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Favorite thing: RN1... the famed one. From Tana to Analavory through old-glory cities such as Fenoarivo, Arivonimamo, Miarinarivo. All of them have history.
Miarinarivo has this singularity to have its own cathedral, a privilege only for ex-provinces' capitals (Tana, Mahajanga, Toamasina, Toliara, Fianar & Antsiranana). As how it came this building construction was allowed. I ignore. It's simply difficult to guess as, as a city, Miarinarivo is, by far, outnumbered by Arivonimamo, both in inhabitants, size and importance.
Our first international airport even used to be in Arivonimamo before its transfer to Ivato area mid-70s. I just read in a guide that the Imamo area (whose capital is Arivonimamo) was the very one where the first nationalist movement, Menalamba's, was born in Nov. 1895, two months after the fall of Tana (in the hands of French colonials). Then, Zanakantitra clan, denying the defeat, (reportedly) went into guerilla, assaulting the London Missionary school (protestant & English), symbol of European presence... Anyway, the nationalist movement had then spread out nationwide to be only tamed 10 years later (although Madagascar was declared French colonial in 1896).
Anyway, even before colonial time, the Imamo area used to be known for its tenacity, giving hard times to Tana kings in their expansion missions.
Fenoarivo displays this row of traditional Merina houses in its main arteria with veranda & woodcarving... pity they're in such a bad shape.
Unusually good road. Has been so for decades yet, earth slides are familiar to the portion near the volcanic area, past Miarinarivo.
Fondest memory: Good road, moutains ranges... reminded us the road to Mahajanga. Sure, we're heading West. Still, it's not the same route.
Updated Aug 24, 2007
Favorite thing: Has been awhile since we’ve been craving for some roadtrip. We live in the countryside, off Tana. In the Northern Tana (Avaradrano, i.e “North Bank”), to be precise. We use to breathe pure air. We only go to the crazy, crowded, air-polluted city with the downtown hassle for work & purpose. Our week-ends are very nature-tuned, if not spent hiking the wilds & climb hills, could be in the garden. But anyway, the itchy feet keep reminding about some cool roadtrip to do, whatever destination. Moramanga ? Tempting… still, everybody has been there, all of us. I suggested the Itasy area & more precisely, Ampefy. Everybody has been there too… except me & another person in the house. Mum just remembered this important detail. ;-) So, to Ampefy & Itasy the preference went.
130km away from Tana. 130km of varied landscapes although the Itasy area still lies in the high plateau. Mountains, hills, plains, rivers, old-glory towns… with just differentiated shapes whether one rides a volcanic area or not. And that was the Itasy area was about: a volcanic area. Meaning, it has crater lakes, geysers, stunning domes with golden retriever robe. Plus, they got the Liliha waterfalls.
But first, that road! Terrific one, this RN1. So unusually good it can kill....
Fondest memory: Has been months those web pictures of & tales of my folks about Ampefy curiosities have triggered my curiosity. So, as soon as we talked about a roadtrip somewhere, Ampefy sprung into mind. I remembered doing seriously my search with excitement & great expectations. And the best memory of Ampefy was that the journey, the visit, albeit rushed out, were beyond expectations. One of rarest destinations which I could pull off a long "post-visit" to-do list. Was very satisfied, it was beyond expectation.
Still, I'm pretty sure there will be an "Encore". In another style.
Updated Aug 23, 2007
Favorite thing: The trip taking place in the high plateaux area, we got our share of plains alternating hills.
Hills, glorious mountains, some with lavaka (crevasses)...
Naked mountains, cultivated hills
Especially while driving in the volcanic area (after Miarinarivo), we noticed the difference in the shape of mountains. Now we get either dome-shaped ones like the Italian cake (Pandoro, I think), with the table shape at the top, either pointy topped ones. That is when my dad explained that those with pointy tops are still expected to explode one day as the dome shaped ones had already spewed out their lava. We could see that from the shape (the flat top with probably crater lakes up there). There were many of those domes over there..... Look pic#2
As a driver, just don't forget to focus on the drive... it's so scenic.
Updated Aug 19, 2007
Fondest memory: So surprised by the beauty of Liliha river running through Antafofo, I warned my Mum who walked in front of me I had to take this picture. Didn't even hear her reply. Never was I so quick to move around, adjust my lens and snap. I guess the local lady who witnessed the scene shouldn't be surprised aymore. Those tourists! I glanced at her. She smiled, probably confirming my thought.
Couldn't help. Had to take this very first picture before stepping on the bridge which crosses the river. Very rare angle & a picturesque village I enjoyed strolling.
