Things To Do In Antananarivo
The first inhabitants of the city of Antananarivo, Madagascar came from Indonesia around 2,000 years ago, sailing via India and East Africa in double hulled canoes. The people of mainland Africa settled here later, and today’s population is of mixed descent. Their language, Malagasy, is closely related to the Indonesian language, Malay. Their customs and beliefs, including ancestor worship are a mixture of Indonesian and African. Antananarivo is also a city that is dotted with spice markets and other run of the mill things. Flower markets are also common in the capital city especially near the lake area. Antananarivo is a city of spices and they mostly grow cloves, vanilla, and pepper. They are partly responsible for making Madagascar, one of the world’s leading producers of cloves which are the dried flower buds of an evergreen tree. Cloves are generally used to flavor many types of food.
When To Go:
While the sites all over Antananarivo can be delighted all year-round, two distinct seasons must be kept in mind when planning a vacation to this enchanting city in Madagascar; the wet season that occurs from December to March and the arid, dry season that happens from April to October. To sum things up, the tropical city of Antananarivo is best toured in the middle of April and December as this keeps the traveler away from the twister season when street transport can be troublesome.
The months of April to November are the drier and milder season and officially the winter months of the city. In light of this, the months of July and August are the coolest months of the year, and the busiest because of more individuals spending their vacations here. September to November is an amazing time to visit, as it denotes the end of the cold, dry season. April and May are perceptibly greener months with verdant field after the rainy months. It's the ideal time to set out to Tana (the city’s nickname) and explore the safari adventure to Lemur Park. December - March.
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The month of December until March is the season for the tropical summer, and is the most sizzling and wettest period. February to March is the typhoon season and is especially wet and in the northeast and east, and amid this time some street travel can be more troublesome.
Here are the popular things to do while in the city of Antananarivo:
The Lemurs Park is a nice little park where you can see the lemurs up close during the tour. Just make sure you get there in the morning, otherwise you will chance upon the sleeping lemurs and it's a lot less fun. With some luck you can also see the chameleons and turtles. There is also a souvenir shop and a restaurant. The restaurant within its vicinity is good but relatively quite pricey. If you have further seen any lemurs or only from very far away, this is the perfect opportunity to make some nice pictures beside one. Most of the animals here are former pets. Whenever possible, they are put back into nature.
This park is located about 20 km from Antananarivo and is well cared for, holds a varied collection of animal and plant species of Grand Terre, the guide (English speaking and French) illustrates competently the life stages of lemurs and other species in the park, in conclusion you can make a stop at the rest of the park where they offer good solutions to lunch and observe these cute animals in their natural habitat.
It is highly recommended for the whole family and a nice way to educate the kids about the importance of Lemurs to the environment. The site is located approximately 500 meters from the village of Andasibe and can be reached by a transport bus from Antananarivo.
You can also hire a taxi for the ride and take a local guide who can accompany you through the entire well maintained and preserved park. One of the great things to do here is to have the chance to feed the lemurs. The place is quite large and they can easily come close to you. There is a river that runs right there with muddy water and beyond the lemurs you can also chance upon the area where there are a lot of turtles. Enjoy the tour and take lots of pictures of a beautiful animal that deserves to be protected and preserved here in Antananarivo City.
Royal Hill of Ambohimanga
The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga represents an exceptional testimony to the civilization that developed on the Malagasy Highlands from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. It highlights the cultural and spiritual traditions, cults of the Kings, and the ancestors that were intimately associated with each other. The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga is composed of a makeshift town, a real burial place, and a set of holy areas and was the first capital and seat of the government of the nation until it was officially granted to Antananarivo City.
This is Madagascar's first royal residence. It is located about 25 km northwest from the capital city of Antananarivo in a small village where you will find the oldest royal residence in Madagascar that first served as the residence of the King until the latter half of the 19th century. The place is located in a scenic area. It would be wise to take a taxi there and spend a day to understand its history and significant role to Madagascar and Antananarivo. Here you get a strong impression of an early kingdom, the ruler’s homes, their living conditions and their religious rituals. There are experienced guides who can tell you lots of historic information and all the important corners of the place. It is a living testimony to a proud history of the country.
Rova – Le Palais de la Reine
The royal palaces in Antananarivo's highest point stands as a testimony of Madagascar monarchical past in the 19th century. The Rova – Le Palais de la Reine contains several castles. Unfortunately, much of the castles and the many art treasures in the castle were devastated by a tragic fire but they are now being reconstructed and restored. A visit to the “Rovaen” is a must when visiting Madagascar's capital. There are a myriad of young people who are offering their services to guide tourists around the area but ignore them because you can take advantage of the official guides if you want to avail of a guide while exploring the still elegant looking royal palace.
The building is under renovation after the fire that devastated it about 10 years ago; the architecture is still fascinating and unique and is visible from a distance in many parts of the City. The interiors are under renovation and you cannot enter the building from the outside but it still has its own charm even if you see it from the exterior area only. You can visit the gardens and the swimming pool that is located on a terrace with a breathtaking view of the rice fields, buildings and waterways around the city. The district also offers a visit to the tombs of past kings and queen, the various facilities of monarchs who all wanted to build monuments in memory of themselves, and a short visit to a Protestant church. The historical perspective is a must, because it is one of the oldest buildings in the area. Access is also allowed in the Museum of the Prime Minister and very worthwhile. It should be visited on a windy day when the colors of the garden and the lush surroundings are even more beautiful.
