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Driving tips for Madagascar
June 29, 2018

Driving tips for Madagascar

Madagascar is an amazing island once connecting Africa with India which now lies in the southern part of the Indian Ocean.

Its unique location has contributed to the diversity of wildlife and somehow influenced locals. Malagasy people are slow and calm. Their slowness affects the way they drive. Let’s talk about it.

Traffic situation in Madagascar

Since the locals take things slowly, they show similar behavior on the road. Malagasy drivers seldom overtake or exceed speed limits. Thus, car accidents happen once in a blue moon, though only 48% of roads in the country are paved.

Road conditions in the centre of the country are quite good. However, the closer you get to the suburbs, the worse the road conditions are. However, Madagascar is constantly growing, thus, highways are appearing everywhere.  

There are lots of roads in mountainous terrain. During the rainy season, they become inaccessible. Thus, you cannot travel faster than 40-60 km/h. In case of danger, all drivers turn on hazard lights.

The traffic situation is generally calm. There are few private vehicles in the country. The locals take care of them and avoid having a car accident.

Nevertheless, if an accident occurs, drivers agree among themselves on site.

Speed limits and other restrictions for the drivers

Despite slowness of the locals, Malagasy traffic regulations require sticking to the speed limits. Thus, the maximum permitted speed limit in the city is 50 km/h. Wild and domestic animals, as well as kids, often run into the streets.

On rural roads, you are allowed to drive at a speed of 60-70 km/h. The maximum allowed speed limit on public paved roads is 80 km/h. That’s all you can hope for! Just forget about riding on the wind, especially when in the rainy season (November to April). No one is in a hurry. No one wants to drive faster than allowed.  

According to Malagasy law, all car occupants must buckle up, including a driver. You are not allowed to talk or text while driving unless you are using a hands-free kit. In the evening, after dark and in poor visibility you must switch on the dipped headlights.

Driving in Madagascar is on the right side of the road with overtaking on the left.

Must-have documents

To drive a car in Madagascar, you need your valid national driving licence. However, we also recommend you to have an International Driving Permit. This document will help you to rent a car in Madagascar. Thus, if you still have no IDP, it’s the right time to apply for it beforehand.

We recommend you to rent a car online in advance. By the way, make sure you have the third-party insurance.

You can rent a car only in large resort centres or travel agencies. What is more, sometimes it is better to rent a car with a driver who knows local roads. You can also rent a bicycle or a motorcycle.    

You can park your car for free if you are a customer of either a bank, shopping mall, hotel or restaurant. In this case, that will be a guarded parking. Parking lots at the airports are paid. Thus, you can leave your car there only for 24 hours.

In fact, you can park your car at the sidewalk if a carriageway is broad enough. However, avoid leaving your car unattended, especially after dark.

Fuel costs

There are several types of fuel in Madagascar. These are diesel fuel (about 2,500 MGA per 1 litre), 92 and 95 octane unleaded petrol (the prices are pretty much the same — about 3,000 MGA per 1 litre). Malagasy ariary is a national currency of Madagascar.

There are no toll roads in Madagascar. However, the problem is that at night roads are poorly lit. Thus, you risk hitting wild or domestic animals. If you face problems driving a car, you can choose public transport. Taxi-brousse and taxi-be are very popular with tourists and the locals. Taxi-brousse is a 25-seat minibus. Taxi-be is a 9- seat minibus.

Another type of transport which looks quite awkward is a so-called “poosey-poosey”. In fact, this is a man-powered 2-seat rickshaw. As you might have guessed, this is is a slow-moving vehicle, however, much cheaper than a normal taxi.

Thus, Madagascar is full of surprise. However, if you are going to visit this island, make sure you have an International Driving Permit.

Happy travelling!

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