As long as I enjoy,
as long as I don't feel blasée,
as long as the simple sight of a tiny flower moves me,
as long as a river that runs through a village turns me on,
as long as experiencing geysers as a first-timer gives me highs,
as long as....
.....the list goes on, mostly filled with memories of Itasy experiences
Keep on reading & looking at my pics !
Updated Aug 18, 2007
Favorite thing: My initial plan was to visit the Andranotoroha crater lake. I knew it was not far from the restaurant, in the same direction as the big Itasy lake, both on the Ampefy-Soavinandriana main liaison. So we left for Andranotoroha crater lake. On our way, we stopped at the place where a kind Kavitaha staffmember- I chatted her up earlier while having the stroll- advised me to stop our car. We stopped to ask & we were shown a huge hill one has to climb to make a way to the crater lake. Aaaaaw! it was going to take a while. None was interested to climb. Was tempted to try it there & leave the others with the lake & the islets. Eventually made up my mind, stuck to the group, skipped the climb but promised myself to see this crater lake one day. First promise to myself....
We just had the time to retrace our steps back for about 1 minute when we saw the "Ilôt de la Vierge" sign. That's the exit to Itasy lake, at the entry of Village touristique. Passed a small village (of few houses). As the drive unfolded, the lake revealed itself... beautiful. A stunner! was such word to describe landscapes, areas, mountains...
Farihy Itasy or Lac Itasy (Itasy lake) gave its name to the whole surrounding volcanic area. The lake itself is big. With 3500ha, reported to be the third largest in my island, it's beautifully edged by mountain ranges, swamps, pounds and ricefields.
Itasy lake owes its existence to the lava flows which had blocked the valley. Water flows from the mountains, rains then had filled, for a long time, the basin to form a lake.
It's just unbelieveable to see those locals, either fishing, either cultivating in swamps, either busying to upload harvests in a cart........ so silent. For sure, they did talk to each other while busying. Still, it was so silent over there.
Fondest memory: Contrary to the Amparaky geyser springs, Itasy Lake was all about serenity, silence, great views. This 17th cent. King buried on Ilôt sacré is lucky. You'd stay here forever......
...whilst I wouldn't turn down camping somewhere near the geyser site.
I liked both.
Updated Aug 18, 2007
Fondest memory: Just look at those pictures ! Snapped while having a tiny digestive stroll at Le Kavitaha domain. Looking onto the water, under the shade, al fresco lunch tables....
This blue of the water surface, soothing !
Calm after the storm... Appreciated even more those fast rides on dirt roads. To each bumpy ride, a soothing, relaxing reward. The still blue water surface of Kavitaha lake. The serene majesty and beauty of this big Itasy lake we're about to reach after a while.
Updated Aug 18, 2007
Favorite thing: To experience the Farihy Itasy at fullest... many possibilities either indulge into some fishing activity, either stroll along the dirt paths looking onto the lake, the mountains, the islets.
Many islets had "grown" on the big surface.
You could hire services of a local fisherman to bring you to those. But then, be ready to climb, climb... either Ilôt de la Vierge ("Virgin Mary islet"), recognizable for its white base on which lies a VM statue dominating the lake... either head to Ilôt sacré (Sacred islet) where lies the tomb of a XVII cent. king. Another interest lies in the bat colony there... for naturalists, naturally.
Climbing Ilôt de la Vierge by car was the obvious option for us. Still, I would find it cool to climb the islet by foot. Little time & rushed journey & blitz visits *sigh*. The climb consisted of driving on a col that led to the top. The beauty, the majesty of the area unfolded before our eyes as we proceeded. Once on top, we enjoyed 360° views onto the area from that is to be considered as Itasy belvédère.
Fondest memory: The feeling of serenity facing the beauty, the majesty, the magnificence of the lake.
It's a big big big water surface although wideness is not which would strike at first place while admiring it from the top of Ilôt de la Vierge. It's edged by mountains. Contains islets, swamps, pounds. So, it's not the same visual effect as looking at the ocean.
Here, my world was blue, just divided in two by the grey-ochre-beige mountain ranges.
Another memory of this lake: at 3pm, the sun was moving Westward, not at its nadir position anymore. Some special light. Promised myself to attend Mister Sun setting there, one day. Hopefully with another great Mister. :-)
Updated Aug 18, 2007
Favorite thing: Aaaah! the joys of rushed journey!
At least I could take unusual pics, snapped at Fast & Furious speed!
Wait! this used to be a tarred road. Uncontrary to the perfectly tarred Tana-Ampefy main liaison, the roads to Itasy sites of interest (the waterfalls, the geysers, the Itasy lake & islets), although of only 4-5km length, are to be assimilated with bumpy rides. No that bad as roads (no big holes, for instance). Nevertheless, since the tar hasn't completely removed, one shouldn't drive that fast.
