Index


Introduction


Madagascar is a large island located in the Indian Ocean, and has a tropical climate, rainy along the east coast, arid in the south-west, and temperate in the mountains. In inland areas, mountain ranges mitigate the climate, while rainfall varies depending on slope exposure. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the country has reversed seasons compared with Europe or North America.
In the whole country, there's a rainy season from November to March, which, however, produces little effects in the southwest, which is therefore arid. On the other hand, in most of the country, there is a dry season from April to October (or from May to September in the north), except on the east coast, where it rains all year round. As is typical of tropical areas, the rains usually occur in the form of thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon, so there's no shortage of sunshine even in the wettest months, at least in the morning hours.
In the cool period, from mid-May to September, but sometimes also in October, cool air masses from the south-west can affect the country, bringing a bit of cool weather at night, especially in the center-south, and even cold in inland areas.
The country is very interesting, not only for the beauty of the landscapes, but also for its flora and fauna. In fact, having been separated from the African continent millions of years ago, it has a great biodiversity and many native species.

The far north



The far north
In the far north, in the northern tip of Madagascar, it is hot all year round, while the rains are quite contained, hovering around 1,000/1,200 millimeters (40/47 inches) per year.

Antsiranana

In Antsiranana (or Diego Suarez), it is hot all year round, although the temperatures slightly drop from June to September. Here are the average temperatures.
Antsiranana - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)232323232220201920212223
Max (°C)303031313029292930303231
Min (°F)737373737268686668707273
Max (°F)868688888684848486869088

In Antsiranana, 1,200 mm (47 in) of rain fall per year, and rainfall is abundant only from December to March. Here is the average rainfall.
Antsiranana - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)34030518050152020201015551701195
Prec.(in)13.4127.120.60.80.80.80.40.62.26.747
Days161512643442351084

The sun in Antsiranana regularly shines in the long dry season, while in the summer rainy season, the sunshine hours decrease a little.
Antsiranana - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours66799999101097

The sea temperature in Antsiranana remains high enough for swimming even in winter, since it only drops to 25 °C (77 °F) from July to September.
Antsiranana - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)292929292826252525262728
Temp (°F)848484848279777777798182

North-west coast



The north-west
On the north-west coast too, temperatures are high all year round, but being that it's directly exposed to the northwest monsoon, the rains are more abundant, so much so that they exceed 2,000 mm (80 in) in some areas.

Nosy-Be

In Nosy-Be, an island located a short distance from the coast of Ambanja, the decrease in temperatures from May to August is limited. Here are the average temperatures.
Nosy Be - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)232323222019181819202223
Max (°C)313131313129292931323231
Min (°F)737373726866646466687273
Max (°F)888888888884848488909088

Not only the period from November to March is rainy, but it's also hot and muggy. We are in the austral summer, a season when the country is divided into two: in the north, the north-west monsoon prevails, bringing heavy rains along the north-west coast, where rainfall is around 400/500 mm (16/20 in) per month in January and February. Here is the average rainfall of Nosy-Be.
Nosy Be - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)4654252851406050354040951903602185
Prec.(in)18.316.711.25.52.421.41.61.63.77.514.286
Days20161373333351014100

The sun in Nosy Be shines very often in the dry period, from May to October. On average, there are almost 3,000 sunshine hours per year.
Nosy Be - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours667898999987

In this part of the coast, the sea temperature is high throughout the year, as we can see in the following table.
Nosy Be - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)292929292827262626262828
Temp (°F)848484848281797979798282

Mahajanga

Going further south on the north-western coast, the climate remains similar, even though the rainfall is less abundant: the summer remains very rainy, but it's a little shorter. Moreover, for a long period, from May to October, it almost never rains. Here is the average rainfall in Mahajanga.
Mahajanga - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)40038519570101232101202801477
Prec.(in)15.715.27.72.80.400.10.10.10.44.71158.1
Days171612411111261375

In Mahajanga, it's hot all year round, but the temperature drops a little from June to September, especially at night. Here are the average temperatures.
Mahajanga - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)242424232119181820222424
Max (°C)313132323231313132323231
Min (°F)757575737066646468727575
Max (°F)888890909088888890909088

The sky in Mahajanga is normally clear in the long dry season, while the sunshine hours decrease a little in the rainy season. There are as high as 3,200 sunshine hours per year.
Mahajanga - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours77891099101010107

The sea temperature in Mahajanga remains high enough for swimming throughout the year, as we can see in the following table.
Mahajanga - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)292930302927262626272829
Temp (°F)848486868481797979818284


West Coast



West coast
On the west coast, the temperatures in the austral winter decrease, becoming cool during the night. Furthermore, the west coast is not as rainy as the north-west coast, in fact, the rainfall hovers between 700 and 1,000 mm (27 and 40 in) per year, compared with the 1,500/2,000 mm (60/80 in) of the northwest coast.

