The Right Season Makes all the Difference in Madagascar (Part one)
Memorable trips and vacations are achieved by optimizing several conditions: personal, emotional, financial and – believe it or not – the weather! Madagascar’s climates are part of the reason that make it a great place to visit. Madagascar is a beautiful Island, well stocked with some of the finest collections of flora and fauna. But its weather patterns greatly influence the experiences you would get during your malagasy journey.
The weather makes certain events that occur within the country have a feel that keeps the memory strong and relatable with the capacity to bring you back. Wildlife lovers need to take note that the weather determines if they’ll be able to see their favorite animals or plants or practice their favorite activities along that – hiking, climbing, etc. There are particular weather conditions that would make certain animals consider coming out … to see you. A weather forecast for your areas of interest will certainly come in handy if you intend to visit.
The cyclone season usually occurs around December to March. The eastern regions of Madagascar are more susceptible to be hit by cyclones. These include places like Sainte-Marie island, Tamatave (Toamasina), Mananara, etc. Generally, the most affected areas are the coastal areas. It is rare that the cyclone will arrive in the highlands but it has happened before.
Madagascar has a unique and interesting microclimate diversity that can be roughly described as a hot and relatively humid weather with a cyclone season, and a cool and dry season. And its huge 587,041 km2 surface makes it possible to experience different weather patterns across different parts of the Island. Some region will have literally like a desert climates while others will have an amazonian-like weather. In the central region (Vakinankaratra) near the towns of Ambatolampy and Antsirabe, the temperature can go as low as -1°C or 30.2°F. That being said, these 3-part blog posts series will never be enough to describe what is going on in each microclimate. So instead, we have summarized the must know information by month in terms of malagasy weather. Let’s start from the beginning with the first 4 months of the year from January to April.
January – the muddy
January is generally not a friendly period to visit Madagascar. Though the general weather pattern makes the entirety of the Big Island tough to manage and cope with, the western and southern parts experience lesser rain than the eastern and northern parts.
The weather elements are more on the extreme side in January with up to 5 hours of sunshine, about 330 mm of rainfall with up to 340 mm in the coastal areas, temperature range between 17ᵒC – 33ᵒC (33.8ᵒF – 91.4ᵒF) and water temperatures that are around the 30ᵒC (86ᵒF) mark.
With these conditions, the dry dirt roads turn to mushy and muddy areas that only the fancy popular 4×4 vehicles can deal with. They even throw the towel sometimes! One could say that January provides more room for adventure than a nice little pleasant trip. Hotels will be scarce if not closed and roads can be closed for weather conditions or unavailable transport. In one sentence, a trip to Madagascar in January is strictly for the brave at heart.
February – muddy with a chance of more cyclones
February is another month also for the brave hearts. The mean temperature in the entire Island will range between 16ᵒC – 30ᵒC (60.8ᵒF – 86ᵒF). Though the weather up North is slightly cooler than the weather in the South.There will be about 5 hours of sunshine same as in the previous month. The general rainfall is close to 300 mm with a high possibility of cyclones.The water temperature hovers around the 30ᵒC (86ᵒF) mark.
With the heavy downpours, a demanding environment for both travellers, tourists and wildlife is created. The wet weather is at its peak. Parks, resorts, hotels, accommodations and transportations are not easy to come by.
March – a last one (wet month) for the road!
The general expected amount of sunshine hours in Madagascar is 5 hours around this period. The rain still continues in March with up to 290 mm in general. The Southern part of Madagascar has less amount of rainfall when compared with the North. If feeling adventurous, a malagasy southern circuit will be more enjoyable with a big dose of patience.
March is still a month with difficult weather conditions but it is milder compared to the beginning of the wet season in January and the cyclone peak season in February. A lot of establishments are still closed and do not open their season yet. Closed roads make it difficult to reach a lot of destinations.
April – the calm after the storm
Phewww… Finally April begins to give us some good weather vibes! A bit of mixed weather though because there still is the downpours but with a lot more sunshine. There are temperature lows of about 15ᵒC (59ᵒF) and can go up to 15ᵒC upward all over Madagascar. The rainfall amounts are down to double figures at this point of the year to near 80 mm.
Parks across the Red Island begin to open their season and the wildlife starts to come out. Nothing beats the feel of the warm sun on one’s skin.The scenery at this time of the year is certainly bright and beautiful with a general green feel to every curve and stretch of ground. So Easter would be a very nice period to hang out in Madagascar. Plus, the local chocolate can beat anything you have tasted before. If you do not believe us, read our Madagascar single-origin chocolate here.
January to April is a rough and adventurous period to travel in Madagascar. That will not be the case if you are determined and ready to make careful and extensive travel planning…or if you do not have a choice because it is family / job related (smile)! Remember, bad weather, good weather, local people still carry on with their lives so why wouldn’t you? Whoever you are – a tourist, a backpacker, a soul searcher, a discoverer – and wherever you come from, – Madagascar, Europe, America, Asia – Madagascar has a lot to offer. Check out the other months’ climate in this series to find your match.