East of Antananarivo
The RN2, the national road that connects Antananarivo with Toamasina (Tamatave) on the east coast, serves pleasant destinations such as the rainforest around Moramanga and the Reserve Andasibe - Mantadia.
But in the valleys on both sides of this busy weekend route, there are also villages full of history to discover, some of which we will present here.
Madagascar Exotic is also available as Peyreiras Reserve known.
Breeding and reproduction center, located in a beautiful landscape: a valley covered with rice fields, mango trees, lychee plantations, a rocky cliff.
One discovers many aquatic and ornamental plants, beetles, reptiles (which can be touched), Chameleons in all sizes and colors, Frogs (including the red frog and the dwarf frog or Mantella laviegata), Crocodiles, Boas, Bats and of course lemurs. Two species can be seen here, the Sifaka and the Fulvus.
The guides are well informed. The facilities would deserve to be renovated, but this adds to the somewhat dated charm of the visit!
The IVOVOKA Valley
This secluded valley has retained the authentic charm of the highlands, with Ambohimalaza and its huge aristocratic necropolis, Anjeva and its tannery and the axis Ambohimangakely - Ambohimanambola, scene of fierce battles between Merina and Vazimba.
This small village at an altitude of 1,491 meters lives, as in the past, to the rhythm of the seasons. Its two gates are perfectly preserved with their joint slabs without mortar and their large cylindrical disc. Vehicles can park in front of the south gate, but deep ditches allow access to the north gate only on foot or by bicycle.
The houses of Imerinkasinina, shaded by centuries-old fig trees, are built on two terraces. Only two newer constructions stand out from this harmonious ensemble.
From the top of the hill, where a small Protestant temple stands next to the remains of the ancient Rova, the panorama extends to Antananarivo and Antongona to the west, Ambohimanga to the north, Angavokely to the east and Ankaratra to the south.
According to oral tradition, in the 15th century Imerinkasinina ruled Andrianafovaratra, a Vazimba prince who knew how to cut wood with lightning. Despite his supernatural powers, he was defeated by Ralambo in an epic battle combining the cunning and power of royal talismans, and Imerinkasinina was burned and destroyed.
The present inhabitants, about fifty in all, are descendants of Rafotsinivahoaka, the representative of King Andrianampoimerina.
Recreation place or Sunday resort of the Tananarivians, the lake of Mantasoa is 60 km east and two hours by car from Antananarivo via Manjakandriana (15 km of bad slope) or Ambatoloana away. In this green and hilly environment the Frenchman built Jean Laborde in the years 1837-1844 for Ranavalona I an industrial center and a pleasure palace adorned with a zoo.
The blast furnace, the lime kiln, the main building of the factory, which today houses a technical school, are the only remains of the complex, together with the house and the grave of Laborde in the old village of Andrangoloaka.
The rest of the facilities were destroyed in the 1850s or sunk under the waters of the dam built in 1937.
This 2,000 hectare reservoir was built to control the course of the River Ikopa to regulate. The dam that closes it, with a capacity of more than 100 million cubic meters, feeds the hydropower plants Antelomita and Mandraka.
Pretty villas stand among pine and eucalyptus trees on the shores of this vast body of water, ideal for swimming, various water sports and fishing (tilapia, carp, goldfish and black bass).
At Andranomanadala the left fork serves a viewpoint, a chapel and the former state residence, from where you can cross the lake by dugout canoe or motorboat and reach the eastern forest, following the paths used by the boilers of Toaka gasy (rice or cane alcohol, homemade).
The mild climate of Mantasoa makes these walks through marshland and pine forests particularly pleasant. If you want to rent a dugout canoe or use the services of a guide, contact the guards of the surrounding villas.
The first Malagasy industrial center
Since the Ilafy arsenal proved unsuitable for his industrial development projects, Laborde decided to set up his workshops in Mantasoa. He drew the plans of the center in 1837, and the blast furnace that would feed the arsenal was completed in 1841.
The complex produced guns, swords and powder, but also soap, paper, glass, bricks, tiles, paint, tableware...
Jean LABORDE (1806-1878)
This Gascon-born Frenchman, son of a blacksmith and master saddler from Auch, had opened a prosperous mechanical workshop in India when he was shipwrecked on the east coast of Madagascar in 1831.
From a French planter, M de Lastelle, introduced after Ranavalona I, he forged the first Malagasy cannons, carbines and mortars at the request of the queen, winning her confidence.
Together with the Briton James Cameron, he created various industries and built a number of monumental structures, including the Manjakadiana Palace and Indian-inspired tombs. Laborde was able to gain friendships at court and exert a profound influence on Crown Prince Rakoto.
Expelled after the 1857 coup attempt with the shipowner Lambert, he returned to Madagascar in 1861 as France's first consul.
The house of Jean Laborde was built at the same time as the industrial complex. Then there is the grave that he built himself and which he "Soamandrakizay" which means eternal happiness. He has rested there since his death on December 27, 1878. The French industrialist, who was very close to several queens, benefited at his death from a magnificent national funeral organized by Queen Ranavalona II. was organized. Today, these two monuments are a tourist attraction in their own right and are among the most visited in the city.