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Duration : 09 Nights and 10 Days
Day 1 Antananarivo : Arrival in Antananarivo At the beginning of the day and at dusk, the sweet colors of this town evoke the ones of all the villages surrounding the twelve sacred hills of the malagasy capital. Sightseeing tour of Antananarivo.Dinner and overnight at the Tana Plaza Hotel (or similar).
Day 2 Antananarivo Anstirabe : Early morning breakfast. Drive on the RN7 till Antsirabe. This road joins Antananarivo to Tuléar, located in the South West near the Mozambique Channel. It crosses rice paddies, hills and red ground landscapes strewed with typical villages of the high plateaus. Stop at Ambatolampy, city perfumed with various natural essences species : eucalyptus, filaos... Ambatolampy is at hert of a rich touristic region with beautiful landscapes and sites.... Thanks to a high altitude, the city has a fresh and temparate climate all year. Lunch at "Rendez-vous des Pêcheurs" restaurant Farmers cultivate and plough the land with big spades and prepare like that rice paddies fields awaiting for the raining/rainy season. The fields are hanged up on the hillside, homes wars are built with terracotta or with dry zebus excrement straw recovered with clay. Here, the materialist world has another signification.
On the road, children sell miniature cars made with salvaged metal. Suddenly, you could see a zebus herd which has covered several hundred kilometers. Few members of the Bara ethnic group, a southern ethnic group go and sell them at Antananarivo market. Continuation to the South for arriving at Antsirabe in the afternoon. Antsirabe is located in the center of a fertile region with plains surrounded by high mountains with an average altitude of 2500 meters, in a recent volcanic area. Antsirabe is a spa town, called the Water City ». It becames an important town, famous for its fresh products and its mineral drinking water called "Vichy Gasy". Antsirabe is also the rickshaw capital, local mean of transportation till usd by all the locals. This town is surrounded by plains and hills with green rice paddies fields. Rice is cultivated in small squares called "tanin-ketsa" where we sow the paddy. Bunches are then planted out by women. The great avnue is the main street where different kinds of shops are connected with a mix of smells and colours. Dinner and overnight at Arotel (or similar).
Day 3 Antsirabe Fianarantsoa : Breakfast Drive to Ambositra, which means "the place where there are a lot of beefs". Here, landscapes are more mountainous and hills are inhabited by Betsileo ethnic group. Here, local women wear more colored clothes than in Tana. Stop for visiting traditionnal woodcutting workshops. The craftsmen work in small shops, in their own house or outside under a tree. The Zafimaniry land and the eastern forest make this area the capital of woodcutting and marquetry.
You can see on the items, the cultural influence of the Zafimaniry and Betsileo ethnic groups with traditional and geometric signs remaining diary way of life. The crossed villages will make you discover their woodcutted / sculpted houses and their bamboo houses with ancient rice attics on piles. A central room with a brasero and a bed compone the housing. Above, on the floor, an attic is covered by a roof without any fireplace. Lunch in Ambositra. In the surrounded countryside, life sceneries, authentic and ancestral, give the impression that time is stopped. Arrival at Fianarantsoa at the end of the afternoon, the town « where we learn goodness". It is a sprade town.
We can divide it into three parts : The « Upper Town (old), protected area wih historical and architectural interests, the « New Town » (commercial area) and the station district is extended along the railwy and the North. Located between the upper and the new towns (in the Ambatolahikisoa district), we can see a stele warning, in the past, that no pork could be leaded after the end of this limit. Sightseeing tour Ambozontany District : the cathedral founded in 1871 on foot of the Rova (Palace), which has not survived to the History. Great view from the place on the Anosy Lake. Anatirova Area : It is the historical center of this town, occupied in the past by the Betileo Rova called Ivnava (where died people are hidden). The Isoa Place or courtyard : ancient strong Betsileo place, occupied for a long time to contain Tanala and Merina incursions... From its summit, at 1374 high altitude meters, we appreciate the great panorama on the town. Dinner and overnight at the Tsara Guest House (or similar).
Day 4 Fianarantosa Ranohira : Breakfast Departure to Ambalavao.Here, mountains become arids and stripped off. This region of the High plateaus is the main worship place of the « Famadihana (reburial ceremony). It is a religious rite for communicating with ancestor, a national malgasy cultural tradition. For those who want to honour their ancesters, if the lates body is in the tomb, his mind keeps to be lively and present. Malagasy people ask for blessing to the lively spirits. Some people have the power to communicate directly with them, and then the spirits tell to these mediums that they are cold and the sign for the reburial ceremony is given. They have to change the lates shroud and also the mat which is surrounding his body. This day should be a great celebration day : musicians, dancers, friends, parents are invited. These ceremonies are common to all malagasy people, with no distinction if they are catholics, muslims or protestants ; ancesters unite malagasy people and are respected and honoured by everybody. Arrival at Ambalavao, located in the center of a mountainous cirque, as Andringitra massif buttress. The betsileo style houses, havean original architecture with elaborate balconies and their steeply tiled roofs.
