Guide to diving in Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the hottest destinations for 2013 and if you love diving, it’s a hidden gem. Off the coast of the world’s fourth largest island, you’ll find waters that have never been dived in before, and underwater rock formations that add a special thrill to the whole diving experience.

Diving in Madagascar

Diving in Madagascar

Explore stunning coral reefs and gardens of huge sponges that are home to turtles, jack fish, scorpion fish, sting rays, moray eels, and grey and white tip sharks.

Constance Tsarabanjina reopened earlier in 2013 after a major refurbishment. Barefoot luxury set on its own castaway island, it’s the perfect place to stop a while as you explore the oceans off the island.

Highlights of diving off Tsarabanjina

1. The Tétons

These stunning towers of rock off the coast of Constance Tsarabanjina are covered under the waves with vibrant corals and tunnels that divers can swim through, lined with colourful sponges and sweetlips.

2. South Beach

Beginners can explore the beautiful reef just off the shores of Tsarabanjina, where you’ll discover the beauty of reef diving and the colourful creatures who live there.

3. Kassimo

Good for divers of all levels this long underwater barrier is home to snapper, diagramme voiliers, grouper, giant sting ray, giant loach and grey or white-dotted sharks.

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Recipe: “Henan’ Omby Ritra”

This “Henan’ Omby Ritra” dish is a classic one from Madagascar’s culinary heritage, and normally contains zebu. This delicious version is served only on special order for our guests. Ask any of our chefs at Constance Tsarabanjina for it & they will put all their love and passion into preparing it.

"Henan' Omby Ritra"

“Henan’ Omby Ritra”

Ingredients

The meat:

  • 1.5kg zebu (rump, chuck or cheek). May be replaced by beef
  • 2g black pepper
  • 10g garlic
  • 10g ginger
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • Peanut oil
  • 200g sealing dough (200g flour and 100ml water)
  • Salt/pepper

1. Brown the meat in oil in a casserole for 5 minutes with the chopped onion, crushed garlic, salt chopped tomatoes and ginger slices. Cover it with 0.5 litres of water and cook it for 15 minutes.

2. When the water has completely evaporated, let the meat brown before cooking it in the tomato sauce. Pour in 3 cups of water. Add the chopped pepper and cracked black pepper. Cover and finish it in the oven and let everything cool. Keep the compote of pepper confit.

3. Once the meat is completely cool, put it into another cast iron pot, add the remaining sauce, cover it with the lid and add a strip of sealing dough to ensure the whole thing is hermetically sealed and any evaporation is reduced to a minimum.

The garnish:

  • 200g black Chinese rice (Venere)
  • 20g butter
  • 1 onion
  • 4 potatoes
  • 100g spring onions
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper

1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water. Peel them and mash them with a fork, adding the olive oil and the chopped onion tails. salt it and set it aside.

2. Sweat the chopped onion in butter. Stir in the black rice until it goes white and cook it like risotto, adding the chicken stock as you go along until it is soft.

Finishing and presentation

Bake the sealed casserole in a hot oven at 160/170˚C for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove it from the oven and, using a small pairing knife, open the lid of the pot in front of the guests. Be careful not to burn yourself!

Accompany everything with the mashed potatoes and black rice. Serve the pepper compote with a spoon.

Sommelier’s suggested wine

Strong fruity red wine:

  • Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Monbousquet, 2008 France
  • Vin de Pays des Bouches-du-Rhône, Domaine de Trévallon, 2008 France

Sunday Times recommends a September break at Tsarabanjina and Ephélia

Tempting you to make the glorious summer months last a little bit longer, in this week’s Sunday Times Chris Haslam recommends booking a September break in the sun.

A September break at Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

A September break at Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

Resorts Haslam recommends for a last blast of warmth before autumn arrives in the Northern hemisphere include Constance Tsarabanjina in Madagascar and Constance Ephélia in the Seychelles.

Describing the laid back vibe of Tsarabanjina, basking in 25°C sunshine, Haslam declares, ‘The choice of activities is almost endless: you can lie in a hammock, go snorkeling, read a book, lie in a hammock, go snorkeling or circumnavigate the island in 45 minutes.’

He claims the Seychelles is also the perfect September getaway (average temperature 27°C with, ‘white beaches, sapphire seas, coconut palms and superb seafood.’

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Discover the exotic birds of Madagascar

Famous for its unique wildlife Madagascar has always attracted visitors keen to discover rare and exotic plants and animals. Here we take a look at the extraordinary birds of Madagascar.

Madagascar Fishing Eagle

Madagascar Fishing Eagle

Madagascar Fish-Eagle

The large Madagascar fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides) is the largest raptor in Madagascar and is one of the rarest birds of prey.

