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.

Weekly round-up, 15-21 August 2011

Legends golf course at Constance Belle Mare Plage

Legends golf course at Constance Belle Mare Plage

This weekly feature offers a roundup of the content on our blog from the past week, in case you missed anything.

Split into categories, it’s another way for you to easily find the posts of value to you.

This week we’ve got championship golf, recipes, beauty tips, expert advice on travel apps and more.

Events

PGA Championship 2011

Keegan Bradley won this week’s 2011 PGA Championship. Catch up on the golf action with our roundup.

Culinary

Recipe: Chilled tomato and green papaya soup with cucumber-coriander salsa

Want to create some of our chefs’ amazing dishes yourself at home? Every Friday, we post some of the most amazing, delicious and popular recipes online.

Blue breakfast at Constance Moofushi

Constance Moofushi offers the ultimate in laid-back beach chic. Their blue breakfast is inspired by the turquoise waters surrounding this Maldivian Jewel Island.

Insider tips

Top 5 travel apps

No matter whether you’re heading to the open road or 5 star luxury, these are the top 5 travel apps you can’t leave home without.

Spa and sport

Enjoy a natural facelift with our nutmeg facial massage

If you’re feeling jet-lagged and less than radiant upon arrival at Constance Le Prince Maurice, head to Spa de Constance for this amazing facial treatment.

Inspiration

Mauritius – Top 10 ideas for a day on the water

Here are 10 great ways to discover the sublime waters of the Indian Ocean.

Top 5 travel apps

No matter whether you’re heading to the open road or 5 star luxury, these are the top 5 travel apps you can’t leave home without.

1. Packing Pro

iPad screen

iPad screen

What it does: Short of packing your suitcase for you, Packing Pro is indispensable for anyone who hates packing, doesn’t know where to start, or is a bit OCD about making lists.

You can enter the number of adults and children travelling, where you’re going and how long for. In return, Packing Pro tells you what you need to take, accounting for weather, destination, who’s travelling and personal preferences.

How much: £1.80

What it works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod

Find out more: Packing Pro

2. Weather Pro

What it does: There are lots of weather apps to choose from but WeatherPro is at the top of its game. It features 7 day forecasts and reports for over 2 million locations around the world.

How much: £1.19

What it works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7

Find out more: Weather Pro

3. TripIt

What it does: TripIt lets you create a simple trip itinerary from the masses of email confirmations you get before you go.  It lets you forward the emails for flight numbers, hotels, car rentals and loyalty schemes and creates a master plan out of them that you can take anywhere, and access at anytime.

How much: Free

What it works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, BlackBerry

Find out more: TripIt

4. Where To?

iPhone screen

iPhone screen

What it does: Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Best Ever App Awards, Travel Category this one lets you locate just about anything you can think of – hotels, restaurants, museums, hospitals, banks…

With over 700 categories and 2,400 brands, you name it – it’s on here.

How much: £1.80

What it works with: iPhone, iPod, iPad

Find out more: Where to?

5. Trip Journal

What it does: No journey would be complete without recording what you’ve seen along the way. Trip Journal lets you do just that, including geo-tagging photos and videos, and route tracking. It hooks into the big social media platforms including Facebook so you can share your experiences as they happen.

How much: £1.80

What it works with: iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android

Find out more: Trip Journal

Recipe: Seafood vindaye with white haricot beans

Perfect for a Saturday evening meal with friends, this spicy seafood vindaye is an authentic Creole dish from Mauritius.

Let us know how you get on making this vindaye. You can comment or send photos to us via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below.

