Ambositra is the capital of the country Betsileo. It is located 90 km south of Antsirabe after the mountain range of Ankaratra. The city is the capital of the region Amoron'i Mania and a stop is needed to appreciate all its riches. From its height of 1350 meters, the city has a typical landscape of the Highlands: rice terraces, eucalyptus forests, fields as far as the eye can see ... The landscape is also embellished by the domination of the red color that we find a little everywhere in the locality. Traditional houses made of red earth and topped with thatched roofs give a touch of warmth and liveliness to the city. The contrast between the red of the earth, the blue of the sky and the green of the rice fields is simply seductive.
The city of Ambositra is distinct from the others, especially in the cultural sphere. A trip to this area will transport you to the heart of the largest craft center in Madagascar. The city occupies a place of honor in terms of crafts. Formerly called "the city of roses", Ambositra has used its forest resources to make a name for itself in the field of Malagasy marquetry. Moreover, the know-how of craftsmen is visible in the first place in the city center where the balconies of the houses are carved with finesse.
Stalls of carved wooden objects strew every corner of the city: statuettes, spears, boxes and many more are on offer. The main authors of these works are Zafimaniry. These talented sculptors live mostly in the village of Antoetra, a few kilometers from Ambositra. A small detour on this side of the region is a step not to be missed to appreciate more closely the art Zafimaniry, present everywhere in the country. Even en route, one can observe the beauty of the wooden sculptures surmounting the tombs.
Going to discover the villages of Zafimaniry is a whole new experience to live. The decor so different that it feels like going back in time. The visit of these isolated villages, lost between the mountains, will plunge you into an ancestral landscape, really traditional. Carved precious wood adorns houses made partly of vegetable fibers.
The craftsmanship of craftsmen in marquetry is a traditional culture, transmitted from generation to generation. The style "Zafimaniry" is remarkable and original by its geometric forms, finesse and quality of achievements. The presence of many artists in the Ambositra region is mainly due to the existence of primary forest on this side of the island. Indeed, the Tanala ethnic group, the main exploiter of the forest, uses its resources of rosewood, ebony and rosewood while respecting nature. This ethnic group is the essential supplier of craftsmen throughout the region in precious wood.
The lovers of Malagasy art will find in Ambositra a real cave of Ali Baba. This is the ideal place to get souvenirs of the big island, decorative objects because the choice is very wide and the quality at the rendezvous: masks, chairs, boxes, kitchen utensils, etc. Precious wood is not the only material worked by local artisans. Items in horn zebu completely unpublished are also part of the lot: jewelry, decorative objects, dishes, ...
The colorful market of Anjoma-Akona which is held every Friday in the village of the same name is the place where one takes pleasure to do his shopping. As everywhere else in the region, craftsmanship is well represented: baskets, mats, pottery, etc., are exhibited. Moreover, a passage in the heart of the village of Soatanana allows to admire the manufacture of natural silk fabrics. The village is also renowned in this area and we have the opportunity to visit nice traditional workshops.
Apart from handicrafts, the "Famadihana" is also a tradition that makes the reputation of Ambositra. The region is indeed ideal to attend this ritual practiced in August and September. It is a ceremony of turning the dead, a symbolic act performed by the descendants of the deceased. During the period of Famadihana, the region is very lively and dynamic. The ceremony is the subject of great festivities that can last several days: dance, local culinary specialties and entertainment by "mpihira gasy" are on the program. Sometimes, the event is accompanied by a show called "savika", a traditional sport in which rather daring people try to tame raging bulls.
The surroundings of Ambositra are also of exceptional beauty, to be explored for a well-enriched stay. An hour's walk from the city, the panorama opens onto the beautiful waterfall Andriamamovoka, considered a place of purification by the local population. The place is even suitable for a small campsite or fishing.
Further exploration of nature is to be considered about thirty kilometers southwest of the city. The tapias forest of Andohariana is an enchanting place where tapias grow alongside aloes, orchids and medicinal plants. Nearby, geysers, tombs with ancestral architecture, granite mines, ... beautify the site.
A trip to the Royal Palace of the last King Mpanalina, 6 km from the city, is interesting to learn more about the history of the Betsileo ethnic group. In the surroundings, some sites also deserve a stop. A short trip to the summit of Mount Antety, at an altitude of 864 m, allows you to enjoy the city in all its splendor. A detour into the Brotherhood of Analabe Brothers is recommended for those seeking tranquility. Beautiful gardens and fish ponds enliven the site and provide a real moment of serenity.
Ambositra is a city full of surprises where cultural discovery will be the main theme of the trip. The visit of artisan villages, the discovery of local know-how, excursions to picturesque sites are all reasons that make the charm of the destination of Ambositra.