"TONGA SOA" Top 5 Page for this destination Madagascar by Norali

Madagascar Travel Guide: 1,249 reviews and 4,083 photos


*** TONGA SOA means WELCOME in Malagasy

My island

* The Indian Ocean island is located East of Mozambica coast (the least distance between Madagascar and Africa is about 400 km ). Its size is as 18 times as much as Belgium's, 1.5 times as Uk's ... or some 587 000 sq. km... with some 18 millions of inhabitants, Malagasy people.

* Antananarivo as capital city (my city).

* Until lately, 6 provinces (Faritany): Antananarivo's; Toamasina's; Fianarantsoa's; Antsiranana's; Mahajanga's; Toliara's. 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). VT database still runs the old scheme !!!

* Endemic fauna and flora: about 80% of animal species are proper to Madagascar whereas 90% of plants'.

* Two sites on UNESCO World Heritage list:
- Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve (added in 1990) For more pics, click here.
- The Sacred Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (added in 2001). Click here to check my page of Ambohimanga. Hehe, I'm lucky enough to be able to see this hill from my window. Malaza, my village, is part of Ambohimanga Rova municipality.
[UPDATE July 2007, Madagascar now has 3 (three!!) sites on the UNESCO list. Add to the previous sites
- The Rainforests of the Atsinanana (added June 2007). It comprehends 6 national parks, located along the wet Eastern coast: Marojejy, Masoala, Zahamena, Ranomafana, Andringitra & Andohahela. Click here to view my page of the Ranomafana NP]
[Update Sep. 2007. One has to add, to this list, one "outstanding example of the world's intangible cultural heritage"(according to the UNESCO website).
- I am referring to "The Woodcrafting Knowledge of the Zafimaniry". The Zafimaniry is a community located S-E Madagascar. Read more ]

* Landscape ranges from rainforest areas to desert. Rain uses to mould the Island landscape. Dry, yellow-grass steppes and savanna of the 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 is, however, under threaten. Man, unaware of the Island uniqueness, burns steppes, forests, chop trees for profit and, therefore, exterminate endangered species.

* As many human inhabitants as zebus. I don't know about current situation but 10 years ago, it was applicable. We were 10 millions of Malagasy people at that time.

* Yes, I forgot!... 5000 km of beach: yellow sand, grey sand, white sand...

A timeline on Madagascar key-events, check here:

So far, an interesting gathering of facts, practical infos and links:


Pages on my island

Building a page about Madagascar is a bit difficult & easy at same time. Easy because I come from here and after living 15 years abroad for my studies, returned home. From my 15-year foreign stint, Malagasy specificities have become even easier to grab.
Difficult because so many things are to be done, so many spots worth seeing... and focuses on specific cities will follow... Also, I don't see the countr as tourists would do, I frequent less the hotels & restaurants. I'll compensate that with insider tips. ;-) For those reasons, my Malagasy pages will be always Work on Progress.

Those that are at least ADVANCED are fit enough to be seen. In red, NEW destination pages; in green, NATIONAL PARKS; in violet, SPECIAL TRAVELOGUES...

-Madagascar -- ADVANCED
-Madagascar > Big South, from centre to South I, II, III Roadtrip -- FINISHED
-Madagascar > Faritanin' Antananarivo -- ADVANCED
-Madagascar > Faritanin' Antananarivo > Antananarivo -- ADVANCED
-Madagascar > Faritanin' Antananarivo > Famadihana or "Turning the bones" -- FINISHED -- Dec 2003 --
-Madagascar > Faritanin' Antananarivo > Tana-Antsirabe Roadtrip -- FINISHED
-Madagascar > Faritanin' Antananarivo > Antsirabe -- FINISHED TILL NEXT TOUR
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Fianarantsoa > Ranomafana National Park -- UNDER CONSTRUCTION
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Toamasina -- ADVANCED
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Toamasina > Heading East Roadtrip -- FINISHED
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Toamasina > Andasibe National Park -- UNDER CONSTRUCTION
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Toamasina > Toamasina -- FINISHED TILL NEXT TOUR
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Toamasina > Mahavelona -- FINISHED TILL NEXT TOUR
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Mahajanga > Mahajanga -- JUST PICS
-Madagascar > Faritanin' i Fianarantsoa > Isalo National Park -- FINISHED -- May 2004

All I intend to give here is my vision of what worth seeing, buying, eating, practising according to my experiences and feelings about them. I will try to be as complete as possible... so again WELCOME TO MY MALAGASY PAGE


Malagasy people

*18 peoples coming primarily from Asian then African & Arabic backgrounds. The most numerous are Merina (from Tana and surroundings) then the Betsimisaraka (from Toamasina or Tamatave).

