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Hands-on science to sustain Madagascar's resources and people

Field Guide for Researchers

General Information
This information has been compiled to prepare you for your trip to Madagascar. We have tried to give you an idea about what to expect when you arrive in Antananarivo (or 'Tana, as it is called for short) as well as at the Centre ValBio Research Station adjacent to Ranomafana National Park (RNP), since many of you will work or visit there. Please read this information carefully BEFORE YOU LEAVE and make all of the necessary preparations suggested. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the ICTE Office. As much of the information in this packet concerns your stay in Madagascar, we suggest that you bring a print out along as a guide and reference.

Location and Profile of Ranomafana National Park
For those of you who will be working at RNP, we hope that this section will give you a hint of what to expect while working in the park. Ranomafana National Park, located in the southeastern rain forest of Madagascar, was inaugurated in 1991. It was established with the two-fold purpose of conserving the unique biodiversity of the Ranomafana ecosystem and reducing the human pressures on the protected area. It is located 65 km (about a one and a half hour drive) north-east of Fianarantsoa. Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, is 400 km north of the park (an eight to ten hour car ride). Altitudes in the park range from 500 to 1500 meters. Its 43,500 hectares are home to diverse flora and fauna.

Flora and Fauna (Biodiversity)
The discovery of Hapalemur aureus (the golden bamboo lemur) and the rediscovery of Hapalemur simus (the greater bamboo lemur), both endangered, in 1986 instigated the creation of Ranomafana National Park. The diverse flora and fauna located within the park attracts national and international scientists . The 13 species of lemurs found in RNP make it one of the richest primate sites in Madagascar. More than 80% of the spider species collected have been unknown to science. Frogs are distinguished by high species diversity and low familial and generic diversity. Nine species of chameleons have been recorded. There are several species of endemic crayfish in the park, and their closest relative may live in Tasmania. Mammals include over eight species of euplerid carnivores, tenerecs, and rodents. One hundred and four species of birds have been identified in this region. Missouri Botanical Garden has been cataloging the flora since 1993. The studies conducted by international and national scientists over the years have given us clues about the dynamics of this rain forest, however, our work has just begun.

Scientific and local knowledge have been reciprocal from the beginning. Scientists have benefited from local knowledge by employing residents as research assistants. After years of working closely with international scientists these local people have developed expertise in various fields. The Centre ValBio Research Station (Centre de Formation International pour la Valorisation de la Biodiversité, International Training Center for the Study of Biodiversity) is located just outside Ranomafana National Park, 300 m south of the park entrance on the Route 25, and was inaugurated in June 2003.

RNP is located in the eastern moist forest climate and is hot and subtropical for much of the year. For a climate summary, click here. November through March is considered to be the rainy season. Although the dry season extends from April to November, the North East and Central East regions have no months (or weeks) that are completely without rain. It can be cold in RNP from April until November, so bring a fleece and long johns if you are coming during that time period. Torrential rain and cyclones can occur in January, February and March. Annual rainfall ranges from 1500 to 4000 mm of rain.

Trail Systems in the RNP
There are four trail systems set up within the park, each encompassing an area from five to seven square kilometers. Three are located south of the Namorona River, and one in the high plateau, north of the Namorona River. The Talatakely Trail System (TTS) is located in selectively logged (in 1986-1987) low montane eastern rain forest and part of the area was a village of 10 families in 1947. The Vatoharanana Trail System (VTTS) is located in montane rain forest of minimum disturbance four km south of TTS. It is at 1200 m altitude. The Valohoaka Trail System (VLTT) is located eight km south of TTS (4 km from VTTS). It is undisturbed montane rain forest at 1200 m. The Vohiparara Trail System (VOHTS) is located on the high plateau just above the escarpment at 1500 m.

The Research Station, Centre ValBio
All researchers and students are now based at the Centre ValBio Research Station, located just across the Namorona River from Ranomafana National Park, about 300 m south of the RNP Entrance. Delicious meals are served at the Centre ValBio, prepared by a chef trained in French cooking. Housing is not yet available, but researchers have several housing options, including local hotels, and tent sites (for more information see Project Budgets and Costs).

