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Fianarantsoa, commonly known as Fianar, is the intellectual centre of Madagascar, befitting its Malagasy name of "place of good education". It's spread over a hillside so be prepared for dealing with plenty of steps, especially if you need to visit the ATMs in the New Town. Though there is little to see in Fianar itself, it's an obvious base for visiting Ranomafana National Park and Ambalavao, and will be a waypoint for anyone heading for Antananarivo from the south. The train ride to and from Manakara on the coast is also popular with tourists.
A taxi-brousse between Fianar and Ambalavao takes about 1 hour 15 minutes and costs Ar3,000.
A taxi-brousse between Fianar and Ranomafana National Park takes about 2 hours and costs Ar5,000.
A taxi-brousse between Fianar and Antananarivo takes about 8 hours and costs Ar23,000.
There are internet cafes in most major towns but dont expect broadband!
See also International Telephone Calls
Abundant phone booths almost everywhere. You can pick up cards in most shops. Calling home can be pretty cheap this way. Mobile phones can be used in towns but rarely in rural areas. You can pick up local sim cards really cheap. Opt for Orange, they have the best coverage. Again, a cheap way of calling home. Pick up top up cards almost everywhere, available from 2,000ar to 50,000ar.
You can have mail sent to you 'poste restante' but takes an eternity with the possibility of not receiving it at all. Likewise sending mail home. Postcards are ok but I have had several letters go amiss.
It is possible to send parcels but make sure you have a post office approved box, take it to the post office, then to the administative building to have the contents listed, then to customs to have it checked and sealed, then back to the post office. You can not send anything consisting of stuff made up of animals, vegetables or minerals. Better to give all your old clothes to the orphanage and take any souveniers in your bag with you.
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