Madagascar Updates: Chapter 8

Madagascar, 11th edition

Please use the comments facility below to submit updates to chapter 8 (Highlands South of Tana) of Madagascar (11th ed).

To comment on other chapters visit the main Madagascar Updates page.

You can order a copy of the Madagascar guide here.



  1. 25 October 2017 at 10:10 am

    We visited Anja Parc south of Ambalavao on RN7 leading a Swiss group in September 2017. It was a fantastic overall experience, and we have the highest respect of this community project.

    Sadly it seems that there is some price scam going on, especially from the guide Marcel that is picking up tourists in Ambalavao or the residence “Varangue Betsileo” and leading them over a back way into the park. He charges an overall “guiding fee” before heading of for the walk, confirming that he will take care of all the entrance / community fee paying on the way – but then he leaves without passing at the park office. Comparing his rate to the official park rates it turned out that it was some “fantasy price”.

    Please be avare of this, pay your entrance fee only at the official park office and check carefully, that the rates are according to the official price list. Ask for tickets or a receipt to avoid the spreading of corruption or misuse of the money that should reach the community for their social projects.

    • Hilary Bradt said,

      25 October 2017 at 10:46 am

      Thanks so much for this warning, Brigitte. Let’s hope that by making it public will put paid to this dishonesty. Hilary Bradt

  2. Juan Nicolás Rodríguez said,

    29 September 2015 at 7:42 am

    In Fianarantsoa we satyed in Villa Sylvestre (Lot II P2, Rue Pasteur, Tambohobe, Fianarantsoa 301) a small “maison d’hôtes” really recomendable. Very familial and polite treat. Rooms very confortable, with bath. Very good food. Most of rooms with terrace. For birds lovers, the decoration of the stairs is performed with aquarelles by the local artist Jean-Yves Chen of malagasy birds.
    Please, can anybody indicate the contact address (e-mail, postal address) of this artist?. The possibility of contact using his internet page does not work.

  3. 26 July 2015 at 11:41 am

    The recently launched tourist tours and lectures at Centre ValBio in Ranomafana have been doing well. They are giving tours of the Centre ValBio during afternoons and their scientists give lectures about the wildlife either before dinner or after.

  4. Daniel Austin said,

    26 December 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Eco Mud House is a crowd-funded spin-off project from the famous Antshow Madagascar arts centre, run by Malagasy musician Hanitra Rasoanaivo. The house was built this year (2014) at Fenoarivo in Soavinandriana. It is a five-room traditional mud house built in 2014 has a kitchen, dining room, and a workshop space for arts and crafts. The walls are entirely made with mud, the floors with mud sandwiched between timbers, and the roof thatched with local reeds and bamboo.
    The project aims to help the elders of this remote area to share their knowledge with the younger generation; to give country women an interesting life that involves more than just fetching water all day; to make country men proud to show off their traditional house-building skills; to create new jobs and bring new life to the village of Fenoarivo; and to restore pride and dignity to the whole community.
    Contact: Facebook

  5. Daniel Austin said,

    19 December 2014 at 1:42 am

    Local guide Ony Rakotoarivelo has been monitoring recent road improvements in Madagascar and sends this suggestion for an alternative route south:
    “Usually when travelling from Tana down to the south of Madagascar, we begin with the RN7 to Antsirabe. But recently another option is beginning to open up: for variety, one can follow the RN1 west from Tana until Analavory, take the turning to Ampefy and carry on along RN43 to Soavinandriana, Faratsiho, and then Sambaina. The road from Soavinandriana to Faratsiho (51km) was recently repaired by the Colas company, bringing new life to the local people who had been struggling with their isolation during the rainy seasons. The road is in a good condition but nevertheless is steep in parts, quite dangerous at PK 58, sloping up 10 degrees (17km before Faratsiho) and back down 10 degrees (10km further on). In addition, the road takes the shape of an ‘S’ (40km before Faratsiho), where the people have given the name Tsinainondry, meaning ‘sheep’s intestines’. Hopefully the road from Faratsiho to Sambaina 47km will also be rebuilt soon.”
    About 3km away from Soavinandriana towards Faratsiho is a river called Kelivody, means ‘little bottom’!

  6. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:49 am

    On RN7, between PK 510 and PK 511, there is a village called Ankaramena. The name means ‘red rocks’, after the red hill to the east of the road.

  7. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:48 am

    The northern access road to Ranomafana is completely unsurfaced and only passable in a 4×4, but there are some very picturesque villages and houses en route. The southern access road is in good condition at the time of writing.

  8. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:47 am

    On RN7, around PK 440, there are now a couple of roadside stalls selling handicrafts made from sisal.

  9. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:47 am

    On RN7, between PK 127 and PK 130, there is a large plain where they grow a lot of carrots, as well as potatoes, beans and cabbages. You will see the produce being sold at the roadside.

  10. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:35 am

    In Antsirabe, an excellent showroom for crafts made from zebu horn is Maminirina. They do group demonstrations showing the method of manufacture (it is interesting to see how circles cut from old pairs of jeans, as well as recycled washing machine motors, are essential components of the process) then you can buy finished pieces in their shop, which boasts perhaps the biggest selection of zebu horn products in Madagascar. They can also make items to order. It’s not far from the centre and most pousse-pousse drivers should know the way. Tel 032 63 139 56 or 034 31 905 81; email

  11. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:31 am

    Karibotel is a brand new hotel near to the village of Ranomafana, opened early in 2014. It has comfortable rooms and a beautiful view across to the national park. There are 8 double/twin bungalows costing 100,000Ar and 2 family (max 4 ppl) bungalows for 120,000Ar each. All have en-suite bathrooms with hot water, and breakfast is included. Mob 033 15 629 32.