Malagasy people use to live together despite cultural diversity, despite trends to separate Asian from African descendants. And surely, there are, now, more than 18 tribes (I consider rather clans) those living on boarders of tribes' regions tend to mix with neighbours. This whole set lives together, mostly in poverty, but with dignity and the famous smile... and with respect of others' beliefs.

In addition to that, Madagascar hosts several foreign communities: Chinese's; Pakistanese's; Indian's; French's.

As for physical appearance, they vary from small, Chinese-look-like to tall, black appearances. 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 :-)

And all have in common, smile, brown-to-black hair, dark green or light brown or dark brown eyes, not blue ones... They are beautiful enough to host another new colour :-)

They do speak the same language, Malagasy, with some varieties, accents. Malagasy language belongs to Malayo-Polynesian language family, the Barito group, to be precise. Basically, it comes from a Indonesian language which is spoken in the Kalimantan region. Some say it shares similarities with Philipine's Tagalog too. Add to this background some African (agriculture area, names of animals), Arabic (astronomy & divinatory area) and European (English for scholar domain, french for some everyday life ustensiles: table, candle, names of brought-in vegetables...) contributions. But dominant is Asian. Unlike our Mascareigner neighbours, we, Malagasy people do not speak any Creole language as Malagasy language stands for itself, we learn it at school, we are taught both in French and Malagasy. Lately, English has been added as a third language to be taught early at school & since April 2007, a national language (the third). There are Malagasy-European dictionaries [English, French, Norwegian, probably Japanese & if my memories serve me well: German and some other languages of people who went in Madagascar and settled there as missionaries (the Norwegians, for instance) ...] and is used everywhere all over the Island.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Cool people, Rich fauna and flora and so much hope for the future
  • Cons:Expensive plane tickets ... but it's worth it !!
  • In a nutshell:All continents in one country... almost! - More than lemurs... for sure!
  • Last visit to Madagascar: Jan 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (109)

Comments (126)

  • ATLC's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    Howdy, Norali. I've just recommended your page to someone who wants to visit Madagascar and thought I'd say 'hi' to you in person :-) Hope all is well.

  • Norali's Profile Photo
    Mar 24, 2010 at 2:09 AM

    Bruce, thank you for visiting my Madagascar pages. Any plan to come over here soon ?

    • nadirgiuseppe's Profile Photo
      Jun 25, 2014 at 1:18 AM

      Hi Norali,
      My wife and I are planning to travel from Sydney to Madagascar late August 2014, or maybe even before that. We will spend a couple of months in Madagascar. Perhaps we may also meet you in Antananarivo, if you wish so.

      Nadir & Angela

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    You presented the area and the people culture very well. It was informative and the pictures enhanced the wonders.

  • Aug 8, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    Dear Noraly, Can you give me the E mail adress of the restaurant Chez Papillon or the hotel Moderne? Do you know if there is someone speaking Dutch in the restaurant? Lots of thanks, P.M. Weterings, the Netherlands

  • jusdenise93's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2009 at 11:05 PM

    great stuff on Madagascar! thanks for sharing info, madagascar is definitely on my list. :) i will be back for those other pages. :) - Denise

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    Oh simply wow!! I saw some photos today of Tsingies (?) and then found the river and now I am dreaming of paddling there... I will be back for more very soon! Thanks Norali, you lucky girl :-))

  • Helga67's Profile Photo
    Jan 11, 2009 at 11:33 AM

    i don't know yet what I want to see/do when in Mada, but you already gave me a good inside in your country

  • youssef09's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2008 at 4:35 AM

    very intersting work ;; well done NORALI , greetings from algiers

  • Turtleshell's Profile Photo
    Feb 29, 2008 at 7:29 AM

    Greetings to the "Land out of Time".

  • Feb 17, 2008 at 7:08 AM

    Brilliant local custom tips!!!!!! :)

Norali Used To Live Here!


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