Our advice to first-time travellers to Madagascar is to go on our 1000 Views of Madagascar tour. As the name suggests, the tour has been created in such a way that it visits many of the small towns and villages in the rural landscapes of the island, and allows travellers a glimpse into the many unique cultural activities that are definitely not found in your travel guide! Browse our list of favourite activities that give you a glimpse into the wonderful lives of the Malagasy people on the “1000 Views” experience.
Tucked away between Antananarivo and Antsirabe lies the small city of Ambatolampy. It’s here where you can find a traditional aluminium foundry. Visitors are treated to a live demonstration of aluminium smelting – and how they produce cooking pots and other objects. As this is not an official tour, visitors are advised to buy something after the 30-minute demonstration.
South of the capital Tana, the city of Antisirabe hides a tiny, little secret! Quite literally, the Miniature Studio is something for the entire family. The studio uses recycled materials to create miniature bicycles, cars, and rickshaws. Visitors can watch a live demonstration of the studio employees making a miniature bicycle.
Please note: We encourage you to buy a souvenir after the free demonstration to support this lovely initiative. What on earth is a zebu, you may ask? Zebu is the breed of cattle found in Madagascar – just look out for the Zebu steak on your hotel menu! They have humped backs and longhorns. If you’d like to learn all about these slow-moving but majestic animals then you will enjoy the Zebu Horn Workshop.
At the workshop, employees create decorative ornaments, cutlery, and other artworks from zebu horn. Far more interesting than it sounds, visitors are treated to a live demonstration of the creation of a decorative spoon! There is no charge for the demonstration but visitors are encouraged to buy a little something from the handcrafts studio.
A Visit To The GemStone Factory
Madagascar is rich in semi-precious gemstones like amethyst and quartz. If you love sparkly things, make a stop at the GemStone Factory. Not only is it interesting, but it can be highly lucrative as well as you get to search for your own favourite gems in the scratch patch. The tour starts out with a visit to watch how semi-precious stones are cut and polished, and with the opportunity to find your own semi-precious stone in the scratch patch.
Going Back To Your Roots At The Paper Making Factory
Hidden away in the small town of Anbalavao is the famous Anteimoro paper factory. It’s here that you can watch the ancient art of paper being made by hand. Papermaking is a tradition in Madagascar that hails back to the 8th century. Made from the endemic bush “havoha”, the paper is then decorated with local flowers and leaves in beautiful swirling and decorative designs. Then the paper is left in the sun to dry before being crafted into notebooks, letter sets, and lampshades. Note: Anteimoro is the perfect place to buy your loved ones something special from Madagascar!
See How Scarves Are Made At The Silk Weaving Studio
The Malagasy people have hand-loomed silk cloth for centuries, and the delicate fabric was originally used for traditional ceremonies. Nowadays, you can visit the Silk Weaving Studio in Anbalavao that uses the same techniques as was used hundreds of years ago. The process is time-consuming: first, the picking silk is collected from wild silk cocoons, then it’s boiled, washed, dried, and spun by hand. Then, the silk is dyed using either natural or synthetic dyes. And only then is it spun into stunning shawls and scarves. Not only is it a fascinating process to watch, but it will also make you think twice about the silk items in your closet back home.