Weather: Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles

The world's fourth largest island is a virtual rainmaking machine. Madagascar slopes upward to the east, culminating in the dramatic, forested cliffs that run the length of the island from north to south. The southeast trade winds are forced up this barrier, and the result is an average of 2000–3000mm/79–118in of rain along Madagascar's east coast, with even more in some spots. The least soggy period in the east is from September to November, although nearly every second day will be wet even then. Later on, as the trade winds slacken during the Southern Hemisphere summer, the ridges and western lowlands are prone to near-daily showers and thunderstorms. Madagascar's temperatures are notably cooler than on most tropical islands, and the higher terrain becomes amazingly chilly in winter, when it often sits in dry westerlies above the trade flow. July can send lows to the cold side of 10°C/50°F above 1200m/3900ft. Heavy rains – especially from tropical cyclones, one or two of which fling themselves against the eastern shore in a given year – can trigger massive floods and throw roads into chaos. This is least likely on the rain-shadowed southwest coast, which gets less than 400mm/16in per year.

Between Madagascar and the mainland, the islands of Comoros are similarly wet and mild, as are Mauritius and Reunion. As is usual in the tropics, easterly slopes are the wettest. Tropical cyclones may add to the warm-season rainfall and generally cause havoc, especially from January to March. Further east and closer to the equator, the Seychelles have stickier nights than the islands to their south, but they lie outside the tropical cyclone belt.