About 50 kilometers east of Ambalavao, Ambohimahamasina is a small, friendly village home to some unique ecotourism opportunities through the local FIZAM (Fizahantany Ambohimahamasina) association.
Ambohimahamasina is completely uncorrupted by tourism's dark side; you can have a truly authentic experience without worrying about scams or beggars. It's also astonishingly friendly - everyone you pass will greet you with "Akory kory" and "Salama." The big market day is Monday, and it's also a lot of fun. The street food is safe to eat, so we indulged in fried "mofo bol" and "mofo gache" - delicious!
FIZAM brings together French- and English-speaking guides who lead treks through the rainforest corridor linking Ranomafana and Andringitra National Parks. These treks can include stops at tiny rural villages, where visitors are welcomed to learn about traditional basket-weaving and agricultural practices, share a meal, or even spend the night.
I recently took one of these treks with a friend. Our guide's name was Solo (pronounced "Shool"), and he took us on a three-hour trek up to the cliffs of Angavoa, from which we got some stunning views of the landscape, extending for miles. We then descended to the small village of Andoharano, where we toured a basket-weaving atelier (we even learned how to weave ourselves!) and saw where the raw materials for the weaving are grown. We then shared a meal cooked by the chef d'atelier - she even accommodated my vegetarianism! It was a traditional meal, served on the floor on woven mats, of red rice, chicken in broth, des breds (leafy green vegetable), vegetable soup, bananas, and coffee. 5,000 ariary per person (plus we paid for half of our guide's lunch) - you can't beat that!
These activities are all solidarity ecotourism initiatives part of the NGO Ny Tanintsika (funded by the Scottish charity Feedback Madagascar), which seeks to improve healthcare, education, and quality of life in the region, while at the same time protecting the environment. All the costs of your trip will go towards these development projects, so what's not to love?
Contact Ny Tanintsika for more information: email@example.com