Dietary Concerns
If you have special dietary constraints, bring any special food items with you that you may need and discuss your diet with the Centre ValBio Director. Vegetarians and vegans are easily accommodated, but it is adviseable to bring protein bars and other vegetarian/vegan food (like instant soups, etc.) to use as supplemental in case there is not a suitable option. Please be aware that most dishes are rather bland and after many meals of rice and beans, your taste buds tend to crave something different. We recommend bringing a few spices/condiments (e.g. garlic, lemon pepper salt, basil, oregano, cumin, grated parmesan cheese, etc.) to spice up your food. Also, remember to pack some snacks (i.e. candy, candy bars, granola bars, popcorn, etc.) to fight off any "snack-attacks". Sharing these coveted items it is also a great way to make friends.

Tent Sites
You are advised to bring your own tent. There are some tents available for rent at the Centre ValBio, but no guarantees can be made as to their availability or quality.

Individuals are responsible for providing their own camping and research equipment, including flashlights and batteries. You can recharge batteries at the research station, but you must bring your own battery re-charger. YOU are responsible for any equipment you might need during your stay.

Washing services are available for a charge at the Centre ValBio. In addition, you can wash your own clothes by hand in the large washing sinks. Please remember to use a BIODEGRADABLE soap. Ideally, you can bring soap that can be used for both clothes and personal hygiene.

Management of the Research Station
The Centre ValBio Research Station is managed by the International Consortium for Research and Training in Madagascar (CRTM). Ranomafana National Park is under Madagascar National Parks (MNP) management.

Planning your Trip
Detailed instructions for planning your research are provided in the "Initiating Research" section. Proposals for conducting research must be submitted to ICTE/MICET at least 2-3 months before you arrive in Madagascar.

Passport and Visa Information for Rsearchers under the Convention of ICTE
PLEASE NOTE: These regulations do change so it is best to contact the Malagasy consulate in your home country regarding current visa regulations. This page serves as a guide provided for your convenience. Do not rely on this page for definitive visa information.

Visa that you get in your home country (for details see the Madagascar Consulate under Visa Information)
1. If you stay less than 3 months : a Tourist visa is fine.
2. Get an extendable visa from the Malagasy consulate in your respective country if you wish to stay for more than 3 months.
3. Two passport photos are needed for visa extension at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visa that you buy at the airport (PAF visa)
It costs about $100 and only covers the dates of your ticket. Three-month visa is the maximum that can be given at the airport. This visa is NO LONGER extendable.

Airplane Tickets
Search around for the best airfare. The price of your ticket will depend on the time of year when you are traveling and the length of your stay. You can consult with ICTE to find out if anyone is leaving around the same time so you can try to coordinate flights.

The Centre ValBio is located in an isolated region in a developing country, and health facilities are limited and more primitive than those in developed countries. The Centre ValBio has a vehicle that can be used for medical emergencies, and a satellite phone for communication during emergencies. The closest hospital is in Fianarantsoa, a 1.5 hour drive from Centre ValBio. It is run by the Lutheran Church, and there is the modern Polytechnic Clinic in Antananarivo (10 hour drive). However, Madagascar is a poor country and medical facilities are basic and often difficult to find. We require that everyone have medical evacuation insurance so that people with serious medical conditions can be evacuated to Reunion (a French island just north of Madagascar) or South Africa.

All students and researchers who come to Madagascar assume responsibility for their own health and safety. The Centre ValBio will provide all the assistance possible to help in medical emergencies, but cannot take responsibility for the medical problems of researchers. Because of its remote location and the ruggedness of the terrain, the Centre ValBio is unable to guarantee a safe environment for researchers.

Being prepared for health problems is the best way to deal with any illness you might encounter in Madagascar. Ask your doctor to prescribe a few anti-bacterial drugs and anything that s/he may recommend. Make sure to make an appointment with your doctor six to eight weeks before departure. We have a basic first-aid kit at the study site but cannot keep a full complement of prescription drugs, so please bring any medications that you may need to last for the duration of your stay.

