Ambondrombe is a mountain located in the commune of Ambohimahamasina, district of Ambalavao Tsienimparihy, in the region of Matsiatra Ambony. The town of Ambalavao is 35 miles (National Road RN7) South of Fianarantsoa, itself 250 miles South South East of Antananarivo. Once in Ambalavao, heading East, following a dirt road for about 25 miles, it will lead to Ambohimahamasina after several hours, depending on the type of ride.
The particularity of Ambondrombe is that people believe the top of the mountain is inhabited by the spirits of the dead. Villagers living in the area assert that in the night the hear noise coming from the mountain: people singing and shouting, children playing, drums, flute, roosters crowing, cows mooing, … People in this region do not build graves, they bury the dead in a cave under a rock. Some of them have a particular gift of detecting, without any tool or some sort of technology, the hollow part under a rock, and they know exactly where to dig to access the cave.
Latimer Rangers, 74, known to be the journalist who has travelled across Madagascar the most, tried to bust the myth of Andrombombe by climbing to the top of the mountain with the help of local villagers and record the noise. He climbed the mountain in 1970 and here is what he recalled (transalated from https://mcmparis.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/ambondrombe-latimer-rangers/):
“After confirming that there are night time noises in the mountain, as related by the people in the market of Ambalavao, the mayor of Ambohimahamasina adds that there is also a big lake boarded by ‘vondrona’ (a type of reed) at the top of the mountain.” Vondrona is probably the origin of the name Ambondrombe. “There were some local villagers who led the way and helped my carry my luggage. The plan that I had in mind was to spend the night at the top of Ambondrombe to record the noise from the spirits so that I could broadcast it on the national radio.” His helpers however did not want to spend the night at the top of the mountain because they were scared and so, they stopped walking at around 3:00PM.
“At night fall, I decided to stay awake because I was ready to wait for what would happen during this unique night. Indeed, at around 10:00PM, echoes of drums started. I have recorded that drums’ sound of unknown origin.” At around 11:00PM “a bull mooing with people shouting, like calling, were heard echoing not far from our camp.” At 6:00AM, they started to move to go to the top of Ambondrombe because his guides never accepted to spend the night there. “Little birds sung altogether form the top of the trees ; they sounded like cicadas. But it was amazing we could not see them nor could we tell on which trees they exactly were.…When we reached the top, I wanted to see the lake boarded by the vondrona as related by the mayor of Ambohimahamasina. However, my guides did not want to take me to the lake because they said there are some rituals to do before one can go there. In fact, all they wanted to do was to go back because they did not want to spend the night in Ambondrombe.”
While Latimer Rangers tried to have some proofs, some stories simply tell that the lake is blue deep and there is a golden monument in the middle of it. The monument is 12 faceted and it is forbidden to look at some of its angles because it may kill or drive crazy those who dare to do so.
Ambondrombe is often times foggy and is covered by a dense forest which is preserved thanks to the sacred and mystic character of the place. It is one of the rare location in Madagascar where the forest is still untouched.
Ambondrombe is just one of the mysterious places in Madagasacr. Superstition, supernatural, paranormal activities, or scientifically explainable facts? We cannot tell. We just inform.