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Antananarivo, Madagascar capital: the city of the thousand

Antananarivo is a real concentrate of what the island reserves in an urban framework. It is the capital of Madagascar, and is called “the City of thousands, referring to 1000 treasures to discover.

There’s no other capital in the world like Antananarivo (Tananarive to the French, “Tana” colloquially to everyone). With its lakes, canals and jagged hills, its necklace of emerald rice paddies, and its crumpled central lattice of still partly cobbled streets and red-tiled pastel-colored balconied houses, this is a city that imprints its character immediately on every first-time visitor. Even the sprawling shanties seem somehow prettier than the average urban slum: packed together between the glimmering rice fields, the shanty houses are still largely built in the traditional manner, using fired-clay bricks, and blush radiantly pink in the afternoon sun.

Tana is likely to be your point of arrival and departure on the island, if you’re not using a flight to Nosy Be. As the hub of Madagascar’s road and air route networks, you are likely to find it on their itineraries three or four times.

Antananarivo offers a wide range of activities which you can experiment, with your family, as a couple or with friends. Touristic spots on the outskirts of the capital offer you a variety of activities to do and to discover. The beauty of the region reveals a diversity of landscapes and decoration that are more sumptuous than the others.

It city has some fascinating cultural attractions and excursions – notably the nineteenth-century royal palace, which stands on high cliffs overlooking the city center, and the older sacred capital of Ambohimanga outside it – though nothing so compelling that you’d want to set aside much more than a day each time before getting on the next plane or car out again.

Lastly, a broad range of lodging is offered there, from the luxurious hotels to the simplest but convivial guest house at reasonable price, and, not surprisingly, the island’s best array of eating, drinking and entertainment possibilities.

Best time to visit

jan feb mar apr may june july aug sept oct nov dec

Key attractions

Antananarivo, Madagascar capital: the city of the thousand

The city occupies the flat banks of the Ikopa River and spreads up the ancient granite and gneiss ridges that tower up from the plains; the highest points of these ridges are dominated by Tana’s most historic buildings.

Antananarivo offers a multitude of treasures to discover. There are numerous activities to do there, for everyone of different tastes. Whether you prefer historical culture, fauna and flora, or adventure, the capital of Madagascar will meet all of your expectations. To learn more about Malagasy culture and history, you can visit the royal palaces or historical sites such as the Upper Town of the Pavilion Market, filled with atypical architectures. Alongside an experienced guide, you will have the opportunity to quickly learn more about Malagasy people and their history.

There are a lot of sites scattered in the heart of the city and its outskirts with wildlife. You’ll have the opportunity to discover the endemic animals of the Tsimbazaza Park, or in the private Lemur’s park of Mandraka. You will be able to find lemurs, multicolored endemic birds, and unique frogs on these sites, which you can visit with your family or friends, accompanied by our guide. The surrounding areas of the capital will allow you to practice a variety of outdoor activities such as canoeing, horseback riding, tree climbing or trekking in mountains. There are a variety of choices offered to you.

With your family, visit a “rova,” a palace of the royal era, or wander through the animal parks to discover the fauna and flora visible all around the island.

In solo or in couple, there is a trek to go through the 12 sacred hills to discover the Malagasy gastronomy in one of the restaurants of the upper city. The appetite sharpened by these physical activities, you can taste the simple but abundant dishes offered by small popular restaurants or more respectable and fashionable establishments offering a vast range of kitchens of all the countries, but leaning especially towards the Asian taste of Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea, or test the native, nutritive but very simple dishes of a really moderate price.

Antananarivo offers you a rich journey both for the young and the elderly. What you can see and do here:

*Enjoy journey in our incredible, unique, decorated in the best traditions of the colonial era "Trans Lemuria Express" with impeccable service on board;

*Visit the Chocolaterie Robert factroy and Chocolatière boutique. Chocolaterie Robert is a traditional cocoa producer and chocolate maker using Trinitario and Criollo cocoa beans organically grown in the Sambirano region (Ambanja). The result is an irresistible range of pralines and chocolate bars made by ancient recipes containing only natural Malagasy ingredients. Prize-winner "GOLDEN BEAN AWARD 2017";

*Visit The PALA. The PALA jewelers is a gem trader with a reputation for its premium quality gemstones and handcrafted jewelry design. Established in 1922, PALA is one of the original gem traders of Indian heritage to have settled on Madagascar. Today, the PALA Group is in its third generation of business;