People with allergies or any other known medical problems must be sure to bring enough of the proper medication with them and let the project leaders know of these health problems. This is very important since very few drugs are available in Ranomafana.
We recommend that you consult the US Center for Disease Controls travel health page for up-to-date information.

Immunization requirements change periodically for Madagascar therefore please consult the Center for Disease Control website for current requirements. Make sure your immunization card (usually a yellow card) is updated and that you carry it with you at all times.

The only vaccination that is required by the Malagasy government is Yellow Fever, if you stop over in an infected country before you enter Madagascar. However, your health is your responsibility and we suggest that you discuss the following vaccinations with your doctor:
    •    Yellow Fever
    •    Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
    •    Diphtheria-Tetnus
    •    Polio
    •    TB Test
    •    Hepatitis
    •    Typhoid
    •    Rabies
Malaria Prophylaxis
A malaria prophylactic is a must. Please be sure to discuss the side effects of malaria prophylaxis with your doctor. Lariam is often suggested by doctors, however many researchers have had serious problems with mood alteration and nightmares while taking this medication. Some malaria medications cause indigestion - your doctor should be able to suggest ways of alleviating this difficulty. It is important for you to realize that for many people, these side effects are so serious that they stop taking the prophylaxis. Since malaria prophylaxis is so important, we suggest that you discuss more than one course of treatment with your doctor, so that you can safely change to a different medication should the first one cause unpleasant side effects. Whatever Malaria prophylactic you decide to use, make sure to continue taking it when you return home, as prescribed by your doctor.

Health Insurance
You are required to carry adequate health insurance that has a repatriation clause which guarantees coverage of the cost of transportation home if you are seriously injured or become ill while overseas (for example International SOS). You must also sign and return the Waiver and Release of Liability to the Stony Brook ICTE office before you leave for Madagascar. This release form states that Stony Brook is not responsible for accidents, illness, or any medical problems.

You should have all mail sent to:

(your name) 
c/o Andriamihaja Benjamin
Lot VU 283 D
Antananarivo 101
(your name)
 c/o Centre ValBio
BP 33
312 Ifanadiana

Letters usually come through without a problem to either address. Packages, sometimes, do not make it to Ranomafana. All packages will be subject to customs charges of at least $7, which must be paid at the time of pick-up.

Mail delivery to and from Madagascar and US is variable. Although you can mail letters from Ranomafana, the most effective way to send mail to the States is to bring US postage stamps to Madagascar with you. Then you can give your stamped mail to those who are traveling back to the US and they can send it from the States. Letters without the postage affixed will not be sent. Mail to or from Madagascar could take anywhere from 15-30 days to one year to arrive. If you have urgent correspondence you may contact the ICTE office at Stony Brook and they will help get your message to Madagascar.

Small personal packages should not be shipped to Madagascar via mail, since the timeline, customs charges, and paperwork are prohibitive.

Field equipment can be shipped by air or ship. MICET can help make the arrangements for an additional fee. Paperwork regarding the shipment must arrive at least two weeks before the shipment. Please contact MICET for details.

You can send email from MICET. It costs for every message sent or received so you should check prices and procedures and pay the MICET accountant for these services directly. Please understand that email is not free in Madagascar. The fees MICET charges are not for profit. Many researchers in RNP go into Fianarantsoa and use internet cafés to send and receive their own email. Web-based email accounts such as gmail are useful if you wish to use this method.

The current email address for MICET in Antananarivo is "micet(at)". Please make sure that your name or the name of the addressee is clearly printed in the subject section or the first line. MICET makes no promises about the reliability of this email service. Be aware that all email received or sent can be read by anyone in the MICET office, so no secrets please!

