A month-by-month guide of when to go to Madagascar
Madagascar is a giant landmass sat in the Indian Ocean, actually, it’s the world’s 4th largest island and as you would expect has a huge topographical range affecting the weather patterns and conditions depending on your location and altitude. Parts of the island's eastern side is covered in rainforest; the plateau in the central highlands is enormous and at altitude and the west is much dryer.
The climate is tropical and the hot/wet season starts in November and lasts until March. The rest of the year is mainly dry (away from the rainforest) and the temperatures are more clement. Average temperatures in the milder, dry season are about 25 degrees centigrade inland and about 30 on the coast, these figures increase substantially in the hot months although there tends to be a nice breeze. Cyclone season is February and March and the east coast is predominantly the casualty. Madagascar’s fauna is a year-round encounter and your experience is more likely to be dictated by the weather.
You are in the heart of the rains during this month. The wet season will have been in flow for about a month making roads more difficult (almost impossible) to use, a lot of hotels and parks will be closed. Temperatures will be hot and although its not quite time for cyclones you will get wet – probably very wet – as more than 300 mm of rain falls! We would suggest this is not the best time to be in Madagascar.
February & March
Still in the thick of the rains, you could now encounter cyclones. Very similar to the conditions in January if not more extreme. Travel with caution. If you are feeling brave and are looking for good deal then the very end of March is an interesting time to go as vegetation is at is lushest and you are likely to be able to see places without many others. Be warned though the roads will not likely be in great condition so progress could be slow. Approach with caution!
This is what I would consider Madagascar’s shoulder season. You will still get rain as it does not subside immediately, and roads will still be tricky and slow but the sun will come out. You are likely to get well priced accommodation, although some of it remains closed. National Parks start to open up but April is still not all a bed a of roses. Approach with caution still but a good time for the more adventurous.
Book your tickets, a great time to be here. Temperatures are hot and rain is much more sporadic and if you are on the west coast, its dry. May is also away from most peak travel times so getting space at your desired accommodation is easier. Its also the time of the Donia festival on the island of Nosy Be in the north – worth taking in.
Probably the coolest month in Madagascar, but daytime temperatures are a constant 25c with cooler nights, particularly inland. It makes for a great climate for tackling some of Madagascar’s active sites – it’s a great time for hiking and walking. Isalo National Park is great to visit at this time of year. You will still get rain on the east coast in the rainforests but that’s about it. The big incentive for travel in June is the appearance of Humpback whales who arrive off the coast of Ile Saint Marie at this time. You are still outside the main ‘peak season’ so accommodation is likely to be less busy, as are all the activities.
The start of the high season and when Madagascar gets noticeably busier with small specialist tour group and private travellers. We suggest that the north is better at this time due to the Southern route (RN7) being a bit too busy for our liking. Temperatures, like in June are cooler so make walking and hiking more pleasurable – Ankarana is a delight at this time of year. Very little chance of rain away from the forests. Nosy Be also gets quite busy in these months and is not to everyone’s taste, we tend to suggest Nosy Komba for a more relaxed and quieter vibe.
The middle of high season and the depths of Malagasy Winter. Whilst it is stunning weather it can be a tad chilly for some of our reptilian friends who may be having a winter nap at this time in the year. However, not all reptiles will be hibernating and there is still plenty to see from insects to lemurs, all in the generally dry and balmy conditions. It’s a great time to be in and around the warm Indian Ocean especially for snorkelling and diving as well as the continued presence of the whales mainly off the east coast but up in the northern islands too.
This is the magical month where conditions are fabulous for whales, the temperature is perfect and there is still little rain. The majority of visitors have either gone back to work or school and the island changes to a more relaxed place overall. Its also a tremendous time for birding with breeding season starting, the plumage is fantastic.
October in Madagascar is still high season and for good reason. There are lots of lemur offspring and the flora is lush and feel like everything is in full bloom. Birds are still mating and therefore sporting their plumage and whales are still off the coast – albeit in smaller numbers. Splendid time to be here and as in September, it quieter.
Very similar to October for flora and fauna – in reality all the whales have now pretty much gone. It will be slightly hotter and you will feel more moisture in the air. You will get rain, especially on the east coast and the forests. This the warm-up act to for the main rains which should arrive in earnest next month so expect shorter showers that will be heavy but not all day rain. November is considered the start of the shoulder season so accommodation is likely to be slightly cheaper and more readily available.
The rains arrive properly. As with every season the full effects don’t come into play until the heart of the season so whilst you will get rain it will not be as drenching as Jan/Feb/Mar. It’s the hottest time to be here so sometimes a bit of rain is a blessing. You will start to see many more reptiles and insects with the warmer temperatures – around 30 degrees. As in November, accommodation and access to parks (subject to weather) is easier and accommodation is less expensive – apart from the festive season where you will pay and premium and are likely to get pretty wet.
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