*Visit the Casino Colbert. Casino where gamblers become winners;

*Excursion to the Ramsar park at Alarobia Lake. Lake Alarobia may be located at the heart of Antananarivo, but it is a vital refuge and nesting site for 14 threatened endemic bird species such as the Madagascar pond heron, Meller's duck and Madagascar little grebe. The site is classified RAMSAR (International Convention on Wetlands);

*Excursion to Imerintsiatosika Lemur’s Park. This zoological park at the gates of the capital has been created in 2001, with the goal to democratize the discovery of different species of lemurs and in long term, reintroduce them into their natural habitat. You will walk in a 5 hectare botanical park where you will see 9 species of lemurs in complete freedom. This is a perfect excursion for the whole family, since even the youngest ones can enjoy this activity safely;

*Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Ambohimanga Rova, it is a significant and fascinating historical site and well worth a half-day trip (or longer). Although less well-known than the Rova in Antananarivo, it is in many ways more impressive, as it preserves intact some of the original eighteenth-century structures and brickwork of King Andrianampoinimerina, and there are tremendous views of the surrounding countryside and the northern suburbs of Tana;

*Visit the Ivato crocodile farm. This farm is also called “Croc Farm,” and is located about 15 minutes from Antananarivo. This breeding farm deserves to be visited with family and friends. It will be a change of scenery and you will be able to observe the dangerous Nile crocodiles. Besides, you will be able to see lemurs, fossa (the only predator of Madagascar), snakes, and ostriches in exotic settings where palm trees, lemons and orchids will grow freely;

*Visit Tsimbazaza park. This park is the real “green lung” of the capital, and is located 15 minutes from the city center. You will feel immersed in a pleasant botanical garden where many plant and animal species co-exist as well as a museum of paleontology and ethnology. Nature lovers will appreciate the number of exotic and endemic plants in the park. You can also have a walk throughout the zoo, where you can spot many species, including the famous lemurs, but also endemic birds, snakes, chameleons, frogs, etc. The park is ideal for a hike in nature, while being in the heart of the city;

*Excursion «Art in the Tana-city» and Excursion «Tana by night» (including a night-clubs);

*Visit Malagasy silk workshop the “lamba landy” and the crafts markets such as “artisanal market of Andravoahangy”, or “the artisanal market of the Route Digue”, these markets offer several and various articles of beauty at reasonable prices which one can bargain.

Brief history of Tana. The first significant settlement on the site now known as Antananarivo was established around 1650 on the hilltop called Analamanga (a name recently adopted for the region surrounding the modern capital). As the Merina peoples gradually coalesced into a single kingdom, there were repeated attempts to capture this prized site. King Andrianampoinimerina was eventually successful in 1793, moving his court to the highest point in the area, overlooking the extensive rice paddies in the lakes and marshes below. He called the place Antananarivo, meaning “City of a Thousand”. From this strategic bastion, the nineteenth-century Merina dynasty ruled the kingdom and eventually most of the island, until the French captured the city in October 1895. Following the bloody Menalamba (“red shawl”) rebellion, just two years later, against what was by then a decadent, Western-backed royal court, the French abolished the monarchy, sent the reigning queen, Ranavalona III (reigned 1883–1897), into exile in Algeria and established a colony based here that lasted until independence in 1960. The city has since been the focal point for most of modern Madagascar’s successive coups and republics and is a barometer for the health of Malagasy society. Today, despite the fast-expanding population of well over one million, the mood in Tana is the most positive it has been for years, following the democratic election of a credible government in 2014.

Watch more photos about Antananarivo here.

Anjozorobe-Angavo – Protected Area. It’s so amazing!

Quieter than some other reserves in Madagascar, Anjozorobe is 100 kilometres north of the capital, Antananarivo. Anjozorobe is an area of great importance and supports a wide range of fauna and flora. The Anjozorobe Angavo forest corridor is one of the last vestiges of natural forests in Madagascar central highlands. Your stay at the Anjozorobe Angavo forest corridor will allow you to participate in the community development. Local community is the direct beneficiary of the project.

Anjozorobe characterized by hills interposed with rice paddies, the forest is special because its location is between the eastern and central of Madagascar. It’s so amazing! A lot of biodiversity that competent scientific and administrative authorities have classified this forest as a conservation area priority.