Faxes/Telephone Calls
The price of telephone and faxes depends on where you are calling/faxing. It is the same price for a fax and telephone call. Please check the MICET info board or ask MICET staff for current phone rates. You can also buy a phone card at the post office, but it doesn't give you much time to talk. Local phone service while in Tana is provided by MICET at no charge. There is cell phone coverage at the Centre ValBio research station, and phone service is available in the town of Ranomafana. MICET can help you to arrange to purchase a cell phone for incoming and outgoing national and international calls. The land line phone in Ranomafana accepts Malagasy phone cards which can be hard to get in Ranomafana. It is best to buy these in Tana or Fianar. Centre ValBio has a satellite phone for emergencies only.

US airlines generally allow a total of two check-in bags for international travel and one carry-on bag. Additional bags can be checked in for an extra fee. Please check online for current luggage allowances. You should contact your airline to double check how much overweight fees you will have to pay, since different airlines have different rates. Check your bags straight through to Antananarivo, Madagascar. Make sure that the tag says TNR (the code for Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar). Call the airlines ahead of time and make sure you can check your luggage all the way through. You do not want to be stuck paying additional overweight baggage charges in Europe.

Pack your valuables, medicines, and fragile items in your carry-on so that you can keep them with you and they have less of chance of being lost or broken. Liquids should be placed inside zip-lock bags in case of leakage, which sometimes occurs during air travel, also double check with the airline what the current liquid/gel restrictions are when you travel. You should pack a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost.

We suggest you bring an internal frame backpack and are able to carry your valuables yourself. Make sure all of your bags are well marked. You may have to haul your personal gear to the campsite at night.

Please Note: Anyone traveling to Madagascar may be asked to carry additional bags or correspondence with them. ICTE/MICET will pay the overweight charges for the baggage that we ask you to carry over. If a MICET representative does not accompany you to the airport to pay for the overweight, make sure to keep the overweight payment receipts. If you do not have a receipt we cannot reimburse you. We are grateful for your assistance, since communications between the US and Madagascar are slow and expensive. Another Note: Any magazines or newspapers that you happen upon in your travels will be much appreciated by the folks in Madagascar even if they are a day or two (or a week) old.

Cash vs. Traveler's Cheques - Use your personal preference regarding travelers cheques or cash. Some combination of the two is recommended, but you should bring at least US $500 with you for your personal use. Traveler's cheques are very difficult to cash and sometimes the banks require that you have the numbers with you which defeats the purpose of having the cheques. They can only be changed in certain banks, most of which are in Tana. You cannot change traveler's cheques in Ranomafana. Additionally, try not to bring large denominations of bills; it is difficult to change bills over US $50.00. Also, be sure to bring recent bills with you as older bills will not be accepted. French Francs are usually easier to change. Only new and unmarked bills are changed. You can withdraw money with a credit/debit card in Fianarantsoa but it takes a week.

Credit Cards: Credit cards are nearly useless in Madagascar. In case of an emergency there are some banks in Tana where you can withdraw cash off of your credit card. It will take approximately one hour for them to process it. You can use credit cards at the Hotel Colbert, the Hilton and the Radama Hotel in Tana.

How much money should I bring? How much money you will spend in Madagascar depends mostly on your travel plans. Upon your arrival in Madagascar you should change at least $100.00 into Ariary at the airport. Currency exchange rates are the same at the airport as in town. You probably want to exchange $300 before going to Ranomafana. Your food and lodging are covered when you pay Centre ValBio Research Station fees. You want to have some extra cash to buy beer, meals, etc. when you are in "town". If you plan to travel, count on spending at least $25 a day, not including transportation. Transportation is variable depending on your mode of transport. Taxi-brousses are the least expensive and flying is the most expensive. If you book internal flights through your US travel agent, you may be able to get cheaper rates. You should also count on spending money on hotel rooms and meals in Tana and on communications expenses, such as email and postage for letters.

Arrival in Madagascar
Please email MICET in Tana a complete copy of your itinerary (including flight numbers and arrival time) at least one week prior to your arrival.

If you have alerted the MICET office of your arrival time and flight number, and have received a response from them acknowledging the receipt of this information, you will be picked up at the airport. If not, a taxi can take you anywhere in town for about $10.00. There is also a bus from the airport called Air Route Services that will drop you in the center of town. If it is your first time in Madagascar, we do not suggest that you take the bus. In fact, even if you have been to Madagascar we do not recommend taking the bus.