The body is a dark reddish-brown with dark brown wings. Its cheeks and throat are a whitish colour while its short tail is pure white.

The juvenile Madagascar fish-eagle has streaks on its head and pale fringes to its flight feathers. Its underparts are paler and tail darker than the adult’s. It hunts near or over water and often perches for long periods on tall trees.

The Madagascar fish-eagle has a melodious call, similar to the closely related African fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer).

Madagascar Kingfisher

The Malagasy Kingfisher

The Malagasy Kingfisher

The Malagasy Kingfisher or Madagascar Kingfisher (Alcedo vintsioides) is a member of the Alcedinidae family. It is found in Madagascar, and Mayotte (Comoros). Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical mangrove forests.

The Malagasy Kingfisher is found in all types of wetlands, as well as along the island’s coastline. Both sexes are similar.

White throated rail

The Aldabra rail is the last surviving flightless bird in the western Indian Ocean.

It has a slender build with a long, fairly slender neck, legs and feet. The plumage is well defined, being largely bright chestnut except for the striking white throat.

The fairly long, straight bill is dark with, in females, a bright pink base, and in males, a dull or dark red base. Juveniles generally have duller plumage than adults.

Being a flightless bird, the wings are short and are often held close to the body where they blend in with the rest of the plumage.

Many consider the Aldabra rail a subspecies of the white-throated rail (Dryolimnas cuvier).

Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher

Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher

Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher

The symbol of Constance Tsarabanjina, the Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher is a medium-sized passerine, measuring 18cm in length and weighing about 12.2g.

Males have long tail plumes, which can add as much as 18cm to their overall length.

The female is largely rufous orange, with a black head and nape. The flight feathers on her wings are black with rufous edges, and she has a thin, light blue eyelid wattle.

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The rich culture of Madagascar

Embark on an adventure to the remote island of Tsarabanjina and discover the friendly people and rich culture of Madagascar.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Take advantage of the one-night stopover on the mainland before travelling on to Constance Tsarabanjina to immerse yourself in the colourful local customs and traditions of Madagascar.

Ethnic groups in Madagascar

The diverse ethnic groups which make up the Malagasy people, divided into 18 ‘tribes’, are united around the common Malagasy language and traditional beliefs in the importance of kinship and the veneration of their ancestors.

Local crafts

Crafts including raffia weaving, woodcarving and silk weaving – particularly the weaving of the silk lamba, the island’s national dress – can be traced back to the very first inhabitants of the island and are central to the island’s cultural history.

The traditional woodwork of the Zafimaniry people of Madagascar were considered so important that in 2008 UNESCO included them on its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Music of Madagascar

Music plays an important role in the lives of the Malagasy people with beats and rhythms echoing the music of Africa and Indonesia and often played on traditional instruments or sung with only hand clapping accompaniment.

Lemur in Madagascar

Lemur in Madagascar

Learn Malagasy

Seize the opportunity on the mainland or on Tsarabanjina to really get a sense of what makes the people of this region so special. Here are some Malagasy phrases you might find useful during your visit.

Welcome: Tongasoa

Good morning: Mbolatsara/ Salama

How are you? : Karakory/In vao vao?

Goodbye: Veloma/Samitsara

Have a nice trip: Soavadia

Goodnight: Samy mandry mifoha

Enjoy your breakfast/ launch/dinner: Mazotoa misakafo

Slowly: Mora Mora

Local Mitsio fishermen in Madagascar

Local Mitsio fishermen in Madagascar

Thank you: Misaotra

Thank you so much: Misaotra Betsaka

Best wishes: Mirary soa/ Tsara tsara

Island: Nosy

Fish: Laoko

Rice: Vary

Lemurs: Komba/Maki

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A Luxury Travel Blog describes Tsarabanjina as an ‘idyllic castaway island’

Craig Burkinshaw recently discovered the charms of Tsarabanjina, writing on A Luxury Travel Blog this week that this Constance gem is a ‘particular favourite’.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

In a piece in which Craig describes the resort as one of the few offering luxury accommodation and service in the beautiful setting of Madagascar, he goes on to celebrate the tiny private island’s stunning natural setting and exceptional diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Founder of Audley Travel, Craig praises the resort’s laidback charm:

‘A charming feature is that the island has its own time zone, Tsarabanjina time. An hour different to mainland Madagascar, this is done to make the most of the daylight and only adds to the remote feeling of the island and resort.’

Craig goes on to extol the virtues of the fresh, sumptuous food and indulgent spa treatments on offer. Describing the accommodation Craig admires the use of natural woods and Malagasy crafts to create a comfortable environment with ‘plenty of luxurious touches’.

Craig sums up, ‘Overall Constance Tsarabanjina has the perfect combination of Robinson Crusoe escapism and a healthy dose of luxury.’

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