Key figures: 41100 hectares of harmonious and protected landscape; 28000 hectares of primary forest; 9 species of lemurs including the famous Indri indri and diademed sifakas; 74 species of birds; 26 species of micro-mammals; 38 species of amphibians; 36 species of reptiles; 75 species of orchids. Anjozorobe-Angavo is the home of very special lemurs: The black Indri (Indri indri), the black variation of Madagascar’s largest lemur. But the tree canopies of the rainforest leave also place for diademed sifakas (Propithecus diadema), bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur griseus) and black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) to jump around and take a rest in the sun. Alltogether, there are nine lemur species living here, four of them nocturnal.

Anjozorobe-Angavo offers you the simplicity of harmonious communication with nature. Your visit will be a unique experience, unlike what you have seen along your journey to Madagascar. The Protected Area allows the followers hiking to admire an exceptional fauna and  flora, through thematic circuits, adapted to all the rhythms. Different round trails, most of them well to walk, lead through the forest. You can do walks from one hour to full day trips, among them a visit to a sacred (fady) waterfall. If you are interested in traditional Malagasy crafts and field work, you will be invited to do a special round trail adapted to these topics.

The villagers of this corridor are specialised in « red rice », a product that the kings and queens of Madagascar served to their most prestigious guests because of its richness  of aroma and taste. Certified biologic, it is prepared from start to finish by the association of women from the communities. Your walk through the ricefields and the villages will give you an overview of the importance of this commodity which constitute the basis of malagasy's alimentation.

Since one-day trips from Antananarivo make no sense, we offers stay in the heart of a humid and tropical forest. The structure is composed of 10 elegant bungalows. Equiped with private bathroom with hot water and mobile heating in winter, each bungalow has a large balcony opening to a green landscape. The restaurant and its raised balcony are as much invitations for relaxation and serenity. The crossed cooking is with local products: rice, meat, chicken, vegetables, seasonal fruits. Kitchen staff honours to enhance spices and products from Fanamby’s protected areas (cashew nut, vanilla, wild pepper, pink pepper, red rice).

Watch more photos about Anjozorobe-Angavo - Protected Area here.

Ambohitantely Special Reserve – a great location to see birds

The Special Reserve of Ambohitantely is located at 140 km Northwest of Antananarivo, in the District of Ankazobe. It covers the South East - ledge of Ankazobe's Tampoketsa. Ambohitantely is also an area covered with natural forest on 1800 ha and covered of grassy savanna on 3800 ha. The Special Reserve of Ambohitantely is the unique protected area in the Region of Analamanga. It is the great and relatively unknown reserve in the highlands of Madagascar.

Ambohitantely special reserve protects the last of the original highlands forest. It is covered with natural forest and grassy plains and is known for its astonishing populations of palms. It is inhabited by 12 mammal species including the common brown lemur, the brown mouse lemur and the eastern woolly lemur (the latter two being nocturnal). It is a great location to see birds – with over 48 species including the Madagascar crested Ibis. The Reserve contains also rodents and species of the genus Microgale.

Among the birds, 48 species are reckoned. Most of them are endemic to Madagascar but none is endemic to Ambohitantely. Two threatened species are observed such as the Madagascar harrier Circus macroscles (VU), the Henst's Goshawk Accipiter henstii and the Madagascar crested ibis Lophotibis cristata. Ambohitantely special reserve is the only protected areas which inhabit Circus macrosceles.

17 species of amphibian and as many reptiles as rodents complete the list of Ambohitantely's fauna.

There are several circuits ranging from two until five hours in order to fit the different visitors’ interests and conditions. The easiest ones go around the botanical garden, where you can admire palm trees, orchids and spot lemurs and other animals. Another treks lead to a cave full of bats, a nice waterfall where you can take a bath or up to the highest point of the reserve, the “Doany of Ampasandoaka” (1660 m.) where you can enjoy a spectacular view over the forest.

The reserve is accessible all year round. The trip takes around 4 hours by car.  The best time to visit this reserve is in September and October. From April to October during the rainy season temperatures can be pretty chilly at night! From November to March the rainy season makes a visit much tougher although there are more possibilities to spot animals (during the colder dry season many of them hibernate).

We can stay at Hotel in Ankazobe (simple rooms with or without hot water), where there is a restaurant, or camping is possible inside the park. There are currently three campsites with basic facilities.

Watch more photos about Ambohitantely Special Reserve here.

