Madagascar – Tritriva lake

The post displays only three pictures of a lake located somewhere in south-centre Madagascar. Those three pictures are very special to me and hopefully to you as well. Tritriva lake is a natural gem, set in a scented pine wood on the top of the eponymous mountain. 

Tritriva 2022

Tritriva lake is very special in many ways. To start with, the shape of the small body of water resembles much Madagascar’s mainland. Of volcanic origin, it hosts no animal life as it contains sulphur and volcanic gas. 

Tritriva lake displays stunningly deep blue-green water, reflecting the areal blue and the vegetal green in the surroundings. Its water colour is reputed to change drastically ahead of important events. To me, it evokes the pristine mountainous lakes of the Swiss Alps, all the more with the strong scent of pin wood resin floating in the air. I find the place so serene, restful and reinvigorating. 

Tritriva lake is also enshrouded with mystery and drama. Unlike Swiss Alps lakes, its water is very opaque due to its depth. Oddly enough, its water level decreases during rainy season and increases in dry season. The lake might be connected through a siphon to an underground body of water, undiscovered yet. In 1993, the French oceanographer Jean-Yves Cousteau dived 146 meters below its surface without reaching the rock bed nor identifying the key to the odd water level fluctuations or the aforementioned siphon. 

Tritriva 2022

Tritriva lake is famous in Madagascar for setting the scene to a dramatic epic story. A Romeo and Juliette story. Long time ago, two local youngsters ended their lives by jumping jointly into its cold water, out of despair for their impossible love. 

The local Romeo and Juliette were named respectively Rabeniomby and Ravolahanta. He was of a modest upbringing, while she was born in a well-off family. Such socio-economic discrepancy did not allow their relatives to agree on their union, prompting the lovers to seek their common future in the after-life. 

Tritriva lake is a sacred place for Malagasy people, associated with beliefs and taboos. Local people practice animal sacrifices in the lake surroundings to appeal to the gods to make their wishes true. Swimming into its water is allowed, under the condition to have not eaten pork in the recent past. 

For long time, visitors would pay respect to Rabeniomby and Ravolahanta by approaching a pine tree located on a terrace over the water and shaped as the silhouette of a loving couple. To approach the tree is fine, but to harm it is not. 

Mid-20th century, a Chinese fellow reportedly swam across the lake and incised the tree with a knife. The wounded tree bled red blood. The man disappeared in the cold water during his swim back to his departure point. His body was never retrieved. A funeral stone standing on the lake shore commemorates the tragic event. 

I could not spot the vegetal reincarnation of the lovers as the pine tree fell unfortunately during a 2005 cyclone. 

It is no surprise to me that Cousteau did not meet with Rabeniomby and Ravolahanta during his 1993 dive in Tritriva lake. I trust that the loving couple has found peace and happiness in an Eden circling the underground lake connected to Tritriva lake through a siphon. Does the 2005 tree fall incident mean anything for Rabeniomby and Ravolahanta? Of course not, as their love is eternal.


By Bertrand

Trotting the globe with vision, values and humour