The address of the MICET office is:

Lot V U 283 D Villa "ROTCIV"
101 Antananarivo

Upon arriving in Tana, you should:
Check in at the MICET office. Introduce yourself to Benjamin ANDRIAMIHAJA, the National Coordinator, and discuss your research program and schedule with him.
Introduce yourself to the MICET accountant, and pay the general research facilitation services and any other fees.
You should discuss your travel plans with the logistic coordinator at the office. You will have to pay a fee depending on your destination. MICET vehicles will only be rented for SCIENTIFIC purposes.

If you would like MICET to confirm your plane reservations, leave your ticket. It is often easier if MICET keeps your ticket and does the confirmation since you may be in Ranomafana or somewhere other than Tana.

If you are planning on receiving any mail or packages at the MICET address in Tana you should fill out a form letter stating that you will allow an MICET representative to pick up your mail. Make sure to include your full name and passport number.

If you are planning on exporting anything for your research you should inform MICET about what you would like to export. This information should have been included in your MNP proposal as well. It is very important for you to do this as soon as you arrive because getting the paper work in order is a long and slow process! You must state what you plan to export, the number of containers and/or species. Please be as specific as possible. If you are not sure about numbers, overestimate.

Accommodations in Tana
Manakambahiny: Manakambahiny is a house that the University of Antananarivo rents to ICTE/MICET. There is a kitchen and sometimes hot water for showers. It is a "hostel" type situation; you will have to share a room with others. There are six beds available. It costs around $10.00/night. The key is kept at the MICET Office and you should pay the accountant. The address is Lot Vu 692, Manakambahiny, Tana. You should confirm with MICET via email that this accomodation is available.

Area Hotels: Please check with the MICET office about local hotels in the area. Be sure to let them know what kind of hotel you are looking for, ie low cost (with shared bath, often offers breakfast, but you need to make arrangements the night before), or more high cost (with private bath).

Area Restaurants: There are several nice and reasonably priced restaurants in the area. Please consult the folks at MICET for recommendations. For other accommodations you can search in guidebooks.

Entrance Into Parks
Social scientists and others may want tourist permits to enter preserved areas. You should discuss any plans with the MICET office and obtain tourist permits from the MNP office in Tana.

Grocery Stores, Post Office, Banks
The most central and accessible grocery store is Shop Rite, located downtown by the Colbert. There is also a huge Walmart-like store called Géant Score, which is located on the periphery of town. There are small open markets on every street corner where you can buy "yummy fresh veggies." The Main Post Office and most of the banks are located down town in the "Colbert" region. Opposite the Main Post Office is the Indian Ocean Bank that usually has the best exchange rates. BTM is across the street from Shop Rite. Banks are usually open Monday through Friday from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon. If you are stuck in a bind and need to cash your currency, the Hilton is always open. If you would like to get cash off of your credit card you can do this at BFV off of the rue de l'Indépendance. If you need to do any photocopying take a passport photo, buy/or develop film you can do this at Fotorama (catty corner to the Post Office near the Hotel Colbert).

The patisserie at the Colbert has excellent pastries and ice cream. However, the best place to get ice cream, is at Honey's on the Rue de l'Indépendance (between Air France and the Train Station).

American Embassy
The American Embassy is located at 14-16, rue Rainitovo, Antsahavola, Tana. The number is (261-2022) 212-57/58. For your safety, you should register with the Embassy when you are in Antananarivo.

Arrival at Ranomafana National Park
You will be driven to the Centre ValBio, 300m south of the main entrance to Ranomafana National Park. If you arrive at night, it will be handy to have a flashlight accessible. You should let Centre ValBio staff know that you will be arriving late as they can arrange for you to stay in the guest bedroom for one night. Also let them know in advance if you would like a meal upon your arrival as it can usually be arranged with advance notice.

Once at Centre ValBio you will be greeted by the CVB Management Team. They will help you settle in (find a tent site, etc.) and will answer any of your questions. You should give them a copy of your research proposal, collecting permits, and a tentative schedule.

