Madagascar Things to Do Tips by Norali Top 5 Page for this destination
Madagascar Things to Do: 127 reviews and 229 photos
Madagascar poster boys... in Isalo NP
This is the only way to see all species (or most of them) of fauna, especially birds, lemurs, chameleons... Madagascar forests are home to lemurs as well as gigantic chameleons and butterflies. Strange to believe that only there are lemurs. Elsewhere, their era ended hundreds of thousand years ago... Seeing them moving, making gesture, sitting just made me feel strange as they are so close to humans... Lemurs in Madagascar are about 15 sorts.
* Vakona Forest Lodge (private) is in Andasibe, near Andasibe national reserve. This concept is I like most. One may rent a bungalow within the forest lodge and have activities to discover nature (horseriding, trekking) and other sport activities.
* Andasibe National Reserve is worth the visit as well. Located 150 km East of Tana, at an altitude of 1000m, it "offers" many species of lemurs (especially, Indri, the tallest one), birds species (falcons, parrots..), orchids...
* Isalo national park with its natural freshwater pool and many fauna and flora species (several species of lemurs, reptiles and 50 birds species). Several hotels in and near the park. Would like to return to witness those gorgeous sunsets & sunrises while camping in this lunar landscape surrounded by silence.
* Tsimbazaza national zoo (Antananarivo), not my fave but if you can't get out of Tana, it's a consolation. From mid-2004, it was under refurbishment.
GO AT TSIMBAZAZA ZOO IF YOU HAVE TO STAY FOR ONLY FEW TIME. IT HOUSES SEVERAL FAUNA AND FLORA SPECIES FROM THE WHOLE ISLAND
Hiring a local ANGAP agreed guide is mandatory entering those NPs. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management.
Address: Vakona lodge at Moramanga, Isalo national park...
Directions: Vakona forest lodge is in Andasibe, not far from Moramanga neither
Isalo national park
Tsimbazaza zoo (Antananarivo)
Other Contact: http://www.parcs-madagascar.com/
Hôtel des Thermes... in the European quarter
While Toamasina and Mahajanga welcome great influxes of holidaymakers during winter holidays (well, they use to be the summer European and US holidays) from July to September, Antsirabe or Bira welcomes holidaymakers in Easter holidays.
Go there to relax as the city is really calm, rather clean. Antsirabe is also the trade place of precious stones that are extracted in Southern Ilakaka. It is also known for its thermal springs (and produces our mineral waters "Visy Gasy" & "Ranovisy").
Tritriva and Andraikiba lakes are worth seeing. Both have their own legend. Ask your guide to arrange a trekking there. Beware, a fady exists concerning Andraikiba lake: No pork meat is allowed.
For it being 160km off Tana, it is a very affordable trip (transportation-cost wise: a taxi-brousse ride is around 5usd, Ar 13000). It has many hotels of different categories t choose from. Plus, the Tana-Antsirabe liaison is a good road and served by taxi-brousses (in Tana, head to Anosibe station to step in your taxi-brousse).
See my page on Antsirabe and Tlogs in Faritanin'Antananarivo page as well
One of Horombe plateau landscapes by Norali
A trip within a trip... Going through Horombe plateau is like discovering many countries at same time, in only 41 kms.
The desert plateau of the Horombe stretches as far as the eye can see. As trip goes by, rocky hills with ricefields at their foot (Asia) are replaced by grey stone blocks along with yellow grass in winter (People use to say it is like in South - American Andes). Another face of plateau de l'Horombe: spotted with satrana palm trees and tiny baobabs (African savannah)
BTW, "Horombe" means "Huge grass"...
Another tip: bring many films as you can, you may be short of films.. It would be a pity... as driving through Plateau de l'Horombe is a trip in a trip, so as going across Isalo region..
Address: At Ihosy junction, choose Toliara direction
Directions: At Ihosy junction, choose Toliara direction, climb a slope of 800m altitude. Horombe plateau starts here.
La fenêtre de l'Isalo (the window)
Isalo region is located in the South part of Fianarantsoa province, just before entering Toliara's. Its landscape's feature is a series of ruiniform rocks. Winds and rains had made their work on those rocks, by eroding them, so as to provide them with strange shapes. Yellow-to-orange grass with specific palm trees (satrana in Malagasy).
Go there before it all disappears (read my Tangorombohitr'Isalo page)!
- Isalo national Park
A silent park with canyons, home of 50 species of birds, lemurs species (see "Lemurs canyon"), chamilions, geckos as well as plants (such as "Pied d'elephant"). Not to be missed as well: a natural rock pool that receives clear fresh waters from galleries in the rocks.
Take time to visit this park as it's worth it. Something I will do is to return there and take more time to visit (even camp).
- Isalo window
A window- shaped rock through which you will had a nice "view" of the vast park as well.
- La Reine
It's a pity! I saw it but the guide was in another car and did not mention that this haughty feminine-shaped ruiniform rock is La Reine (the Queen).
Ask your tour-operator to arrange this while touring in South part of Madagascar. They call this classic trip "Big South" or "Grand Sud". Or even better, hire a local ANGAP agreed guide. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management. It would cost you less and money would go to those guys who know about animals, plants, hidden places and best moments to find them.
See below URL to see my page on this Isalo National Park (under Tangorombohitr' Isalo destination)
Sunset on Tana-Toamasina road (RKAB)
372 km to drive through Imerina soil and then lush rainforests. To join Toamasina, 6-hour drive is enough. If you stay in nature reserves in Andasibe, Moramanga, it's up to you to stay in hotels and forest lodges before following your path.
