Ambalavao (New Valley) is one of the most beautiful towns in the hauts plateaux. The brightly painted buildings of the main street look a bit like gingerbread houses with their steeply tiled roofs and carved, weathered wooden balconies. Outside, women sit in the clear highland sunlight, spinning silk or kneading dough, little raffia hats perched on their heads and blankets around their shoulders. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, the town plays host to the largest zebu market in the country, with tough, wizened herdsmen walking from as far away as Toliara to sell their cattle.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Parc National d’Andringitra office (
If you’re looking for gifts made from wild silk and a chance to visit a silk workshop look for a shop called Nathocéane on the main street.