Faces of Madagascar

A unique blend of African and Asian landscapes and cultures is usually one of the first things recognized by first-time travelers to Madagascar. In the zebu cattle-raising regions of the south and west, for example, the savannas resemble those of East Africa. In the central highlands, however, irrigated and terraced rice fields evoke images of Southeast Asia.

Madagascar has been populated by successive waves of migrants from various corners of the Indian Ocean, each bringing their own customs and beliefs. This cultural melting pot has evolved into an intricate set of beliefs and rituals that revere ancestors’ spirits. For travelers, getting accustomed to the central role that death plays in everyday life is often an opportunity to reassess their own beliefs, and attending a famadihana (traditional exhumation and reburial) or a traditional circumcision ceremony can be the highlight of a trip.

Here are a few of the wonderful faces we encountered on our drive to Ranomafana National Park.

Malagasy children

Stalls along the roadside, selling handmade raffia items...

We bought some toothbrushes for the kids.

This child is making a toy car out of metal and plastic. Very entrepreneurial!

I asked him if he had any for sale...at first he said no then ran back and found me one for my grandson. I paid him seven dollars for it. I think it made his day.