The journey “TransLemuriaExpress”

Discover the magnificent landscapes of Madagascar. Travel like no other along the forests and through a lot of streams and rivers. Immerse yourself in the heart of landscapes rich in colour and a variety of wildlife. See Madagascar as you have never seen it! And of course lemurs!

Want to admire the splendor of the landscapes of the Red Island and make a trip to the colonial past? Imagine a change of scenery?... We have a solution for you! "TransLemuriaExpress".

You can visit and explore with the help of your personal vintage train with impeccable service on board at least 8 excellent diamonds from the huge chest of the rich Madagascar nature:

*Analamazaotra Special Reserve; *Mantadia National Park; *The Lemur Islands; *Lake Alaotra. A Diamond in the Marsh; *Zahamena National Park of first class world heritage UNESCO!; *Akanin’ny nofy, known as the ‘nest of dreams’; *Toamasina and its surroundings and complete the travel "TransLemuriaExpress" in the luxurious resort of the serene island of Sainte Marie, where you will get by a high-speed boat. Then make the return trip to Tana by a private flight of a light-engine aircraft and get incredible views and photos of Madagascar from a bird's eye view. In general, you can make unlimited number of stops (minimum 26) on your way by any length.

What does money mean when there is a chance to get a piece of Madagascar's heritage for a while, this traveling vintage museum is at your full disposal, and get incredible and unforgettable impressions for life?

We offer two variants of "TransLemuriaExpress" wagons, from which you can choose. Your personal train "Rosewood" or revolutionary invention of the 30s of the twentieth century Michelin "Viko Viko" bus.

"Class Palissandre" - two wagons "Palissandre", accompanied by a wagon with an electric generator and a place for luggage. The wagons are completely restored in the original with precious materials - the floors are covered with parquet of rosewood and quartz, original paneling (Sisal, Labradorites ou cipolin, etc.), blinds made of bamboo wood. The wagons are reproduced in full in the Malagasy know-how of colonial times. One of the cars is your comfortable salon. During the trip, admiring the scenery, your laptop, smartphone, iPod always work. Another car is your bar-dining room and smoking room. Drinks will be served always the right cooling and with ice, which is very valuable in the warm moist climate of the East of Madagascar. The menu that you will discuss with us in advance will be prepared on board by the best chefs in Malagasy, European or Asian style. Snacks and a selection of drinks are varied. Poker and Black Jack are also possible.

During the journey, according to your desire, you can have a hostesses on board, as well as live musical accompaniment of musicians of both traditional style and modern. There's also a stereo system. Staff stewards are always at your disposal. All wagons are equipped with toilet facilitie.

The Michelin "Viko Viko", a small train, like no other, which owes its name to the wheel manufacturer. This is a real pearl. Restored thanks to its accessories and details incredibly preserved in Madagascar. Exploring Madagascar on ‘the funniest train you have ever seen’. Climb aboard an ancient French railcar for a spectacular trip through mountainous jungle on the island of Madagascar. “Bon voyage!”

Micheline Considered to be the last of its kind in operation - only a limited number of these experimental trains were built in France by the Michelin tire company in the 1930s - this railcar was restored in 2010 by Madarail and is complete with unique detailing such as bamboo seats and a wooden bar.

André Michelin, who gave the name to his invention, developed the light railcars in the 1930ies. He looked for a rail vehicle that enabled passengers to travel more comfortable, convenient and quicker than the usual, jerky railway. So Michelin used air filled rubber tires with a supporting construction made from aluminium that was able to hold the heavyweight wagons. Already in 1929, he had patented his idea, but improved it over the years. Together with his son, he promoted the rail buses. In Madagascar, the first Micheline was running in 1937, covering almost 370 km from the capital Antananarivo to the eastcoast city Toamasina (Tamatave) in nine hours with a speed of 44 km/h.

Vintage Michelin chairs are quite comfortable - very soft with leather armrests and neck cushions. There is a bar on board - the choice of drinks and snacks will be varied, and a small toilet - everything has returned to the original. It is called Viko-Viko, which is the name of an endemic bird species, the Madagascar pratincole. The most important tool on the board is the horn, which blares loudly, no matter whether the vehicle is rolling through the open countryside or announcing its arrival in populated areas.

