What to expect

Weather is cool to cold at night. Daytime temperatures will be comparable to Johannesburg in the winter months : 10 – 20oC whilst evenings will drop to close to Zero. Below the escarpment in the rain forests, it is warmer and more humid. Expect rain at any time.

The local language is Malagasy but French is widespread, except in the more outlying villages. Most hotels will have some staff who speak a bit of English. However, there will be members of the Race Crew who are multi-lingual to assist you.

The currency is the Ariary and the exchange rate is roughly ZAR 1:240Ar or $1:3150Ar or 1EUR:3360Ar. You will need some cash in small denominations if you want to buy cooldrinks/beer or coffee along the way (100/200/500/1000 Ar). There are currency exchanges at the airport or one can draw cash from ATMs. Visa is more predominant but Mastercard is also accepted at certain banks. There are also Western Union facilities. Depending on how much beer you drink, draw at least 400 000 Ar as getting to ATMs after the airport can be tricky.

The Malagasy’s drive on the right-hand side of the road. Be sure to check your position when you are riding on a main road or merely walking across. Traffic is chaotic with everything from bicycles, motorbikes, zebu-drawn carts to large 4x4s and taxis all scrambling for space. Despite the busyness of the towns, drivers are generally very polite and accommodating – but be cautious.

Visas are obtainable at the airport on arrival or can be sourced from your local Embassy (South African link). Forms are handed out on the airplane. Vaccinations are not required but Yellow Fever is suggested. Malaria is possible on the coast but is not regarded as a threat in the Highlands especially during winter. However, we recommend that you have some anti-mosquito products with you.

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