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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Architecture and design at Tsarabanjina

The unique island hideaway of Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar is a place where barefoot chic sits comfortably beside the island’s distinctive biodiversity.

Beach Villa at Constance Tsarabanjina

Beach Villa at Constance Tsarabanjina

The seemingly effortless blending of traditional Malagasy building techniques with the comforts of a modern luxury hotel is part of a conscious effort to maintain Tsarabanjina’s natural Robinson Crusoe charm.

In Malagasy culture it is believed that the invisible spirit world is a part of our world, and it has been our mission in refurbishing the resort to protect the unique, invisible, free spirit of the island.

History of Tsarabanjina

Tsarabanjina was originally discovered in 1990 by a South African adventurer, Richard Walker, who fell in love with the island and wanted to share it with others.

In 1998 he built a small resort with eight bungalows which integrated with their natural environment so that guests could enjoy the island’s authentic charm.

In 2006 he handed over guardianship of the beautiful island and its resort to Constance. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously and one which was at the heart of our plans when we decided to refurbish the existing resort to introduce a little luxury for guests in this special place.

Beach Villa, Tsarabanjina

Beach Villa, Tsarabanjina

Architects behind Tsarabanjina

In an effort to protect the authenticity of Tsarabanjina we selected architects who understood our respect for the ecological integrity of the place. We then went further to embrace the local culture by introducing Malagasy arts and crafts into the design of the hotel.

When choosing the materials for the construction of the resort our first decision was easy, we banned all plastic. We then searched for locally sourced wood from the main island and used it in its raw form to give guests a sensory connection to the nature that surrounds them here.

Working with local crafts people

Throughout the refurbishment we have tried to use local crafts people who have traditions of construction, basketry, weaving, embroidery which have been handed down from generation to generation.

We believe that in employing local crafts people we are not just supporting a local economy but promoting a passing down of traditional, cultural skills.

The result is an island where luxury tourism sits comfortably alongside authentic Malagasy charm and tradition in such a way that the natural environment is added to rather than impacted.

Unlike other resorts our luxuries are discreet rather than ostentatious. We prefer to highlight the island’s natural beauty and relaxed pace so that guests can enjoy the same authentic experience here that they always have.

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Food of Madagascar at Constance Tsarabanjina

One of the most lasting memories of a holiday are its flavours and nowhere is this more true than on the remote, exclusive Madagascan island of Tsarabanjina.

Madagascan lobsters at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

Madagascan lobsters at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

Flavours of Madagascar

Breathe in the scents of Constance Tsarabanjina and you’ll catch hints of cloves, vanilla, black pepper and nutmeg which make up the foundation of Malagasy cuisine.

Local produce at Tsarabanjina

We select the very best produce daily from the local market on Nosy Bé including the freshest spices, fruits and vegetables – luscious pineapples, mangoes and lime, plump pumpkins and vibrantly coloured sweet potatoes.

The fish our chefs prepare is caught off our shores by fishermen from the neighbouring island of Mitsio. Fishing with nets off traditional wooden pirogues, they use the same techniques that Malagasy fishermen have used for hundreds of years.

Fish for your own dinner

It is even possible to have your own pirogue fishing experience with our chefs on hand back on dry land to prepare and cook your very own catch-of-the-day.

For a unique culinary experience you could try lobster caught in the water just beyond your villa, prepared and grilled before your eyes and served to a secluded table for two on the rocks beside the ocean.

Dine on the beach at Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Dine on the beach at Tsarabanjina

Local chefs

Our chefs come with an innate understanding of the distinct flavours and traditions of Malagasy cuisine with its Southeast Asian, African, European and Chinese influences. They blend flavours and traditions to create an elegant, authentically Malagasy, 5-star dining experience.

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