On the trail of the Dodo

Natural history lovers, and fans of the weird and wonderful should head to the National History Museum in Port Louis, Mauritius to see the most complete dodo skeleton in the world.

Dodo bird

Dodo bird

Mauritius was once home to the flightless Dodo bird. It became extinct in the 1680s, only 80 years after Europeans arrived on the island.

It’s thought that the Dodo was easy prey for the animals that were introduced by explorers – dogs, pigs, cats and rats.

Still today, very little is known about the Dodo. Mare aux Songes, in Mauritius, is the site of the most significant dodo bone findings in the world. In 2005, a team of Dutch-Mauritian researchers found many bones including a rare dodo beak. The findings are believed to be at least 2000 years old.

Port Louis, capital of Mauritius
Port Louis, capital of Mauritius

When you’re visiting the capital Port Louis, it’s also worth checking out:

And if you want to explore the beaches around the island, find out which ones made our list of the top 10 beaches in Mauritius.

Top 10 highlights of Madagascar

The varied landscape and unique wildlife are undoubtedly the highlights of the vast and remote island of Madagascar.

Local Mitsio fishermen in Madagascar

Local Mitsio fishermen in Madagascar

Here you’ll find 32 different types of lemurs, all endemic to Madagascar and 250 bird species - 106 of which are only found on the island.

We’ve put together our must-see list of the island for a truly epic experience, with links to more useful information.

And, we want to know what you think – do you have an all-time favourite place in Madagascar that should have made it onto our list? Or photos you want to share? You can get in contact with us via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below.

North Madagascar

1. Ankarana National Park

This national park is formed of a limestone massif with caves and canyons that have become home to many lemur and bird species.

2. Montagne d’Ambre National Park

This stunning landscape combines rainforest, volcanic massif and waterfalls. The park gets its name from the amber-coloured resin that drips from the trees here. You’ll find the crowned lemur, aye-aye, dwarf and rufous mouse lemurs. The reserve is also home to at least 11 species of chameleon including the tiny Brookesia minima.

3. Antsiranana

Gateway to both Montagne d’Ambre and Ankarana National Parks, Antsiranana is a brightly coloured port that retains a sense of its colonial past, with crumbling architecture and a deep water harbour.

Beachside villas at Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Beachside villa at Constance Tsarabanjina

4. Constance Tsarabanjina

Constance Tsarabanjina is situated in the Nosy Bé archipelago off the North-West coast. With unspoilt beaches and superb diving, Tsarabanjina offers a total get-away experience where barefoot luxury is the order of the day.  Hunker down or use it as a base for your Madagascan adventure.

East Madagascar

5. Ile Sainte Marie

This small tropical island sits off the east coast of Madagascar. The channel between the island and Madagascar is a great spot for whale watching as large groups of humpback whales come here to breed between July and October. Diving is also superb. Protected from sharks, the waters off Ile Sainte Marie are brimming with colourful corals and fish. Orchid lovers should head here in September, when the flowers are at their peak.

South West Madagascar

6. The Spiny Desert

Thorny trees make navigating this area very difficult for animals, and the wildlife here has had to adapt to survive in this hostile landscape. Visit the spiny desert and you’ll find the ring-tailed lemur, sifaka, Madagascar radiated tortoise and Grandidier’s mongoose.

7. Avenue of the Baobabs

Baobab trees in Madagascar

Baobab trees in Madagascar

Some of the tallest baobab trees are found along the avenue of trees near Morondava, a small beach town in the south west of Madagascar. Six of the world’s 8 baobab species are endemic to the island, and they can grow up to 30-40 metres.

8. Kirindy Reserve

This reserve is just north of Morondava. Madagascar’s dry tropical deciduous forest is under threat and this 10,000 hectare reserve offers a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the landscape. Here you’ll find several species of lemur including the pygmy mouse and nocturnal lemurs, as well as reptiles and amphibians.

9. Ifaty

This popular, laid back beach resort is renowned for its long beaches, surfing and whale spotting sites. If you’re up for an adrenalin shot, there’s also the opportunity to dive with sharks.

Central Highlands

10. Antananarivo

The lively Malagasy capital is surrounded by hills and rice paddy fields. You can enjoy some buzzing local city life, and visit museums, botanical gardens, markets, churches and restaurants.

Water villas at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Constance Le Prince Maurice overwater villas

Constance Le Prince Maurice overwater villas

Constance Le Prince Maurice is our 5* hideaway on the north east coast of Mauritius. Reassuringly luxurious, it offers a heady mix of striking, big-scale architecture with an intimate and restful atmosphere.

Take a look at some photos of the overwater villas at Constance Le Prince Maurice on our Facebook page.

The eight water villas are perched along the edge of a natural fish reserve, offering tranquility and beautiful views across the lagoon. They each have private balconies, and are situated to the western edge of the resort offering fabulous views of the sunset.

All the villas and suites at Le Prince Maurice are exquisitely decorated with dark wood polished floors, seductive lighting, and beautiful green and purple fabrics. The bedrooms have been feng shui’d, and come with some of the comfiest beds you’ll ever sleep in.

