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Best time to visit Madagascar

The best time to visit Madagascar is from April to October. The shoulder months of March and November are also great times to visit, especially as there are fewer crowds.

Madagascar has a tropical climate with two main seasons: a dry winter season and a rainy summer season. Like other tropical locations, it can get pretty wet at some times of the year, especially when regional monsoons and tropical cyclones bring heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Madagascar's wet season typically starts in November and extends through to March. The northwest monsoon largely affects the northern coasts; however, during this period, afternoon and evening rains are common throughout the island. Consequently, mornings often offer abundant sunshine, particularly during the transitional months.

When to visit

When is the best time to see wildlife in Madagascar?

Sitting on the shoulder of the winter and summer seasons, you’ll likely find the most animals in the months of April, May, October and November. To see arguably Madagascar’s most iconic animal, the lemur, you might be in for an extra treat around their birthing season in October.

For whale watching, see humpback whales off the east coast from July to September. For birds and reptiles, the shoulder months of September, November and December are great as the animals come out to enjoy the warmer temperatures.

Madagascar by month

January

Best for: New Year's Eve, low season crowds and orchids

January sits right in the middle of the wet season, so it’s generally not a great time to visit. Many roads will be muddy and hard to travel on, making some areas difficult to get to. This is actually the second rainiest month after December for the capital, Antananarivo. For flowering enthusiasts, Masagascar's orchids will be in bloom from January to March. 

February

Best for: travel in the south, orchids and fewer tourists

February is often the month with the highest risk of tropical cyclones, so travel around this time isn’t recommended. The northwest monsoon will mean especially heavy rains in the north and northwest regions. The hottest region will be the arid desert climate of the southwest in places like Toliara, with average temperatures sitting around 79-82ºF.

March

Best for: Women's Day celebrations and shoulder-season travel

The east coast can see very heavy rains in March. And while this month is generally the end of the rainy season, the monsoons can still see wet weather, especially in the north. So, if you don’t mind potentially a shower or two, March can be a quieter time to visit Madagascar.

April

Best for: wildlife, fewer crowds, cooling temperatures

It’s officially the dry season and Madagascar is open for travellers. Lemurs can be seen swinging through the trees, and thanks to the recent rains, lush green vegetation is everywhere. Now’s a great time to see some inland destinations, such as Isalo National Park, before it gets much cooler towards the middle of the year. Expect minimum temperatures of approximately 48ºF and highs of around 75ºF in the winter months in and around Antananarivo.

Although it’s technically the dry season, Madagascar is one of those destinations with unpredictable weather. So don’t be surprised if it’s not all clear, sunny skies in April.

May

Best for: hiking, swimming and animal spotting

With the dry season, expect little rains for the next few months in areas like the west coast. The east coast is generally rainier than the west. However, the pleasant year-round sea temperatures make this coast good for swimming all throughout the year. With the cooler temperatures, hiking is also a great activity from May to October, especially as the humidity won't be as intense as in summer.

The dry season also means that animals will be out and about. Look for the country’s iconic lemurs hanging in the trees and play hide and seek with the multicolored reptiles clinging to branches below.

June

Best for: Madagascar Independence Day, pre-holiday crowds and touring national parks

As July and August are the busiest months of the year, June might be preferable to those wishing for a slightly quieter time. There’s great weather seen all across the country and the celebration of Madagascan Independence Day, making June a great month to visit.

The 26th of June marks Independence Day and is commemorated with parades, marches, music, feasts and more, livening up the streets and bringing smiles to faces.

July

Best for: whale watching, hiking and exploring parks

Although it’s technically the middle of ‘winter,’ in Madagascar, it won’t really get that cold. June is the coolest month of the year, but maximum temperatures still sit between 79-90ºF. Perfect for sunny days out exploring national parks or simply enjoying the warm waters of the idyllic beaches.

The whales will start to arrive in areas of the east coast, including the channel between the mainland and the island of Sainte-Marie. But don’t worry; they’ll be enjoying the warm Madagascan waters until the end of September.

August

Best for: whale watching, river cruising and bird spotting.

August is peak season for travel in Madagascar and it’s not hard to understand why. There are whales in the water, birds in the sky and all manner of mammals in the trees. You can enjoy all the best of the national parks, wildlife reserves and local talents on any trip to Madagascar this month.

Coinciding with the northern hemisphere summer holidays, many visitors make their way to Madagascar this month, so expect to see a few faces around. If you’re looking for a quieter atmosphere, why not enjoy a wildlife-spotting traditional barge ride along the Tsiribihina River or a visit to Antsirabe, a popular hot spring destination?

September

Best for: fewer crowds, wildlife spotting and snorkeling

Paddle the waters of the Manombolo River in a canoe, enjoy a sunset from the Avenue of the Baobabs, or hike around the highlands - it’s all possible in September. The weather may start its slow transition from the winter season to the summer season, getting a little warmer all around the country. Summer school crowds will have left but much of the hibernating wildlife will start to come out for the warmer temperatures.

October

Best for: baby lemurs, night walks and hiking

October is considered to be one of the best months for wildlife spotting in Madagascar as newly-born lemurs start to appear on their mother’s backs. For some of the best animal spotting, see these completely unique animals by day or by night on an evening night walk through Andasibe and R NP. As much as 60 per cent of lemurs in Madagascar are nocturnal, as well as native chameleons and frog species.

November

Best for: west coast beach days, reptile and lemur spotting

Although November is technically the first month of the wet season, it’s still a great month for traveling to Madagascar. You can easily fill an itinerary with snorkeling, nature walking and cultural exploring with warm temperatures and active wildlife across most of the island.

The west and south regions are likely not to be as rainy as the north as the northwest monsoon starts to roll in around now.

December

Best for: animal spotting, fewer crowds and warm weather

December is the hottest month of the year for Madagascar as average temperatures sit around 82ºF with average highs around 90ºF. The northwest monsoon will see heavy rains across the country, especially in Antananarivo where it will also be the rainiest month of the year. The tropical storms are most likely to start around mid-December.

With the heat and potential rain, there may not always be perfect weather in December; however, just like in the previous months, various reptile and animal species are out enjoying the warmth, so animal lovers might want to consider this time of year.

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