The weather is dominated by the southeastern trade winds that originate in the Indian Ocean anticyclone, a centre of high atmospheric pressure that seasonally changes its position over the ocean.
Madagascar has two seasons: a hot, rainy season from November to April, and a cooler, dry season from May to October.
Madagascar's long isolation from the neighbouring continents has resulted in a unique mix of plants and animals, many found nowhere else in the world.
This has led some ecologists to refer to Madagascar as the "eighth continent".
Travelling by train is cheap (1st class from Fianarantsoa to Manakara only 25000Ar (less than 10€)).
You want to choose a 1st class seat; or get up very early if you want to be sure to get a 2nd class ticket since it is always extremely crowded (the train is the only mean of transport for many villagers) and no booking is possible in 2nd class.
It is advisable to check the status of your flight in advance, as timetable changes can occur at fairly short notice.