Holiday inspiration: Madagascar – walks on the wild side

Bungalow at Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Bungalow at Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, is brimming with lush forests, endemic wildlife, coral reefs and mile upon mile of beautiful beaches.

Visitors to the island are spoilt for choice when it comes to discovering the natural landscape. There are a number of different walks and tours you can do around the island, depending on how adventurous you want to be and your fitness levels.

Easy walking – Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

Lemur, Madagascar

Lemur, Madagascar

If you prefer to see the island’s best known animals – the tree-dwelling lemurs – without too much difficulty, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is an easy drive east from the capital Antananarivo. Andasibe (also known as Perinet) and Mantadia are, in fact, two parks adjacent to each other.

At Andasibe there are well marked, flat trails through the lush humid forest covered with moss, ferns and over 100 species of orchid that bloom from September – January.

Due to the number of visitors to the park, the wildlife is fairly used to humans. You’re likely to see the largest lemur, the indri, as well as bamboo and brown lemurs. Their loud calls echo through the forests in the early morning and again in the late afternoon.

There are over 100 different species of birds including the Madagascar baza, wagtail, yellowbrow and vanga. You’ll also find chameleons, geckos and a host of insects in the thick undergrowth.

Mantadia is larger and more remote than its neighbour, situated 15km north of Andasibe. Less visited by tourists, the trails are more varied, steeper and can be slippery after rain. There are several short circuits to choose from.

The park is home to many lemurs including the rare black and white ruffed lemurs. Rare birds including mesites, ground rollers, greenbuls and asitys have all been spotted here.

For the more adventurous – Ankarana National Park

Chameleon, Madagascar

Chameleon, Madagascar

If you like the idea of wildlife but also want to get off the beaten track and enjoy a challenging hike, then Ankarana National Park in the north of the island is the place to head. It’s recommended that you hire a guide to take you into the park.

Ankarana’s defining feature is the ‘tsingy’ – spectacular eroded limestone spires, set against tropical rainforest, deciduous forest, lakes, caves and canyons.

The reserve has a high number of primates, as well as large populations of crowned lemurs, black lemurs and dwarf lemurs. There are some 100 species of birds, as well as reptiles and frogs. The labyrinth of caves is home to 14 different species of bat and the world’s only cave-living crocodiles. Some of Madagascar’s endemic Baobab trees can also be found here.

There are a number of half day hikes you can take into the reserve.  If you’re looking for a longer trek, consult with your guide about options that can take in all of the locations listed below. The three entry points to the park are:

  • Mahamasina – the most accessible
  • to the West near Amboandriky, which requires a 4×4
  • North at Matsaborimanga, only accessible during the dry season.

For nature lovers looking for an all-out challenge – Marojejy National Park

Frog, Madagascar

Frog, Madagascar

If you want wild, breathtaking and unspoilt natural landscapes then Marojejy National Park to the North East of the island is undoubtedly one of the most impressive places you could visit in the world.

Some 90% of the park is covered with original primary forest. For years the park was only open to scientists, and so has remained relatively untouched. Marojejy was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

Marojejy National Park is just one of two sites where the highly endangered silky sifaka lemur can be found, along with the Indri, bamboo and Weasel sportive lemurs among others. There are over 100 bird species, including the helmet vanga and short legged ground roller, some 60 frogs, and geckos and chameleons. There are at least 275 species of ferns and over 50 varieties of palms.

Typically, visitors to the park explore during a strenuous three day hike, entering the park at the main entrance of Andapa.

Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Our luxury resort, Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, is situated on the beautiful island of Madagascar. For more details and booking, visit the website.

Competitions: win a holiday, win a magnum of champagne

Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius - aerial view of villas

Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Thanks to everyone who has already entered one or both of our competitions to Win a Holiday to Mauritus and to Win a Magnum of Champagne. We’ve had an absolutely amazing response and we’re really excited to see who is going to win.

We thought we’d remind those of you who haven’t had a chance to enter yet that there’s still time to win that holiday of a lifetime – and why not win some champagne to toast your win with as well?

Win a 5-star holiday, with flights, to Constance Le Prince Maurice

Our fantastic offer to win a 7 night stay at Le Prince Maurice in one of our amazing villas is running until 22 June, so you’ve still got time to enter.

You can see more details on the Constance Hotels Facebook page, but here’s a little clue as to where you can find the answer to the competition question about the Mauritian tree.