Road uses to be well preserved unless it suffered from cyclones disasters in rainy seasons. Then, drivers encounter collapses and landslides. Within few days following landslides, things will be put in right place thanks to public roadworkers and civil engineering.
Landscape starts with ricefields in plains in Imerina region, eucalyptus forest then from Ambatoloana (59 km from Tana), it will swift into forests. The latter are home of thousands of medicinal plants, orchids, trees, fern, lemurs... Next village is Mantasoa, worth a visit with its lake, industrial area that had been designed by Jean Laborde (see tip on Mantasoa).
Gradually, you will descend to reach coastal area. Up to now, you were in the highlands. But soon, you have to descend Falaise de l'Angavo, (Angavo cliff), in Mandraka. From an average altitude of 1400m, you will reach an intermediary altitude of 900m. Combined actions of heat and humidity keep forests thick. While descending, you will see Mandraka hydraulic barrage.
Next city: Moramanga ("where mangoes are cheap"). Halt for lunch (if you left Tana at 9-10 am) after scenic 115 km drive. See my tips on restaurants in my Faritanin'i Toamasina page.
Next: Andasibe Rainforest Reserve, home to the tallest of lemurs, Indri. Birds, other lemurs and chameleons have their VRPs there as well. From there, landscape is packed with green tiny hills, tropical trees (incl. Ravinala, palmtrees..)
Hire a ANGAP agreed guide. ANGAP stands for "Association Nationale pour la Gestion des Aires Protegees": national association for protected areas management. It would cost you less and money will go to guides, not TOs.
My fave since it is no too long, not tiring and just bucolic. More pics in my "Heading East" Tlogues I, II in my Faritanin'i Toamasina page.
Address: Route Nationale 2, from Tana to Toamasina
Geyser -Ampefy area
Click on the link below to read my wholepage of this superb volcanic area. Everything I experienced, memories of the daytrip, practical info, I intended to lay there. So visit my Ampefy page instead of me repeating myself...
You could check the pics though. :-)
From the UNESCO website: "Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve comprises karstic landscapes and limestone uplands cut into impressive 'tsingy' peaks and a 'forest' of limestone needles, the spectacular canyon of the Manambolo river, rolling hills and high peaks. The undisturbed forests, lakes and mangrove swamps are the habitat for rare and endangered lemurs and birds."
Other Contact: http://www.tsingy-madagascar.com
Summer Palace for the Queens
From the UNESCO website "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."
Of all Madagascar's UNESCO sites, the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is the closest to me. Malaza, my village is part of the Ambohimanga Rova municipality, so are several villages around.
Around the Royal Hill itself are several spots of interest... and what views! I try to update my Ambohimanga page with activities which can be done around the UNESCO site itself. For instance, a nature park (not fully operational though), hills to climb that grant climbers with terrific views, other historical villages, pilgrimage spots, trek trails, ancient architectures & structures among the scenic rural landscape... Click here to view my page of Ambohimanga.
Address: ambohimanga - 20km from Tana
June 27, 2007 - New zealand. To the previous two sites decision was taken to grant Madagascar with its third UNESCO Heritage List site. Add to the Tsingy of Bemaraha & to Ambohimanga Royal Hill, the Rainforests of the Atsinanana. They are wet forests along the Eastern coast of Madagascar. 6 national parks, located along the wet Eastern coast: Marojejy, Masoala, Zahamena, Ranomafana, Andringitra & Andohahela, of which I've only seen one (!), long time ago.
From the UNESCO website: "The Rainforests of the Atsinanana comprise six national parks distributed along the eastern part of the island. These relict forests are critically important for maintaining ongoing ecological processes necessary for the survival of Madagascar's unique biodiversity, which reflects the island's geological history. Having completed its separation from all other land masses more than 60 million years ago, Madagascar's plant and animal life evolved in isolation. Inscribed both for their importance to ecological and biological processes, the rainforests are also inscribed for their biodiversity and the threatened species they support. The rate of endemism within these forests is exceptionally high at 80 to 90 percent for all groups. The property is of global significance for fauna, especially primates. Many rare and threatened species (78 of the 123 non-flying mammals in Madagascar occur in this site, including 72 that are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species), including at least 25 species of lemur."
So far, only pictures from the Ranomafana NP. To think, the Eastern Wet Forests on the UNESCO List comprehends 5 other NPs... which I still would like to see & cover.
Fianar landscape by Norali
Fianarantsoa is LOCALLY known for its wine, Lazan'i Betsileo, Maromby (from Maromby monastery), Soavita. The region was "held" by French missionaires since 19th cent, that makes Fianarantsoa counting more catholic people than other parts of the Island. Vineyards are seen from the Nationale 7. We hadn't done it but it is possible to visit vineyards. To be honest, Malagasy wine is crap ! I think that's the simplest way to qualify it. In the past, the first vintages were correct but then, they started watering down the wine to face the demand. Has been so since decades. Only now there seems to be an interest in restauring quality... only after good and/ or major restaurants are inondated with European, American, Australian, South-American wines. I would be the first to change this remark if they're getting better with this stuff... Am patriot but cannot decently advise you to buy this Malagasy wine. One day... maybe... well, I hope.
Alongside wine production, this is the region that produces Toakagasy (mean: Malagasy alcohol), a rotgut made from rice or sugar cane alcohol... Off the record selling though. I don't know whether this last part should be here or rather be a "Off the beaten path" one...
Address: Fianar region
Directions: Lazan'i Betsileo, Soavita vineyards
Maromby monastery and its vineyards
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