The Ultimate Backpacking Guide To The Capital of Madagascar

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Capital of Madagascar
Image by Brent Ninaber on Unsplash

The capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, or Tana for short is a culture and art hot spot. There are amazing museums and galleries throughout the city that are inexpensive and interesting to visit as a backpacker. There are also several opportunities to observe some of Madagascar’s unique wildlife in zoological and botanical sanctuaries. The capital of Madagascar is an excellent city to start your backpacking adventure through the capital of Madagascar.  It has plenty to offer budget-seeking visitors.

Spending a few days exploring this eclectic city in Africa is also a wonderful way to learn about the cultural and natural history of the massive island. Antananarivo is a city you won’t soon forget! Plus, there are several amazing marketplaces to pick up some authentic souvenirs. It’s a great way to bring a piece of Madagascar back home with you!

Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie

Museum Antananarivo
Image by WikiCommons

Located in the neighborhood of Isoraka, the Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie is a museum filled with both archaeological and ethnographic artifacts. It was established in 1970 and is currently curated by the University of Antananarivo. This is a fascinating museum to visit as you are backpacking the capital of Madagascar. There are over 7,000 objects on display from excavation sites found all around the island. This collection offers a comprehensive representation of Madagascar’s diverse regions and tribes. Visiting this museum is an excellent introduction to the capital of Madagascar’s intriguing cultural history.

Roses et Baobab in The Capital of Madagascar

Roses et Baobab is a collective of 85 local artists. This is an interesting place to wander around as the rooms are filled with all types of unique items ranging from sculptures and woodcarvings to paintings and metalwork. There is an option to donate to the artists who work and display their art at Roses et Baobab. This eclectic gallery offers a window into the creative life of the local Malagasy. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 7 PM and Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and should not be missed on your backpacking trail.

Is’ Art Galerie

Art Madagascar
Image by Is’art Galerie on Facebook

Is’ Art Galerie is the only contemporary art gallery in Antananarivo. The gallery was opened in 1999 to be a workshop and exhibition space dedicated to modern Malagasy paintings, photographs, sculptures, and design. The gallery was actually once a dye shop. The workshop component of Is’ Art Galerie includes classes for local children. Also, it is an important institution for local artists who are trying to grow and promote their work. Many of the pieces you can find in the gallery are also for sale.

Is’ Art Galerie hosts the annual Festival of Urban Arts; a captivating festival that showcases both Malagasy and other African artists. Also, you should check out their events calendar at Antananarivo. This is because there are often concerts, films, performances, and special exhibitions throughout the year.

Analakely Market

Marketplace
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The Analakely Market is a local market that operates seven days a week from 6 AM to 6 PM. This particular market is not geared toward tourists in particular. However, it offers backpackers a colorful insight into local life in Antananarivo. Here you will find fruits, vegetables, and other food items from both Madagascar and other parts of Africa.

Vendors also sell all sorts of little trinkets, fabrics, household items, and homemade wares. Most visitors spend around an hour and a half wandering the rows of vendors. This is a great place to pick up some inexpensive snacks and items to enjoy later.

French Institute of Madagascar

Formerly known as the Albert Camus Cultural Center, the French Institute of Madagascar is a cultural epicenter in Antananarivo. Colonized by France, there is much French history in the Capital of Madagascar. If you are seeking a rich cultural experience, you will definitely find it here. The institute regularly hosts concerts, recitals, plays, and other types of live performances. It also screens documentaries and Indie films. You can even catch a live opera show here. The French Institute curates temporary art exhibits, as well. Make sure to check their events calendar to see what’s showing during your visit to the capital of Madagascar.

Market of Andravoahangy In The Capital of Madagascar

Crafts
Image by reibai on flickr

The Andravoahangy market is the largest arts and crafts market in all of Madagascar! Located just a few kilometers from the Ivato airport, this market is a must-visit when you are backpacking through the capital of Madagascar. The market is lined on both sides with hundreds of vendors selling local and handmade goods. You will find wooden masks, jewelry, precious stones, metal sculptures, magnets, paintings, t-shirts, bags, spices, and decorative art, among many other one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Even if you aren’t interested in buying anything, strolling through this market is a wonderfully stimulating activity to do in Antananarivo. It is customary to bargain here, so you can get some amazing handcrafts for a very affordable and fair price. The market is open every day from 8:30 AM to 5 PM.