Win a magnum of champagne, just by tweeting a romantic holiday snap!

We’ll deliver a magnum of champagne direct to your door if you tweet us a romantic holiday snap. Here’s some of the great entries we’ve had already:

Romantic photo entry for the Constance Twitter competition

@lauraball123 hopes her romantic picture will win a magnum of Deutsz Champagne

Romantic couple sitting on the beach

Or could this entry from @ReubenFreeman be the lucky winner?

Romantic beach walk

Or perhaps this romantic beach walk Tweeted by @pebblepip?

All entries will  be entered into a prize drawer – all you have to do is tweet us a picture. Read more details of Twitter Magnum of Champagne competition and entry terms and conditions.

There will be more competitions coming on Twitter, so keep track of us there as well as on our new Constance Facebook page.

Customer reviews: 'Heaven on earth'

Recent customers to our Constance resorts in Mauritius, the Seychelles and Maldives have posted some great feedback on Trip Advisor. Naturally, we want to share these with you.

Here are some of the most recent comments:

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Constance Halaveli beach view, Seychelles

Breathtaking views across the beach at Constance Halaveli, Seychelles

‘Heaven on earth’ from Julieboulton5

Best holiday we have ever had and we have travelled all over the globe. Excellent in every way. Everybody should go here at least once in their life time. If you want a place to completely relax and unwind, eat and drink the best, be pampered by the best of staff, and be surrounded by beauty on this paradise island, then Constance Halaveli Resort is for you.

Room Tip: All rooms are excellent you cannot go wrong

‘Heaven, peace and relaxation combined in one’ from ACS21

Excellent rooms, service. Friendly staff, comfort and you feel as you are a VIP.

Constance Moofushi dining on the beach

Beach dining at Constance Moofushi, Maldive

Constance Moofushi, Maldives

‘Nice house reef, good value for money’ from lovemoofushi

Just came back, enjoyed everything. The resort has very nice house reef. Suggest to book the seaplane schedule in advance, otherwise u might need to take the 7:00 seaplane to the resort, this is no good if u arrived Male at late flight.

Check out is 12:00pm , if u have late flight, should consider something to do for the rest of the day. The resort is quite full for the moment. The food is fine, good variety. pleasure to stay. I would highly recommend.

‘Perfect Maldivian Island’ from Tracy187

We stayed in a Water Villa on Moofushi last week, mid May. As per other reviews yes they are a good walk away from the main area but that makes them pretty private as you can snorkel straight off the steps of your water villa and we hardly saw anybody in the water there. The villas were also very luxurious with some unique design elements to it which I loved.

The food in the main restaurant was great, take lunch up on the covered area off the main restaurant and watch sharks and fish whilst eating. The staff were also lovely and even carried our plates up to our seats for us as we came back from the buffet, not that our plates were that heavy! A very sweet touch.

The pool is really lovely and relaxing with hardly anybody in it and literally a stroll away from the clearest water imaginable. The All Inclusive package is rare on 5* islands and a great idea and its lovely to be able to just grab drinks from the mini bar if you are relaxing on your decking. If you have any doubts at all, just go – you will love it as much as me!

Main building  and pool at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Main building at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

‘Enchanting’ from charlot74

We return from the Seychelles excited! After staying on Mahé (Ephélia) we spent a week at Lemuria Resort on Praslin: Top of the Top “Chateau” … beauty, charm, luxury, peace ….. Excellent reception. Exceptional location, beautiful architecture, built in granite boulders and lush vegetation, cascading infinity pool is also built into the rocks: magnificent.

Read more of this review on Trip Advisor in French or select the translate button on the Trip Advisor website.

Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Villas at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

‘Top service – the best hotel in Mauritius’ from Rennscheier

This was our 2nd stay at the Prince Maurice. The service and especially the good food we liked most definitely. Certainly a top destination for golfers. This was our 7th stay in Mauritius. We have stayed in many good hotels in Mauritius (Touessrok, Dinarobin, Paradise Cove ..) Our favorite is the Prince Maurice.  Tip: book half board – you will not regret it …

Recipe: Pan-roasted sea bass with mild spices, salad of warm spinach, asparagus and berries

Pan-fried sea bass with mild spices, salad of warm spinach, asparagus and berries

Pan-fried sea bass with mild spices, salad of warm spinach, asparagus and berries

This week at Constance Hotels we’re showing you a fish recipe – pan roasted sea bass with mild spice, salad of warm spinach, asparagus and berries with an almond-green chilli vinaigrette.

