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 again... Then, in 2005 - only 10 years later despite my several returnings to Madagascar between 1995 and 2005 -, I returned there ... to visit the compound! As a result, I don't know of the Ambohimanga hill that much, only the royal fort... and the primary forest I visited end 80s, a study "trip" for my biologyclass.
So, browse the whole area, go meet the locals in the plains, working the ricefields, harvesting rice, in the villages, probably gathered around a soccer ground (more chances to see a game on week-ends) since Ambohimanga is reported to have a team and a ground...
I've never seen the pond that was for the kings & queens only (the water from there was used during some fandroana rituals). For sure, there are still things I should know or at least visit in the area, apart from the fort.
Hmm.. this should make up for some nice walks. I know there are cycling clubs that use to cycle in the area. But an independent tour or a few friends can organize the walk too.
[July. 2007, has been a year since I started browsing Ambohimanga area, alone & on regular basis. Gosh! it boasts activities to fill days, be it to climb hills & picnic there in Ambatondradama & Mangabe; to learn about culture (& cultural shocks there will be at those Ambatondradama & Mangabe doany!); to bond with lemurs in Soavinandrimanitra; to nurture adrenaline fix (climbing, biking the hills, quading)...]
Below are tales of experiences around Ambohimanga: Ambatondradama, Soavinandrimanitra, Mangabe, Ankazomalaza... Also, check travelogue in this page]
Since this is the main reason, for many, to visit Ambohimanga, how couldn't I talk about one of the two World Heritage sites that are located in Madagascar ?
Only listed as my fourth tip since I found it helpful to remind you about the previous ones. ;-)
"The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga consists of a royal city and burial site, and an ensemble of sacred places. It is associated with strong feelings of national identity, and has maintained its spiritual and sacred character both in ritual practice and the popular imagination for the past 500 years. It remains a place of worship to which pilgrims come from Madagascar and elsewhere."
This a description taken from UNESCO website. Rovan' Ambohimanga is classified in UNESCO World Heritage.
Was standing next to Nampoina's sacred pool when I snapped this one. At your left, the dark wood of Mahandrihono, "Nampoina's Hut" then clockwise, the building that eventually served as summer residence to the Queens (latest to reign) and a Tranomasina/ Tranomanara: a building that used to be, above all, noblemen tombs. In front, a fenced patch where used to be buried some Kings and Queens before Galliéni (French gouvernor) transferred all royal corpses to Manjakamiadana Rova and built a canteen, a kitchen on the plot of land where Andrianampoinimerina and Andriambelomasina were buried (!).
The complex comprehends pools, so useful for the customary Fandroana (royal baths - see local custom tips), a zebu park, corners where pilgrims still worship (royal) ancestors. It is still noticeable how much Malagasy people feel the need to ask for blessings, help to achieve their goals in life (wealth, progeniture, success).. Here and there, you'd find, while visiting the royal compounds, pilgrims bringing sweets, honey, flowers, toaka gasy (our traditional rotgut) and depositing those wares on corners. Also, in Nampoina's Hut, some would head to North-East corner to talk to the King (his "spirit"), ask for blessings...etc.. for this corner being sacred in our cosmogony.
Madagascar's fauna extends beyond the reputation of its poster boy, the lemur. Antananarivo province compensates its weakness in rainforest area with the variety of specialized zoos.
First, Lemurs park (22 km from the center, on the way to Arivonimamo, RN1): 4ha housing 7 species of lemurs. Whether the national zoo of Tsimabazaza has more than those, I don't know. Entry fee published in Midi madagasikara (Feb. 2006 17 edition) is 10000 Ar (5000 Ar for local adults, 2500 Ar for local kids). Phone number: + (261) 20 22 234 36. 020 22 234 36 if you call from Madagascar (local call).
Second, Croc Farm (15 km from the center, on the way to Ivato): 3ha housing crocs, snakes, donkeys, makis (a lemur species) and more. It costs 3000 ariary for nationals. As usual, the tourists will pay, at least, the same amount. Phone number: + (261) 20 22 030 71. 020 22 030 71 if you call from Madagascar (local call). e-mail: email@example.com
Third, reported as unique in the world, a butterfly farm. La ferme aux papillons or Ferme Peyreras from its founder's name) is located 72 km from Tana. Beside the butterflies, one could find insects, chamilions and reptiles.
