ANTSIRABE, THE TOWN OF WATER
Founded in 1869 by Norwegian missionaries attracted by the curative powers of its thermal springs, Antsirabe (whose name means “Where there is much salt”, in reference to its mineral-rich waters) this is one of a very pretty and very clean town and one of its most prosperous. Its broad large avenues are shaded and bordered by jacaranda trees. During the flowering season, these colorful plants make the town even more charming with all the jacaranda trees purple flowers layers associated with rickshaws, dominated especially by the sharp orange color, gives a very particular stereotype and an exceptional key. Here, the air is almost pure contrary to Antananarivo where the exhaust fumes belong to the daily life.
You can’t visit the Central Highlands without going to Antsirabe, located at 1500m of an altitude. The RN7 passes right through the middle of town, where traffic slows to a crawl, checked by more than three-thousand pousse-pousse operators (colorful rickshaws), trotting through the crowds. In practical terms, Antsirabe, 170km south of Tana and 250km north of Fianarantsoa, makes a natural and pleasant stopover, there’s no shortage of good hotels and restaurants and a number of interesting crafts and jewelry shops. It’s also a key junction town for trips into the remoter reaches of western Madagascar. It is surrounded by three lakes, the Tritriva, Andranomafana, and Andraikiba, rich vegetation, and you’ll have the opportunity to do many activities with your family and friends. The town is rich in history and you will feel strong colonial influence through the architecture of the town buildings.
The two wheels are the most practical and ideal way to pay a visit of the town, with a maximum of assured pleasure. It is said that name “rickshaw” comes from the expression formerly used during the French colonial community who were accustomed to borrowing it. Previously, the rickshaws of Antananarivo with its up and down hills were drawn by two people, one pushing and the other one pulling, and during the climbing the quite fatty passengers were accustomed to not only speak but to shout to the person who pushes by using the expression “Push! Push!”.
The town is famous for its textiles, tobacco, and agricultural production, but also famous for its water, renowned throughout the world for its therapeutic properties.
What can you do in Antsirabe? The mountainous region of Antsirabe offers many hiking and trekking routes. You will enjoy incredible views and panoramas. There are large landscapes as far as the eye can see in a setting rich in lush vegetation and endemic wildlife. Last but not least, you’ll also have the opportunity to go canyoning or rafting, golfing, horse riding, or mountain biking in the Antsirabe highlands. It is rich in adventures and promise to leave you with magical memories.
The lakes should not be missed. The volcanic lakes of the region are also a major tourist attraction, containing many ancestral legends and mysteries, two most known lakes which make the wonders of Antsirabe are Andraikiba and the extraordinary and mysterious Tritriva lake. Lake Andraikiba is ideal for walking. You’ll find yourself in a peaceful and harmonious environment, where it’s good to come and relax.
Lastly, one cannot be bored in Antsirabe, there is much to see because many things are done and manufactured there. The local population is not unemployed and a small tour of the different craftsmen workshop is possible to admire their knowledge such as the “candy gasy”, traditional candy workshop. One can also visit various workshops producing miniature rickshaws and bicycle, a natural fiber weaving workshop using wild silk, raffia, and sisal, embroidery workshop and small transformation industry of various objects with zebu horn, and without forgetting the fine gem stone cutting workshop.
Watch more photos about Antsirabe here.