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Full day hike with lunch in Betsileo farmers home

About 10mn of car ride to get to the starting point then around three and a half hours of easy walk through Betsileo villages and rice fields …

As traditional rice farmers, the Betsileo tribe which is the third largest tribe of Madagascar spends most of their time in the rice fields. The Betsileo are among the main rice producers of the country. By walking through a typical Betsileo landscape of terraced rice fields, discover the cultural side of the rice farming step by step on a pleasant and varied circuit.

From the cathedral located in the upper town of Fianarantsoa, we will start in the direction of a viewpoint. After about 1 km, we will turn right on a track that leads to the viewpoint. After a little ascent overlooking the city of Fianarantsoa for about 1.5 km, you will reach a pass from where you can enjoy a splendid view of the valley below. This first part can be done either by walking or by driving, depending on the ability of participants.

From this pass, the descent to the bottom of the valley starts through a Eucalyptus reforestation. At the end of this forest, the path carries on to a more open landscape that will lead you to a Betsileo village and its friendly and smiling inhabitants. Then, further down, the area of rice fields begins that you will cross by balancing on narrow borders surrounded by water. A bit more walking and you will arrive at the wine estate of Antsahamasina. After passing the wine estate, you will cross a bridge over the Mandranofotsy River, which during the cyclone season can carry pretty impressive quantities of water. Continuing to the other side of the valley through forests, fields, terraced rice fields and traditional villages, you will probably have a chance to see a man, a woman or children coating the house with a mixture of mud, sand and zebu dung, braiding hair, weaving mats and hats or preparing mud bricks for constructions. There are always plenty of things to do in the village, even after harvesting rice, which is the most important event of year. The Betsileo culture is rich in traditions and life style. Every important period of a person's life is accompanied by traditional ceremonies that create strong ties in the social life of the Betsileo community. The walk continues through more rice fields which are wet especially during the rainy season. You will walk again on those little walls between the fields. Walking here requires either a lot of balancing and attention, or, if you are worried about your shoes, you can take them off for a foot bath in the clay. A little further up, in the village of Agnasana at the base of Vatosola rockface, Ratsimbazafy Dieu Donné, Raharimanana Philomène and their family are happy to welcome you in their middle to share a typical simple Betsileo lunch with rice in their humble home. This is also an excellent opportunity to share a memorable moment with them.

Come on! Your path does not stop here; the Betsileo villages still have many secrets to discover! After lunch, you will leave this joyful family to continue your hike. The hike will carry on through rice fields, villages and eucalyptus forests on the same path that children from remote villages are taking every day to go to school. This is what living in the countryside means! Finally, the hike is ending in the popular street of Ankidona, at the southern side of the city. Back to civilisation!

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