This Indian Ocean Island of mine is located East of Mozambica coast ( least distance between Mada & Africa is about 400 km ). Size is as 18 times as much as Belgium's, 1.5 times as UK's or some 587 000 km². 18 millions of inhabitants, Malagasy people.
* Antananarivo as capital city (my city).
* Until lately, 6 provinces (Faritany). New official arrangement lists 22 regions. Analamanga, Bongolava, Itasy, Vakinankaratra (from the Antananarivo province); Diana, Sava (from Antsiranana); Amoron'i Mania, Atsimo Atsinanana, Haute Matsiatra, Ihorombe, Vatovavy Fitovinany (from the Fianarantsoa's); Betsiboka, Boeny, Melaky, Sofia (from the Mahajanga's); Alaotra Mangoro, Analanjirofo, Atsinanana (from the Toamasina's); Androy, Anosy, Atsimo Andrefana, Menabe (from the Toliara's).
Whilst the artificial partition in province was introduced by colonials, cultural reality has one day to prevail. The current 22-region-partition is simply a translation of the peaceful coexistence of 22 tribes within an island. Here & more than ever, difference means wealth.
The VT database still runs the old scheme with Faritanin' Antananarivo; Faritanin' i Toamasina; Faritanin' i Fianarantsoa; Faritanin' Antsiranana; Faritanin' i Mahajanga; Faritanin' i Toliara ... Not to be mixed up with their main towns: Antananarivo; Toamasina; Fianarantsoa; Antsiranana; ´Mahajanga; Toliara cities.
* Ooops, I forgot!... 5000 km of beach: yellow sand, grey sand, white sand...
Fondest memory: * Landscape ranges from rainforest areas to desert. Rain uses to mould the Island landscape. Dry, yellow-grass steppes and savanna in inland may turn green in rainy seasons. East coast is the most humid area as West coast is the driest. Plains alternate with hills and rocky mountains.
This unique and varied nature that spreads over these 6 provinces, is, however, under threaten. Man, unaware of the Island uniqueness, used to burn steppes, forests, chop trees for profit and, therefore, exterminate endangered species... Thanks to awareness arising, efforts are made to preserve nature's future .. thus man's future.
Also a hope for the future
Picture shows posy - posy, pousse-pousse or ricksaw. Its use is widely spread all over the area. Whilst it is used for conveying goods in Tana area, elsewhere, it is used for people's transportation. Quite in each province's capital city, you can hire posy in urban areas.
Faritanin' i Toamasina is located on Eastern coast & edged with Indian Ocean. It stretches from Antongila Bay (North) to Nosy Varika. Toamasina is the Malagasy first port city.
Mainly inhabited by Betsimisaraka (for main parts), it comprehends other tribes such as Bezanozano (Western part of Moramanga), Sihanaka (Ambatondrazaka region). It has been common to assimilate this province with Betsimisaraka. The new official partition in regions is a simple translation of the cultural reality. This province is now divided in 3 regions: Alaotra Mangoro, Analanjirofo, Atsinanana. Btw, "Betsimisaraka" means "those who cannot be divided".
Landscape is made of rainforests in the inland and superb beach shores. Deep rainforests use to house several species of lemurs, orchids, birds. Nonetheless, they are endangered since hurricanes, torrential rains, floods and Man contributed in destroying such wonders... WWF and Malagasy government implemented programs to protect nature and last remnants of the whole deep forest that covered Madagascar in the past. Note its nickname turning from "Blue Island" into "Red Island" after the past 30-year communist regime & the red earth that replaced deep blue forests.
Not to forget as well that the French fit out Lakandranon' Ampanalana known as Canal des Pangalanes. Rivers, lakes, pounds were "merged" so as to make it easy to convey goods and develop trade between coastal cities in a large channel... 700 km accessible by boat, pirogue...
This is the rainiest & most unpredictable part of the Island. In rainy season (Jan- March), water & winds just combine their powerful actions with strong hurricanes (cyclones) that devastate everything. Ap.-May, far less rain and bright sun. June-Oct., those kind of sudden, heavy but short rains in sunny weather. They just leave sky clear, bright sun and smoky earth. All of that just comes in unpredictable ways since climate changes in Mada & elsewhere.
Fondest memory: See my Toamasina province page as well as pages on cities of:
- "Heading East" I, II Tlogues in Faritanin'i Toamasina pages
Lakandranon' Ampanalana is my fondest memory of this part of the island. See my "Off the beaten path tips" in Faritanin'i Toamasina as well...
The new official partition in regions lists 4 regions in this Faritany: Androy, Anosy, Atsimo Andrefana, Menabe.