The route "Trans Lemuria Express" runs along the main road that connects the coast with the capital, which is located at an altitude of 1305m above sea level. The line reaches the capital in areas with strong slopes that allow it to cross two large rocks separating the high central plateau from the coast. Curved, steep slopes, numerous tunnels, trenches, engineering facilities, including the famous loop of Anjiro, follow one another along the route. Our route includes two lines: Antananarivo-Moramanga (Andasibе) - Ambatondrazaka and Maromanga - Albia - Toamasina and offers three long stops-to Moramanga (Andasibe), Ambatondrazaka and Albia (Palmarium) and ends in Toamasina with a further extension already on the speedboat and private plane. Another interesting line is the "Tropical Express or Little train of the cliffs" between Fianarantsoa and Manakara (164 km) is also a mountain line with a complex profile (80 m curves, slopes and 35% lifts).

You can discuss with us all the details of the trip, your special requests and wishes, up to any nuances, in advance at the booking stage for perfoming them on board of our Trans Lemuria Express and the whole trip. Create your own legend! With our assistance.

Wath more photos about "TransLemuriaExpress" here.

Ivato crocodile farm, also called “Croc Farm”

Spanning three hectares, this lush green oasis is ideal for day trippers from Tana or as an entertaining pastime before catching a flight or after your arrival on the island.

Not only can you observe crocodiles, but also some 80 animal species and various plants and flowers from Madagascar. Trained guides will show you the smallest chameleon in the world, free-living Sifaka lemurs, fossa, snakes, frogs, parrots and tortoises etc…

The main attraction is however the huge Nile crocodiles, the biggest predator of Madagascar, you can see the reptilian giants in all their basking glory. The displays on crocodiles are highly informative: many of the biggest specimens (well over 6m) have been brought here because they were becoming a danger to humans in their natural habitat.

Hundreds of crocodiles can be seen lazing in the sun at the shores of a lake. The best time to see the crocodiles in action is during feeding time (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday around 1pm). The Croc Farm also informs its visitors about the serious threats the few wild-living crocodiles face in Madagascar and about various legends that surround these impressive reptiles.

You can eat crocodile in the park’s restaurant. The pleasant garden restaurant Coco d'Iles Taverne next to the lake serves all kind of crocodile specialties, such as Croc Burger and grilled croc meat on a stick. The taste of the meat is a cross between chicken and fish which can have a slightly muddy aftertaste. For those who do not dare to try something new, there are also various croc-free and vegetarian meals available on the menu.

The crocodiles at Croc Farm are raised for leather and meat. Reptel, the company behind the Croc Farm, is since over 20 years breeder, producer and exporter of Nile crocodile skins for luxury leather goods. Today, Reptel Madagascar, also known as Sobek, is one of the few enterprises worldwide, which perform the entire process from the collection of crocodile eggs to the final production of fine leather goods. The production cycle is divided into four steps: 1) the collection and incubation of the eggs, 2) the first growth phase of about six months, 3) second growth phase until slaughtering depending on the size of the skin and 4) processing before local tanning or export. As of 2007, the tanning process is done 100% vegetable. Reptel/Sobek has its own brand of leather goods that are designed and produced in their workshops. Fine leather products, such as handbags and belts, can be bought at the souvenir shop directly at the Croc Farm.

Watch more photos about Ivato crocodile farm, also called “Croc Farm” here.

Park Tsarasaotra. Wildlife reserve in Antananarivo

In the middle of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, there is a small green oasis in the north of the town. It is known under its name Tsarasaotra which means bird‘s island. The area of 0,25 km² size includes lake Alarobia and a second smaller lake and some shore sides. The park is a refuge for many birds that can be easily watched and photographed here – among them 14 endangered species that only occur in Madagascar.

The Madagascar pond heron (Ardeola idae) finds a home in the reeds as well as the critically endangered Meller’s duck (Anas melleri), the rarely seen Madagascan grebe (Tachybaptus pelzelnii) or the nimble Madagascar kingfisher (Corythornis vintsioides). But also more common bird species such as the cattle egret, squacco heron, night heron, black heron and reef heron, red-biled teal, white-faced whistling duck, knob-billed duck or the endemic Drongo (Dicrurus forficatus) use this place for fishing, laying eggs and care for the brood – or just to relax.

Originally, prime minister Rainilarivony, husband of the last Queen of the Merina, Ranavalona III., bought the area in 1890. He created the park and built a small palace. As Rainilarivony – forced by the French colonial power – escaped into exile in 1896, his son sold the park to Emile Ranarivelo.