But.... But... we were in a hurry. We managed to be on time for MLM lunch time & to save our backs. :-)
Here we were, at Le Kavitaha... Yours truly, high on geysers, on the Kavitaha lake, on those views from our terrasse table!
Fondest memory: Like time had suspended, we were seated at our table at Le Kavitaha restaurant, looking onto the very Kavitaha lake (the restaurant owes its name to the lake).
Like time had suspended, we could chill out & dine on fish... after the hectic trip, the dirt road to the geysers and the rush to join the restaurant on time (remember, we had my toddler nephew & his pregnant Mom travelling with us).
Updated Aug 18, 2007
Favorite thing: Aaaah! more than the Liliha watefalls, the Amparaky geysers were a long waited curiosity. I think one reason is my fascination about the ephemeral aspect of geyser. As I could understand, geysers exist thanks to a volcano activity underneath. Now, my all-time fascination was about when it would explode. At least, for that reason, I'm interested in volcano existence proof of evidence.
You just don't know how excited I was when, doing a research over the net, I found pictures of those Amparaky geysers! My folks talked about the waterfalls, the lake, Le Kavitaha but this, no... For one reason, they hadn't experienced it yet. I planned everything to be able to see this. Since then, I counted the days...
That day, as soon as I could jump off the car & upon my sister's "request" to hurry up as having left later than planned (not my fault, in the contrary!) she had to wait until we reached Le Kabitaha to feed MLM, I ran to the site. Nearly bumped into the papaya stalls the guides & keepers tried to sell to visitors.
The result... well worth the wait.
The site counts 4 geysers nestled on a aragonite base.
The site was still, only for us. I could listen to the murmure of the foaming waters, see water leaps & spews, breathe this typical smell of mineralized water (recognized from Visy gasy & Rano Visy bottle-opening experiences).
I laughed at the shape of some geyser fountain ;-)
I marvelled at the sight of a grotto in formation.
I drank at nearly each of them. For free.
Fondest memory: When I asked whether they used to sell this edible mineral water, they replied No, to my surprise. This site attracts locals from parts of the island & they don't even try to earn some money from it. Oooh! I saw a basin to collect the hot springs waters (good for arthritis). Not fully operational yet. Finally, I liked it that way. In nascent state. Just some tchatched-roofed parasols for the shade.
Spent some time with the guide (mostly Mum whilst I was busy drinking & snapping). Heard the site was recognized & used since the times of ancient kings of the area (17th cent, I think) & that each geyser had a name. Too little time... Will return there...
Ooops! time to leave ! On our way back, saw tourists flocking. 2-3 cars. It was a good timing, then!
As a geyser first-timer, I was impressed of course. Less than in front of the waterfalls. Still....
I couldn't but envision the reason why the springs are still foaming, still tasting mineralized. I know it wouldn't last as the volcano underground will explode one day. When? Just know that last volcano activity here dated back to 8000 years ago.
The geyser site counts 4 geyser springs. They lie on a aragonite plaque & it's here that "Fondest Memory" doesn't always fit. I couldn't help but feel a bit sad and disappointed while being explained that since a local company is extracting aragonite stone from this site, less pressure is applied to the mineral & spring waters beneath the surface. Hence the smaller height at which water spews out. Whilst the one on pic4 used to spew out at 20-25 meters high, it only reaches one meter high nowadays.
Updated Aug 18, 2007
Favorite thing: Everywhere, papaya! On cultivated soil, between rocks & in the wilds, on stalls, on menus...
I've never seen papaya trees plantations. Pineapple, yes. Litchi, yes. Apple, Peach, Grape, Orange, Tangerine, Banana...
Approaching Analavory, we saw papaya stalls along the road. We knew then there should be papaya plantations over there. Little we knew we would be impressed by both the plantations & the papaya trees in the wilds on our way to the Amparaky geysers. Mind you, they even grow between lava rocks !
Fondest memory: I like to see Madagascar green. Cannot understand why one would chop/burn trees on a surface to leave it barren, uncultivated, not inhabited. If not grren thanks to forest trees, it should be at least thanks to cultivations. It's even greater if the green is natural, non-chemical. Here, in Itasy area, the lava enables natural cultivation as the dark lava soil is rich.
Fond memory ? Yes, of course... I was glad to see those plantations here. I suspect consequences would be different than those of plantations on less fertile soils. Here, no fertilizer needed. At least, so far, as the harvests have proved to be of good quality. Tasty, abundant and natural.
What I dislike most is to see barren, dried surfaces in Madagascar, that is knowing my island used to be green before Man came here.
Updated Aug 18, 2007