Food and drink
Dishes eaten in Madagascar reflect the influence of the culinary traditions of migrants from Southeast Asia, Africa, India, China and Europe who settled on the island at different times. Rice, which formed the basis of the Malagasy diet, was cultivated by the first settlers mentioned, along with tubers and other traditional South Asian crops. Subsequently, beef was added to the food sources in the form of zebu meat brought to Madagascar by East African migrants. Trade with Arab and Indian merchants and participation through European traders in the transatlantic trade enriched the island’s culinary traditions with many new fruits, vegetables and seasonings.
The main dish of modern Madagascar cuisine on the territory of almost the entire island is rice, served with some kind of side dish; in the official dialect of the Malagasy language, rice is referred to by the term vary (var), garnish – by the term laoka (loka). Loka comes in many varieties and can be of vegetable or animal protein origin, and also usually includes a sauce seasoned with ingredients such as ginger, onion, garlic, vanilla, salt, curry, and, less commonly, other spices or herbs. In some arid areas of the south and west of the island, rice is replaced by corn, cassava or cottage cheese made from fermented zebu milk in the diet of pastoral families. A wide variety of savory and sweet pancakes are available throughout the island, as well as various street food and many types of fruits, characteristic of tropical and temperate climates. Local drinks are represented by fruit juices, coffee, herbal teas and regular tea, while alcoholic drinks include rum, wine and beer.
Climate and weather
It is formed by the southeast trade wind and the South Indian High. According to bridgat, there are three climatic zones on the island: tropical monsoon on the east coast, temperate maritime in the central highlands and arid in the desert on the southern tip of the island. The average monthly air temperatures in the lowlands range from +26 to +30 °С, in the highlands – from +13 to +22 °С. Precipitation rates: 350 cm for the east coast, 140 cm for the central highlands, 32 cm in the south of the island.
Clothing recommendations depend on which region (or regions) of Madagascar you are going to visit, as the island is very large and covers a large number of climatic zones. In the rainforest and in the mountains, boots with a good tread with a membrane, quick-drying trousers with detachable legs, light closed clothing, and a rain jacket are useful. You can bring a sweatshirt as it gets chilly at night. Stock up on light clothing made of linen and / or cotton, and be sure to wear sunscreen.
Health and vaccinations
Despite the fact that no special vaccinations are required to visit the Republic of Madagascar, the Malagasy Pasteur Institute recommends that adults be vaccinated against typhoid fever, hepatitis A and B, tetanus and tuberculosis, and children additionally against Haemophilus influenzae, diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, rubella, mumps, pneumococci, poliomyelitis, rotavirus infection. When planning trips to the territory where there are foci of the spread of malaria, it is necessary to carry out appropriate chemoprophylaxis.
The use of repellents and wide-brimmed hats is strongly recommended, as well as the use of tall shoes with good ankle support. It is recommended to use sunscreen (especially in the first 2-3 days of your stay in the country and in the mountains), as well as drink more water (preferably mineral water). It is not recommended to drink tap water, it is better to buy bottled water. In addition, in order to avoid any reactions from the intestines, it is recommended to exclude from eating: raw milk and unboiled water, ice; unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables; non-cooked meat, fish, seafood.
There is no time difference between Madagascar and Moscow.
The voltage in the city network is 220 V, however, during thunderstorms, significant overloads are possible, as well as power outages.
There are three GSM cellular operators in Madagascar – Telma, Orange and Zain, which also offer GPRS, EDGE and 3G Internet services (available in Antananarivo, as well as in a number of large settlements). The geography of coverage areas is different for each operator, but reception is generally stable in cities and along national highways. When buying a SIM card, you need to present a passport and fill out a subscriber card.
Tips are best given in local currency. In restaurants, they make up about 10% of the total order value. In restaurants and hotels in the capital, the same 10% is automatically added to the bill.
Useful addresses and numbers
The international code for Madagascar is 8-10-261. Firefighters-rescuers – 18, 118, 020-22-225-66. Police – 17, 117 (on duty); 020-22-227-36 (central commissariat); 020-22-205-84, 020-22-230-84, 020-22-214-65 (criminal brigade); 020-22-227-35 (traffic inspection team). Gendarmerie – 034-17-626-63, 034-14-005-23. Ambulance – 020-22-357-53.
The official languages of Madagascar are Malagasy and French.
Banks and currency
The national currency of Madagascar is the Malagasy ariary. International designation – MGA. 1 USD = 3 126.73 MGA.