Monday, August 24, 2009
Madagascar Tweet Up – get your head around the lost continent
Last Friday’s Madagascar Tweet Up was a chance for adventurers and agents to quiz our team of Africa specialists on the lost continent. Just in case you missed the opportunity to tweet with us, here’s the full list of questions and answers. Of course, if you want to get better acquainted with the destination, you can always check out the website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Given Madagascar's diversity, what part of Madagascar's offer do you think interests tourists: nature? beaches? endemic species? people?
A. No one aspect wins out as Madagascar is impossible to label – it’s the diversity of the country that attracts people
Q. Where do England-based tourists go online (blogs, forums, websites) for seeking information about Madagascar?
A. We love this site: Wild Madagascar blog wise we’d have to give you a shout out to Madafan
Q. What is the tourist profile that is interested with Madagascar's offer?
A. The nature lover of course and perhaps the more seasoned safari-goer who wants to see another side to Africa
Q. What’s high tourist season in Madagascar?
A. July to August, but most parks tend to enjoy a steady run of tourists year round, so in Madagascar you can wildlife view without the crowds
Q. Does the country's tourist board work with the trade much, or operate fam trips?
A. This piece came out in June – but a task force is in place to get tourism back on track: http://bit.ly/QVyDl
Q. Do you ever promote trips to Ile St Marie or Nosy Be, especially around festivals?
A. We don't tie into festivals at present but it’s something to think about :) However, we are currently offering an 8-day dhow sailing adventure around Nosy Be
Q. Itineraries to Madagascar seem to be more expensive in comparison to East Africa – any reason?
A. East Africa offers is more developed in terms of tourism and there’s more competition. Ultimately group tours bring costs down, although flights tend to be expensive
Q. What parks provide the best photo opportunities when it comes to lemurs?
A. You’ll find semi-tame lemurs in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, some will actually come and sit on your shoulders – Nosy Komba is another firm favourite if you want to get closer to the lemur
Q. How are tourists contributing to eco-tourism by going on an Acacia tour?
A. Park & guide fees are included in our tours – around 50% is redistributed to the people living around the parks in a bid to solve eco issues
Q. Why book an organised tour in Madagascar as opposed to travelling independently?
A. Limited tourist facilities, bad roads and limited ground transportation means travelling with a tour operator is still the best option
Q. When’s the best time to go to Madagascar?
A. Madagascar is an all-year round destination, but Sep to Nov is usually best after the cool, dry winter, and before the hot rainy season. Saying that rainy season is still a good time to visit as wildlife trekking is in the early mornings and rains come in the late afternoon & evening.
Q. Do you think the agreement and future elections will actually happen for Madagascar?
A. We hope the agreement between the two parties signed recently will go a long way in stabilising the political turmoil. Here's some more promising signs of recovery for Madagascar: http://bit.ly/PPpx6
Q. What about changing currency?
A. Your best option is US dollars to be changed on arrival in Antananarivo – there are ATM’s in Hell-ville and the above, however they can be unreliable. US dollars must be clean, post 2001 edition notes
Q. I’ve heard that Nosy Be is very touristy – are there still some off the beaten track locations around that region?
A. Despite its reputation, Nosy Be does feature a small, but diverse area for instance, the Lokobe Reserve on our 8-day dhow sailing adventure
Q. Do we have to tip guides or is that included in the trip cost?
A. Guide fees are included in the cost of our tours, local guides are invaluable in pointing out what you might otherwise miss so most people tend to tip
Q. What’s the best time to spot Lemurs?
A. It’s a year round activity, but Oct – Nov, is baby lemur season, generally the weather is mild then so it’s a great time to go
Q. What about conditions and trekking - who are your tours best suited to?
A. We’d say reasonably fit trekkers – in Ranomafana National Park on our 11-day adventure it’s mountainous with rough forest paths and you have to push through the undergrowth
Q. What about costs in the destination?
A. Madagascar is relatively inexpensive - e.g. a 2 course meal in a local restaurant might cost around £6pp
Q. What are the major highlights for divers on your tours?
A. Ifaty beach as it's protected by a large coral reef - also Nosy Tanikely, a marine reserve, fantastic visibility - manta rays, turtles...
Q. Could you let me know numbers in terms of crew?
A. The 11 day tour features one driver/ guide, and our 8 day tour 1 skipper, 1 chef, 3 crew
Q. Swine flu - any response to that?
A. Greater hygiene care will be advised on tour
Q. Can group tours be booked as private tours?
A. Yes, subject to a slight increase in cost - our tours are 8+ and we do have families booking private tours
Q. What online resource would you recommend for great pictures of Madagascar, to help sell the destination?
A. This is one of the best resources on the net - obviously there will be copyright, but they do accept requests & have high res available – here’s a link to the site for photos: http://www.wildmadagascar.org/about.htm
Q. Are customers more or less likely to book/enquire online for Madagascar vs your other destinations?
A. Madagascar doesn't differ when it comes to online booking, but people will research more beforehand as it's 'exotic'