Before You Go
For most activities, a moderate level of exertion is required. Our itinerary includes walks and nature hikes, sometimes over uneven terrain, including some hilly areas. Madagascar’s climate varies noticeably from north to south, east to west, and from coastal to highland regions. As we travel through the island, expect it to be warm, with temperatures ranging from the 70sºF to low 80sºF during the day and dipping into the 60sºF in the early mornings and evenings. Slightly cooler temperatures are likely at higher elevations, including Antananarivo. Berenty, in the southeast, is drier than the rest of the island and can be very hot, with temperatures during the day reaching into the 90sºF.
Trip Preparation: Gear Up!
You won’t want to lose your footing when you’re spotting the elusive Madagascar lemur for the very first time—and sturdy you’ll be in our TEVA all-sport sandals with proven performance on land and in water. Venture to your heart’s content in patented, supportive comfort thanks to the rugged non-slip rubber outsole of these workhorse sandals.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
For most activities, a moderate level of exertion is required. Our itinerary includes walks and nature hikes, sometimes over uneven terrain, including some hilly areas. Should you have any physical limitations, please notify us in advance of your departure.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least two hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed (Johannesburg – JNB) and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
Transfers from Johannesburg’s international airport to the Southern Sun O.R. Tambo Hotel will not be necessary, as the hotel is adjacent to the terminal. After you disembark your flight, pass through Customs and Immigration; the pick-up point is situated behind the Inter Continental Hotel at the bus / shuttle terminal. From the International / Domestic Arrivals terminals in the airport, simply follow the “Public Transport” signage which will take you past the Car Rental section and into the shuttle terminal. This service is available 24 hours per day and the shuttle runs every 15 minutes.
If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.
Airlines change flight times frequently and our air department will send you any updates for flights booked through Zegrahm as they are received from the carrier. Still, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be done easily online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.
Due to weight restrictions on flights within Madagascar, baggage for this program is restricted to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) total, including checked luggage and one small carry-on.
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
Madagascar’s climate varies noticeably from north to south, east to west, and from coastal to highland regions. As we travel through the island, expect it to be warm, with temperatures ranging from the 70sºF to low 80sºF during the day and dipping into the 60sºF in the early mornings and evenings. Slightly cooler temperatures are likely at higher elevations, including Antananarivo. Berenty, in the southeast, is drier than the rest of the island and can be very hot, with temperatures during the day reaching into the 90sºF.
If you wish to do your own research on the region’s climate, you may want to check local weather conditions on the Internet, the Weather Channel, or Accuweather shortly before departure.
The following are average high/low temperatures in October and November for selected locations on our itinerary:
As of May 2015, the exchange rates for $1 US dollar (USD) are as follows:
• 12.02 South African rand (ZAR)
• 3,066 Malagasy ariary (MGA)
ATMs are a good option for obtaining local currency in South Africa if you have a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card. Ensure you have a four-digit PIN for your debit or credit card if you wish to obtain currency at ATMs. Please have some cash available as back-up.
While readily accepted in most of South Africa, major credit cards are far less common in Madagascar. They are accepted at the Hotel Colbert in Antananarivo.
Most of your expenses have been paid for; therefore, we suggest that you carry cash (preferably US dollars) only in smaller denominations. Traveler’s checks can be exchanged at banks and major hotels. Exchange rates are basically uniform. Be sure to have your passport with you when exchanging currency.
You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, a complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to your departure.
Electricity in Madagascar operates on a 220-volt AC with European-style 2-prong plugs. A converter, as well as a plug adapter, is necessary for all North American electronic devices.
PLEASE NOTE: Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy-duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.
Extending Your Stay
Interested in extending your stay? Speak with one of our Expedition Advisors to find out how easy it is for you to stay an extra night or two. Or, our Private Travel department is available to design customized extended stays for individuals, families, and groups of friends—the same horizon-broadening adventures and life-changing experiences as our group expedition, but on a flexible, intimate, and personalized scale. Call 800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 for more information.
International flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements.
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Johannesburg/Antananarivo and Antananarivo/Johannesburg/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.
Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended. Malaria risk exists throughout the year in Madagascar and highly chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum has been reported. We recommend you bring an adequate supply of both insect-bite relief products and insect repellent. The insect repellent should contain a high concentration of DEET.
A yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into South Africa and Madagascar if arriving within six days after leaving or transiting infected or endemic areas. Please refer to the World Health Organization website for a list of yellow fever endemic countries.
Yellow fever vaccinations, valid for life, must be given at official centers designated by your state’s health departments. The International Certificate of Vaccination must be validated by the center that administers the vaccine and carried with you on your trip. Your local or state health department can provide information regarding the locations and hours of yellow fever vaccination centers.
Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as pharmacies are not found in the remote areas of this expedition.
Protect yourself against the heat and the strong sun. Drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, sunglasses, and a high-SPF sunscreen.
In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of our expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm. The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.
Internet & Phone
To help you in the event that you must be reached during our expedition, you will be provided with a complete list of our local offices, group hotels, and lodge information with your final documents.
Please bear in mind that we will be in remote areas, and communication can be very difficult at times. Various locations do not offer telephone, fax, or radio service, except in emergencies. International telephone calls, faxes, and e-mails can easily be sent and received from our hotel in Johannesburg.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00a.m. on the North American west coast:
|10:00a.m.||New York, NY|
Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre-Departure packet, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately kosher meals cannot be accommodated.
It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and- wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly.
Laundry service is available, and by using it, you can limit yourself to just four or five outfits and not be inconvenienced by an overabundance of clothing.
Lightweight, casual clothing (denim is discouraged) is highly recommended for our Madagascar expedition. Bring several pairs of pants and/or shorts, and light, comfortable shirts. The evenings can be cool, so you may want a light sweater or jacket. Comfortable and sturdy hiking or walking shoes are essential for our nature hikes and walks.
Your clothes for wildlife viewing should be in neutral, muted colors such as tan, khaki, and bush green. Camouflage fabric is not allowed as it is associated with the military. Bright colors and white should be avoided, as they alert wildlife to our presence and can cause them to shy away. Remember, your hat should be neutral-colored as well.
You will receive a complete Packing List with your Pre-Departure Packet, approximately five months prior to departure.
Packing & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for at least six (6) months after you return home, through May 6, 2016. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You need to have a minimum of one blank page per country visited available for entry/exit stamps in your passport and secure additional pages if necessary. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
No visa is required of US citizens for entry into South Africa.
A visa is required of all US citizens for entry into Madagascar. Visas to enter Madagascar may be obtained upon arrival when clearing Customs and Immigration for a fee of approximately US $65.00, although we recommend that a visa is obtained prior to departure. This will help to greatly expedite the Customs and Immigration process after arrival into Antananarivo, Madagascar. A visa application is included with your Pre-Departure package to assist you in obtaining your visa through Pinnacle Travel Documents Systems. Please read the information carefully and complete and return the requested documents.
If you are traveling independently of the group or to any other countries prior to or after the expedition, check the entry and visa requirements with the local consulates of each country you plan on visiting.
PLEASE NOTE: Citizens of countries other than the US should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.
The process for obtaining visas from Madagascar is determined by the government of Madagascar and their designated consular agents in the US. While the visa service will do everything possible to ensure smooth and timely processing, please understand that application rules, turnaround times, and fees are determined by the government of Madagascar and can change with no notice.
Payments & Cancellations
A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US dollars.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:
• 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
• 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
• 60 through 119 days prior to departure: 50% of expedition fare
• 1 through 59 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare
Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition. Unfortunately we are unable to offer insurance to guests residing outside the United States.
With Our Compliments
We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to purchase items from our store along with books or maps suggested in the highly recommended titles sent. The certificates will be sent in your Pre-Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.