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Central Plateau

Why visit the Central Highlands?

The central region of Madagascar stretches for over 1,000km and comprises a large plateau interspersed with hills, mountains, rivers, rice paddies and large lakes.  Towns such as Anstirabe, Ambositra and Ambalavao offer fascinating glimpses into the culture and history of Madagascar. The rural landscape is spectacular.
Reasons to visit the Central Highlands include:

  • Bask in the thermal springs in the spa town of Anstirabe, or take a rickshaw ride along its wide boulevards or perhaps make a purchase at one of the many craft workshops
  • Visit Antsirabe’s weekly Sabotsy market and then make the short trek to the top of Ivohitra hill to get a panoramic view of the region. 
  • Shop for gemstones or semi-precious stones, mined in the hills around Anstirabe, or buy one of the hand-embroidered tablecloths on offer. 
  • Visit Ambositra, the centre of the country’s wood carving industry, and characterised by houses with intricately carved balconies and shutters. 
  • Buy carvings from Ambositra’s Saturday market or from the small workshops throughout the town. 
  • Go hiking in the hills around Ambositra, or camp near the Andrimamovoka Falls.
  • Explore the tapia-tree forest of Andohariana, home to masses of orchids and to ancient tombstones. 
  • From July to September you can see the Famadihana (”˜the turning of the bones’) exhumation celebrations. 
  • Enjoy the brightly painted buildings and carved balconies of Ambalavao, the setting for the country’s biggest zebu market, where cattle are traded each Wednesday. 
  • Visit Ambavalao’s Antaimoro paper factory and see paper produced by hand from bark, then impregnated with flowers and leaves, or buy scarves from the Soalandy Silk Workshop
  • Watch out for ring-tailed lemurs in Anja Park private reserve, which is also the location of ancient tombs.

When to go to the Central Highlands

Because of the altitude, temperatures tend not to be so hot as on the coast, and it can be cold at night. The hottest ”“ and wettest ”“ period is from November to April and, as with any visit to Madagascar, the cyclone season (January ”“ April) is not recommended.

How to do it

It is possible to fly between Antanananrivo and Antsirabe to cut down on driving time, however the driving is on main roads and affords the opportunity to see more of the countryside, so it's really down to budget and time.

Where to stay in the Central Highlands

There are some lovely options in the towns of this area, from guest houses to small hotels. Coleur Cafe offers peace and quiet in your won private bungalow set amidst beautiful gardens in Antsirabe. La Varangue Betsileo is a delightful family run hotel with a quirky swimming pool in the shape of Madagascar. Let our consultants know what you are looking for and they can recommend the perfect fit.

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Central Plateau accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT +3 hours

Flight time:

Flights from Europe to Madagascar take about 10/11 hours.

Language: Malagasy and French are Madagascar's official languages. English or German is spoken by a municipal workers and guides.A basic working knowledge of French will make communication easier.


Most nationalities require a Madagascar visa, obtainable from the High Commission in London (or on arrival into International Airport.


Malaria is present in most of the country. No vaccinations are compulsory.



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