Air New Zealand has a direct flight to Perth. From there, fly South African Airlines to Johannesburg and on to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.
For currency take euros. Although it’s widely stated that United States dollars can be used, this is far from accurate. Make sure you exchange plenty of euros at the airport for lots of small ariary change. You’ll be parting with plenty of it in the form of tips and bribes. It’s a way of life – best get used to it.
French is the most widely spoken language. A smattering of English can be used in some parts and sign language goes a long way.
Immunisations – there are plenty of jabs you can get ( I did) although nothing in particular is required. Travel doctors will consult their guidebooks, which show that Madagascar is a high- risk area for malaria. I barely saw a mosquito but I did take tablets.
Drink only bottled water. Food at restaurants is fairly safe. Risk a case of food poisoning if you eat at roadside stalls.
Try a cycle trip with Crooked Compass (crooked- compass. com), which specializes in offthe- beaten- track travel, well run by local guides. Allow several months of training, including some off- road cycle practice. There are some quite technical aspects on the ride. The longest day covers 95 kilometres at one go. The total distance is 516 kilometres, with approximately 60 kilometres of hikes. The trail, from east to west, ends in the coastal township of Toliara. Accommodation and food are all arranged as part of the tour. Crooked Compass takes care of everything – including bikes. Some people, however, prefer to take their own saddle.