This is the zebu trades hub and the discovery of an ethnic group : The Baras, with « Bantou origin. Their are polygamist, and live in huts. Women wear long plaits and sometimes hair slide as a sign of single status and men in search of their promised lady put a comb in their hairs. Baras are zebu breeders. Women serve their husband in turn and the last conquered wife goes with him to the market. Visit of the « Fabrique de papier Antaimoro » Typical of this region, Ambalavao has developped a cottage industry of this paper very famous in the country. The bark of the Havoa tree is collected, cooked in water, mixed with it and spreat out in a big tray.
Sheets of paper are salvaged and decorated with flowers and grass and put to be dried under the Sun. lunch at Ambalavao. Drive to Ranohira, small town, at the edge of the Isalo Massif and departure point for excursions in the national Park of Isalo. You will go there through to the Horombe plateau with hundred zebus herds. Arrival in Ranohira at the end of the afternoon and check-in to your hotel : Relais de la Reine. If the weather is fine, you could really appreciate a beautiful sunset from the place called Isalo Window. Dinner and overnight at « Relais de la Reine » (or similar).
Day 5 Ranohira : Breakfast Easy trekking Opened in 1962, the Isalo National Park (pronounce "ish-ah-loo") covers 81 540 ha of the eroded jurassic sandstone of the same name, and stretches from 180 km long with an average of 25 km wide. Departure for a walk in the Isalo National Park Located in Bara Zafimanelo territory till the Canyon entrance. Start of the walk in the canyon (do not forget trekking shoes, hat and binoculars). Return in Ranohira around 11.30 am. Lunch at the "Toiles de lIsalo". In the afternoon, riding (according to everybody physical capacity) in direction of the « piscine naturelle » (« Natural swimming pool » about 90 minutes walk approximately on outward journey but less than this time in the return), bathing in a crystalline water prettily surrounded with pandanus. Those who are not interestd in this excursion can go back to the hotel Relais de la Reine. Dinner and overnight at « Relais de la Reine » (or similar).
Day 6 Ranohira Tulear : Breakfast Departure for Tulear (means the place where we are arriving) passing through Ilakaka, which was in the past a small village became today a real « far west town » with the discovery in 1998 of the one of the bigger sapphire deposit in the world. Discovery of the Southern funeral art : the Antandroy tombs, with overview on the Mahafaly tombstones. The Antandroy tombs are componed with « Valavato », a kind of rocks pile with parallelepipedic form, whom sizes could reach 50 meters side and 1,50 meters high for royal lates. Body is buried in a coffin formed with two hollowed out half-trunks. Erected from each side of the "Valavato", two rocks symbolize man and woman, Vatolahy et Vatovavy (male rock and female rock). On the tombs, sit enthroned beef horns and "Aloalo" (kind of sculpted totems) whom custom/tradition was rebought to the Mahafaly ethnic group.
The Mahafaly tombs, called also "Valavato", can reach 10 to 15 meters side and 1 meter high and are surmounted with big sculpted totems called "Aloalo". Always in even nmber, turned to the eastern bound, they are planted according to a strict order on the rock platform, among the beef horns. This all post with its succession of geometrical forms overcame with a real "image of Epinal" sometimes very charged which made its success until European art galleries. "Life is only a passage on Earth", That is why in Madagascar proverbs and morals most of the time refer themselves to death. The landscape still changes, the steppe turned russet by the sun leaves place at a dry forest punctuated of baobab trees.
This tree symbolizes Madagascar, with its thick trunk, its big fruits in the form of gourd and its branches look like to roots growing up towards the sky. The island counts seven species of baobab trees and some specimens would exceed the 1000 years of age. Small Andosonia fony, with "only" 5m top, grows up close to Morondava. More imposing, Adansonia Grandidieri, real monument with its 30 to 40 meters high is also in this area. Arrival at Tulear, Lunch at restaurant, In the afternoon, sightseeing with shopping at shellfish market and the Marin museum. Tulear is an outstretched low town, white and brightly, rain is here rare and sunshine is nearly permanent. Its charm, its large crowded streets with colourful rickshaw traffic will appeal you. Dinner and overnight at the Capricorne Hotel (or similar).
Day 7 Tulear Anakao : Breakfast Early morning transfer to the Tulear port and boat-boarding (at 8.00 am) for Anakao. This small vezo fishing village has a great diving center site. Full board accommodation at Prince Anakao hotel (or similar).
Days 8/9 Anakao : Most of the Anakaos diving sites surround the uninhabited islet steady between sky and sea opposite of the village. This virgin sand tongue with its undeniable perfume of paradise is also the only known site of nesting of the white Phaethon rubricauda in Madagascar. 2 nights on full board accommodation at Prince Anakao hotel (or similar).
Day 10 Anakao Tulear ? Antananarivo ? Paris :Breakfast, Early morning boat-transfer from Anakao. Then, according to the flights details transfer to the airport and flying for the malagasy capital: Antananarivo. Welcome and transfer to the hotel Mahavelo, Lunch. If the weather is fine, small detour to La Digue crafts market for shopping.
Check-in at the hotel. Dinner and « day use » at the hotel. Transfer to the airport. Formalities assistance and take off ? for France.
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