The Highlands | The North | The East | The South | The West
Antananarivo to Antsirabe
© University of Texas
This small, very untouristy town south of Tana lies amid a raw and wild nature. Its major attractions are the Sisaony Falls with its natural pools (access only passable during the dry season) in middle of a thick forest and the tomb of price Andriasolo at the top of the hill. The artificial lake Lac Tsiazompaniry can be accessed by a very difficult track heading 34 km to the village of Haramalaza. The lake has a perimeter of 281.6 kilometres and an area of 32.7 km², more than double Lac Mantasoa. The area around the lake has been identified to have an enormous tourist potential so tourist infrWhatastructure is expected to develop here in the future. The region around Andramasina is also well known for having preserved its traditional culture despite the proximity to the capital. At this point we should mention the “tolotra” ritual, which consist of killing and cooking a zebu and distributing a piece of meat to each member of the community. The “Tolotra” forms part of an ancient tradition, where nobles honoured the peasants that brought them the first rice harvest.
Ambatolampy (70 km south of Tana) is the largest town between the capital and Antsirabe (70 km south of Antananarivo). It is an important centre of auto mechanics where lots of taxi-brousse are usually repaired. But it is mainly known for its forging and foundry industry (unfortunately the traditional forging art has been lost today). This small typical town deserves much better than just stop. The beauty of its natural scenery and its relatively cool climate invites like no other place for outdoor activities. Do not miss craftsmen building aluminium pots (one man can produce about twenty per day). Other workshops are dedicated to the production of "football games" featuring the best international teams. The frame is made of pine, players are made of aluminium and are hand-painted. A payment system is also designed to insert coins.
|Beautiful rice paddies © Magali_giaume|
A Zebu market on the right side of the road, near the river,
every Thursday: a magnificent spectacle and a great opportunity to get
in contact with the real Malagasy life.
A market for local products (Grand marché), left of the road, is held also on Thursdays. The atmosphere is quite more calm. This is one of the biggest Thursday-markets of the highlands.
- The Museum of Nature "La Cigale and Mygale"
The complete collection of
more than 6000 insects
from around the
world as well as
some minerals., has been recently sold, so nowadays travellers can only
visit a small botanic garden at the same place. Entrance fee
Where to sleep
Rendez-vous des Pêcheurs
Tel: + 261 20 42492 04
Ar 25000 for a double room with hot water. Expect no luxury! Warning: it is really cold in winter (July-August). The restaurant is a true institution. Its large room can accommodate about 15-20 tables, catering travellers on their way to the south, the same as locals (“Vahaza”, please do not expect to be served here first!) There are no many dishes to chose from. Frogs with garlic and parsley are very popular. “Snails à la provençale” (butter, parlsey, garlic) are also a favourite dish.
Tel: + 261 20 42493 02
Old typical house beautifully restored consisting of 5 rooms, 3 of them with private toilet for 32,000 Ar for 2 and 40,000 Ar for 3 persons, and another two rooms with shared facilities for 26,000 Ar. The restaurant serves Italian, local and international food from 8,000 Ar, menu 14,000 Ar.
Taxi-brousse from Tana heading to Antsirabe call here. Fares between Ar 3000 - 4000
What to see in the surrounding area
The Forestry Station Manjakatompo (16 km)
The Massif of Ankaratra, stretching along the north-south axis on nearly 100 km, offers a wide range of excursions along the many logging paths that cross the fragrant pine and mimosa forests. To access the forest station at Manjakatompo, where different trails start from, you will need a 4x4 vehicle, at least during the rainy season, and also an entry permit, which must be obtained prior to your visit at the “Direction des Eaux et Forêts”. Of the 8320 ha ground of the Forest Station, only 650 hectares are occupied by wild forest. 2300 ha has been planted with exotic species. The mammals are poorly represented. 38 species of birds, 6 amphibians and 11 reptiles have been counted here.
The most popular excursion at Manjakatompo is the ascent to the Tsiafajavona peak (2643 m), which can be done in one day. It is advisable to be accompanied by a guide from Ambatolampy, since the top of the mountain Tsiafajavona is conceived as sacred by the locals and sometimes “witches” meet there to perform ritual sacrifices.
Located 46 km from Ambatolampy, bordering southeast of the Imerina, near the eastern forest, Tsinjorivo is a historic site built by Queen Ranavalona 1 in 1884 where she placed a Rova and also a village of app. 100 inhabitants recruited from Betsimisaraka, Anosibe An'Ala and Andramasina. She came here only three times in her life. It is said that the queen let this place been built only to admire the breathtaking beauty of the nearby Onive Falls. In fact, her descendents visited this place often (Ravanalona III in particular) bringing an entourage of hundreds of servants and sometimes stayed even three months. The famous falls, situated at the southwest of Tsinjorivo, are visible from far away and plunge from an altitude of 30 m. A little further away the river flow calms and it is possible to swim or even fish (as Queen Ravanalona III used to do). The access to the falls is quite steep. The Rova built by Ravanalona I, where some objects and photographs are located, can be visited too.
The road to Tsinjorivo is in a bad condition and it takes four by car to get here. It is therefore advisable to bivouac at least one night there to avoid rushing back in the same day.
This lake was a typical weekend retreat for French settlers. To get there take the road to the west towards Betafo and turn left after six kilometres onto a narrow track which ends at the lake. The place was once very popular among sailing lovers, though the sailing centre is not rehabilitated yet. You can surround the lake on foot in about 1 hour or even do it on a horseback. Bathing is also possible during the summer months. You will also find some stands selling precious stones but don´t expect them to be true! If you decide to stay overnight there is a hotel just at the lake’s shore, but notice that two “fadys” exist here: no pork meat is allowed in its neighbourhood and no piece of silk fabrics would soak in it neither. There is a legend about the lake too: a prince who could not decide between two young women let them cross the lake swimming. The first to arrive should become his wife. Unfortunately one of them was pregnant and drowned. It is said that whispers of the spirit of the dead beautiful princess can be heard since then every dawn…
© Gail Johson
Another beautiful lake of volcanic origin with dark colour due to its considerable depth (over 160 m). Take the road to the west towards Betafo leaving behind the track on the right to Lac Andraikiba. The road passes through the village of Belazao and right after it ascents the Tritriva Mountain. The lake can almost be reached by car until the crater rim. Visitors are obliged to pay Ar 2 000 to access the lake, though the guard will surely tell you the legend about the lake. Two lovers decided to die there, after their families forbid their marriage. They are reported to be reincarnated as the two trees in an embrace on the river's bank.... The lake’s shape evokes the map of Madagascar. A trail surrounding the lake enables visitors to make lap around of approximately one hour.
Betafo is a nice little village well off the beaten track with a group of red houses with red tiled roofs, which are very representative of the highlands. Near the main square, granite stones perpetuate the memory of the local lords. A certainly pleasant place to go swimming in the water falls shortly after the Morondava road. Staying overnight at a inhabitant’s house is possible.