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Prices & Budgeting

You will find most everyday items in Madagascar very cheap with the exception of car hire which, while cheaper than some countries, is understandably in line with universal rates for fuel and parts. Food and accommodation in the country can be very cheap but, despite inflated prices the closer you get to anything tourist-related, are generally very reasonable.

Specific prices and ranges are listed throughout the guide. The intent of the following page is to summarise what to expect paying for typical holiday expenses appropriate to budgeting.

If travelling independently, budget approximately [MGA75000] a night for a double-room. You can go more or less as you see fit, with the quality of room it procures varying in each location. For this amount you can expect at least a secure, clean room with hot water, a fan of sorts and ensuite facilities (appreciated when your stomach decides to be uncooperative in the night).
Budget [MGA60000] per person per day for food (3 meals), excluding drinks. This will cover you for popular, tourist-friendly restaurants in cities. You can go a lot cheaper if sticking to hotelys and there are one or two luxury French restaurants, mostly in Tana, that can go a lot higher. The rulebook goes out the window when staying in more remote tourist hotels and guestlodges—see note below. Add about [MGA6000] for water throughout the day and the occasional snack. Beer (that universal barometer of cost) is about [MGA2000] for a 500 - 650ml bottle in major cities, rising to [MGA3000] in more remote locations and anywhere up to [MGA7500] in tourist areas or upmarket bars. Malagasy (legal) rhum is apprximately [MGA2500] for a 250ml bottle. Wine is of varying quality, usually South African and French, and closer to usual international costs. There is no distinction in the price of alcohol when buying it from a shop or in a bar and it is available in practically all shops that sell general everyday items. Many of the road-side shops have fridges for drinks if the area has electricity.
If you're only staying beside national parks the prices above may appear to be way off. Those are typically found in cities and towns. Once near national parks or larger tourist attractions the prices can often soar (though will still remain cheaper than anything comparative in the west). Instead, be prepared to pay an average of [EUR95] a night for a room and about [MGA40000 - 80000] for a meal, though there are exceptions.
4x4s (locally referred to as a quatre-quatre from the French term and pronounced ‘kat-kat’) are billed at a fixed rate per day, plus driver fee (a wage and food expenses) and fuel. You will also be paying for the car to return to its origin and, should the driver happen to get a client for the way back that wasn't pre-arranged, that's deemed to be their good fortune, not yours. Car rental plus driver fee work out at about [MGA130000 - 200000] per day on average. Some of this will be the quality and reliability of the car, some will be the owner's opinion of a good deal. You can, of course, haggle. If you're good at estimating fuel consumption you'll be able to gauge a good cost estimate with the owner and get yourself a fair price, knowing the fuel costs that you spotted at gas stations. Typically, a car journey where you'll be driving for a large portion of the day will set you back about [MGA200000 - 280000] in total in a 4x4. Regular taxis rented for a day trip should not cost near this price. Expect online hire services to charge significantly more than local rates for the convenience factor and additional overheads (and occasionally the fact that you don't know better as a tourist).
Park costs will be broken down into admission to the park and a guide fee to take you on a trail/circuit. You are also expected to tip the guide afterwards for a job well done. Official national parks have set prices based on the classification of the park. Independent parks set their own prices at a similar cost. As a foreign tourist, you can expect to pay approximately [MGA30000 - 65000] park admission per person and between [MGA20000 - 90000] on a guide to explore a circuit, shared between the group up to a limited number. Where possible, I've listed the prices of each individual park that's included in the guide.
Taxi-brousse journeys across large stretches of the country usually cost in the region of [MGA10000 - 30000] one-way per seat but can reach upwards of [MGA70000] for journeys taking several days. You will have mixed success with haggling depending on how quiet the route is and the amount of competition.