Delicious and easy to make, it takes just 15 minutes to prepare.

Let us know what you think of the recipe or send us pictures of your own pan roasted sea bass. You can get in contact with us via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Cardamon pods

Cardamon pods

Ingredients

4 sea bass fillets, 160g each
2 tbsp olive oil
4 star anise
4 small sticks cinnamon
4 cardamom pods
800g fresh spinach
400g asparagus
60g mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants)
1/4 bunch chervil
4 sprigs fresh mint
salt and pepper

For the almond-green chilli vinaigrette

5 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 fresh green chilli
1 red bell pepper
40g blanched almonds
salt and pepper

1. Tear off the central rib of each spinach leaf.
2. Clean the asparagus, cook them in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, then cool them in iced water and drain them.
3. Make the vinaigrette: remove the seeds from the green chilli then cut it into thin julienne strips. Blanch them in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, cool in iced water, drain and repeat twice.
4. Remove the seeds from the bell pepper, finely dice the flesh.
5. Toast the almonds for 10 minutes in a 180C oven. Chop them with a knife.
6. Mix the almonds, diced bell pepper, green chilli julienne, olive oil and lemon juice. Correct seasoning.
7. In a hot pan, sauté the sea bass fillets in the olive oil with the star anise, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. Keep warm. Reserve the whole spices for decoration at the end.
8. Sauté the spinach in a hot pan with the olive oil for 1 minute. At the last moment, add the asparagus, berries, mint leaves and chervil. Correc seasoning and put them in the middle of each plate. Top with the fish, pour a little vinaigrette around. Decorate with the reserved whole spices.

You can also purchase the Prince Maurice recipe book that contains this recipe and fifty more from our online store.

Beach picnic at Anse Georgette, Seychelles

Our corporate chef Bruno Le Gac regularly shares some of the great culinary experiences on offer at our Constance hotels.

This week the spotlight is on the luxury beach picnic in the Seychelles.

Anse Georgette beach at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Anse Georgette beach at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

The beach of Anse Georgette is located at Constance Lémuria Resort on Praslin in the Seychelles.

Regarded as one of the world’s top 10 beaches, Anse Georgette has been left untouched and in pristine condition.

No bar. No restaurant. No beach cabana. No loungers.

The beach is just a few minutes walk or quick golf cart ride from the main reception at Constance Lémuria, through mango and sea-coconut trees, and other tropical plants.

Fresh beach picnic at Anse Georgette, Seychelles

Fresh beach picnic at Anse Georgette, Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

If want to enjoy a full day on this glorious beach, try our beach picnic experience. Delivered straight to where you’re sitting, the picnic comes in a fabulous basket and includes delicious snacks such as:

  • open sandwich with home-smoked big game fish
  • Creole style chicken kebabs
  • grilled Seychellois vegetables tossed with coriander pesto and al-dente pasta
  • local seasonal fruits.

It’s an experience not to be missed.

Top Scuba tips from the experts – you!

Manta Ray Adventure, Diving in the Seychelles

Manta Ray Adventure, Diving in the Seychelles

After our very successful Top Honeymoon tips blog sourced from our wonderful Twitter followers.

As we have a lot of interest in diving at our resorts we thought it would be interesting to ask our fans what advice they would give to first time divers.

Here is some of the best advice we received. I would also recommend you have a look at our Diving in the Seychelles video and our blog post on the Top 3 diving sights in the Seychelles.

@ScottDunnTravel says “Remember to always look around you – above as well as below. You never know what might be passing by or cruising overhead.” Juliet, their diving expert, also offers this sound advice ”To improve your air consumption; relax and breathe deeply and slowly – think yoga!”

@honeymoonsblog suggests “PADI courses are a great idea so you don’t spend your valuable holiday time learning the basics. Instead you can dive straight in!”

@Diversdlyte “Stay calm, breathe slowly, stay hydrated, equalise your ears and take the time to enjoy the sights underwater!”

@BSACDivers have some more helpful tips for beginners on their website http://bit.ly/m5NMF5

Let us know your scuba diving tips in the comments section below…

See also our experts’ top 3 diving spots in the Seychelles.