Since 2005, lake Alarobia has been belonging to the smallest so-called Ramsar sites (Nr. 1464) and still is the only privately owned Ramsar site worldwide. The convention on wetlands had been initiated by WWF and was signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iraq. Madagascar signed the contract in 1999. In protected Ramsar sites, hunting is prohibited and the signing parties commit themselves to safe the survival of natural fauna and flora.

Royal Hill of Ambohimanga and Ambohimanga Rova. Outstanding Universal Value

Tana is surrounded by the “twelve sacred hills of Imerina”, the hilltop villages of the old Merina clans before they became a single kingdom. Some of these sites have been obscured by modern developments, but one, the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Ambohimanga Rova, is a significant and fascinating historical site. Although less well-known than the Rova in Antananarivo, it is in many ways more impressive.

The town remained forbidden to foreigners up until 1895, a date which corresponds to the beginning of the French Governorship over Madagascar. The sacred wooden houses, symbol of the royal tombs demolished by the French colonial authorities, were rebuilt in 2008 by the Malagasy State respecting the rites, the construction regulations and traditional materials (for the choice of wood essences in particular), due to their symbolic importance. Thus, the mortal remains of the sovereigns removed from the site in 1897 have been replaced in their original tombs to consolidate the sacredness of the site.

The layout at the summit of the Hill of the royal enclosure with its buildings is in conformity with the Imerina tradition, in particular, and of Madagascar in general. The sacred character of the site is manifested in the pilgrimages and sacrifices to which it is witness. The different elements that comprise it are representative of the traditional skills and beliefs: the homes of the living are made of wood and vegetation (living materials), while those of the dead are in stone (cold and inert materials).

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.

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga constitutes an exceptional witness to the civilization which developed in the ‘Hautes Terres Centrales’ in Madagascar between the 15th and 19th centuries and to the cultural and spiritual traditions, the cult of kings and ancestors which were closely associated there. The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is the cradle of the kingdom and the dynasty that has made Madagascar a modern state, internationally acknowledged since 1817. It is associated with strong feelings of identity and emotion relating to the sacred nature of the site through its venerated royal tombs, its numerous holy places (fountains, sacred basins and woods, sacrificial stones) and its majestic royal trees.

Ambohimanga, now heavily forested, was originally one of four embattled Merina regional capitals, embroiled in a war of succession that lasted most of the eighteenth century. Only with Andrianampoinimerina’s military success in capturing the Rova in Tana from this stronghold was the empire united and most of Madagascar subdued under Merina rule. In 1780s a local ruler Andrianimpoinimerina began to consolidate neighbouring territories in the high plateau country. His gradual rise to power led to the formation of the Kingdom of Imerina, which introduced a unique modernization process in Madagascar in the late 19th century, even intending on industrialization. With the baptism of Queen Ranavalona II in 1869, Christianity was made the state religion. Obligatory school attendance was introduced in 1880, earlier than in most European countries. The last royal Malagasy Head of State was Queen Ranavalona III, exiled by the French in 1897.

Religious capital and sacred town of the kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century, the Royal Hill was the burial ground for its sovereigns. The site retains clear archaeological proof of the former exercise of power and justice. It is still today the center of the religious practices for many Malagasy people and constitutes a living memory of the traditional religion.

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga comprises a system of fortifications with a series of ditches and fourteen fortified stone gateways, a royal city consisting of a coherent suite of buildings divided by a royal enclosure and associating a public place (the Fidasiana), royal trees, a seat of justice and other natural or built places of cult, an ensemble of sacred places as well as agricultural lands. The royal city comprises two palaces and a small pavilion, an “ox pit”, two sacred basins and four royal tombs. In addition, the designated property shelters vestiges of a primary forest conserving numerous endemic and medicinal plant species.

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga constitutes an eminent example of an architectural ensemble (the Rova) and the associative cultural landscape (wood, sacred fountain and lake) illustrating significant periods of human history between the 16th and 19th centuries in the islands of the Indian Ocean. The particularly high elevation of the Rova indicates the political importance of the site and gives it a very significant place among the fortified groups of the Imerina (region of Antananarivo). Because of its geographical position, the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga offers a complete panorama, determining it as the strategic choice for a defensive residence. Thus, Ambohimanga bears witness to a strong royal power, a decision-making center serving as a model for the future. The recognizable traditional Malagasy and European style of architecture of the royal city bears witness to the diverse political phases in the history of Madagascar.