Parc de Tsarasaotra

Birds Madagascar
Image by Frank Vassen on flickr

Parc de Tsarasaotra translates to “a good place to live”. It is a tiny bird sanctuary just four kilometers to the north from the center of the city. Only a quarter of a square kilometer in size, this park has two small lakes; home to fourteen endangered species of birds that only live in Madagascar. However, it’s also home to several other commonly seen bird species. If you are a bird-loving backpacker or just looking for some peaceful green space amid the bustling city, Parc de Tsarasaotra is a lovely place to visit.

Here, you can spot and photograph birds. These birds include Meller’s duck, Madagascan Grebe, Madagascar kingfisher, squacco heron, red-billed teal, white-faced whistling duck, knob-billed duck, and the drongo. The park is privately owned and costs 15,000 aviary or around five euros to enter. This beautiful little park is open Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 6 PM. This is a perfect park to enjoy a picnic in, as well.

Parc de Lémuriens á Madagascar

 Madagascar Lemur
Image by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

The lemur is undoubtedly the most iconic species in Madagascar. There are currently 36 different types of lemurs that live on the island. Unfortunately, due to deforestation and overhunting, many species of lemurs are critically endangered in Madagascar. These charismatic and diverse mammals are cousins of monkeys but are like no other animal you have ever observed. The Parc de Lémuriens a Madagascar is located 25-kilometers from the center of the city. It’s definitely a place worth visiting while you are backpacking around Antananarivo.

This park is home to seven species of lemurs, dozens of species of endemic birds, chameleons, and turtles. Along with this wildlife, there are hundreds of Malagasy plant species. The park is dedicated to the care and survival of these incredible animals. Visiting this enchanting park is rated #1 by backpackers for things to do while in the capital of Madagascar. Additionally, the park has received an Award for Excellence.

It’s open every day of the week from 8:30 AM to 5 PM, but ticket sales end at 4 PM. While on your walk through the park, you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable naturalist. With this naturalist, you will have the chance to learn about the lemurs and unique flora and fauna in Madagascar.

Croc Farm

Crocs Madagascar
Image by Tambako The Jaguar on flickr

Croc Farm is one of the most visited and privately-owned parks in Madagascar. Conveniently located just 10-minutes from the Ivato Airport, this botanical and zoological sanctuary is home to monstrous Nile crocodiles. These ancient beasts are absolutely fascinating to observe! If possible, you should try planning your visit on Monday, Wednesday, or Sunday around 1 PM. This way, you can catch the crocodile feeding times. While the crocodiles are the main attraction, Croc Farm is also home to eighty other animal species. This includes lemurs and the world’s tiniest chameleon.

During your guided tour of the Croc Farm, you will also learn about the significant threats that the wild crocodiles in Madagascar face. This particular farm raises the crocs for their meat and leather. This then also helps to take the pressure off the last remaining wild population. There is also a restaurant on-site where you can try a croc burger. But, don’t worry, there are also croc-free and vegetarian options available.

Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

Chameleon Madagascar
Image by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

If you have time for a day trip during your backpacking journey around the capital of Madagascar, you must venture to the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Located around three and half hours from Antananarivo, this national park is bursting with wildlife and plant life. Its most famous resident is Madagascar’s largest lemur, the Indri; also critically endangered. You will also find thirteen other species of lemurs, hundreds of species of birds, and fifty species of reptiles. This includes the largest chameleon species on the island!

Many tour guides speak fluent English and can share with you the vast wonders of this glorious national park. The humid primary forest is also home to hundreds of species of orchids; and many of which bloom between September and January. Purchase a day pass to the park and explore this lush and lively protected area.

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