The geysers nearby Ampefy

There is an unusual place about 125 km west of Antananarivo near the small town of Ampefy: there you can see the only geysers of Madagascar. To get there you have to drive to Analavory, a town near Lake Itasy. From here you can reach Andranomandraotra, the place of the four geysers, over 12 km offroad track.

However, the geysers of Andranomandraotra keep a secret: there is no volcanic activity in the soil below these geysers, and the water that bubbles out of them is cold or at most lukewarm. For in fact, the place was created by man: Nearby are some aragonite and other mineral mines. The draining of the mines causes wastewater that is conducted to the river in metal pipes. This water has a high carbonic acid content and dissolves iron and lime from the pipes on its way. Under pressure it finally reaches the mouth of the pipes in Andranomandraotra, where the water finally bubbles to the surface like a small geyser. In addition, a kind of limestone precipitates. This was gradually deposited around the mouth of the pipes, and over time formed today’s geysers. It is called travertine, which shines yellow and red in the sun, and is known from other artificial geysers in the world. Since the mines are still active today and water still runs out of the pipes, the travertine hills continue to grow steadily.

From time to time, the pipes to the geysers are clogged with lime. Then only a little water flows out of one of the holes in the ground and then suddenly shoots up into the air with force for several metres when the pressure of the flowing water loosens the lime plug. This looks like a “real” geyser, but is rarely observed. Nevertheless, the cold water geysers at Ampefy are worth a visit, and many photographers have already used the shining travertine stone as a motif.

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