replaced in the tomb. The famadihana is an occasion to celebrate the beloved ancestor’s memory, reunite with family and community, and enjoy a festive atmosphere. Residents of surrounding villages are often invited to attend the party, where food and rum are typically served and a hiragasy troupe or other musical entertainment is commonly present. Consideration for ancestors is also demonstrated through adherence to fady, taboos that are respected during and after the lifetime of the person who establishes them. It is widely believed that by showing respect for ancestors in these ways, they may intervene on behalf of the living. Conversely, misfortunes are often attributed to ancestors whose memory or wishes have been neglected. The sacrifice of zebu is a traditional method used to appease or honor the ancestors. In addition, the Malagasy traditionally believe in a creator god, called Zanahary or Andriamanitra.

Almost half the Malagasy are Christian, with practitioners of Protestantism slightly outnumbering adherents to Roman Catholicism.[12] In 1818 the London Missionary Society sent the first Christian missionaries to the island, where they built churches, translated the Bible into the Malagasy language and began to gain converts. Beginning in 1835 Queen Ranavalona I persecuted these converts as part of an attempt to halt European cultural and political influence on the island. In 1869 a successor, Queen Ranavalona II, converted the court to Christianity and encouraged Christian missionary activity, burning the sampy (royal idols) in a symbolic break with traditional beliefs.

Today, many Christians integrate their religious beliefs with traditional ones related to honoring the ancestors. For instance, they may bless their dead at church before proceeding with traditional burial rites or invite a Christian minister to consecrate a famadihana reburial.[132] The Malagasy Council of Churches comprises the four oldest and most prominent Christian denominations (Roman Catholic, Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, Lutheran, and Anglican) and has been an influential force in Malagasy politics.

Islam is also practiced on the island. Islam was first brought to the island in the Middle Ages by Arab and Somali Muslim traders, who established several Islamic schools along the eastern coast. While the use of Arabic script and loan words and the adoption of Islamic astrology would spread across the island, the Islamic religion failed to take hold in all but a handful of southeastern coastal communities.

Today, Muslims constitute 7 percent of the population of Madagascar and are largely concentrated in the northwestern provinces of Mahajanga and Antsiranana. The vast majority of Muslims are Sunni. Muslims are divided between those of Malagasy ethnicity, Indians, Pakistanis and Comorians. More recently, Hinduism was introduced to Madagascar through Gujarati people immigrating from the Saurashtra region of India in the late 19th century. Most Hindus in Madagascar speak Gujarati or Hindi at home.


Food & drinks

Rice is the foundation of the Malagasy diet and is almost always consumed at every meal. Generally the Malagasy people add a sauce known as Loaka to the rice which is usually tomato based, while along the coastal areas a coconut milk is added during the preparation. In places where zebu (a kind of cattle) is found, fresh or curdled milk is often incorporated into vegetable dishes. Pork, beef and fish (unless on the coast) are rare and expensive dishes and are usually only consumed on special occasions. Madagascar also has a variety of local greens such as morelle , martin greens and paracress. Sweet potato, yams, taro root, millet and maize are found in the south and the west. They are usually boiled but can be prepared in either whole milk or with crushed peanuts. Common ingredients used to flavour dishes are garlic, onions, ginger, tomatoes, mild curry and salt and along the coastal areas cloves, coconut milk and vanilla are also used. Mango is a common fruit consumed throughout the island. Fresh fruit juices are the most common form of beverages. If you drink water it is advised that you drink bought bottled water.


Madagascar’s first President, Philibert Tsiranana, was elected when his Social Democratic Party gained power at independence in 1960 and was reelected without opposition in March 1972. However, he resigned only 2 months later in response to massive anti-government demonstrations. The unrest continued, and Tsiranana’s successor, Gen. Gabriel Ramanantsoa, resigned on February 5, 1975, handing over executive power to Lt. Col. Richard Ratsimandrava, who was assassinated 6 days later. A provisional military directorate then ruled until a new government was formed in June 1975, under Didier Ratsiraka.

During the 16 subsequent years of President Ratsiraka’s rule, Madagascar continued under a government committed to revolutionary socialism based on the 1975 Constitution establishing a highly centralized state. During this period a strategy of nationalization of private enterprises, centralization of the economy and “Malgasization” of the education system crippled the economy, leaving traces even today of a highly centralized economic system and a high level of illiteracy. National elections in 1982 and 1989 returned Ratsiraka for a second and third 7-year presidential term. For much of this period, only limited and restrained political opposition was tolerated, with no direct criticism of the president permitted in the press.

With an easing of restrictions on political expression, beginning in the late 1980s, the Ratsiraka regime came under increasing pressure to make fundamental changes. In response to a deteriorating economy, Ratsiraka relaxed socialist economic policies and instituted some liberal, private-sector reforms. These, along with political reforms like the elimination of press censorship in 1989 and the formation of more political parties in 1990, were insufficient to placate a growing opposition movement known as Hery Velona (“Active Forces”). A number of already existing political parties and their leaders, among them Albert Zafy and Manandafy Rakotonirina, anchored this movement which was especially strong in Antananarivo and the surrounding high plateau.

In response to largely peaceful mass demonstrations and crippling general strikes, Ratsiraka replaced his prime minister in August 1991 but suffered an irreparable setback soon thereafter when his troops fired on peaceful demonstrators marching on Iavoloha, the suburban presidential palace, killing more than 30.

