Not only is Madagascar rich in biodiversity, it is also rich in cultural diversity. This island of around 20 million people forms a single nation, but there are 18 different “ethnic” groups that are different in the way they treat their dead, in their clothes, traditional music, and in many other details of their way of life. All Malagasy people speak Malagasy, but there are at least 18 regional variations that almost sound like different languages. In some places, families dig their ancestors’ corpses from their tomb to dance with them for a while, then rewrap them and inter them again. Many people still live like 100 (or even 1000!) years ago, with no electricity or running water. With a cultural tour, we hope to help you discover and understand a country that is very different from where you live… poor in material things but rich in others.
Few visitors opt for a purely cultural tour, but rather for a mix of wildlife, culture, and relaxation. However, for visitors keen to experience the islands top cultural sites, the following are highly recommended:
Antananarivo, or “Tana” for short, offers some of the best historical sites of Madagascar. The best places are the Rova of Analamanga with the Queen’s Palace and the former Prime Minister’s palace; the World Heritage Site Rova Ambohimanga and other sacred hills; a small archeological museum; and a small natural history museum at Tsimbazaza zoo.
The Antsirabe and Ambositra area is well known for still practicing the Famadihana ceremony, the “turning of the bones” or “returning of the dead” ceremony.
Other interesting cultural sites include the Canal des Pangalanes, the train linking Manakara and Fianarantsoa, and the Ankarana caves in the North where the Antakarana people used to bury their dead. Every year, there is a music Festival on Nosy Be that includes traditional Antakarana and Sakalava processions.