Ambohimanga Travel Guide

  • Roll away the stone...
    Roll away the stone...
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    Ceremonial Gateway
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  • Ambohimanga
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Ambohimanga Things to Do

  • Third, take pictures

    Well, I am listing it as things to do, not that you have to but only as a reminder.Sometime, you would be so "absorbed" by the contemplation of the sights, watching sunset, the imagination triggered by the tales from the guides that you would forget to take pictures. What can I say? I may have counted many pictures I'd missed while soaking it up,...

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  • Second, Take time to Reflect...

    OK, views from a hill are not your main interest in visiting the Royal compound. Still, the ambience, the serenity, the design of the place would invite you to take time to reflect. Be it while contemplating the views, while watching some sunset, while imagining the extent of work accomplished by those kings uniting the Merina kingdom then...

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  • First, the Rock with views....

    I guess, as many touring people, your main goal to visit the UNESCO Heritage listed Ambohimanga would not to enjoy the views. Still, if I ever manage to convince you about sitting on some rock as the main object of the roadtrip, then I would be glad. lolAfter your guided tour, you should be offered to reach Ambatomiantendro rock for some views....

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Ambohimanga Transportation

  • Norali's Profile Photo
    Thank you my driver ...

    by Norali Updated May 11, 2005

    You don't need a 4wd to go there.
    You may hire a bus but I can't advise where to catch it. But I know there are regular lines (not as frequent as in European standards though...).
    So either you hire a taxi, a guide or simply a car without any driver... or a bicycle.. or a motorbike (a very cool option!!!).

    The road is good though somewhat crowded near the urban center but it becomes so desert as you get North... especially after Sabotsy-Namehana, it's so calm and sparse.

    Ambohimanga, well, it's another city, that lives on its reputation of a sacred place... no business center, no supermarkets.. it's a countryside town... We use to say that Ambohimanga is a royal city.. but it's more of a town, really... very serene; just crowded at Ambatomitsangana gate where are the market, the bus station, the administrative bureau, the church.etc..

    Anyway, the 20 km road is generally good, more and more sparse as you head North and you would be tempted to speed up, happy to escape the chaotic and messy Tana, its downtown hassle and the traffic jams... and you speed up, like many others.. There: a warning: sometimes, you would see phantom cars as you tackle a turn, you would be surprised by a oxcart you wouldn't expect, another crazy driver driving in the middle of the road, not keeping his right... So watch out that speed and stay focused on the driving though the landscape is so inviting !

    How do I know that ? I used to commute 4 times a day on this route for nearly 14 years (Malaza, my home village is 5 km from Ambohimanga).

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Motorcycle
    • Road Trip

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Ambohimanga Local Customs

  • Like anywhere else they sell attractive...

    For Ambohimanga being the most visited Malagasy cultural site, you could imagine locals trying to take advantage of that aura... :-)Well, I am quite sure those items are overpriced compared to those sold in Andravoahangy handicraft market. Still, I saw some stalls in the nearby selling beautiful embroidered tableclothes and napkins.. If you don't...

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  • Filanjana

    Well, there as a reason I snapped this picture: the red Filanjana.The royals used to be transported by Filanjana. It is a chair fixed on two solid rods, topped with an umbrella on which a King or a Queen used to sit and that four men used to weigh/ carry. Just learnt it was a palanquin. :-)While visiting the Rova, you'd be shown a white plastic...

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  • Egg and clay for centuries.. forever !

    Centuries ago, this enclosure wall was made from clay and egg whisk then painted with chalk. It still stands.I once had the explanation that eggs served as taxes. They were then collected to allow royal constructions.

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Ambohimanga Warnings and Dangers

  • Wind wind wind on Ambatomiatendro

    Just pay attention to the fact that whenever you climb any hill, it can be very windy over there. This something you wouldn't notice within the royal compound of Ambohimanga (probably thanks to the egg & mud enclosure walls). Yet, I happened many times to be too lightly covered for the wind when sitting on this Ambatomiatendro rock. The top of the...

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  • Good road to ride on! Watch out the...

    You don't need a 4wd to go there.You may hire a bus but I can't advise where to catch it. But I know there are regular lines (not as frequent as in European standards though...).So either you hire a taxi, a guide or simply a car without any driver... or a bicycle.. or a motorbike (a very cool option!!!).The road is good though somewhat crowded near...

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Ambohimanga Off The Beaten Path

  • Mangabe II- 360° aerial views

    Views, yes. 360°, check. Aerial, check."King of the world feeling", check.But first, the climb. Short & steep. Great. Silent. Scary. Not dangerous, just risky to climb the pinetree frest underwood there as a solo female. Haven't encountered any danger, any threatening behaviour. Surprising. Busy climbing the steep slope, I came across a woman...

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  • Mangabe I - the "doany experience" to...

    I must have a special connection with this hill. The first hill ever (Ambohimanga apart) I managed to reach the summit although the highest I climbed. The first doany area where I had a feeling to not be set apart due to my status (I don't believe in the efficiency of pilgriming & asking for blessings at those doany, that pilgrims seemed to not...

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  • Ambohimanga surroundings to fill days!

    A shame that the royal compound uses to be the only spot locals & most tourists visit. As a local living just 3 miles from Blue Hill, I used to consider the place as one that was always there, that I would be able to visit anytime. Indeed, it is.. but it took me years, guiding my Belgian friends who visited Madagascar in 1995 to see the compound...

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Ambohimanga Sports & Outdoors

  • The little Ambatondradama trek & climb

    Walking & mountain climbing (not talking about speleology).I used to think you'd need a guide to climb hills around Ambohimanga. In fact, you don't need to. [You may need one for cultural guidance & translation as some of hills there are sacred site, including pilgrimage stations...etc.. That's the case of Ambatondradama & Mangabe.]. I just needed...

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  • Should you be a pioneer ?

    I chose Hiking as a theme though I guess something like Cycling, Mountain climbing would fit too.My only experience of walking there was a walk in the Ambohimanga primitive forest and picking plants and capturing hairy spiders, butterflies, crickets, creepy crawlers.. the one just below Ambatomiatendro rock... Visiting the area, you may be tempted...

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Ambohimanga Favorites

  • Ambohimanga: a Hill, a City, a Rova...

    .. or "Blue Hill" (1500m) is the most sacred of the twelve (sacred) hills that surround Antananarivo.Located 20-odd kilometers North of Tana, this Royal city is considered as the cradle of Merina kingdom, if not Madagascar kingdom.The city is a fort surrounded by some 10-odd kilometer-labyrinth of moats with many enormous stone gates. Pic2: the...

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  • Ambohimanga: the Rock, the Primitive...

    Another feature of Ambohimanga: Ambatomiantendro rock.Uses to be a landmark to locate Ambohimanga from afar. It was made easy to spot the hill from Tana's Manjakamiadana Rova. As a King, it was the obvious place to have a bird's eye view on one's territory & to review strategies. That was reported to be one of Nampoina's favourite pastimes, a...

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  • "Nampoina" means "Rice cultivation"

    As I use to say: "No better place than the top"This is a view on the massif that surrounds North of Tana. I snapped this picture while visiting the "glass room" of the Queens. In this room, the Queens, esp. Ranavalona II, reported to chill out and sometimes had her work sessions. The pieces of furniture were donations from European kingdoms (of...

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