Seafood vindaye with white haricot beans

Seafood vindaye with white haricot beans

Serves 4
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 1/4 hours
Soaking time (for beans): 12 hours
Marinating time: 24 hours

Ingredients

For the vindaye:

  • 8 scallops without roes
  • 4 fillets white fish, approx 50g each
  • 6 shelled camaron tails (large prawns)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 fresh green chillies
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt and pepper

For the fricasséed white beans:

  • 200g white haricot beans
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 small ripe tomatoes
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • salt and pepper

1. One day in advance, prepare the seafood vindaye: peel and coarsely dice the onions. peel the garlic, halve each clove ad remove the germ. Slice the chillies in 2 lengthwise and remove the seeds.
2. Soak the beans 12 hours before cooking.
3. Season the squid, camarons and scallops with salt and pepper. Sear them separately in a frying pan with 2 tbsp oil for 5 minutes. Keep warm.
4. In a saucepan, sweat the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies for 5 minutes with the olive oil without colouring. Mix vinegar and turmeric, add them to the saucepan.
5. Take off the heat and add wholegrain mustard, mustard seeds and finally the seafood. Mix well, let cool. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
6. On the day you are serving the recipe, make the bean fricassée: drop the tomatoes for 30 seconds in boiling water, cool them in iced water, then peel them. Halve them and remove the seeds. Chop the tomatoes.
7. In a heavy cooking pot, sweat the onion, garlic and ginger in oil for 4-5 minutes without colouring. Add the tomatoes, stew for 5 minutes, then add the beans. Add water to barely cover, add thyme, parsley and the green chilli, split in two. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring frequently to prevent drying. Add a little water if necessary.
8. Correct seasoning.
9. Reheat the vindaye and serve it just warm, with the fricasséed beans and some plain white rice.

You can also purchase the Constance Prince Maurice recipe book from our online store.

 

 

Recipe: Curry flavoured peanut and cashew bread rolls

Dining at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Dining at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Home-baked bread is far tastier than anything you can buy in the supermarket. Try these Mauritian nutty bread rolls – they’re easy to make, and best eaten warm.

Serves 8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500g flour + 50g for dusting
  • 10g baker’s yeast
  • 75g mild curry powder
  • 10g salt
  • 50g peanuts
  • 50g cashews
  • 1/4 tsp powdered red chilli

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, 30cl water and the curry powder.
2. Knead by hand for 15 minutes. Add salt, peanuts and cashews then knead for 5 more minutes.
3. Shape this dough into balls, about 50g each. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 220ºC. Place a bowl of water in the oven.
5. Lightly dust the rolls with sifted flour and red chilli powder. Using a sharp blade, make 3 slits on 3 sides of each roll. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

You can also purchase the Constance Prince Maurice recipe book from our online store.

Weekly roundup, 23-31 July 2011

This weekly feature offers a roundup of the content on our blog from the past week, in case you missed anything. Split into categories, it’s another way for you to easily find the posts of value to you.

Culinary

Smoked marlin and palm heart

Smoked marlin and palm heart

Recipe: Smoked marlin and Pejipaye fresh heart of palm tree with passion fruit dressing

Want to create some of our chefs’ amazing dishes yourself at home? Every Friday, we post some of the most amazing, delicious and popular recipes online. This week Michael Scioli, our Executive Chef at Constance Le Prince Maurice shares one of his superb fish dishes.

Insider tips

Top 3 beauty tips for beautiful hands

The condition of your hands can really reveal your age if you don’t take care of them. Sophie Demaret, our Spa Manager at Constance Le Prince Maurice, gives her top 3 tips to bring your hands back to their youthful beauty again.

News and events

Chefs at Constance Halaveli scoop up medals at Hotel Asia 2011

Our fabulous chefs at Constance Halaveli brought back 14 medals from the recent Hotel Asia 2011 Culinary Challenge. They won 5 gold medals and came 1st in the Live Hot Cooking Beef category. Find out more about their well-deserved win.

Inspiration

Local children playing on Pomponnette beach

Local children playing on Pomponnette beach

Top 10 beaches in Mauritius

Hundreds of fabulous beaches hug the shoreline around Mauritius. We’ve chosen our top 10 around the island. Let us know if you agree.

Holiday inspiration: wildlife of the Seychelles

As well as being one of the world’s most desirable honeymoon destinations, the Seychelles is rich in flora and fauna that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Behind the scenes

The essence of the Constance Hotels Experience

Constance Hotels are every bit as special as they hype would have you believe. Find out what makes these Indian Ocean get-aways so unique.