Airlink resumes service to Nosy Be + Madagascar quick guide

2016-01-20 14:54 - Selene Brophy
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Airlink will re-introduce flights between Johannesburg and Nosy Be in Madagascar, effective March 20.

Tourism Update reports Flights will operate weekly with a single return flight on Sundays. The flight will depart on Sundays at 09:30 from OR Tambo International Airport and arrive at Nosy Be at 14:00. 

The return flight will depart Nosy Be at 14:45 and arrive in Johannesburg at 18:45. Due to the flight duration and prevailing headwinds the aircraft will perform an en-route technical fuel-stop in Vilanculos, Mozambique.    

CHECK OUT: Easy island escapes for South Africans

Quick Guide Madagascar

Quick intro: One of the largest islands in the world lies just off the coast of south-eastern Africa, complete with its own eco-systems and animals. A journey to Madagascar guarantees you sights you have never come across before, nor can you replicate in any other place on the globe. 
 
Where: Mozambique lies around 400km off the coast of Mozambique. 
 
Capital: Antananarivo
  
Head of state: Hery Martial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina is the President of Madagascar. Rajaonarimampianina was elected in 2013.

         

Area: 590 000 km2

Languages: Malagasy is easily the most common language, followed by French. English is sparsely understood. 

Currency: The Malagasy ariary. R1.00 will get you 243 of them at the current exchange rate, but expect available money changers to charge wildly differing rates. 

Climate: Although there is large variation due to the size of the island and altitudes inland, the rainy season runs from November to April, and the cooler dry season from May to October. In a nutshell, the east coast sees the most rain and the higher you go the cooler it gets. Cyclones can occur during the rainy season. 

Time zone: UTC +3 (one hour ahead of South Africa)

When to go: This is dependent on where you want to visit. The dry season is the best in which to visit the coastline as it is cooler, but at these times of the year the central part of the island can be downright cold. Heavy rain from the beginning of the year to March can render some travel impossible. 

Food to try: Typical Malagasy food is simple but delicious: a plethora of fruit (especially bananas), rice cakes, and superb coffee (often served with condensed milk). Rice accompanies most dishes served with meat or beans. Imported food costs significantly more, typical of any island destination. 

Useful phrases: While you scrape by with French in major cities, a few words of Malgasy will go a long way everywhere else. For example, “Tsy mahày mitèny gàsy àho. Miàla tsìny àho” (I am sorry. I speak no Malagasy) could be a useful turn of phrase, but no more useful than  “labièra irày tavoahàngy” (a bottle of beer). And in such a beautiful part of the world, on an island vacation, never forgo “Te ho àny amòron-drànomàsina àho?” (Where is the beach?). 

Official carrier: Air Madagascar (sometimes abbreviated to AirMad). 

Getting there: Air Madagascar has an extensive domestic network. Airlink is the only scheduled carrier offering daily flights between JNB and Antananarivo.  Air Madagascar no longer operate to Johannesburg.

With our new JNB to Nosey Be flights and our daily flights ex Antanarivo to JNB, customers have the option of flying direct to Nosey on Airlink, and after exploring other parts of Madagascar, have the option of departing from Antanarivo, or visa versa.

Visa: South Africans qualify for a visa on arrival for stays under 30 days.

Highlights:

Nosy Be:

This 300km2 island just off the north-west coast of Madagascar is the country’s top tourist hotspot, with a spattering of islands surrounding it. Visit Nosy Be for exquisite diving with a plethora of life in the waters. If being in the water isn’t your thing, there are stunning beaches, nature reserves, an island of tortoises, a lemur nature reserve and an array of spots to eat (many of which are on the beach). Offerings on Nosy Be cater for families and couples retreats, mostly in a natural setting. There are very few excessively luxurious hotels, but the island’s charm is in its simplicity and naturalness. The island is well connected by air to Antananarivo. 

 
National parks:

A large majority of Madagascar’s wildlife is unique, and can’t be found anywhere else in the world, which makes it a brilliant destination for animal lovers. The Andasibe National Park on the Malagasy eastern escarpment is largely untouched, populated with Intri lemurs, the largest of the species that still exist. In this region you’ll be able to see over one hundred bird species, eleven different lemurs, and other reptiles and mammals. Isalo National Park, around 400km from Antananarivo, is over 80,000 hectares of sandstone, providing breath-taking landscapes. Outside the views, there are natural pools throughout the canyons and hiking trails from the depths of the mountains to the peaks. A similar distance away from the country’s capital lies Ranomafana National Park, a rainforest based around the Namorona River and its stunning accompanying waterfalls. Again, the park boasts its own species of lemurs and other mammals, and – eek – snakes.  
 
Fort Dauphin:

This town on the eastern coast of the country has a milder climate than most eastern places, due to a luckily placed mountain range. Along with its spectacular beaches, eating in the town is delectable (it has earned the nickname “the lobster capital”), as is the town’s botanical gardens. There are nearby nature reserves, as well as spectacular flamingo sights in Ranofotsy Bay. 
 
Tulear:

Tulear has all the requirements a beach holiday ever sought out, with the addition of a sublime reef – one of the world’s largest. There is also thousands of years of history in this part of the island, denoted by the ornate tombs located in the vicinity, and the cultural museum run by the local university. 
 
Ile Saint-Marie (Nosy Boraha):

Ile Saint-Marie lies just off the east coast and is a grand spot to see humpback whales at the right time of year. This is another diving paradise, although there is an absence of shark life, but the flora and fauna on terra firma is more than enough to make up for it. 

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