A room with two beds and a private bathroom with hot water ranged from 35,000 to 55,000 Ar in various places. The more expensive places were Tana, Tulear, Ranomafana and Andasibe (of course I’m not counting Vakona Lodge, which was about 200USD total for the stay plus meals and activities).
Typical “western-friendly” meals at hotels cost up to about 10,000Ar per person if you’d like a drink and maybe a small dessert. Going to a Malagasy restaurant frequented by locals usually costs no more than 6000Ar. You can stock up on roadside snacks like samosas, sausages, fried mashed potato things, fried plantains, fried doughey curry filled things, etc for about 200Ar each (and 2100Ar = 1USD).
Hiring a 4×4 for a day in Ifaty cost us 120,000Ar; our private car hire was 35EUR/day and you pay for gassing up the car at gas stations (fuel is pricey there– similar to Europe).
Every park has a park fee on top of a guide fee. It’s usually the varying guide fees that are the most expensive, which depend on the duration of the hike, which route, which park, etc. At Ranomafana and Andasibe where we did a 1.5 hr night walk and 3-4 hr day hike, we paid about 150,000Ar each (which included tips for guides). The smaller parks cost about half that.
Our three day trek in Isalo included three meals a day and our own porters, a cook and a guide. It also includes tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag. That was 255,000Ar per person, and we paid an extra 45,000Ar total for the one-way 4×4 transfer to the trailhead (to avoid the several kilometer long walk through farmland to the trailhead).
There is contradictory information in the Bradt and Lonely Planet guides! Although, LP is coming out with a new edition in a few months, so maybe some things have been corrected. We had some trouble communicating the names of places sometimes; a lot of places go by several different names that not everyone is aware of. For example, “Perinet” has been linked to Andasibe, but no one seemed to know what I was talking about even when I wrote it out. Fianarantsoa is also known as Fianar, Tulear is Toliara, etc.
Passport control is a nightmare at Tana. Try and be one of the first off the plane and in line. They collect passports in groups and you have to wait in a big group until they wave your passport in the air.
The majority of roads in Madagascar are not paved, and some are not accessible by a regular car.
I wasn’t able to get a concrete answer for the electrical outlet plug shape. But now, I can tell you that everywhere we stayed used the two round European style plugs.
You won’t encounter a lot of English speakers outside of Tana who aren’t guides. Most people speak French, but some of the older people only speak Malagasy (but can usually grab a nearby French speaker to help out).
Ranomafana has mostly narrow dirt baths, some scrambling through bushes. You’ll definitely need good shoes, and a walking stick or trekking pole may come in handy in some isolated areas.
Reniala Spiny Forest and Tortoise Village are right next to each other. They’re both sandy and very easy/flat, so sandals are probably ok.
Zombitse was also an easy walk, but I wouldn’t recommend sandals. It’s hard to spot animals here, and I think we may have gotten overcharged and/or this park is overpriced. We paid about as much for this as we did the larger parks like Ranomafana and Andasibe.
Isalo is full of huge ups and downs with no shade, lots of sharp, brittle, steep surfaces. The walk to the Blue and Black Pools near Namaza Camp is very perilous– slippery, narrow walkways over ledges. Very sturdy hiking shoes recommended for Isalo, but don’t forget sandals so you can kick them off at the end of a long day’s hike and still be able to get around.
Mantadia is closed until further notice due to cyclone damage (along with some trails in Vakona Lodge), but Andasibe trails are great for everyone. They’re wide and clear, though you might have to scramble through some foliage depending on where some wildlife has been spotted. Initially, there is a steep ascent to the plateau where the indri are, but this can be detoured (which we did because Sara had a leg strain). Don’t forget to bring a raincoat– the guide said that we were extremely lucky to be there during a 3-day dry spell.
Mitsinjo is steep at first, climbing up to that same plateau. It is more dense than Andasibe and is also a lot more muddy. There were also a lot of mosquitoes at the lower elevations, a little less so in Andasibe.