Ambositra. The town of roses
Ambositra (amboostr) is located in the center of a picturesque valley lined with rice paddies and ringed by verdant peaks. If you're looking to explore the Zafimaniry villages however, Ambositra is the best place to organize a trip. This will be a trip to Zafimaniry lands that you won’t forget. On the road of the high plateaus towards/from the South, a halt is essential to appreciate the richness of this small locality. The visitor deciding to prolong his stay will be rewarded with a captivating, rustic highlands town.
Ambositra is the town of art, culture, and crafts. You’ll discover that there are warm and welcoming people. Capital of the Zafimaniry territory, this people from the heights of Betsileo work the wood in a very refined way. Formerly known as the town of roses, this town used its forest resources to stand out to become master in Malagasy marquetry. It’s also famous for being the source of an ancestral handmade craftsmanship: Zafimaniry art. The small town holds a dominating place in terms of craft industry in Madagascar. It is even regarded as the capital of artisanal and Malagasy furnishing; a title which it acquired because of the majestic character and the beauty of works realized by the Zafimaniry. The cultural influence of the Zafimaniry tribe can be found in the traditional motifs of the local houses with their intricately carved balconies, panels and shutters.
Ambositra is then the ideal place to bring back part of the Great Island back to your home, and also very cheap. The characteristic of these objects which are especially of decoration are that the majority are made with the invaluable Malagasy woods namely the palisander, rose wood and the ebony wood. Among the objects which you could get there are figures, statues and wooden boxes, chairs, parlor games, masks, kitchen utensils, bowls, pots, a whole range of table decoration... are only a small extract of the many proposals. Among travelers, the carefully put together tableaus and boxes made of uncountable tiny wooden pieces, showing “Tintin et Milou” in the end, are most admired.
If you are not interested in invaluable wood, you can also choose objects made of zebu horn, very dazzling and perfectly polished, like the crockery carved in this material, the jewels, authentic objects of interior decoration… The “Zafimaniry” ability and the knowledge in sculpture and puzzle using these rose woods and zebu horn are very remarkable.
You can visit many workshops and some even offer demonstrations how to manufacture inlay art, wooden frames or masks. Directly in the workshops, you can also commission own ideas – just need time for this, because usually it takes some weeks for your personal artwork to be finished. We will send you your finished personal artwork through the postal service as soon as they are finished.
What else can you see and do in Ambositra? The Ambositra surroundings are not to be missed. During a short stroll, you’ll find an incredible waterfall named Andriamamovoka, place of purification. You’ll also find the Andohariana tapas forest, the Royal Palace of the last King Mpanalina or Mount Antety. All of these are exceptional places to visit.
*Visit the colorful Anjoma-Akona Market, held every Friday. There, you’ll be able to buy numerous souvenirs: basketry, mats, pottery, and sculpted objects;
*Besides crafts, you’ll discover the “famadihana” which is a ceremony of the dead. Ambositra and the Betsileo country is the high worship place of the ceremony of the returning of dead or “famadihana” which always takes place during the cold season. It causes a great festival which brings all the families together and animated by traditional music band of “hira gasy”. It can even give place to the “Savika”;
*For several days, you would attend dances, local culinary specialties and various activities, including the famous “Skiva” show, a traditional sport in which people try to tame raging bulls;
*The “Savika” or zebufighting, which takes place in a very rudimentary arena in which kinds of bullfighter try to make lay down or overcome over-excited bulls. This traditional sport attracts much more crowds than any other sport in this area;
*Silk Madagascar. The Soatanana village is also a must-see, where you can visit workshops of natural silk fabric, but above all, you’ll be able to discover the community of “disciples of the lord,” for whom the village constitutes the historic home. This is a village specialized in spinning and weaving of wild silk, using traditional methods. This region is home to the greatest surface area of tapia forest in Madagascar. Tapia (Uapaca bojeri) is an endemic plant and constitutes the only original forest in the Highlands. Tapia is the staple diet of the wild silkworm (Borocera Madagascariensis), endemic to Madagascar. A tour of this area provides the opportunity to see all the stages in silk production, from the cocoon to weaving, including dyeing of the threads which is done with exclusively natural dyes. A circuit lasting one day is proposed to visit the villages of Antapia and Soatanana;
*Hiking. We offer numerous types of excursions from Ambositra in the surrounding region: The Andrimamovoka Falls - according to tradition, this waterfall which can be reached after our hour hike, is a place of worship and purification. The hike passes through some typical Betsileo villages and crosses rice terraces. It is possible to camp and fishing here; Mount Antety (1845m) - this mountain preserves the remains of two forts built in 1873 for Queen Ranavalona II; Andohariana Forest - this tapia-tree forest located 30 km south-west of Ambositra is a really delight for botanists and plants’ lovers. The tapia-trees, along with the plentiful orchids and aloes make it a worthwhile trip. And do not miss the mysterious tombstones (including that of King Romonja); The royal palace - this place located 6 km from the city on the top of a hill preserves some vestiges of the residence of the last Betsileo king;
*In the Betsileo area around Ambositra, another landscape more different from the whole of the country will hypnotize you still more: it is the traditional Zafimaniry village. The Ambositra region must not be visited without having been in a real Zafimaniry village. Take a view Walking tour the Zafimaniry region.