Madagascar’s climate is governed by southeastern trade winds originating from the Indian Ocean anticyclone, a seasonally changing area of high pressure. The archipelago has two distinct seasons, rainy and dry, with the rainy season running from November until April bringing hot, humid temperatures, cyclones and hurricanes. The dry season lasts from May through October with cooler weather and little rain.
Climate variation in Madagascar are considerable and depends on elevation and dominant wind patterns, with the east coast seeing rainfall up to 3.5 meters a year and notorious for its steamy summers and vicious cyclones. The central mountains are drier and much cooler at altitude, although thunderstorms are common and lightning is a safety hazard. The island capital, Tana, sees all of its precipitation during the rainy season, with a pleasant and sunny dry season. The west coast is the driest region, with a southwest and far south semi-desert topography.
Temperatures in the rainy season see highs of around 85°F, with high humidity making it feel much hotter, although evenings are cooler by a few degrees. The dry season is more comfortable, with daily weather around 70°C on the coast and much lower at altitude. The western coast is the most vulnerable to violent tornados, with the 2004 event killing many and leaving over 200,000 people homeless.
Best Time to Visit Madagascar
Planning a trip to Madagascar should include a serious look at weather conditions in the area. Remember that the climate is tempermental depending on the altitude and latitude, as well as on the changing trade winds. It’s best to avoid December through March which is the most likely period for cyclones and thunderstorms, and the heat of high summer plus the humidity make hiking and trekking brutal. Due to the lack of flights to the archipelago, there’s little chance of bagging a bargain, but the upside is that living and transportation costs here are far cheaper than your home country and many other vacation destinations.