Fondest memory: Please note that 3 albums are dedicated to my "Big South Journey" and tips related to them are in my Madagascar pages. Big South Journey is this roadtrip from Tana to Toliara surroundigs.
Faritanin' i Mahajanga occupies a long territory West of the island. Used to be referred as the Boina region, it, however comprehends other regions inhabited by other tribes. The new official partition in regions is a simple translation of the cultural reality. This province is now divided in 4 regions: Betsiboka, Boeny, Melaky, Sofia .
I started posting pics in my Mahajanga page. Tips are added bit by bit...
Fondest memory: See my Mahajanga province and city pages.
I just discovered this wesite, kind of interesting, about the province of Mahajanga. Browse it, you would find interesting info about tourism in the area (in French): www.majunga.org
Faritanin' Antananarivo is the capital city' s province. It is located in the Highlands, in the center of Madagascar & mainly inhabited by Merina peoples. "Merina" means "Those who live in the heights". The region uses to be named "Imerina" as well whilst it actually comprehends other regions inhabited by other tribes. The new official partition in regions is a simple translation of the cultural reality. This province is now divided in 4 regions: Analamanga (region of the Merina), Bongolava, Itasy, Vakinankaratra.
Some of these regions share the Highlands (altitude varying from 700 to 2800m) with Sihanaka (Eastern part of Highlands), Betsileo (Fianarantsoa province), Tanala, Bara (Fianarantsoa and Toliara provinces) peoples.
Landscape is made of hills and plains (that house acres of ricefields), with wide ranges of red, green shades. Red shades come from red earth, orange bricks as ricefields, grass on hills display several shades of green depending on growing of rice plants. The region counts many sacred lakes as well. Some of them resulted from past vulcano activities (cratera lake Tritriva, for instance). Beware, many fady in those spots...
Due to height, climate there is fresher than anywhere else in Madagascar. From March to October, winter nights (0°C in Antsirabe) but noon temperature can reach 25°C. Rainy and hot from November till March.
Fondest memory: Roadtrips.. lunar landscape through Andringitra massif (see my Faritanin' Antananarivo page for that).. Soil burning *sigh*.. Fog on winter mornings
See my pages on cities of:
- Antananarivo city (Ambohimanga and Ambohidrabiby included)
- Antsirabe city
to have my feelings on those cities... You won't be deceived
Known as the Betsileo province, located in the center of Madagascar & mainly inhabited by Betsileo peoples. However, Eastern parts of the province (East coast) are home of Tanala ("those who live in forests"), Antambahoaka, Antaimoro ("those who live in the banks") & Antefasy ("those who live in sandy areas") peoples. In Ambositra area, Zafimaniry families, traditional woodcraftsmen, adjoin with Tanala peoples in the forests. The new official partition in regions is a simple translation of the cultural reality. This province is now divided in 5 regions: Amoron'i Mania, Atsimo Atsinanana, Haute Matsiatra, Ihorombe, Vatovavy Fitovinany.
Betsileo & Tanala share the Highlands (altitude varying from 700 to 2800m) with Sihanaka (Eastern part of Highlands) & Bara (Fianarantsoa & Toliara provinces) peoples.
Landscape is made of hills & plateau, includes Andringitra massif. Like anywhere else in Highlands, red shades come from red earth, orange bricks. Ricefields terraces, grass on hills display many shades of green depending on the rice growing. That was for Highlands.
As for the Eastern parts, they include villages that are edged by Lakandranon' Ampanalana on one hand & Indian ocean on another hand. Nice shores.
And of course, don't forget that Fianar is the gate to South. Amazing landscapes are in my 3 albums dedicated to my "Big South Journey". This is the province where Eastern rainforests adjoin with bush and desert areas, those of Southern parts.
Due to height, climate in the Highlands part is fresh in winter. March-Oct., winter nights but noon temperature can reach 25°C. Rainy & hot in Nov.- March.
In Eastern parts (East coast), climate is unpredictable. These are the rainiest parts of the Island. In rainy season (Jan- March), water and winds just combine their powerful actions with strong hurricanes (cyclones) that devastate everything. April & May, far less rain & bright sun. June-Oct., those kind of sudden heavy but short rains in sunny weather.
Fondest memory: See my pages on Fianarantsoa province as well as my pages on Fianarantsoa city.
Fondest memories: "Big South Journey".
Please note that 3 albums are dedicated to my "Big South Journey". They include pictures and comments on Fianarantsoa. Find them amongst below Tlogues. Enjoy!
