About Us and About Nosy Be
Airlink has introduced a direct route from Johannesburg every Sunday to Nosy Be – this opens up Nosy Be as a destination well within both the price and time brackets (7 night stays) most South African travellers are looking for. Please remember that this flight strictly limits check in baggage to 20kg per person. No sports allowance.
Air Madagascar continues to offer an expensive and unreliable service on the domestic routes – please discuss any additional tours you would like to do outside of Nosy Be itself.
Madagascar is NOT an easy destination to just “wing it” on arrival and it is highly recommended that you have both accommodation and airport transfers booked and paid for in advance.
All travellers need a tourist visa which costs around €25 per person and is issued on arrival at Nosy Be Airport. They can also be applied for prior to travel at any of the 3 Malagasy Consulates in South Africa. Passports must have more than six months validity and two empty pages.
Medical: Madagascar is a malarial area so it is recommended you discuss this with your GP. However, Nosy Be rarely has cases of the disease. There are no other inoculations required. But always travel with a basic First Aid Kit.
What is the best way of getting around on the island? Car Hire is not possible; generally by taxi (in various levels of repair) – but you can also get a Tuk Tuk for running around Hellville or a Quad Bike for exploring further.
Shopping for Niknacks: Nosy Be has amazing Raffia (the only Malagasy word that has made it to the English language) basket work; beware of buying wood products without a proper receipt to show at customs. Vanila used to be cheap but with the drought the price has become very expensive. Green Peppercorns and delicious Sakai (chilli). The handmade tablecloths are unique to Madagascar. The crafts that look like turtleshell are actually made from Zebu (cow) horn so quite conservation friendly. Bargaining is expected – but don’t push too hard; the locals work very hard for their living.
What should we avoid? Not much really! But if you don’t enjoy seeing old men with young women avoid Ambataloaka. This is where prostitution is rife.
Rand saver: Handy hint to save money or get a bargain. Draw the local Ariary from an ATM (VISA credit card mainly) to be sure of the best prices anywhere. You will have to go into Hellville to do this. Credit Cards are accepted but not everywhere and often attract a high surcharge. Watch out for the money changers! Know your rate of exchange before getting into any deal! If language is a barrier the most common way of getting a price is either for the vendor to write it down (‘E scree vay’ – pronounced) or on the calculator.
Don’t leave home without this: Your sense of humour; sense of adventure, insect spray and sun block!
Be on the lookout: hints on safety and health for travellers. As with anywhere in the world avoid blatantly showing off expensive items. Crime is rare but still happens. Do not walk on any coral and drink only bottled water.
Don’t leave the island without experiencing: A lemur on the shoulder; snorkelling with turtles; supporting some form of local trade.
When the worst happens: Numbers of the police or the South African consulate: Strongly recommended is Travel Insurance. Always make sure you have ONE phone working on roaming; have our number handy, your hotel’s number and the SA Consulate: Tel: + 261 20 224 3350.
What is the currency? The local currency is MGA or ‘Ariary’. Current Rand/Ariary exchange rate is MGA1000 = R4.50. But this obviously fluctuates. Euro and US Dollar are also accepted
Is Nosy Be Expensive? Nosy Be can be expensive or cheap – depending on how you travel. Sadly with the rate of exchange Nosy Be tends to be a bit on the expensive side for South African travellers BUT it is a unique destination.
What is the Rate of Exchange?
MGA (Ariary) 1000 = R4.50 (13th June 2016)
Best time to visit? When is the best time for snorkelling and visibility? When is the rainy season?
January, February and early March are known as Cyclone Season – this is not to say there will be a cyclone but many of the hotels and boats close down for this period. The weather during this time is VERY hot, VERY humid and VERY wet.
The very best time is really April through to end of November; December is still fine but getting humid.
For water clarity June to end September. Fishing is best in May and November – although rewarding all year round.
What sort of food can you expect?
Malagasy Cuisine is strangely bland with not many elaborate local dishes. Rice is their staple and the Malagasy people consume more rice per capita than any other nation. Anything that accompanies the rice is unimportant. However, there is a very strong French influence throughout all the lodges and restaurants and people are perhaps more surprised at the high standard of food than anything else. Seafood is always on offer with fresh prawns, calamari and crab being the most common. Superb Malagasy chocolate and bananas are to dessert as rice is to the main and this does not vary too much! Fresh tropical Fruit of the Day is sweet, juicy and delicious.
Any talk about cuisine would not be complete without mentioning Rhum Arrange. This dessert rum comes in more variations than fruit juices. Anything that can be found is soaked in huge glass jars of rum for a number of months before being ready to serve. Pineapple, mango, ginger, vanilla, chocolate, litchi, banana, cinnamon and orange! Don’t overdo it! It is strong stuff!