If you are a nature lover or budding photographer, Madagascar should be at the top of your bucket list. On this vast and luscious island, 90 percent of all animal and plant species are totally unique. It also has a vibrant culture, with festivals celebrating all things Malagasy throughout the year.
Madagascar covers almost 600,000 square kilometers (230,000 square miles), making it the world’s fourth-largest island. You’ll find everything from forest-lined beaches and lowland rainforests to semi-arid deserts. Unsurprisingly, this means the climate is quite varied, and weather patterns are not always easy to predict.
Seasons are not so clear-cut in Madagascar, so we have put together a guide focusing on the best months to travel to this astonishing island.
While you can visit Madagascar in the first three months of the year, you are likely to get very wet. In January rainfall can reach up to 340mm and in February there is a high risk of cyclones, particularly in the northeast of the island. March is still part of the peak rainy season.
While you may enjoy a cheap and tourist-free experience during these months, many hotels, lodges, and parks will be closed due to unpredictable weather and lots of mud. This is not the best time to make the most of what Madagascar has to offer. If you are keen to avoid the tourists and don’t mind a bit of rain, April and December are much better bets.
After 3 months of rainfall, April comes as a relief to the residents of Madagascar. While there may still be some downpours, there will also be plenty of sunshine – the perfect combination to entice the island’s wildlife out of hiding. It is a great time of year to observe both reptiles and lemurs making the most of the lush landscape. Most of the parks will be open by early April.
May is one of the best months to visit Madagascar as it is not yet high season. The landscape is lush and vibrant and lemurs will be in full swing as they are no longer sheltering from the rain. Hotel prices are not yet at their peak and it will still be relatively easy to find accommodation.
What’s more, the end of May marks the time for Nosy Be’s biggest cultural event of the year: The Donia Festival. Celebrating unity and culture, the festival takes place over several days and showcases home-grown music, dance, and sport.
By June, the average rainfall is fast decreasing, although there still may be the odd shower. The flora is particularly striking at this time of year, and humpback whales start returning to the coast of Ile Sainte Marie. June is also the perfect time to visit the southwest of the island (try Isalo Park), which becomes blisteringly hot in the summer months. If you are up in the highlands, June marks the harvesting of the rice crops which is an impressive sight to behold.