Madagascar was an absolute leap for me. I decided just 2 months before that I wanted to work for a while there and headed out without thorough preparation. ie. no lonely planet reading, no mapping out where I’d travel to, the on-a-whim type trip. As usual, I didn’t really need many of the items in my backpack but wished I’d brought a few others. I touched on this briefly in my Madagascar Essential Travel Tips, but I’ve written this dedicated packing guide to help you be more prepared.
What to Expect in a Multi-climate Country
The island of Madagascar is home to a variety of regions and climates. Depending where you plan to visit, there are tropical beaches, humid jungles, chilly mountains, and everything in between to discover. Madagascar has a hot and subtropical climate and has colder temperatures in the mountains. It’s best to do some research on where you’re heading and when before packing so you can plan accordingly.
November to March – Rainy season. But just because it’s rainy, doesn’t mean it’s cold. It can get humid, hot, and still have sunshine for the majority of the day.
April to October – Cool, dry season. This is actually quite moderate and a nothing more than a light jacket is really needed.
Sunglasses : A must for obvious reasons, to keep the sun from scorching your eyeballs. I’d also suggest bringing a backup pair because you never know.
Durable back pack : Something you can toss around and hike with is recommended. A small cross body was great for quick beach walks.
Sunscreen/after-sun : The sun can be very unforgiving at the beach and when taking any long boat rides. Take care of your skin!
Mosquito Spray & Net : Malaria is an issue in Madagascar, so definitely come prepared with spray, citronella, a portable net, some form of itch relief and pretty much anything to keep them at bay. Remember, DON’T scratch the bites. You can get serious infections (like one girl on my trip) and medications to help are hard to come by.
Bathing Suits : If spending a decent amount of time at the beach, a variety of bathing suits is a great idea. You’re sure to get lots of sun, so nothing that will leave you with crazy tan lines!
Head Torch/flashlight : I’d never owned one of these but everyone in my group had one and I was beyond jealous. They’re great for night hikes, camping, and if there’s a power outage… which happens more than you’d think.
External Battery : This was essential since we lived on an island with 1 hour of generator power a day. The strongest one you can find is your best bet.
Leatherman/Pocket Knife : You truly learn how to make something out of nothing while in remote areas of Madagascar. This tool will come in handy almost daily.
Baby Wipes : My friend brought a huge back and we nearly finished them. I couldn’t believe how often we stopped somewhere and were told to just go in the bushes. These of course can clean hands and faces as well, so don’t be stingy. I recommend the soft package with the hard plastic seal to keep them safe.
Hot Sauce, Peanut Butter, Condiments : This sounds ridiculous, but in actuality Madagascar – certainly the more remote areas – doesn’t get shipments of these things for weeks, if at all. If you’re posting up somewhere for a while or staying for a length of time, these items and any other versatile bits are gold.
T’s : A few in a variety of colors will come in handy, even 1 with long sleeves just in case. I love them with my boyfriend shorts and they’re easy to dress up or down!
Flowy boho : I love my embroidered loose tops, but it would get so hot I’d rarely use them. If traveling to a cooler area, these are great for casual day times.
Sleeveless T’s and Tanks: It can get HOT, so staying cool while being covered is the best.
Light jacket : A compact, waterproof jacket is great for hiking or chilly nights. A sweatshirt is nice to stay cozy in the rainy season and to use as a pillow on long bus rides.
Boyfriend shorts : I wear my loose, rolled up denim shorts for every occasion. They don’t dry quickly which is the biggest downside (since laundry is all handwashed) but I can get a few days *cough weeks* use out of just one pair before they’re too grimy.
Drawstring Pants/Skirts : A mix of these in solid or a pretty print will be perfect with a plain top or bathing suit.
Harem Pants : Airy, cute, and comfortable.
Leggings (mountainous areas) : It’s always a good idea to pack a pair for chilly nights when in higher elevations. Go for quick drying ones!
Hiking pants/shorts : It’s a good idea to bring some loose hiking pants for any serious trekking. The mosquitos can get ravenous and since the trails are not well trodden, the brush can get unruly. Again, quick dry and lightweight is your best friend.
Beachy short dress : Billabong makes all the short dresses I use as beach covers and for day-to-day attire. They’re light, don’t take up much space, easy to wash, dry pretty quickly.
Sarong : Women in Madagascar use a single piece of fabric for EVERYTHING. They can carry items, be a top, dress, beach towel, anything. I suggest bring a few of these (or supporting the locals by buying some) and watch some videos on how to tie them various ways.
Maxi : It’s always pretty warm, so a flowy, lightweight maxi is a great idea.
Jumpsuit : Who doesn’t love a loose jumpsuit? They can do everything a maxi dress can do… and more.
Sandals : Durable, comfortable sandals are best… waterproof is even better. I love my Havaiana flip flops and I’ll usually bring one other pair of slip ons.
Hiking Boots : Unless you’re planning to spend the entirety of your trip on the beach (which I don’t suggest you do), you’ll probably venture to the rainforest or to see the Tsingy forests! For tough terrain, be prepared with some tough footwear.
Lightweight Trainers : Nike running shoes work great for casual walking/hiking.
Ok, so you don’t necessarily bring this with you, but it is something you should have to cover all the things you are bringing with you. As a travel agent, I always recommend purchasing travel insurance or making sure you credit card includes it. My Chase Preferred card covers me for most things, but if I need some extra coverage I use Allianz as my preferred vendor. Their coverage is so expansive unlike World Nomads or some of the other dirt cheap companies and the turnaround time for claims is FAST. Contact me for a quote!
Related: Photo Diary of Madagascar
Affiliate links may be used in this post which may give me a small commission when clicked on or purchased through. Regardless, I love and personally use everything I recommend.