Climate & Seasons
The best times to visit
In general the climate of Madagascar is sub-tropical; however there is a big variation in climate on the island depending on altitude and geographical position.
In the highlands, where Antananarivo lies, it may be cool in the evenings, especially in the winter months of May until August. The temperatures in Antananarivo range from 10°C to 28°C.
As the largest remaining rainforest in Madagascar, Masoala is blessed by refreshing rainfall that keeps the forest lush and green all year round. The total amount of rain received annually depends on where one is on the peninsula. The rain shadow areas at the base of the mountains being the areas of heaviest rain fall, while the flatter areas away from the mountains, (as at the Masoala Forest Lodge and at Cap Masoala), receive maybe half the total rainfall of the wetter areas on the peninsula.
While it can rain on any day of the year, there are months with more and months with less rain. Usually it rains for a few minutes of the day, as a rain cloud passes overhead with the prevailing east winds off the Indian Ocean, and then it is quickly back to being sunny again.
Masoala is a place of sun and rain, with far more sun than rain and one needs to be prepared for both on any day. The main seasonal differences are based on the monsoon (or seasonal) winds that change direction during the year, affecting the type of rainfall experienced and the sea conditions.
The months of April-May and September-October are the transition months between the seasons, with mostly beautiful weather and light variable winds.
The months of June until August is the season of the south east ‘Trade Winds’ that blow across the Indian Ocean and over Madagascar. These winds bring days of beautiful crisp air and sunshine mixed with cooler and sometimes cloudy and rainy days. The rain in this season is mostly a light drizzle that quickly passes over with the heavier clouds. Temperatures in this season range from 18°C at night to 25°C in the day. Clothing required on the cooler evenings is a jersey or fleece jacket, trousers and shoes with socks. Cooler cloudy days are interspersed with periods of lovely sunny but not too hot days making this a great time for those who do not appreciate too much heat. This is also the time of the humpback whales which come into the Bay d’Antongil to breed and calf, arriving in July and leaving for Antarctica in September.
Most of the orchids are in flower in this season and the amphibians are more active due to the cooler and moist conditions.
The sea conditions in the afternoons in these months are more agitated due to the trade wind blowing off the ocean into Antongil Bay. Mornings are usually calm with the wind picking up by mid-morning. Wate temperature is around 20°C and the sea is usually clear with good visibility on the coral reefs.
The driest months of the year on Masoala are October until the end of December. It is rare that a jersey is required in this season, temperatures ranging from 20°C at night to 35°C on the hottest days. This is the season when the birds and mammals are most active in the early morning and the sea is usually calm and clear.
January until March is the season of the north-west monsoon that brings moist air from that direction. The days are hot and sunny with evening or night rainfall, often heavy rain with thunder and lightning storms. This rain lasts usually less than an hour and mostly is at night bringing welcome relief from the heat. This is also the time when Madagascar is prone to tropical storms and cyclones which result in heavy rain.