In an increasingly weakened position, Ratsiraka acceded to negotiations on the formation of a transitional government. The resulting “Panorama Convention” of October 31, 1991, stripped Ratsiraka of nearly all of his powers, created interim institutions, and set an 18-month timetable for completing a transition to a new form of constitutional government. The High Constitutional Court was retained as the ultimate judicial arbiter of the process.

In March 1992, a widely representative National Forum organized by the FFKM (Malagasy Christian Council of Churches) drafted a new Constitution. Troops guarding the proceedings clashed with pro-Ratsiraka “federalists” who tried to disrupt the forum in protest of draft constitutional provisions preventing the incumbent president from running again. The text of the new Constitution was put to a nationwide referendum in August 1992 and approved by a wide margin, despite efforts by federalists to disrupt balloting in several coastal areas.

Presidential elections were held on November 25, 1992, after the High Constitutional Court had ruled, over Hery Velona objections, that Ratsiraka could become a candidate. Runoff elections were held in February 1993, and the leader of the Hery Velona movement, Albert Zafy, defeated Ratsiraka. Zafy was sworn in as President on March 27, 1993. After President Zafy’s impeachment by the National Assembly in 1996 and the short quasi-presidency of Norbert Ratsirahonana, the 1997 elections once again pitted Zafy and Ratsiraka, with Ratsiraka this time emerging victorious. A National Assembly dominated by members of President Ratsiraka’a political party AREMA subsequently passed the 1998 Constitution, which considerably strengthened the presidency.

In December 2001, a presidential election was held in which both major candidates claimed victory. The Ministry of the Interior declared incumbent Ratsiraka of the AREMA party victorious. Marc Ravalomanana contested the results and claimed victory. A political crisis followed in which Ratsiraka supporters cut major transport routes from the primary port city to the capital city, a stronghold of Ravalomanana support. Sporadic violence and considerable economic disruption continued until July 2002 when Ratsiraka and several of his prominent supporters fled to exile in France. In addition to political differences, ethnic differences played a role in the crisis and continue to play a role in politics. Ratsiraka is from the coastal Betsimisaraka tribe and Ravalomanana comes from the highland Merina tribe.

After the end of the 2002 political crisis, President Ravalomanana began many reform projects, forcefully advocating “rapid and durable development” and the launching of a battle against corruption. December 2002 legislative elections gave his newly formed TIM (Tiako-I-Madagasikara) (I Love Madagascar) Party a commanding majority in the National Assembly. November 2003 municipal elections were conducted freely, returning a majority of supporters of the president, but also significant numbers of independent and regional opposition figures.

Following the crisis of 2002, the President replaced provincial governors with appointed PDSs (Presidents des Delegations Speciales). Subsequent legislation established a structure of 22 regions to decentralize administration. In September 2004, the Government named 22 Regional Chiefs, reporting directly to the President, to implement its decentralization plans. Financing and specific powers for the regional administrations remain to be clarified.

After being re-elected in 2006, Ravalomanana’s government was dissolved in March 2009, in a militarily-backed uprising led by Andry Rajoelina. Rajoelina formed a High Transitional Authority of which he was the ‘Transitional Head of State’. So far he has held a referendum, in November 2010, to update the constitution. Despite an alleged coup during, this was approved, and new elections were scheduled to be held in July 2013.


Tourism, Visa & Health

In 2019, 380,000 tourists visited Madagascar and since 1990 the numbers have been increasing rapidly at about 11 percent each year, however, tourism declined between 2008 – 2013 during a political crisis. Tourism has started to increase again since the election of the new president in 2014. A large part of Madagascar’s tourism is found in highly educated people who are interested in the vast wildlife and natural history. In 2007 tourism accounted for 6.3 percent of Madagascar’s GDP and created 206,000 jobs! Now Madagascar and tourism are going into the future with a good perspective.

Health and Travel Insurance

We strongly encourage and recommend all our customers to travel to Madagascar with good health and travel insurance. We can promise you all the great surprises Madagascar will bring you, but unfortunately, we can never exclude the possibility of a negative one occurring.

Arrival and Visa

Citizens of almost every country in the world can get a visa on arrival at the international airports in Madagascar. Make sure you bring a pen in your handbag on the plane. Before you touch ground in Madagascar, you need to fill in a small form. Upon arrival, you will hand in your form and continue to get your Touristic Visa, for about 30 EUR.

Update, August 11, 2022

The Malagasy government has removed all health restrictions for travelers to Madagascar.

Source: Council of Ministers dated wednesday, 10 August 2022.


In general, Madagascar is hot and boasts a favorable subtropical climate but as you move inland into the more mountainous areas, colder temperatures can be found. The seasons are divided into two main seasons, the rainy season (the hot season) which is from November to March, and the dry season (the cooler season) which is from April to October. In General, the best time to travel in most areas is in April until October/November.

The west and the southwest regions will get extremely hot during the summer months, but during the winter these regions are very pleasant to stay, with cooler temperatures and less rain.

The average annual rainfall ranges between 1000 to 1500mm. The heaviest rainfall occurs along the coastal regions between May and September with average precipitation between 2000mm to 3000mm.

Average monthly temperatures toward the inland in places such as Antananarivo range from 9-20 degrees Celsius in July to 16-29 degrees Celsius in December.

Average maximum temperatures along the coast range from 25 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius (hotter in summer).

During the rainy season roads can be really tough to travel on and during December, January and February it is advised not to visit these areas because of the large amounts of tropical cyclones.