Morondava

In Morondava, the average temperature ranges from 27.5 °C (81 °F) in the December-February period to 21.5/22 °C (71/72 °F) in the June-August period. Here are the average temperatures.
Morondava - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)232323201714141518202223
Max (°C)323232323029292930313232
Min (°F)737373686357575964687273
Max (°F)909090908684848486889090

Precipitation in Morondava amounts to 765 mm (30 in) per year; the rains are abundant for a short period, from December to February, while there is a very long dry season, from April to November, when it almost never rains. Here is the average rainfall.
Morondava - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)24020090151122241220165764
Prec.(in)9.47.93.50.60.40.10.10.10.20.50.86.530.1
Days1110611111112844

The sun in Morondava shines very often, and it shines for many hours even in the rainy season. In an average year, there are as many as 3,500 hours of sunshine.
Morondava - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours99910101010101010109

The sea temperature in Morondava remains high enough for swimming even in winter, since it drops to 25 °C (77 °F) from July to September.
Morondava - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)292930292726252525262729
Temp (°F)848486848179777777798184

Near Morondava, we find the famous Avenue of the Baobabs.

Avenue of the Baobabs

Arid south-west



The south-west
On the south-western coast, rainfall diminish further, so much so that it drops below 500 mm (20 in) per year. In fact, in the austral summer, the south-east trade winds still blow in the south of the country, bringing rainfall along the eastern side, but it is much less intense in the south-west.
In winter, on the other hand, temperatures drop quite sharply, especially at night, when it gets cool, also because from June to September, and sometimes even in May and October, this area is directly exposed to cool air masses that may come from South Africa.

Toliara

In Toliara (formerly Tulear), just north of the Tropic of Cancer, only 420 mm (16.5 in) of rain fall per year, with a maximum of around 90 mm (3.5 in) per month from December to February. Here is the average precipitation.
Toliara - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)959035201515668122095420
Prec.(in)3.73.51.40.80.60.60.20.20.30.50.83.716.5
Days89533321223748

In the southwest, which in summer is the hottest area of the country, the temperature can reach 40 °C (104 °F) from December to March. Here are the average temperatures in Toliara.
Toliara - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)232322201715141516192022
Max (°C)323232312927272829293031
Min (°F)737372686359575961666872
Max (°F)909090888481818284848688

The sun in Toliara regularly shines throughout the year, so, the amount of sunshine remains very good even in summer; there are up to 3,600 hours of sunshine a year.
Toliara - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours10101010109101010101110

The temperature of the sea in the southern part of the coast reaches 23 °C (73 °F) in August, so, all in all, it remains warm enough to swim in even in the winter season.
Toliara - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)282928272624242324252627
Temp (°F)828482817975757375777981

East Coast



East coast
As mentioned, during winter, the south-east trade winds prevail, and they are cool and dry everywhere except along the east coast, where they release the moisture which they have previously picked up over the ocean. For this reason, on the east coast and on the first slopes near the coast, it rains throughout the year, and a tropical forest flourishes there.

Toamasina

In Toamasina (formerly Tamatave), 3,350 millimeters (132 inches) of rain fall per year. In March, which is the rainiest month, rainfall exceeds 400 mm (16 in). The only period when the rains are not too heavy is from September to November, and this is true in general for the entire east coast.
Here is the average precipitation of Toamasina.
Toamasina - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)4103804803252302602902201201351703553370
Prec.(in)16.11518.912.89.110.211.48.74.75.36.714132.7
Days232024212221252419181721255

And here are the average temperatures of Toamasina. You can notice the decrease during the austral winter: in July and August, the daily average is 21 °C (70 °F).
Toamasina - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)232322212018171717192022
Max (°C)303030292726252526272829
Min (°F)737372706864636363666872
Max (°F)868686848179777779818284

On the east coast, the sun does not shine very often, since the rains are frequent all year round. However, the sunniest season is the winter, from May to August, when the trade winds directly hit the coast, while the sunniest months (albeit slightly) are October and November.
Toamasina - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours776765567887

The temperature of the sea on the east coast is high enough for swimming all year round, although it decreases a bit from July to October, as we can see in the following table.
Toamasina - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)282828282726252424252627
Temp (°F)828282828179777575777981

To the north of Toamasina, we find an island, Sainte-Marie, otherwise called Nosy Boraha, which is located in this very rainy area and is covered by forests. Between July and September, the humpback whales that come from the Antarctic seas and congregate for breeding in the channel between the island of Sainte-Marie and the coast of Madagascar, are often observed in a rainy context. Near Île Sainte-Marie, there is another smaller island, Île aux Nattes (or Nosy Nato).

Humpback whales near Ile Sainte-Marie

Along the east coast to the south of Toamasina, precipitation decreases gradually, even though the trend is similar, with rains distributed throughout the year, and a relative minimum in September and October. So, rainfall amounts to 2,500 mm (98 in) in Mahanoro and to 2,100 mm (83 in) in Manakara.

