Located 170 km from Antananarivo, Antsirabe is a must stop for those wishing to discover the south and west of Madagascar. One of the largest cities in Madagascar, Antsirabe is one of the most European with its avenues and tree-lined streets also stands out thanks to the different buildings left by the French during their occupation.
History of Antsirabe
Over 200 years ago, rock salt was exploited in these areas and it is from this trade that the city takes the name of Antsirabe, literally “where there is much salt”. However, there are many people who think that the name of the city derives from the fact that its many thermal waters are salty. It was in 1869 that concrete constructions appeared for the first time, but also that the exploitation of the thermal waters began on the initiative of the Norwegian shepherd Borgen.
The real works began during the colonial period in 1903, under the governorate of Galliéni, when the French decided to make it a high-rise resort. The Hôtel des Thermes, the flagship of the hotel industry in the Vakinankaratra region, was once the residence of the king of Morocco, then in exile (in 1953) before returning to Morocco in 1955. Antsirabe was also the holiday destination of the first president of the Republic of Madagascar, Philibert Tsiranana.
Antsirabe today is also known for the most prestigious military academy in the country. Many vestiges of the colonial era still remain today, in particular the thermal baths, the colonnaded houses, the post office, the gardens and above all the railway station.
What to see in Antsirabe
One cannot fail to visit Antsirabe in pousse pousse (rickshaw), putting aside the embarrassment of being towed by another human being as it was done centuries ago. We would like to clarify that a trip by pousse pousse for a tourist costs around 10/15000 ariary while a trip of 2 or 3 km for a local does not exceed 1000 ariary. In pousse pousse you will surely discover local traditions such as silk processing, the making of real zebu horn into incredible souvenirs and the semi precious stones market. Do not miss the largest general market in Madagascar outside Antananarivo.
Antsirabe is located in a volcanic area, the spas are proof of this and we cannot fail to mention Lake Andraikiba and the sacred Lake Tritriva both of volcanic origin, located to the west on the national RN34. Andraikiba is located a few meters from the RN34 while Tritriva is approx. 15 km of very dusty secondary road. Many love to visit this area on bicycle (between 60km round trip) to spend a beautiful day immersed in the typical countryside of Madagascar, among rice fields, zebus and very characteristic landscapes. By car, allow approx. 3 hours for the visit of Andraikiba and Tritriva. At approx. 20 km, always towards the west, we find Betafo, a small town, perfect for starting splendid walks among natural pools, waterfalls and enchanting landscapes.
South of Antsirabe, at about 10 km, we find Mt. Ibity. In addition to making splendid walks to 2000 meters asl, trekking lovers and lovers of geology and precious stones will be able to see different areas of excavations, real open-air mines. You will certainly see the locals at work.