Within the first week you should arrange a meeting with the local Madagascar National Parks Director. This is an informal meeting just to let the staff in Ranomafana know what your project is about. The CVB Management Team can help you arrange this meeting.

Leaving Madagascar
There are four main things that everyone has to worry about before they leave: Exit interview and report, buying presents, overweight baggage, and the exit tax.

1. Exit interview and report: Everyone who has done work in Ranomafana National Park is required to give an Exit Interview to the MNP committee. This is a 10-15 minute description of your work and results. You should speak to Benjamin at MICET about setting up an appointment with MNP. You must also write a 2-3 page preliminary report of your work in Madagascar. MICET will translate your report and present it to MNP. You are responsible for sending a copy of your preliminary report to the ICTE office in Stony Brook.

2. Shopping: We encourage you to buy most of your souvenirs in Ranomafana. Remember that half of what you buy at the gift shops goes back to the villagers. For wood souvenirs, Ambositra is the best and cheapest place to go. The best shops in Ambositra are opposite the Grand Hôtel and the monastery. Otherwise you will probably do most of your shopping in Tana. Be careful of pickpockets though! The market at Andravoangy is also good for semi-precious stones, wood carvings, and tablecloths. Please Note: If you are exporting any souvenirs that are wood you must have a permit to export them. You must keep your receipt and get the permits in Tana. Please do not buy wood products made of old growth, rainforest trees, or fossils - as it is only ethical to discourage trade of these products.

3. Overweight baggage coming home: Madagascar is very strict about overweight baggage on outgoing flights, allowing a total of only 30 kg (60 pounds). You may want to donate any extra items to the Centre ValBio and/or the research assistant you have worked with. Carry heavy items in your carry-on if possible.

4. Exit tax: The exit tax costs approximately US $25.00 and is paid at the airport. You can pay in Ariary or in foreign currency.

Final Comments
Each person's project is a part of the whole that has become Ranomafana National Park. Let's not lose sight of the big picture: the reason we are all here is to study, protect, and sustain the valuable resources of Madagascar. Your work is a valuable component of this project and you are, therefore, expected to contribute accounts of your experiences and copies of your publications to the ICTE Office in Stony Brook and Tana, Madagascar National Parks and the RNP Office in Ranomafana so that we can maintain a comprehensive account of all research activity. The Malagasy government must be acknowledged for their cooperation in all publications, in particular, Ministry of the Environment, Forests and Tourism (MEFT), the Ministry of Higher Education and Madagascar National Parks. Malagasy colleagues are encouraged to co-author publications with international researchers.

ICTE, MICET and the Centre ValBio have a very good working rapport with the Malagasy government and its people and we would like it to remain that way. You are a guest in the country and should make every effort to be courteous and considerate of your friendly and generous Malagasy hosts. Please be sensitive to cultural differences.

Before you leave Madagascar you are required to hand in a two page research report to MICET to be translated into French. Copies will be given to the Malagasy government and the National Director. At the end of your stay, you are also required by the project to provide a poster presentation or show slides relating to your research.

According to our official accord with the Malagasy government, no videos from Ranomafana (or any protected area) can be shown outside Madagascar without the approval of the Malagasy government. Please speak with Benjamin ANDRIAMIHAJA if you have taken videos of your research or the project. If your film productions are commercial, a percentage of any profits should go to the Malagasy government, and there are fees related to filming.

Below are a few checklists to appease the pre-departure panic. There is more and more available in Madagascar as the years advance, however commodities are still more expensive and what is available can be random. Local dress is fairly relaxed, but on the conservative side. If you are meeting with officials a nice blouse or shirt and pants are appropriate attire. Please don't wear anything provocative - you will receive adequate attention because you are a foreigner. The list and our suggestions are as comprehensive as possible, however we welcome your suggestions and would appreciate it if you could point out any omissions. (If you are a student, be sure to bring student ID and you will get a student discount rate on entry permits to Parks.)