  12. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:19 am

    RN7 is currently in a terrible state between the two turnings to Ranomafana, and it is degrading fast in the section to the south of that. Repairs are already under way. There are also some less extensive potholes in various sections between Fianarantsoa and Toliara.

  13. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:19 am

    On RN7, around PK 580, you will see countless termite mounds. These termites are specialised grass-feeders; they cut the grasses of the savanna and store them inside their mounds, thus filling the same niche as the big herbivores of the African savanna.

  14. Daniel Austin said,

    4 December 2014 at 12:03 am

    Contact details for Labo Men, the shop of famous Malagasy photographer Pierrot Men: tel 75 500
    23; mob 034 07 729 85; email; web In addition to photographic books and postcards, the shop also sells photographic supplies such as camera film, memory cards and batteries.

  15. Daniel Austin said,

    27 August 2014 at 10:15 am

    We’ve recently been getting reports of road improvements under way in several places across Madagascar. Going towards Fianarantsoa RN7 has been resurfaced as far as Camp Robin (but for now the road is still bad around Ambohimahasoa). There are also ongoing works at Ranomafana (see photo, taken earlier this week:

  16. Daniel Austin said,

    25 August 2014 at 3:50 pm

    A very smart new footbridge was completed at Ranomafana National Park in the last couple of weeks. See some photos on our Facebook page at

  17. Daniel Austin said,

    20 August 2014 at 12:46 am

    Founded in 1984 and based in Fianarantsoa, Karenjy is Madagascar’s only car manufacturer. Production has always been on a small scale (despite a workforce of 70 staff, the factory averages an output of only one vehicle per month) but they have just unveiled a new model, the Mazana II, with ambitious plans for a massive increase in annual production to 200 vehicles by 2017. The Mazana II is a sturdy, no-nonsense 4×4, priced to suit the Malagasy wallet. Tours of the Karenjy factory can be arranged by appointment.

  18. 12 November 2013 at 11:55 am

    Hi,I have found another good and confortable place to stay in Ambalavao so would like to let you all know.It’s a new lace called Zongo Espace and they have got 9 bungalows and other 8 rooms ,all clean and have toilets is located at the entrance of the town of Ambalavao and as Tour operator and Tour guide,I hardly recommend using this hotel which is run by a local Malagasy.

  19. devinedmonds said,

    14 September 2013 at 4:49 am

    Ankaratra / Manjakatompo Forest Station

    We first stopped at the Direction des Eaux et Forets in Ambatolampy to pay a small fee (4,000 Ar/person). We then traveled by 4×4 for two hours on a logging road (15.6 miles), stopping about halfway where there is a village and the road was blocked by a locked metal gate. Here we hired a guide (15,000 Ar/day), cook (12,000 Ar/day) and porter (5,000 Ar/day) for our group of six. The area where we were did not have well-marked trails and so I would recommend bringing a guide. Bring your own tents and buy food and charcoal to cook with back in Ambatolampy before heading out.

    There is very little natural forest left, but what still exists is quite unique. Tread lightly since it is very sensitive habitat. From the forest you can hike to a high point above camp in about 30 minutes which has a great view. There is a waterfall near the camping area in the forest as well. According to our guide, to hike to the summit takes at least four hours from the camping area and you should arrange it ahead of time so you can bring a chicken. Temperatures in August were cold, and both nights it got down to 3 degrees Celsius.

  20. sylviane minnot said,

    2 August 2013 at 11:10 am

    We recently travelled in Madagascar with your guide as a good companion.
    We stayed for a while in Fianarantsoa.We would like to mention that there are in the old upper town guestrooms as a budget option which are worth to be mentioned.Actually local families have done a wonderful work of renovation of their beautiful old houses thanks to the support of the local Malagashy association,Programme to Save the Old City of Fianarantsoa.
    Independent of the family’s rooms but close to,are comfortable rooms with facilities waiting for the traveller.A wonderful opportunity to discover and learn more from the very locals. An unvaluable chance to encourage the population of this unique old high town to preserve their heritage with the possibility to make an income from it.
    We stayed at “chez Marius”, a house perched on a terrace where live a charming family.The guest rooms enjoy an amazing wide view to the lower town and the montains beyond.At night time it is difficult to dissociate the numerous lights of the town from the more numerous stars in the sky.Magic!
    “chez Marius” tel.261 34 12 350 86/ 261 33 08 965 99

    • Zoe Hale said,

      14 September 2013 at 11:11 am

      I stayed at Chez Marius in early September thanks to Sylviane’s recommendation and am very glad I did. Simple accommodation with outside (non smelly) compost toiler and shower/washroom for which hot water can be arranged. It is also possible to eat with the family for a small charge and for delicious food.

  21. Daniel Austin said,

    18 November 2012 at 3:39 pm

    A new state of the art research centre has just been built by the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments at Ranomafana National Park. Centre ValBio has capacity for more than 40 researchers as well as rooms for 40 ecotourists. The centre hosts lectures in English most evenings, given by the researchers about various aspects of the forest and its wildlife, and they are open for tourists to attend. Fast internet. Email:; web:

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