If you’re heading to Madagascar for wildlife spotting (and of course most people do) our advice would be to concentrate on trekking/outdoor clothing – casual and comfortable is the key.
It’s a sub-tropical climate, so mostly hot and humid. Pack lightweight loose clothes in natural fabrics such as linen, bamboo, merino and cotton that will keep you cooler and are easy to wash and dry. Avoid synthetic fabrics they are uncomfortable in the heat.
Although the weather is quite warm all year round in Madagascar, it can drop down to 50 degrees F (10C) in some months (June, July and August). Be sure to pack a good quality travel jacket. We recommend the SCOTTeVEST travel jacket because it is specifically tailored for travelling, provides optimum storage for valuables and can be converted into a vest for optimum versatility.
Long trousers and long-sleeved tops will protect you from the harsh sun by day and help keep the mosquitoes from feasting on you (most active at dusk and dawn).
Always wear plenty of sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10-hour protection), sunglasses and a sunhat – and don’t forget your insect/mosquito repellent (very important).
If you’re heading for the stunning beaches too then pack your swimwear, but we’d suggest you cover up with a t-shirt or kaftan away from the beach and pool areas.
Pack a smarter outfit for dinner if staying in luxury hotels.
Shoes to pack for Madagascar
You’ll need a good pair of lightweight but sturdy walking shoes or boots (Hotter shoes are good), preferably waterproof and with good grips – you may be climbing over wet rocks and up steep slopes. Make sure you ‘wear them in’ before you travel.
A comfy pair of flats, flip-flops etc. Keep it casual.
Clothing tips for women
Leave your valuables and expensive jewellery at home, you really won’t need them.
And a pashmina is a versatile piece that will add a bit of ‘glam’ if you need it.
If you’re heading for the beaches then remember to take a kaftan or sarong to use with your swimwear or as a lightweight shawl in the evenings, teamed with a simple sundress or skirt. Avoid revealing clothes and very short shorts.
The humidity can play havoc with your hair, so think about taking a scarf or clips to keep it looking tidy.
Pack for the weather
The climate of Madagascar is diverse, so you should check the likely conditions for the areas you plan to visit.
The rainy season covers December, January, February and March, with tropical rains and possibly cyclones battering the East and North rainforest areas. However, the central regions are drier and cooler, with the South and West being the driest.
The most popular time for visitors is the dry season of April, May, June, July, August, September and October.
At all times rainwear would be advisable, so pack a lightweight breathable raincoat.
Regions of Madagascar
In the mountains, it is cooler, so pop in warmer layers such as a fleece and windproof jacket, and something warm to sleep in.
Other things to pack
You really need to be sure you take everything you need including sunscreen, insect/mosquito repellent, adapter plugs and converters for electrical appliances as you will find it difficult to buy these items once you are there.
To use electrical gadgets, you may need a travel adapter plug and a step-up voltage converter if your devices are not designed for the local voltage (220V).
A microfibre travel towel is another great item to pack – these are designed specifically for trekking: they fold really small so you can pack a larger size and they dry really quickly too.
Look after your mobile phone with a phone bungee – it protects against loss, theft and damage. You may like to add a solar powered charger too – if you use your phone to take photos the battery can run down very quickly, and you don’t want to miss that all-important wildlife spot!
A bag or soft-sided rucksack is a more practical option than hard cases. It will fit in the transfer vehicles more easily, and add a waterproof cover as it may be transported on a roof rack. Using packing cubes can help to keep your belongings tidy whilst compressing the volume too.
Combine your bag with a lightweight fold-away day sack that will carry your essentials on day trips.
Don’t drink or even brush your teeth in tap water. Consider taking a LifeStraw Filtration Water Bottle to avoid wasting plastic bottles.
Avoid paying unexpected baggage fees – use an accurate luggage scale to ensure you keep within the weight allowance. Don’t forget to leave room for souvenirs on the way home! Vanilla is a popular buy and much cheaper than you will find it at home.
The locals are very poor and will appreciate any gifts you can bring them. Consider taking old clothes that you can donate when you leave, or think about pens, books or small games for the children.