The landscape of the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is associated with important historic events (Malagasy place of unification), as well as with traditions and living beliefs having an Outstanding Universal Value (ancestor worship). The site constitutes a remarkable testimony to the austro-indonesian culture (Indonesia) through ancestor worship and agricultural practices, notably irrigated stepped rice paddy fields on the one hand, and the African culture (west and southern Africa) through the cult of the royal person, on the other. The Malagasy nation accords primary importance and absolute respect of the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, that they visit to imbibe the spirituality of the place, for renewal and request blessing and protection for all that they undertake in life. It is also a cult and pilgrimage place for the nation, as well as for numerous foreigners, and has been so for centuries.

Watch more photos about Royal Hill of Ambohimanga and Ambohimanga Rova here.

Lemurs’ Park. Lemurs on a daytrip from Antananarivo

How to see lemurs on a daytrip from Antananarivo? Lemurs' Park is a private park, located at the gates of the capital, where you can also watch a dozen species of endemic birds and chameleons, turtles, etc. The site is also a botanical park. The lemurs in this park are free, so it´s not a Zoo. It's a good place to visit if you haven't had the chance to see lemurs elsewhere, or if you need one final lemur fix before you go!

This place is not only an ecotourism montage made by any love of green color and targeting a clientele with high purchasing power. It also has a history that, by some sides and all proportions kept, is not reminiscent of the good Samaritan. Unlike closely since the beginning, many rescued dealt with Lemurs' Park are lemurs saved from abuse. They found here a biotope specially designed to restore their normal life conditions. Most of the animals are former pets or individuals that were threatened in their natural habitat, and the reserve has a breeding program together with other private sanctuaries.

The reserve sits within a lush botanical garden, where pine forests shelter some 70 species of endemic plants. Nestled on a bend of the River Katsaoka, the 5-hectare park is a beautiful and tranquil spot.

You will find nine species of lemur at this private reserve, there are about 50 individual lemurs including Coquerel sifakas, ring-tailed lemurs and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, Mongoose Lemur, Common Brown Lemur, Crowned sifaka, Eastern lesser bamboo Lemur.

Even tho the park is small, and the lemurs are harmless will you be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, that will tell you everything you need to know, so you will have no problem getting a close-up photo or even a selfie with some of them. Don’t get too close to the lemurs or try to feed them, even though they are highly used to people now.

There´s a small restaurant and souvenir shop at the entrance to the park. The restaurant sells simple dishes and cold drinks. The Souvenir shop sells the same things at you will find in any Maki shop in the city center, but at a higher price here. But the profit here goes straight back to the park.

Watch more photos about Lemurs' Park here.

Botanical and Zoological Park of Tsimbazaza

Plenty of photos opportunities! Here you get an opportunity to click amazing pictures to cherish the lifetime memories. Have a nice time!

Tsimbazaza is a zoological and botanical tropical park in Antananarivo offering visitors who do not have time to visit all Madagascar's natural environment, to get acquainted with the flora and fauna of Red Island. The beauty of this amazing natural attractions attracts hundreds of tourists and locals seeking to enjoy rare animals and exquisite tropical plants.

The garden is located off the coast of a picturesque artificial lake, which appeared in Antananarivo on the orders of king Radama I in 1815. Originally it was a pond, where the soldiers took a bath before campaigns, today, the lake fascinates the tourists for its crystal-clear water, overgrown with vegetation of the shores and an abundance of waterfowl.

This tranquil environment is a wonderful source of outing. The relaxing ponds give a heavenly beauty with the gorgeous view of blooming lilies and other water plants. Walking through the garden, you will have the opportunity to admire the amazing flowers, giant palm trees and herbs, observe the wide variety of lemurs in their natural habitat and relax on the shore of the pond, covered with blooming lilies. In addition to the lemurs, in Tsimbazaza you can see many colorful chameleons, various insects and reptiles. In the center of the park, at Lake Tsimbazaza, there is a small garden restaurant.

The glasshouse in the northern part of the park is home to the most Malagasy ferns, such as the Cyathea (15 m high), as well as to endemic orchids and other spectacular flowers. The zoologic park called Pyguargue is dedicated above all to the native fauna.

With such remarkable natural set up, there is also a museum with a fascinating collection for history and nature lovers, for a complete informative experience.