Contact: mail address BP 6218 Antananarivo. OK, I'll try to find a phone number for this one. I love butterflies
Last but not least, our very own Tsimbazaza zoo (PBZT, Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza). Not specialized in any local animal but displaying most of it (including the peacock, which, I believe, does not exist in Madagascar): aquatic birds, snakes, giant turtles, lemurs... and more. Plus, it has documentation, archives on ostriches in Madagascar (an extincted species & now reintroduced, as far as I know, for its meat), endemic flora species & architecture in Madagascar. Anyway, from my last visit in 1995, an afternoon at the zoo is a real turning off: relaxing & serene, knowing the zoo is in central Tana. It has just been refurbished & well, maybe the peacocks are amongst the newest inhabitants there. Phone: + 261 20 22 311 49
For the many pics of a Tana-Antsirabe trip, please click to browse this travelogue.
To sum up, I am telling you why to have this roadtrip:
- also, it takes only some hours to reach Antsirabe. Esp. when you don't intend to stop over the in-between places, it is a nice hideway for pressured businessmen of Tana. The sooner you arrive there, the sooner you would enjoy the city with its large avenues that are safe to walk in, with nice ad well-kept gradens...
- to relax in Antsirabe and visit this quiet and elegant city by pousse-pousse, walking or horse riding. I admit, I have a thing for this quiet city.
- to visit thermal springs in Antsirabe area
- for a culinary trip in Antsirabe since the region produces vegetables, fruits, poultry.. and other more sophisticated meal such as foie gras, trout, duck products (magret de canard, confit de canard...), crayfish ? la Malagasy. Arotel's Les Agapes restaurant is the very place for a culinary trip. James, the chef is very innovative. My Xmas evening diner & the Dec. 25 lunch were a treat.
- to admire those gem stones that are sold in several houses in Antsirabe.
- to play golf since Antsirabe, Tana, Nosy Be and Toamasina (if I am not wrong) are the only cities where are greens.
Even notwithstanding the above reasons, the trip itself is something
- to escape from crowded capital city Tana and drive through isolated areas with noone around.
- to enjoy Highlands landscape made of ricefields, plains; to marvel at impressive rocky mountains (esp. in Ankaratra massif that culminates at some 2700m) with huge stone blocks in hillsides and tiny villages at hillbottoms... .
See below Travelogues and my Antsirabe page as well
Wandering in streets of Tana, capital city, makes you quickly come to the point: Madagascar has a diverse youthful population. Physical appearance varies from small, Chinese-look-like persons to tall, black ones. Between those extrems, amber-coloured girls with curly hair and medium-brown eyes, medium-to-dark brown complexion with stiff-spaghetti black hair... all combinations that genetics would allow :-)
See there as well elegant Merina women, with traditional hair-do and wearing lamba that wraps shoulders. They are mainly elder ones.
Visit Tsimbazaza zoo in Tana area as you see there most of fauna and flora species that are in Madagascar. Especially useful if you don't have time to go outside Tana and see nature reserves.
Visit Rovan' Ambohimanga: a symbol of Tana as Tana history began here. Rovan' Ambohimanga eventually served as summer palace for royals of Madagascar while Manjakamiadana Palace, that was burnt years ago, became the main palace of Madagascar kingdom.
See remnants of burnt Manjakamiadana Palace. Criminals attempted to our cultural integrity years ago by burning this symbol. Works are on progress to rebuild this palace but harm is done...
See art workshops: silk weaving, golden jewelry, wood furniture making...
Fastuous to miserable, lush gardens and slumps, flowers and bustling market places, 4WD automobiles and wrecks, grid-lock traffic jams, elegant business people and street urchins. You may dislike it, you may love it but subversive Tana center won't leave you indifferent!
Résidence Lapasoa Isoraka BP 3650 Antananarivo Tél :22 611 40. 180.000 FMG Beautiful colonial...more
Le Royal Pallisandre is a very good quality hotel in the heart of the city. The rooms and public...more
Lot 66 B Antanetibe Ivato, Antananarivo, 105, Madagascar
Good for: Solo
see all Faritanin' Antananarivo member meetings