A few months ago we wrote the following to some friends who were heading to Mad this year; for more info on clearance procedures in Madagascar see Mata'irea: Madagascar:
Madagascar - Madagascar was absolutely fabulous. The sailing in the lee of the island is wonderful. The people are lovely, the flora and fauna fascinating. It was one of our favorite stops ever (right up there with Chagos
, the Andamans, Penang, Vanuatu
, and the Tuamotus). It is possible to reprovision in Madagascar, but friends found it better to make Mayotte their first stop from Chagos
. That way they could reprovision and refuel at an actual dock
rather than humping jerrys. We had come from the Seychelles
so we didn't need to do much shopping
in Madagascar. The sea there is loaded with fish
(a nice change from Southeast Asia), and the trading for crabs and lobster is great. We were so flush with good protein sources that we didn't end up using any of our frozen meat from the Seychelles
for the passage
to South Africa! However, the local beef (if you eat red meat) is definitely worth checking out. Zebu tenderloin (labeled as fillet at the grocery in Nosy Be - they keep it in the back so you have to ask for it) is some of the best meat we've ever had. And being a good midwestern girl I have definite opinions about these things.
We spent a while cruising the northern reaches of Madagascar before checking in. Then we cleared in at Nosy Be and took the free 1 month visa. A few weeks later, we cleared back out, and cruised down the coast for some time without anyone asking anything of us - though we did avoid the only big town we passed. We have some friends that never bothered to clear into Madagascar at all. Coming from Chagos, that is easy to do as you get an undated entry stamp from BIOT and that is all. So officials at your next port of call don't know how long you spent in Chagos and where you have been since. And when you get to South Africa
nobody asks for a Zarpe, so you can get away without clearing in or out of Madagascar. We aren't comfortable flaunting the rules that much, but it worked for our friends.
Many cruisers get 3 month visas for Mad while still in Reunion or Mauritius (not sure which). However, a visa in advance isn't necessary. You can get a 3 month visa on arrival too - though it is expensive. Or better yet, do what or savvy friends on s/v XXXXX did - clear in to Madagascar, spend a month cruising Mad on the free one month visa, head
over to Mayotte to reprovision (subsidized milk and flour, french cheeses and pate - yum), use wifi
machines, and pull up alongside a fuel dock
(which is not possible in Nosy Be), then when you've had your fill of civilization, return to Mad on another free one month visa.
Whatever you decide to do about officialdome in Hellville, Nosy Be, stop and visit John Sheppard at Sakatia Towers (email@example.com) (13:18.05 S; 48:10.64 E) first. He can arrange for his driver to to take you around town and do the clearance process. At $20 for four hours, it was well worth it to me (got my shopping
done at the same time). The boat boys in Hellville are gangsters - particularly one named TuPak, tho he seems to become aware of his infamy and this year he has been calling himself Johnny.
Madagascar was amazing. It is well worth a stop. Just lift
and lock your dinghy
at night and don't leave it unattended in harbors there or in Mayotte and you'll have a great time.