Markets of Tana

I love visiting markets. Not the touristy ones that sell cheap souvenirs and overpriced snacks; the ones where the locals go to get everything from food to screws and anything in-between! I love the colours and smells of markets, the hustle and bustle and the raw energy. You can learn so much about a country and its people by going to the locals markets; by observing, engaging and trying some of the local food and drink.

In places where I can get by with English, I often venture out on my own together with the hubby (provided that the we have established that it is safe to do so). But in countries where English is not widely spoken (as is the case in Madagascar), we try to find a local guide to take us. Not only can a guide explain more about what you are seeing and facilitate a conversation with the people you meet, but they can also show you markets in areas that you might not find by yourself.

I love taking photos at markets; everything is just so photogenic! However, it is always important to ask permission first. I never pay for photographs, but I often buy something from the vendor (even if I end up giving it away later). Buying something often also helps to make people open up, and have a conversation with you. Once you get people talking, it’s amazing how much you can learn about everyday life in the destination! Usually, I ask about their family, where they live, whether they grow/make their own products and often I end up getting whole life stories.

These are some of the pics I took during a visit to Antananarivo together with a great local guide. He was a little reluctant at first to venture deep into the local markets (being used to just taking tourists to the souvenir places), but in the end he even took us to his own neighbourhood one, far away from the city centre. We chatted to the butchers, fruit sellers and a lady selling live animals (anything from geese to guinea pigs – and no, they were not intended to be pets she told us, giggling, when I asked).


Tana is a sprawling city, climbing over several hills and surrounded by rice paddies


You’ll find small markets throughout the city, but the biggest one is in the centre of town spread over many blocks, each part with its own speciality (food, clothes, hardware, second hand books and anything else you can think of)


Some people ask to be photographed (like the guy with the baskets), while others strike a serious pose when asked if a pic is ok.



Some people are ok for you to photograph, as long as their face is not in the pic. Street scenes can also be fun, and are much less intrusive.

Market Tana

I just can’t get enough of all the impressions at a market!


You will learn a lot about what the locals eat


Maybe you’ll even want to be brave and try some! I skipped the green stuff, but rather enjoyed the deep fried dough balls.


This loaf, made with dried fruit, nuts and molasses (which in many places would be called “raw” something and cost a small fortune) was not to my taste, so I gave it to a couple of kids. Chilis are great to take (smuggle) home!


Going to the market will stimulate all senses, not least smell…


Some local habits might feel a little uncomfortable, but remember that you are the visitor and this is their normal.



One response to “Markets of Tana

  1. I love visiting the markets locals go to as well. Even if I don’t have a kitchen where I’m staying, it’s interesting to see how fresh the food is and how different it is.

    When photographing locals, it’s just best to be very respectful. I often found those who were most enthusiastic for a picture would ask for money afterwards!

    This post would make a great addition to Our Growing Edge, a monthly blog link up just for new food adventures. It’s a fun way to share your new food experiences with other foodies. This month’s theme is TRAVEL which includes any recipe or food experience inspired by travel.

    More info including how to submit your link here:

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