Cybercafes in Tana area: some addresses I could gather here and there. Who knows, they may be useful one day. Never tried them though... Also check at your hotel in case internet is available. Internet at hotels is reputed far better & safer & more expensive than cybercafés though.
- Cybercafé de l'Ouest
III G 55 Ouest Ambohijanahary Tél. 02022.545.07
Lot IVG 1 bis Behoririka
- City.net Mahamasina
- Free Net
Lot IVE 32bis Behoririka
Tél.03312.782.05 - 03312.029.02
- Multi Electronics Espace Web
70m from Ampasapito U-turn on the road to Institut Pasteur
Tél. 020 22.528.13
Mon- Sat + Sun. morning
- Planète Cybercafe
0 20 22.555.51 between DECORAMA shop and Behoririka bridge.
Terminus taxi B Andoharanofotsy
0 20 22.573.12
- Zéro un
202 Rte Circulaire Ambaninida
0 20 22.317.81 - 03312.087.67
Fondest memory: I am starting gathering adresses in other areas too and will update...
A famadihana is a reburial ceremony. The entire family gathers to celebrate the turning of the dead. Malagasy people believe the body dies but the soul does not. So this way the people still living can celebrate together with those who are dead.
The dead are taken out of the tomb and there is a huge party with singing and dancing. There are speeches in which the dead are told what happened in the past years. After more dancing and music the dead are given new shrouds and are laid back in the same tomb.
We were lucky to witness this ceremony in a small village not far from Antsirabe.
It all started with food, rice with meat. After that we followed the music to the tomb. The dead were already taken out. There were long speeches, of which we didn't understand anything except the word Vazaha (foreigner). And then was dancing and music. After the death were given new shrouds, just winded around the old ones, we were asked to leave. This way they could rebury their loved ones without cameras and Vazaha eyes.
Traditional houses in Madagascar are built from wood or clay. In the north we saw most houses were built from wood with leaves for roofs. In the hills south of Antananarivo it was mostly clay in the color of the soil, sometimes red sometimes more yellowish.
Today we see a new method the brick. Driving east from Tana we found a brick factory. Molds were filled with clay and than dried in the sun. After that they were piled up with straw in between. The straw was lighted and the bricks were baked this way. It was a very labor intensive method, because the bricks have to be transported (on the head) several times to the several stages.
Rich fauna, flora, nature to marvel at, soil WEALTH ... and population POVERTY.
Madagascar is amongst world's poorest countries. For decades, population has to struggle for life. 80% of population is rural, many being illiterate. In remote areas, no electricity neither current water.
For years, government members just grabbed all they could at expenses of population. The latter uses to tackle tough life, the one international institutions use to impose in order to meet up criteria for financial backing.
The South, for instance, has suffered from starvation for years. Years ago, volunteers and humanitarian groups went there to see and save some lives. However, Madagascar's then government made everything possible to hide Southern starvation, declaring that there was not any starvation in the Southern region.
Same thing as for Malagasy students in Europe. In Belgium, Malagasy students have been facing some strange situation in paying higher scholarship fees. Belgium has agreements with other countries as far as students are concerned. Thus, African students pay, at most, same fees as Belgians, NOT Malagasy students.
In fact, Malagasy students are in same category as US, Japanese students since, according to our then president, Malagasy students could afford studying. Thus, there is no point in putting Madagascar in same category as other African countries.
In fact, even some volunteers to save some lives in Southern Madagascar were hindered in their job. Even some countries that accepted that Malagasy students pay less were prevented from doing so.
Why that, would you say? In my humble opinion, because of some ego of then Malagasy officials who didn't want the world to see that the country was so poor, that people were starving. Too late for them, MSF and journalists were there.
These are examples of what happened there, of what people have endured for decades (esp. since 1975 when D. ratsiraka became president)...
Fondest memory: - Corruption is one of features of this country, some of my warning tips inform you on what to be done. I hope they will work for you. New government now implements its anti-corruption cell. It seems to be a serious task that awaits the cell staff but the president is determined in his actions. So, dear tourists, pay attention from now since situation is changing.
- Tana epitomizes fastuous and miserable Madagascar. Streets urchins, prostitutes of all ages in some areas on one hand, 4WD cars and business people on other hand. Shanty towns adjoin with posh villas (sometimes extravagant and of bad taste). Visiting other cities just made me aware of that since in Toamasina, for instance, there are really few beggars. While urban Tana abunds in street urchins... Rural people are poor as well and make the bulk of Malagasy population... but at least, they have houses there, or huts and some plots where to grow some crops and breed poultry and livestock.