The Madarail is where you can have the opportunity to take these Michelines on both TCE (Tenerive Cote Est Railway) and FCE (Flanar Cote Est Railway) networks and keep a beautiful memory. You can take a short ride and the most interesting is the trip to Fainaransoa Manakara. But if you want to avail of the complete tour, the trip takes nine hours for the 163kms, but it is unforgettable. For being the well-known network of railways in Africa since 1985, you can interview some staff about the end of the 90s drop and the state of the railway during the Renaissance era up to the year 2000s when the railway company had an influx of new locomotives and investment. Except for the last locomotives purchased in China, the other trams from the 1980’s are still available and in use.
It is a unique journey through the jungle; passing through many villages, in which the service can be experienced weekly and to enjoy the train between Moramanga and Tamatave. This site was put up due to lack of accessible roads making it the only means of transport in the early years of the city. To conclude, whatever the voyage with the Chemin de Fer, it will leave a lasting memory in addition to having a wonderful train ride experience in Antananarivo City.
I’s Art Galerie
This is a very interesting art gallery, which helps to promote a number of local artists and contributes a lot to push the promotion of the city’s culture. The I’s Art Galerie of Antananarivo is a very good initiative, with an excellent location in the heart of the city. However, avoid planning a visit during the summer season because the gallery has no ventilation and that when you have the opportunity to attend an opening exhibit, the heat is stifling!
It is more comfortable to tour this gallery during the winter season, on some evenings there is live music for a lively ambience while exploring the gallery and its wide selection of artworks done by the masters or the rising contemporary artists from Madagascar.
Piratenmuseum in Antananarivo
The Piratenmuseum in Antananarivo is a very interesting museum about the sea pirates that is well worth a visit. The museum is located near the train station (Madarail) and provides the rough days of the sailing pirates of Madagascar in the global context. The texts are written in French, but the museum guide explains everything in German language. It can be visited without charge and hiring the services of its resident guide is a smart choice to understand the art and story of every item that is displayed in the gallery. The interesting museum shows the history of sea pirates and clears up the story about piracy in the Indian Ocean 300 years ago. In this museum you will hear the prominent pirate names such as Libertalia or Captain Blackbeard and learn their contribution in the history of Madagascar set in a totally intimate atmosphere.
To have a brief background history of piracy in Madagascar, during the 1600s and 1700s, the coast of Madagascar became the haunt of European pirates. One of the most notorious was Scottish born William Kidd. In 1698, Captain Kidd joined the pirates based on St. Mary’s Island (now called the Nosy Boraha). Three years later he was hanged in chains in London, England. But back in the 1500s Portuguese seafarers became the first Europeans to discover Madagascar but later on, the British and French attempts to colonize the island failed. In the 1800s, the Merina kingdom of the plateau conquered most of the island, and converted most of the inhabitants into Christianity. In 1895, France invaded and owned Madagascar, and it eventually became a French colony until gaining back its independence in 1960.
At the Parc Soavinandriamanitra, you will discover various animals, including adorable lemurs that enjoy their freedom in the trees; which is very surprising in the highlands. Inside you can also see different kinds of frogs, crocodiles, birds, turtles, etc. There are shaded walking areas for physical activities. The animals are often left in their natural habitat and freely interact with the visitors. However, many cages are poorly maintained or empty. If you have time take the chance to discover the animals in this nature park in Antananarivo City.
The place is beautiful, a small park full of greenery in the heart of Antananarivo, with lush flora and fauna, lakes and hills. The animals inside the Tsimbazaza Zoo are clearly well cared for as well as the animals that are kept in some open enclosures. However, there are some animals that have very little space, while others are not visible because of endless restoration work. Go there if you do not have the opportunity to discover the wild lemurs at the Lemurs Park or if you want to financially support or help the site that is also actively involved in the breeding of endangered species, but do not expect an amazing place.
The animals are not that numerous but it is an island of calm in the midst of a noisy and crowded city. And this park is accessible to almost everyone. You can walk in endless aisles, amidst trees and beautiful flowers. You may settle to eat or watch a group of young people to compete in a soccer competition. At the same time you can also discover villages, temples and traditional places restored. Ultimately, the zoo is one of the best places In Antananarivo with lots of things to do and discover along the way. It is located just a short drive away from the capital and can be accessed by taxi or public bus from the city bus terminal. The Zoo is well organized and well attended. Worth knowing and meets most of the traveler’s expectations.
About 15 km from the capital of Madagascar and near the main airport, there is a curious place where you have the chance to observe close a quantity of extraordinary crocodiles, several dozen of Lemurs and even ostriches. The closeness that separates you from them is only a simple chicken wire and within a few meters you can see the fiercest predator of the land that lies in the shadow of a banana tree inside the Croc Farm.
The property is home to many crocodiles of all ages and sizes as well as other typical fauna of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean (such as the giant tortoises of Mauritius). There are, of course, the lemurs, which can be moved with ease by offering them small pieces of bread provided by the park guides. The restaurant is built on a covered terrace overlooking the park, with modern interiors. The menu offered includes a pair of dishes made of crocodile meat.
The Madagascar Exotic is an island that is located at the east of Antananarivo. You can ride a boat to access and explore the island on foot in one day where you can find wildlife in the forest, mysterious and lush state with clove plantations (clove oil distillery). Or you can unwind under the coconut trees along the beaches occupied by fishermen but from time to time are quiet places for idleness; you can see marine mammals (whale watching if you’re lucky). The island has a wonder mats especially for lovers, accessible only by boat, and the sea is emerald plus the place is quiet. Stay around 3 days to enjoy your stay.
Antananarivo is the perfect destination for travelers who want to explore nature, learn about pirate and political history of an interesting city. It is a fantastic place to get close to some of the endangered species of animals but given great importance and protection by the people of this city. It is also a journey to the most exotic islands, the spices, and, the amiable locals that can only be found in the city of Antananarivo.