Find out more from our Spotlight: Constance Le Prince Maurice, or take a look at the photos of the overwater villas on our Facebook page.

Scuba diving, dancing and jungle adventures – family fun Indian Ocean-style

Finding the perfect holiday destination once you have children can feel a bit daunting. You want a place where you can unwind but that still has enough going on to keep the minnows happy.

Family holidays at Constance Hotels Experience

Family holidays at Constance Hotels Experience

At Constance Hotels, we offer the space for families to enjoy some privacy together while having the reassuring luxury of our 5* service at your fingertips.

Private villas
Many of our family guests stay in our 2 or 3 bedroom villas that come with a kitchen, living room, outside dining area and private pool. Several of our villas have direct access to the beach. Each villa comes with a personal villa master who’ll make sure you have everything you need at all times.

Watersports and kids’ clubs
Children go crazy for the watersports on offer – Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius offers a scuba diving experience in the heated swimming pool. You can take children out on a boat trip, have a go on a pedalo, or go crab hunting by torchlight.

Children's cookery classes at Constance Hotels Experience

Children's cookery classes at Constance Hotels Experience

If your children are hankering after slides and swings, our kids’ clubs for children aged 4-12 years offer play areas, as well as activities like cookery, dancing, painting, craft and games.

If you want to spend more time on the beach, our sand butlers will bring you drinks and snacks when you want them. Palm fringed parasols over comfy sun loungers provide plenty of shade, while the sea that gently laps the shore is paddle-friendly.

Jungle adventures
It’s also worth heading out to discover some of your Indian Ocean island – children love to play explorer and these islands are teeming with wildlife. Head to organised wilderness parks or if you’re up for an adventure, go for a hike to find rare plants and animals.

Turtle at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Turtle at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Time for lunch
After all that activity, food is in order and our menus of delicious freshly prepared meals include child-friendly dishes. Tropical fruit drinks and the all important ice-cream also feature.

Here’s some more family holiday inspiration:

Mauritius – top 10 ideas for a day on the water

The beautiful turquoise seas of the Indian Ocean are a big draw for most people who visit Mauritius.

Here are 10 great ways to spend the day on these sublime waters.

Diving in Mauritius

Diving in Mauritius

1. Diving and snorkelling
Undoubtedly, diving and snorkelling are on most people’s must-do list when they visit Mauritius, and it delivers in spades. There are some 23 dive centres on the island, including at Constance Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice. Visibility is good – the best time of year for diving is October-April, although you can still dive in calm waters for the rest of the year.

2. Blue Bay Marine Park
On the South East tip of Mauritius sits Blue Bay Marine Park – one of the best spots on the island for snorkelling. This national park is home to 38 coral species and 72 fish species including wrasse, parrotfish, goatfish, damsel fish and eeltail catfish.

Waterskiing in Mauritius

Water skiing in Mauritius

3. Head out to Ile aux Cerfs
Rent a speedboat with an experienced skipper and head out to Ile aux Cerfs off the east coast of the island. This tiny island is renowned for its sandy beaches, beautiful lagoon and many watersport activities. Snorkel, swim or try your hand at water skiing before feasting at one of the island’s restaurants. Some speed boat tours can arrange a lobster BBQ on the beach.

4. Deep sea fishing
Mauritius is the ideal destination to try your hand at deep-sea fishing. Just 1km off the coast, the water measures 70m deep. Here you can expect to catch tuna, shark, barracuda, marlin and sailfish. Half day and full day trips are offered by operators – ask at your hotel for details.

 

5. Kitesurfing and kiteboarding
If you’re looking for a rush of adrenalin, this should hit the spot. There are various kitesurfing schools on Mauritius where you can pick up the basics before heading out to the surf. The warm water of the Indian Ocean is a great place to try your hand at this fast and exhilirating sport.

6. Surfing
The West coast of Mauritius, at Le Morne and Tamarin Bay, attracts surfers from around the world. If you’re a novice, there are several surf schools located here where you can give it a try. Waves can reach approximately 8 feet.

7. Sea kayaking
Glide across the water in your kayak, and visit Ile d’Ambre just off the North East coast. Tamarin on the West is also a good starting point for a kayak trip.

8. Catamaran cruises
What could be more luxurious than hiring your own catamaran and sailing out for lunch or a sunset cruise? If there aren’t enough of you to justify a private hire, jump on board a tour and you could visit Grand River North East Waterfalls, Ile aux Cerfs and Trou d’Eau Douce fishermen’s village among others.

Dolphins off the coast of Mauritius

Dolphins off the coast of Mauritius

9. Swimming with dolphins
Dolphins continue to inspire awe in anyone who swims with them. A pod of spinner dolphins regularly swim off the West coast, at Flic en Flac. Organised tours will take you out to where they play and some give you the option to swim with the dolphins, accompanied by experienced guides.

10. Undersea walk
Don the weird headgear, and you can walk freely underwater while fish swim around you. It’s a bit like snorkelling except you’re upright and no breathing exercises or techniques are required. Check at your hotel for details.

If you’re heading to Mauritius, get inspired with some of our other articles about the island: