When's The Best Time to Visit Madagascar

The best time to visit Madagascar is from April to mid-December. The weather during these months is just right - not too hot and not too rainy. It's the perfect opportunity to explore Madagascar's amazing rainforests, see the unique wildlife, and relax on beautiful beaches. This in depth article will help you to work out when to go to Madagascar.

When is the best time to visit Madagascar?

The best time to travel to Madagascar depends on which parts of the country you want to visit and your interests. With its climate dominated by the Indian Ocean’s southeastern trade winds, the island has a clear seasonal cycle. In general, the austral winter (April to October) tends to be dry and warm, with higher temperatures at sea level and further north or along the west coast. 

From November to March, a hot, wet summer sees heavy rains lash the eastern slopes and highlands, and ferocious cyclones batter the east coast. At the start of the summer, when showers are light and infrequent, November is often recommended as the best month to visit Madagascar for wildlife-watching.

Madagascar high season

July, August, December: During these months, tourists from the northern hemisphere flock to Madagascar for their summer holidays, making it the peak season. Although you might need to book your plane tickets and accommodation well in advance, you will also enjoy cooler weather (especially in July and August), which makes swimming and sunbathing along the coastal regions a delightful experience. 

However, keep in mind that while it's whale season along the east coast, many small mammals and reptiles will be hibernating during this period.

Madagascar shoulder season

April, May, October, November: Considered by many as the best time to visit Madagascar, the shoulder season is when you'll likely see the most animals. For lemur enthusiasts, the birthing season in October is an absolute treat. 

Furthermore, the months of September, November, and December are fantastic for bird and reptile sightings as these creatures relish the warmer temperatures. Another advantage is that the climate is relatively mild, making it comfortable for sightseeing and other outdoor activities.

Madagascar low season

January, February, March, June: The low season in Madagascar is characterized by heavy rains and cyclones, especially from mid-January till the end of March. It is advisable to avoid travel during these months as roads could be muddy and impassable & many hotels close. However, if you still wish to visit, you can benefit from lower prices. You'll also see the impressive sight of the highland rice crops in June.

Waterfall Amber Mountain National Park, Madagascar © Shutterstock

Waterfall Amber Mountain National Park, Madagascar © Shutterstock

Best time to go to Madagascar by month

Below we take a detailed look at the weather in Madagascar in each month to help you decide when the best time to visit Madagascar is for you.

Weather in January

Choosing January to visit Madagascar will put you right in the middle of the rainy season. Unfortunately, this means that heavy rains this month can make some areas difficult to reach due to washed-out roads. Temperatures range from around 33 in the south to 27 °C in the north. However, for flower lovers, January marks the start of orchid blooms that last until March. It's also a great time for the low season without the crowds of tourists and New Year celebrations.

Weather in February

February is a period of high risk of tropical cyclones in Madagascar and heavy rains are common this month, especially in the northern and northwestern areas. Average temperatures range from 24 to 31 ºC, but in the southwest, regions such as Toliara enjoy an arid desert climate, with average temperatures ranging from 26 to 27 ºC. Despite the challenging weather, unique wildlife can be seen during this month. In addition, orchids continue to bloom at this time.

Weather in March

March marks the end of the cyclone season and although it is still a rainy time of year, sunny days become a little more frequent. Among the best places to visit in Madagascar in March is the southwest, as the weather is more predictable, with slightly less rainfall than other parts of the country and higher temperatures. 

Heavy downpours during the monsoon are usually followed by bright sunshine, so you can experience both on the same day. If you don't mind the occasional downpour, March can be a beneficial time to visit Madagascar.


Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar @ Shutterstock

Weather in April

Visiting Madagascar in April is a special experience. It is the shoulder month, coming before the official end of the rainy season. Heavy rains, if any, are usually short-lived and do not disrupt tour plans. It's also a great time to explore the capital city of Antananarivo, where there are fewer tourists and you can enjoy attractions such as the extravagant Rova Palaces and the informative Museum of Art and Archaeology. 

As for temperatures, they range from a mild 24 to a more tropical 31 °C. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that in April the leaves begin to fall from the trees and some species of animals hibernate.

Weather in May

May is the start of the austral winter: a season of dry, pleasant days and cool nights. Days are warm with temperatures ranging from 23-30°C, making them ideal for hiking and sightseeing, especially on the west coast and north of the country. It is also a great month for festivals. The Zegny Zo and Donia are popular cultural events showcasing art, traditional music, and dance. However, if you are primarily interested in wildlife, remember that in May, many animals switch gears and some hibernate for the winter.

Weather in June

June is a great time to visit Madagascar due to fewer tourists and moderate weather conditions. Temperatures reach a pleasant 26-32ºC during the winter month, making it a great time to explore the island's national parks. Isalo National Park is particularly beautiful at this time of year due to its varied terrain of sandstone landscapes and deep canyons. 

June 26 marks Independence Day, a day filled with parades, music, and festivities. In addition, whale watching season begins, which adds another wildlife sighting to the experience.

Traditional Vezo fishing boat in southwestern Madagascar

Traditional Vezo fishing boat in southwestern Madagascar

Weather in July

By July, the dry season officially begins. With cooler weather (from 21 °C in the cool mornings to 28 °C in the afternoons) and minimal rainfall, this can be a great month to travel around the country to get the most out of each destination. Visit beaches, rainforests and islands, and experience authentic culture in the big cities. 

Another attraction in July is whale watching. Whale-watching enthusiasts should head to Fort Dauphin, which has many excellent beaches and nearby natural attractions.

Weather in August

August marks the beginning of the dry season, characterized by temperate weather and lively wildlife. This is a good time for bird watching as large species such as eagles can be easily spotted. Temperatures range between 20-25 °C, so daytime walks and outdoor activities become comfortable. 

Many people choose to walk along Baobab Avenue for unforgettable sunset views or explore nearby towns such as Morondava. However, be sure to prepare for chilly nights as temperatures can drop significantly in some areas.

Weather in September

In September, as the transition from winter to summer begins, warmer temperatures of 26-32 °C across the country encourage the activation of many wildlife species. You'll have the opportunity to canoe down the Manombolo River, watch the sunset from Baobab Avenue, or hike through the highlands. Plus, when the summer crowds leave, you can enjoy the tranquility of quiet beaches and dry forest trails without much interruption.

Andringitra National Park view, Madagascar © Robin Nichols/Shutterstock

Andringitra National Park view, Madagascar © Robin Nichols/Shutterstock

Weather in October

October is a great time to visit Madagascar with the onset of the shoulder season. This means the end of the dry period and the beginning of warm and humid days. We highly recommend a visit to the Ifotaka Forest, one of the most diverse places in the country. 

While traveling here, you may encounter the unique habitats of the spiny forest, home to the giant striped mongoose, spider tortoise and an astounding number of endemic plants.  The weather in October is generally mild, ranging between 26-32 °C, allowing for comfortable hiking throughout the day.

Weather in November

Technically the first month of the wet season, November is still a great time to travel to Madagascar. It's an optimal time for outdoor activities such as snorkeling, nature walks, and cultural exploration. In the west and south of Madagascar, rainfall is likely to be less and wildlife, reptiles and lemurs, can be found in abundance. 

Be sure to include a visit to Kirindi-Mitea or Morondava National Park in your itinerary. Along with wildlife, coastal areas, and dive sites come alive this month as the ocean waters are warmer. The average daily temperature in November is around 28-32 °C.

Weather in December

December in Madagascar marks the start of the hottest month of the year, with temperatures reaching 28ºC and highs of 32ºC. Although tropical storms often start in mid-December, it is an ideal time for animal lovers as various species of reptiles and animals enjoy the warmth. 

A visit to the Anjajavi Nature Reserve is recommended at this time, where an experienced guide will point out a variety of reptiles, birds, and lemurs amongst the gorgeous beaches and excellent habitats.

Party animals might want to visit Madagascar over New Year, when the occasion is normally marked with a three-day extravaganza of ceremonies, song and dance, though don’t expect many offices to be open.

Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar

Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar

How many days do you need in Madagascar

When planning a trip to Madagascar, it all depends on what you want to see and do, however, staying for 12-14 days usually gives you enough time to explore the island comprehensively. 

This length of stay allows travelers to enjoy Madagascar's unique biodiversity and culture at a comfortable pace, as well as visit iconic sites like Andasibe National Park, the baobabs around Morondava, or the stunning beaches at Ifaty. It's also worth noting that you may well be able to extend or shorten your stay to suit your interests.

Travel tip: check our tailor made travel service to get the best Madagascar itinerary

Guide to Madagascar's climate

At a latitude stretching from 12° to 25° south, Madagascar is well inside the tropics at its northern end and just outside the Tropic of Capricorn in the far south. 

Understanding seasonal changes

Dictated by the Indian Ocean’s southeastern winds, the island follows a distinct seasonal cycle. A hot, wet summer from November to March brings anything up to 4m of rain to the eastern slopes and highlands, roughly four times the UK’s typical annual rainfall in the space of a few months. This is the season when ferocious cyclones hit the east coast and ravage their way inland – busting bridges, sweeping away roads and riverbanks and making travel extremely difficult.

The rains are still heavy, but much less voluminous, in the west and southwest of the island. Down in the semi-desert of the far southwest they don’t always do much more than spatter the parched earth. For the rest of the year, roughly from April to October, Madagascar experiences a dry, cool season – what naturalists call the austral winter.

When considering when to go to Madagascar, you need to take into account the country’s distinct climatic zones. It can rain at almost any time of year in the highlands, for instance, and nights at elevated points on the island can be bitterly cold. 

Chameleon in Madagascar © Shutterstock

Chameleon, Madagascar @ Shutterstock

What to pack for Madagascar trip

Packing for Madagascar requires thoughtful planning due to its diverse landscapes and variable climate conditions. Here are some essentials you should consider:

  • Walking boots: Hiking through rainforests and rocky terrains requires sturdy footwear that provides good ankle support.
  • Hiking gear: Quick-drying clothes, hiking socks, and other hiking essentials come in handy for treks and other outdoor adventures.
  • Comfortable outfits: Pack some casual shorts, t-shirts, and swimsuits for hot, humid days and some long-sleeved shirts and trousers for cooler evenings and forest treks.
  • Warm Clothes: If you are traveling to the highlands, warm clothing is necessary as it can get quite chilly.
  • Sun hat and Sunscreen: Protect yourself from the strong sun.
  • Rain jacket: Crucial during the wet season or unexpected showers.
  • Waterproof sandals: Useful for town wandering and light hiking.
  • Health essentials: Pack Pepto Bismol, rehydration sachets, and malaria tablets to safeguard against common travel illnesses.
  • Bug Spray: Invest in a bug repellent, preferably with 50% DEET, to ward off mosquitoes.
  • Water bottle: Carrying a filter water bottle like LifeStraw can help you stay hydrated while reducing plastic waste.
Things not to miss: Sainte Marie island, Madagascar.

Sainte Marie island, Madagascar

Thinking of visiting Madagascar? You'll find inspiration in our customisable Madagascar itineraries, or contact our local experts to kick-start your perfect trip.

Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 30.01.2024

Ready to travel and discover

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