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Views, yes. 360°, check. Aerial, check. Scenic, 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 carrying a bucket of vegs on her head. She said Hi, to which I replied. She was as shy as I was surprised. Who would guess people would actually live there & would grow vegs to sell at some markets down there ? In fact, Mangabe inhabitants are family members of the doany guide up there. That , for me, makes it a still authentic place to see, not rushed in as was the Ambatondradama hill with those many doany. Here, there is only one doany with polite locals.
Now, the views... what can I say ? Just click on the set of pictures & you'll get some samples.
This shot showing Ambohimanga hill from this angle, just unusuall ! I've never seen it elsewhere before. Pic #2
Location: Mangabe crest is the one next to Ambohimanga, meaning that "Big Blue" crest is the one next to "Blue Hill". Woudn't it help for your mnemotechnique when about to embark to Madagascar ? ;-)
Anyway, Step down at Ambohimanga (20 km from Tana) & walk along the road below the Ambohimanga primary forest. Soon, you'll make it to Andakana area, you'll have to climb the light slope till you find some houses. Soon, you'll find some way to make it to the foot of Mangabe. Then, climb to make it to the top.
Updated Aug 5, 2007
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 appreciate in Ambatondradama).
The first doany area where I had a feeling not to be pressurized to bring on the money before getting info (such was the case of the lady in Amboatany to whom I asked which King was buried there & which she replied "I need money to take care of the site"...lol). The real doany experience to have is here. Must have spent hours chatting up the guide here, except when he was busy working (: receiving pilgrims & "intermediating" between the latter & Andriantsivongo- the astrologer of King Nampoina who is buried & worshipped on top of Mangabe). Must have spent hours on my first day there & never was I pressured to give bucks. We- he, some of his sons & I- sat in the yard, enjoying the view Northwards & chatted about pilgrims, influent locals (I know some by name for being part of Ambohimanga municipality), politics (it was presidential elections campaign time). He explained about different corners of the doany, the rituals, where & when the zébus to be sacrificed were put to death, which animal to not sacrifice... all kind of info I wanted.
When it was time to leave for some hike on the crest (Mangabe is both the name of the crest & the western part of the crest), he showed me where it was better to walk for me (the beaten path in the high grass). Thanked him for the effort, the kindness, the respect. Given the poor conditions peasants use to live in (those small thatched roofed huts on Pic#4), any bank note is always welcome.
Of course, when I talked about a doany experience to have, it wasn't about practising the rituals there, rather getting insight about them. To practise rituals, one has to believe in them, that I do not.
Updated Aug 4, 2007
Walk through countryside in winter!
So as to see brick-ovens, walk in the ricefields. This tip is one of sport tips as well since it may take hours to walk, see landscape, meet peasants with oxen, see geese and ducks bathing.. So many things to marvel at. You may go North of Tana, in Antsofinondry Avaradrano and walk the "digue", a red-earth dam that leads you through Laniera plaines. Circa late 1790, King Andrianampoinimerina had Laniera plaines fit out so as to enhance rice production and master water floods.
OR park your car in Anosy area (a village next to Antsofinondry Avaradrano), ask to see the village of great nobles families. You would see in those villages of Anosy tombs of noble family. Their feature, compared to other tombs, is this little hut on the tomb. It is called "Trano manara". I read that those "Trano manara" are common in Nunsantara area... and that Merina nobles inherited this from their Nunsantarian ancestors. When I was there in 2000, I was quite impressed by this range of tombs that have trano manara since this village is the village of great noble families. Some of them were of a carmin colour.
According to my source, "Nunsantara" is the malayo-polynesian word for "Archipelago". The archipelago that is touched on here is the one that covered area between Madagascar (at Weastern part of Nunsantara) and Iles de P?ques (eastern part) on one hand, and between Taiwan (Northern part) and Hawaii archipelago and New Zealand (Southern part) on the other hand.
Updated Mar 1, 2006
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