Chaotic and fascinating mix of shanty-town with French-colonial architecture.
Tana, (the nickname for the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo), is a brightly coloured melange of French colonial architecture, multi-storied houses and narrow alleys. It is located almost in the centre of Madagascar in the central Highlands at an altitude of 1,280 m (4,200ft). Given its altitude, it has a mild climate.
Antananarivo sprawls over these rolling central highlands surrounded by fields of rice paddies. It’s a city with unique architecture, romantic charm and bustling streets. Indeed Tana must have been a beautiful city at one time. But today the city is quite often a shock to many first time visitors. With throngs of people, buildings in a state of decay, street urchins and hectic traffic in a warren of streets. Everywhere the narrow cobblestone streets are packed with houses. And steep stone staircases linking one street to another.
Traders line each street with the array of merchandise on offer in the stalls. And the markets are in a class of their own. With Malagasy embroidery, semi-precious stones and all sorts of wares jumbled up together.
Activities on offer include a historic tour of the Old City, market visits and perhaps an excursion to one of the chocolatiers in the city?
You’ll usually need to stay in a Tana hotel for at least two nights, during your Madagascar safari. (As domestic flights are prone to schedule changes so it is best to be close to the airport before a flight.) We recommend spending at least one night in the city centre as it is a truly fascinating sight. And perhaps one night in the upper old town with its panoramic views?
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Lokanga Boutique Hotel was my favourite hotel in Tana by quite a margin. It lies high above the city, a stone’s throw from the Queens Palace. It’s a traditional Tana house – brick built with lots of wooden floorboards, shutters and steep stairs. The view from the terrace is superb and you enjoy the sense of being above and away from the considerable bustle of the city.
However what really makes Lokanga Hotel stand out is their attention to detail and very friendly personal service with a welcome drink of your choice on arrival, a variety of suggested walking tours of the city with printed maps, delicious food on offer to suit all palates, including children’s options (a relative rarity in Madagascar).
The rooms are all individually furnished in period style. If you want a contemporary décor, look elsewhere. The most popular room has a bath in the bedroom so ideal for honeymoon couples but not for the more reticent. We had the Rose room on the top floor which was spacious and charming and quite a workout up the steep stairs.