This large Indian Ocean island is simply magical. There, nature seems to have genius and a great variety of landscapes, wildlife and flora awaits you. But it is mainly inhabited by a warm and smiling people. LGBT rights are not recognized and attitudes are slow to change, but the media give a more positive image of gays. If some teasing can be heard, they do not seem to be the target of aggression. It is also not uncommon to come across one, alone or in pairs, who remain discrete while assuming fully who they are within their surroundings and their family. They may hold some hard words among themselves about those who are too foolish or disguise themselves as a lady or who are prostitutes, but this society is changing and rather pretty well, since it is toward greater tolerance. The country is large and has not very fast transport. You must therefore make choices or go for a longer period. In any case, wherever you are you will love the authenticity of this absolutely extraordinary country-continent.
When to go. The best time to travel Madagascar is the dry season from April to October. The rest of the year is the rainy season when the heat is intense with possibilities of cyclones from January to March. Depending on the section of the island, July/August can be relatively cool and corresponds to the peak tourist season. Our preference is for September and October because that is the whale season. No gay pride or LGBT event on the island.
What to see. The country is huge and possibilities gigantic. My dream of baobabs in the west of the island was fulfilled after a few hours of tracks along the amazing massive limestone of Tsingy. Almost everywhere in the country, there are national parks with many species of lemurs, chameleons, reptiles or birds. Fauna and flora are incredibly rich. Take the RN7 southwards: from highland paddies to long beaches with fine sand, through the mountains and small villages: it’s adventure all along. And there are paradise islands: Nosy Be, fragranced with ylang-ylang and the very authentic Sainte-Marie. Gay and nightlife is concentrated in Antananarivo (Tana), the capital city. However Tana is quickly stressful and has not many visits to offer.
What to do. A former haven for pirates of the Southern Seas, the Sainte-Marie island lagoon is a perfect spot to watch whales that come here breed and raise their little ones during the austral winter. An amazing show! Even more sensational in Nosy Be, Rand'eau Whales organizes swims with shark-whales from October to December. With snorkelling equipment, you will dive and swim close to them without any danger. The biggest fish in the world is up to 14 meters. You will also love the serenity of a small fishing village south of the island at the gay-friendly Peter Pan hostel. 1 hour from Tulear by boat, far from modernity, offering simple life, there, you will live again!.
Gastronomy. Rice and spices are the base of the typically Creole local cuisine. The national dish made is the Romasava, made from brède leaves and meat. Some experiences are amazing, like the very tasty zebu steak or bat chowder (really delicious!). Finest restaurants are located in Tana, but our favourite is Chez Sucett's with has gorgeous simple local dishes. In other parts of the country, mid to high range hotels offer good food. Across villages try as well donuts or dried bananas ... Drinks include beer, prepared-rum and also South African wines.
In Tana, the Caverna, located in the Isoraka neighbourhood has welcomed the capital’s a trendy young crowd for over 2 years, with 80 m2 dedicated to party! Everyone comes to enjoy karaoke and cocktails until dawn, in that meeting place for local gays. Many come here and are a little if not very girly. Some guys complain and say they are "not like them." In any case, there are not so many tourists and you will get new friends easily.
Next door, the Manson is gay friendly. There is also a small karaoke club called the Jungle, run by a young Malagasy, with mixed clientele. Malagasy know how to party and you will not forget your evening. Nevertheless, as always in Tana, especially at night, do not show valuables and always use a taxi, for there are chances you might be robbed. Don’t forget your ID, because you may have to bribe the police case in case of controls.
Where to stay. In Tana, Hotel du Louvre is central, very well maintained, with a large pool in the basement and rather gay friendly. In Sainte-Marie, the Princesse Bora is superb and held by Fifou who is the manager of the local diving association. There is also the Adonys Eden Lodge which is run by a gay couple: a real paradise. In Nosy Be, Philippe, a french gay manage a small B&B and offer trip and snorkeling in the island with his company Aqua-Jet.
In the south, an hour from Tula by boat, on the magnificent beach of Anakao, lies the Peter Pan hostel owned by Dario and Valerio, a couple of young gay Italians. The accommodation is open to all but really friendly! The couple is very well integrated in this small fishing village. Their restaurant serves excellent fusion Italian-Malagasy cuisine and music will rhythm your evenings. The hotel is made up of small brick bungalows, with or without toilets, but with access to the beach for all. An ideal place to relax with a remote world atmosphere.
How to get ready. You can travel to Madagascar booking your hotels and transport by yourselves. Beware of domestic flights, as Air Madagascar does not have much rotation and can be costly. It’s best if you book the international flight with the company which will allow you to benefit from 50% on domestic rates. For land transport, cars with drivers are needed because the roads are not safe.