Getting There in AntananarivoEdit This
If you don't mind having your passport checked several thousand times as you pass through the customs area and retrieve your baggage, then the process of entering the country is relatively smooth. Of course, arranging for a visa to be stamped into your passport before you leave home will make things a lot easier.
There are money changing facilities at the airport and travellers cheques in major currencies (French Francs, US Dollars, the Euro, etc) will be changed readily into Fmg (Malagasy Francs). Beware that the highest Malagasy demonimation is the 25,000 Fmg note and its approx value is only $10 Australian or $5 US. So cashing even $100 worth of travellers cheques will see a large wad of Malagasy money being passed to you across the desk. This can make some people nervous.
Expect to be badgered by a large number of porters who offer to carry your bags, and also numerous taxi drivers who will want to whisk you to your destination.
The official porters are easily identified by their uniform and are mostly honest. For many of these men, this is their only source of income so payment is expected.
Be aware that if you have several bags then it is more than likely that several porters will attempt to carry one bag each. This means payment must be made to each porter individually. Payment for each porter shouldn't exceed 5,000Fmg, and even that is excessive.
Porters tend to be more of a nuisance than a problem, especially when arriving by car at the airport ready for your departure. Do not be surprised if your taxi is swamped by a dozen or more porters all competing for your business. Their enthusiam cannot be tempered and they will be pulling your bags out of the back of your car before you have had time to open the door. Do not worry, but watch your belongings closely and be firm. If you wish to employ any of the porters, quickly choose one or two of them and hand them your bags.
Taxis into the city should cost somewhere between 40,000 - 75,000Fmg. The best I have managed by myself is 50,000Fmg, and with my wife (a Malagasy person) 40,000Fmg.
Buses do run from near the airport into the city and at a fraction of the cost of a taxi, but they are crowded, slow and confusing to someone uninitiated in the ways of the Malagasy bus service.
The taxis are not expensive and usually get you to your destination, so for the convience and relative comfort, taxis are the general means of transport for visitors. Taxis from the Hilton Hotel in Tana will charge more to take patrons back to the airport.