Madagascar: the Itasy region and its tourist attractions

Le village d'Ampefy à Madagascar

Madagascar’s Itasy region alone is well worth a visit to the Red Island. Focus on what to see in this region.

The Itasy region is the leading tourist destination in the Malagasy highlands. It owes its name to Madagascar’s third-largest lake. Itasy is renowned as a geodesic, fertile and fish-filled place, home to the famous « baraoa », king carp and trout. Idyllic spots abound in the vicinity of Lake Itasy. Let’s talk about them.

Lake Itasy as a tourist destination

Itasy is Madagascar’s third-largest lake, with a surface area of around 35 km². It was created by recurring volcanic fields and lava flows. The surrounding mountainsides are home to a thousand and one pure and hot springs. At the bottom of this immense lake live a variety of fish species for which the region is famous. Tilapia, baraoa, king carp and trout are caught by the locals using traditional methods, either with rods or nets. This region is the capital’s main source of freshwater fish.

Lac d'Itasy, Madagascar

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Right in the middle of this beautiful, fish-filled lake are two small peninsulas for strolling. Atop the sacred islet stands a statue of the Virgin Mary. She seems to reign over the water and the winds. As for the wooded islet, it houses royal tombs, including that of Andriandahifotsy, an ancient king whose wisdom and temerity have made him the talk of the town.

You can take a trip around Lake Itasy in a traditional pirogue or motor canoe to admire the surrounding scenery, or head for Ampefy, a tourist destination.

Ampefy and its tourist attractions

Le village d'Ampefy à Madagascar

Photo credit: Le guide du voyageur à Madagascar

On the RN1, before arriving at Lake Itasy, visitors shouldn’t miss Ampefy. Ampefy is a tourist village with a national reputation. Charming hotels, lodges and bed & breakfasts make their home in this small hamlet of a few thousand inhabitants. Ampefy’s main attraction is Lake Kavitaha, which takes the form of a basin. It is surrounded by lush green vegetation. A hotel-restaurant of the same name overlooks the pure, calm waters of Kavitaha. While you’re in Ampefy, don’t forget to order the succulent baraoa, fried or grilled, surrounded by a nest of watercress and beautiful slices of tomato. To finish the meal, eat as much papaya or avocado as you like, which are sold at very low prices in the region.

To escape the pollution of Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo for a day or two, nothing beats a trip to the Itasy region. This geodesic region of the island encompasses a number of splendid tourist destinations that rival each other in beauty.

Analavory, the rallying point for Itasy travelers

Analavory is a noisy, dynamic village where the RN1 and RN43 cross. It is 140 km from Antananarivo, and most of the taxi-brousse coming from the small towns of the Itasy and Bongolava regions stop here before continuing on their way.

From Antananarivo, take the RN1, a wide and beautiful asphalt road. After 140 km, you’ll reach Analavory. If you continue straight on, you’ll be sure to land at the Analavory geysers, some 20 km away.

Analavory geysers

Geyser d'Analavory, Madagascar

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Sangitiana Fararano

The Analavory geysers are true havens of peace and relaxation. This tourist site in the middle of nowhere is the meeting point for people seeking virtually free spa treatments. As if by miracle, hot springs emerge from the depths of the earth, side by side. Some resemble extraordinarily shaped fountains. Others have wells built around them, pouring thermal waters into small shelters in the shape of natural bathtubs surrounded by golden sand.

Access to the site requires no formalities or admission tickets. To avoid the crowds, visit this dream site in the morning or on working days. After a short or long soak in the thermal waters, retrace your steps to take the RN 43. Other dream destinations await you.

The RN 43 and its dream destinations

RN 43 Madagascar

Photo credit: Blog de Rasamy

Starting out from Analavory, you’ll come across picturesque houses and villages that boast the authenticity of Malagasy architecture. They are surrounded by a thousand and one agricultural products, which are the mainstay of the local population’s activities. Fields of corn, cassava, beans, tomatoes and peanuts rub shoulders with rice paddies and papaya plantations. This nest of greenery covers most of the plains and mountainsides of the Itasy region. Here and there, mango, banana and avocado trees provide the ideal backdrop for a complete change of scenery.

After about ten kilometers, you’ll see a sign on your right indicating a winding road leading to the Lily Falls. To your left, a large stone wall begins, enclosing an idyllic spot known as « le domaine de l’eucalyptus », another vacation destination full of surprises.