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An update from Evaneos

The cost of life in Madagascar: balance your budget!

As 60% of its population is registered as underemployed, Madagascar today is still one of the poorest countries in the world, and so one of the cheapest.

So, although some people say they can travel around Madagascar for 200,000 ariary (or about £40) a month, others can spend ten times that much without even trying. And, just like every country, your spending depends on what you expect from your accommodation, transport or leisure activities.

A Madagascar for every purse

Travellers to Madagascar on a small budget can still find basic hotels from 13,000 ariary (£2.50) and get from one big town to another by bush taxi for only 20,000 ariary (£4.40).

Of course, because the most remote areas have the least transport, it's not unusual to have paid 50,000 ariary (£10.25) to go 500 kilometres and then have to pay double to go the last 30 kilometres. In the towns, on the other hand, taxis are still affordable (4,000 to 6,000 ariary, or between 80p and £1.20).

With a bit more money, (about £30 a day), you can spend your nights in better hotels costing 26,000 to 52,000 ariary, or £5.50 to £10.50 maximum!

For those who prefer travelling in luxury, (accommodation with hot water in a top quality lodge, 4x4 with driver and journeys by plane), the budget will quickly can go as high as 104,000 ariary (£21.00) per night, plus 150,000 ariary (£31) for the daily rental of a four wheel drive vehicle with driver.

Taxi in Toamasina @Servane Rigault

A seafood feast for £1.50!

All round the island the coastal Malagasy live by fishing. So you can always suggest a change in the proposed menu to your guide and say you would prefer to have fresh fish rather than tuna out of a can. Along the beaches, under the shade of a Travellers' Palm (ravinala), you'll often smell the delicious odours of grilled fish, or feel yourself observed by the mocking eye of a coral coloured shellfish which has just breathed its last on the grill! A complete gourmet treat, much tastier than a private beach restaurant where the bill is bigger than the pleasure!

Although it has to be said that you can still eat in a good restaurant for the fairly reasonable price of between £3.50 and £11.

If ever you can't find enough change (2,000 - 2,500 ariary, or about 50p) to buy another bottle of the local mineral water, Eau vive, GM or PM (big or small), then you could try an environmentally friendly alternative instead and drink rano vola, the water that rice has been cooked in, which people will be happy to give you...

And when you are laughing and singing with your hosts they will probably offer you a few glasses of betsa, an artisan rum made from sugar cane flavoured with peel or wild fruit. For the Malagasy, a generous and spontaneous gesture like this is simply a priceless expression of the pleasure they have in being with you.

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