Field Equipment:
    •    Sleeping bag, rated down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit
    •    Tent
    •    At least two tarps - one to hang over tent and one to put underneath tent footprint
    •    Twine or rope
    •    Mosquito netting (needed if you sleep outside your tent)
    •    Small backpack or field (fishing) vest with lots of pockets
    •    Headlamp
    •    Two small flashlights
    •    Batteries
    •    Additional bulbs for your flashlights and headlamp
    •    Swiss army knife or Leatherman
    •    Waterproof wrist watch with five-minute beeper
    •    Compass
    •    Insect repellent
    •    Pen with waterproof ink
    •    Rite in the rain data notebooks
    •    Water bottle
    •    Waterproof storage bag(s)
    •    Duct tape
    •    Plastic zip-lock bags of all sizes
    •    Binoculars (7 x 35 are strongly recommended that are not too bulky)
    •    Personal Items
    •    Waterproof rain jacket and rain pants (A must!) - breathable is better
    •    Rubber "Wellington" type boots with tread (Very important!)
    •    Hiking boots for when it isn't raining and to wear around town
    •    Three pairs of field pants
    •    Three field shirts
    •    Three or four T-shirts
    •    Three or four pairs of socks (cotton, wool, or polypropylene; leeches hate wool)
    •    Underwear
    •    One or two long-sleeved shirts
    •    One nice set of clothes for town
    •    Bathing suit for swimming in the river or at the hot thermal pool in Ranomafana
    •    Towel
    •    Flip Flops, Crocs, or Tevas
    •    One pair of jeans (You will be miserable if you wear jeans in the field, but they are great to wear around town)
    •    Waterproof hat with brim to shield your face from the rain
    •    Extra eye glasses
    •    Soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, etc. (available only in Tana and more expensive than in your home country)
    •    Women should bring plenty of tampons or other sanitary products
    •    Sewing kit with safety pins
    •    Any required vitamins or supplements (be careful regarding drug interactions)
If you are in Ranomafana during June, July and August it can be COLD! This is no joke. We have experienced temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius during this these months. You should also pack:

    •    Gloves
    •    Winter hat (wool recommended)
    •    Scarf
    •    Wool sweater, warm sweatshirt or fleece
    •    Wool socks
    •    Long underwear
We suggest that you bring clothes that you are not sorry to leave behind. Your clothes will be ruined by the time you leave. The guides or long-term researchers will be happy to take your used clothes when you depart.

Medicine and Accessories:
    •    Prescription medication
    •    Analgesic such as Tylenol/Aspirin/Advil/Other
    •    Band-Aids
    •    Disinfectant or iodine for disinfecting cuts (it is also available in Tana)
    •    Topical antibiotic such as Neosporin
    •    An oral antibiotic for amoebic dysentery
    •    An oral antibiotic for diarrhea
    •    Pepto-Bismol
    •    Allergy medication
    •    Anti-itch medication (leech bites are harmless but they do tend to itch)
    •    Anti-fungal cream
    •    Cough medicine as recommended by your doctor depending on prescriptions
    •    Disposable hypodermic needles
    •    Condoms and any other birth control products (these are not available locally)
    •    Women should bring a yeast infection treatment
Suggested Extras:
    •    Camera and flash, plus silica gel and container in which to store them/along with storage cards or film to last your stay
    •    Handiwipes which definitely come in handy when you are not showering daily
    •    MP3 player of your favorite music (Ranomafana is an eight to ten hour grueling drive!)
    •    Reading material. There is quite a collection of novels at the Centre ValBio and we always appreciate new ones.
    •    Current magazines or newspapers are also appreciated by people already in Madagascar
    •    Special food items such as candy bars from the States are appreciated by researchers in the field for a long time.
    •    Collapsible umbrella
    •    Gifts for your Malagasy counterparts
    •    Postage stamps for mailing letters back home
    •    Small lock to put on your tent
Last Minute Checklist Before You Leave for the Airport:
    •    Your tickets
    •    Valid passport and visa
    •    Money (Traveler's Cheques and new cash in $50 or $20 denominations)
    •    Immunization record
    •    Luggage