Information & Facts
Antananarivo experiences a temperate climate and due to its
elevation of 4,265 feet (1,300 m) above sea level, Tana is much
cooler than the coastal regions of the country. The rainy season
runs from November to April and most of the city's rainfall is
recorded during these months, while the dry season runs from May to
October and warm, sunny days with chillier nights are the norm
during these months.
Travellers visiting Antananarivo will find themselves getting
around mostly by foot. There is however an affordable and efficient
mini-bus service, known as
'taxi be',that runs regularly throughout the
city. The fares are usually at least half the price of a regular
taxi, but since most tourists are not familiar with the routes and
aren't comfortable being packed into a 'taxi be' like a tin of
sardines, regular taxis are the preferred method of transport for
travellers. Be sure to negotiate the fare with the driver before
entering the taxi. Car rental agencies can be found throughout
Antananarivo for visitors wanting to explore the city in their own
Malagasy is the official language, but French is used in
business and government and is widely spoken in the main cities in
Madagascar. A few people involved in the tourism industry might be
able to speak some English, but it is not widely spoken.
The official currency is the Malagasy ariary (MGA), which has
been reintroduced to replace the Malagasy franc. Coins and notes
display both currencies, but newer notes display the ariary more
prominently than the franc. One ariary is equal to five francs.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and official bureaux
de change, but the ariary cannot be changed back into hard
currency. Some banks will only accept US dollars or Euro.
Travellers cheques can be exchanged at most banks and in major
hotels, but some banks refuse to accept them. ATMs are available in
Antananarivo. Most major credit cards are starting to be accepted
in top hotels and major travel agencies in the capital and other
major towns, but have limited usage elsewhere.
Shopping in Antananarivo is a fun experience with stores,
bustling markets, shopping centres and hawkers vying for a passing
tourists' patronage. Be prepared for an energetic day of shopping!
The Zoma Market, which is held daily, was once claimed to be the
second-largest in the world, and is definitely worth a visit for
those wanting to get some souvenir shopping done. Tana Market is
also popular and sells exquisite local handicrafts and artefacts
made of sea shells and corals. Head to the top and bottom of Avenue
of Independence for some fantastic stalls where popular Madagascar
souvenirs such as woodcarvings, oil paintings, hand-loomed fabrics,
cotton, silk, embroidery and woven straw items, like baskets and
hats can be found. The bright colours of the fabrics draped across
tables make for an unforgettable and very colourful shopping
experience. Haggling is expected but as a tourist, be prepared to
pay more for items than locals. Beware of pickpockets in the
bustling markets, and brush up on your French as this can come in
handy when bartering with the locals.