The Museum of Paleontology hosts a fine collection of the Malagasy butterflies. The section of paleontology itself starts with the reconstruction of a dinosaur spine and an exhibition of fossilized bones from various parts of the country. It also exposes skeletons of subfossils dating from the Quaternary period, including the pygmy hippopotamus and the aepyornis, giant bird of 3 m high which could weigh up to 500 kg. The Museum of Ethnology introduces the Malagasy culture through items of daily use: mats and hats, mortars made of wood or stone used to crush rice, traditional amulets and necklaces, protective spell beads, bracelets of invincibility. A complete section is devoted to explain the complex art of hairdressing. Woodcarving also deserves special mention as it is a highly symbolic art.

In addition, the park accommodates a small animal, which is almost impossible to be found in the wild, since at one time its population was virtually destroyed. The Madagascar lemur, also known as the aye-aye, is one of the nocturnal species of lemurs. Many visitors seek to see it at night in Tsimbazaza Park.

Of course, there are tours that will take you to the natural habitat of the aye-aye. But these animals are nocturnal and live in the trees, so spotting them in the dark up in high branches is practically impossible. It is so much easier to see an aye-aye in Tsimbazaza Park. You need to take a special night in the Park and arrive shortly before sunset. This extraordinary miracle of nature looks as if very much surprised. The large round eyes and ears give to the disproportionately small animal a comical appearance. But its fingers are long and slender like a pianist’s fingers. By the way, using the middle finger on the forelegs, the aye-aye drinks water, combs its fur and procures food.

Watch more photos about Botanical and Zoological Park of Tsimbazaza here.

Chocolaterie Robert in Tana

Chocolaterie Robert is a traditional cocoa producer and chocolate maker using Trinitario and Criollo cocoa beans organically grown in the Sambirano region of Madagascar. The result is an irresistible range of pralines and chocolate bars made by ancient recipes containing only natural Malagasy ingredients.

The Malagasy cocoa, also known as “green gold” of Sambirano, has in recent years gained reputation for its superior quality amongst chocolate experts worldwide. However, Malagasy cocoa production remains relatively small-scale in comparison to other major cocoa exporting nations.

Chocolaterie Robert is a household brand name in Madagascar where its chocolate bars can be found everywhere from small village shops and department stores to upmarket confectionery stores and gift shops in cosmopolitan areas.

Chocolaterie Robert has a history of chocolate production dating back to 1937, when a French couple from Réunion Island, Mr and Mrs Robert, set up Madagascar's first chocolate factory in Brickaville, where pralines and chocolate bars were handmade. At the time of the rule of the last Queen of Madagascar, the area around Brickaville was where cacao plantations were first introduced to Madagascar.

Following the French colonisation, cocoa production eventually moved to the Ambanja region which became the preferred location amongst French settlers keen to supply a metropolitan France with agricultural products. In 1958, the factory changed hands to the Berger family and moved to its current location in Antananarivo. In 1977 the company was sold to the Ramanandraibe Group. In 1999 the first two La Chocolatière boutiques were launched in Antananarivo. In 2006 Chocolaterie Robert began shipping Mora Mora and Sambirano branded chocolates to Britain, which respectively won the Chocolate Academy's Silver Cup and the Best Buy Ethical Award. Since 2009, a range of chocolate bars branded VAO VAO are being exported to the United States through partner distributors.

In recent years, Chocolaterie Robert has combined its time-proven knowledge of chocolate production with the expertise of renowned French Chocolatier André Rosset who has advised the company in the latest trends and technologies in the fine art of chocolate making. All of Chocolaterie Robert's products are classified as pure and single origin entirely made in Madagascar. Dark chocolate made by Chocolaterie Robert is rich in flavonoids that occur naturally in Croille cacao beans. Unlike other dark chocolates derived.

Chocolaterie Robert is a major contributor to the local economy, providing employment for about 120 independent farmers and up to 200 factory workers. The company operates both as a cacao bean processor and chocolate manufacturer, using 500 tons of the total 4,000 to 5,000 tons annual cocoa production in Madagascar. To ensure premium quality cocoa, the Ramanandraibe Group has set up 23 support centers throughout the Sambirano Valley providing technical assistance to farmers. Fermentation tubs and drying areas for cacao beans are subsidized by the group. Madagascar cacao farming typically resides in the hands of small family businesses of farmers who live by their land and tradition while passing their skills onto future generations.

Watch more photos about Chocolaterie Robert here.

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