Vatosola: a Return to the Past

Vatosola, (pronounced "vatousoula"), literally "bald mountain", is one of the famous sites of Fianarantsoa. At the foot of this mountain is a village with traditional Betsileo houses, named after the tribe inhabiting this part of the island. The city of Fianarantsoa, capital of the Haute Matsiatra region, constitutes an essential stop on the "southern route". The village Betsileo is within walking distance from Fianarantsoa. For this four hour tour it's better to take a guide. The exploration begins with the ascent of "endless" staircases, which will lead you to a great view point above the city.
You continue walking on small forest roads to the other side of the mountain. From there you can see the Vatosola Mountain. Time for a break, or you can visit the vineyard EKAR Antsahamasina, then proceed downhill to the village in the valley. Lunch will be taken among the locals, seasoned "Betsileo-style" where you can even stay overnight. During this visit you can discover the interior of an authentic house made of bricks and earth. These buildings usually contain two levels: on the ground floor, the hen house, on the first floor the rooms and, last but not least, a kitchen under the roof. The return trip can be done by foot or by bus back to downtown Fianarantsoa.
This article was featured in Prime Magazine August 2018

Useful Information

When to go

The climate in Fianarantsoa is warm and temperate. You can go most months, except between February and April, the cyclone season.

How to get there

By car, it's a six hour drive to Fianarantsoa from Antananarivo. To access the village you can take the bus or rent a car – or enjoy a four hour walk as described.

Where to stay

At the Hotel Soafia, located in the heart of the city of Fianarantsoa. Or book a room at Zomatel, Soratel, in the guest rooms of Villa Sylvestre or at Cotsoyannis.

Where to eat

Tsara Guest House Restaurant offers European specialties, while La Surprise Betsileo Restaurant serves typical Malagasy dishes. At Lac Hotel, the chef's specialty is wild duck hunted by the owner himself. Also try Little Food or the Golden Dragon.

What to see

During your trip to Fianarantsoa, ​​do not forget to visit the old town, the statue of the Blessed Virgin, one of the historical monuments of the city (magnificent view). Also have a look at the talented creations of the Fianarois craftsmen.