Hopefully, new government, with its president Marc RAVALOMANANA elected in 2001, is working on. Pressure is put on them since people are really hoping for better life in the future. I hope the new government would do its best to support the population in its projects, ambition.. because many of Malagasy people are really skilled but never had the opportunity to express themselves, to achieve goals and live with talent.
First picture, rural picturesque scenery during rice harvesting season (seen from our orchard).
The second is a picture of a stall in Mahavelona area (East of Madagascar).
Probably one of greatest trips in current era. Go there for stunning geographical and human diversities.
North-west cities use to house mosques, shores that remind you of past Arabic sea adventurers. In center, highlands and plateaux, ricefields remind you of Asia and South-American andes. Eastern rainforests, sometimes, adjoin with bush and desert areas, those of Southern parts.
On top of that, endemic fauna and flora... say 5 of 6 baobab species in the whole Africa. Lemurs, gigantic butterflies and chamilions of all kinds. Thousands of medicinal plants (even the very one used in cancer treatments). This unique and varied nature is, however, under threaten. Man, unaware of the Island uniqueness, used to burn steppes, forests, chop trees for profit and, therefore, exterminate endangered species... Thanks to awareness arising, efforts are made to preserve nature's future .. thus man's future. Makes me think that there is still hope for the future.
And peoples... great peoples living into extreme poverty on one hand, wealthy ones who live in opulence on another hand... Still, Malagasy people remain friendly, smiling, trying to hold on to their dignity despite decades of oppression and poverty... Seems that it is changing so as to give much hope for the future there as well.
Fondest memory: Diversity and smiles
Maybe interesting for your trip preparation: a website containing all Madagascar consulates and embassies.
A Malagasy embassy will soon open in London. Up to now, Madagascar embassy in Paris has tackled matters related to Madagascar in UK. Update on Feb. 2006, it has been some time since the Madagascar consulate in London opened.
Fondest memory: - family
- garden, flowers at home
- traditional Merina architecture
One of the rarest birds of prey on earth. This eagle is endemic to Madagascar. Sources differ in size of the population , some say 40 breeding pairs , other mention 70. Whatever it is...it is a small population for such a magnificient bird. They need space and silence for succesful breeding. And that space is becoming more scarce. Action has been taken.
They got two pairs in the zoo in the capital city , Antananarivo. The zoo of Tsimbazaza. Their scientific name is 'haliaeetus vociferoides ' You can find some extra information here!
Let me introduce you to one of the lemur species of Madagascar's rich fauna. This is the crowned lemur - it is easy to see where the species got it's name. Right?
Their scietntific latin name is 'eulemur coronatus'. This is the smallest species of the genus Eulemur they can weight about 1,5 to 1,8 kilograms. We both saw this species at 'National parc de montagne d'Ambre' as well as in 'Ankarana special reserve'.
At Ankarana they are even semi-tame and hang around the camp place waiting for a mango pith to be ignorantly thrown away.
They are classified as vulnerable and appear on the CITES I list. That is not a list of honor it means that they are seriously endangered. The dangers for these animals are los of habitat by logging , forest fires , development. They appear in 4 restricted areas that should be protected. (responsible tourism can bring in some needed cash to maintain the parcs)
For this species the Madagascar Fauna Group has set up a captive breeding program.
These animals can easely be seen since they are day active. If you wander through the forest you'll meet small family groups - 4 to 6 is an average group , but up to 15 individuals is possible. They feed on leaves , fruits and branches and sometimes on rare occasions on bird eggs and vertebrates.Mating occurs in May and June and 125 days later one of two youngsters are born. Two years later the cyclus can start again.
I like their long tails ,up to 49cm for an animal with a body lenght of 34 - 36 cm its huge.
Madagascar has some snake species. The largest ones are the Madagascar ground boas. This is the smallest species of the boa-family on Madagascar. It's scientific name is Acrantophis madagascariensis. On Madagascar you can spot these animals in the east and the north in dry forested area's often near water.
And that is where we found her. After a morning of climbing we went swimming in a grotto not too far from the campsite at réserve spéciale de l'Ankarana'. She , according to Jacques our guide , she lived there in the area and often took a bath in the grotto. He said she was a friendly one...I took a closer look and I believed him. (the german woman we had with us was for sure more venomous then this constrictor-type of snake). She was there to escape from the heat and enjoy herself in the water ;-) just like us.
This species eat birds, rats, chickens, lizards, and many other mammals in the wild. They got a special organ to find their prey even in the dark , it works with heat sensors. They can reach a lenght of 1,8 m and we got every reason to believe that they are endangered , altough specific numbers are not available.
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
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