Tolanaro

In the southernmost part of the east coast, in Tôlanaro (or Fort Dauphin), rainfall drops to 1,700 mm (67 in) per year; it remains below 200 mm (8 in) in every month, and drops to 75/100 mm (3/4 in) per month from August to October. Here is the average rainfall.
Tolanaro - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)160155180175145125150105751001501651680
Prec.(in)6.36.17.16.95.74.95.94.133.95.96.566.1
Days111212121110108781111123

Average temperatures in Tôlanaro do not vary by much compared to those of Toamasina, however, the June-August period can be a bit cool for a beach holiday. Here are the average temperatures.
Tolanaro - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)232322211816161717192022
Max (°C)303029282624242426272829
Min (°F)737372706461616363666872
Max (°F)868684827975757579818284

Since the rains are less frequent in winter, the amount of sunshine in Tolanaro does not decrease much, so there are 7/8 hours of sunshine a day even in the period from June to September.
Tolanaro - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours887777788888

The sea remains warm enough to swim in even in winter, although it decreases to 23/24 °C (73/75 °F) from June to October.
Tolanaro - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)272727262524232323242426
Temp (°F)818181797775737373757579

Inland areas



Inland areas
As mentioned, the climate in the interior of the country is tempered by altitude, at least at intermediate elevations, while above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), the temperature during winter can drop below freezing (0 °C or 32 °F), especially in the south. In the dry season, a wind that is able to raise dust from the parched ground can sometimes blow on the plateau. On the other hand, in the rainy season, the rains can make it difficult to get around on unpaved roads.
In the interior, there are also mountains. The highest mountain is Maromokotro, 2,876 meters (9,436 feet), located in the north of the island, in the Tsaratanana Massif. On the other hand, in the south, to the south of Fianarantsoa, in the Andringitra National Park, the highest mountains reach around 2,500 meters (8,200 feet).

Antananarivo

The capital, Antananarivo (formerly Tananarive), is located at 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) above sea level, and has a pleasant climate, in fact, the average ranges from 21 °C (70 °F) in the summer months to 15 °C (59 °F) in July and August. Winter is therefore pretty cool. Here, the best months are April, September and October.
Antananarivo - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)171716151311101011131516
Max (°C)282625252321202123252626
Min (°F)636361595552505052555961
Max (°F)827977777370687073777979

In Antananarivo, 1,400 mm (55 in) of rain fall per year, most of which occurring from November to March. Here is the average precipitation.
Antananarivo - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)27025518550207101510651703051365
Prec.(in)10.6107.320.80.30.40.60.42.66.71253.7
Days18171796689481420136

In Antananarivo, the amount of sunshine is moderate; however, it reaches a maximum from September to November.
Antananarivo - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours766777788886

Further south, in Fianarantsoa, at 1,200 meters (3,900 feet), the climate is similar to that of Antananarivo.

Tropical cyclones



In the warm season, Madagascar may be affected by tropical cyclones, which can form in the South-West Indian Ocean from November to mid-May, although they are more likely from late December to mid-April.
Some intense cyclones that hit Madagascar were Gafilo in March 2004, Giovanna in February 2012, Enawo in March 2017, and Idai in march 2019.

Best Time



The best time to visit the whole Madagascar, to go on excursions in search of the numerous flora and fauna attractions, corresponds to the months of September and October: in this way, you can avoid the heat but also the rains and the possible cyclones of the austral summer. The period from June to August can be good as well, although it's very rainy on the east coast, and can be cold in inland and southern areas (however, as we said, sometimes it can get a little cold also in September, and more rarely, in October).
For a beach holiday, the west coast is preferable to the east coast because it's sunnier and less rainy. Anyway, you can go from mid-May to October on the west coast, and in September and October on the east coast. As regards to the west coast, you can distinguish between the northern part, the one facing north-west (see Mahajanga, Nosy-Be, Antsiranana), which is warm throughout the year, and the central-southern part, which, in winter, can sometimes be reached by cool air masses from the south and can experience cold nights (see Toliara); therefore, in the latter it's preferable to go in September and October, while if you intend to go in July or August, in order to avoid surprises, you can choose the northernmost area. In Nosy-Be, you can go from mid-May to October, although in October a little atmospheric instability begins to occur, with the first afternoon thunderstorms.
If you prefer to go in summer, for example at Christmas, it being understood that the weather is hot and there is the risk of cyclones, you can choose the least rainy area, that is, the south-west (see Toliara); in the southern part of the east coast (see Fort Dauphin), all in all, it does not rain very much, even though it depends on the year.

What to pack



In winter (June to August): on the south-central and the eastern coast, bring spring/autumn clothes (light for the day), a sweater and a light jacket for the evening; on the east coast, you can add a raincoat or umbrella. On the north coast (Mahajanga, Nosy Be), bring light clothing, a sweatshirt for the evening, and a scarf for the breeze. In Antananarivo and the plateau, spring/autumn clothes, a jacket, a sweater and a hat for the evening, and a scarf for the wind.
When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.

In summer (December to February): throughout the coasts and inland areas at low altitudes, bring light clothing made of natural fibers, a sun hat, a light sweatshirt for the evening, and a light raincoat or umbrella. In Antananarivo and the plateau, light clothes for the day, a sweatshirt and a light jacket for the evening, and a raincoat or umbrella.

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