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.

Holiday inspiration: the wildlife of Mauritius

Constance Le Prince Maurice Resort, Mauritius

Constance Le Prince Maurice Resort, Mauritius

The tropical island of Mauritius, located around 900km east of Madagascar, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and rare plant and animal life in the world.

Formed by a series of volcanic eruptions 8-10 million years ago, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands along with Reunion and Rodrigues.

Divided into nine districts, the capital of which is Port Louis in the north, the island is typically tropical around the coast, giving way to forests and mountains further inland.

Temperatures on the island can reach up to 31C during the summer months (December-March), lowering to 21C during the winter (June-September).

Conservation in Mauritius

Most famous for being the home of the now extinct dodo, Mauritius has a high level of wildlife not found in any other part of the world, but due to human activity much of its beautiful plant and animal life, much like the dodo, is dying out.

The beautiful Mauritian Pink Pigeon is a conservation success story

The beautiful Mauritian Pink Pigeon is a conservation success story

The Mauritius kestrel, Mauritius parakeet and pink pigeon (right), all indigenous to the island, have been close to extinction in the past, but thanks to several dedicated conservation areas, numbers have increased.

The island’s main conservation area, the Black River Gorges National Park in the south west, is where visitors will find the most diverse range of flora and fauna endemic to Mauritius.

Acres of protected rainforest are the home to all the island’s indigenous birds, as well as the Mauritian flying fox.

Native plants and flowers

Most of the island’s 670 native species of flowering plants can also be found at Black River Gorges, although the Mauritian national flower, Trochetia Boutoniana, or Boucle d’Oreille, can only be found on the slopes of Le Morne Brabant.

The orange-red bell-like flower grows from June to October and produces a nectar thought to attract geckos. The plant itself can reach up to 3m tall and is relatively rare.

 

A beautiful Takamaka tree

A beautiful Takamaka tree

Other native plants include the Mauritius ebony tree, takamaka tree and various palms, although several introduced plants such as the Chinese guava and frangipani can also be found on the island.

Spectacular coral reefs surround the island, offering a diverse and colourful array of marine life.

A resident pod of dolphins inhabit the area off the coast of Flic en Flac in the west, offering visitors a chance to swim with the friendly creatures, while regular boat excursions and snorkeling and diving trips offer the chance to get up close and personal with other marine life such as turtles, clown ‘Nemo’ fish and even sharks for the more daring visitor.

The turquoise ocean is also home to a raft of other popular fish including tuna, barracuda and lobsters.

For those without sea legs the white Mauritian beaches plays host to a number of beautiful shells washed up from the shores.

About Constance Hotels Experience

Constance Hotels Experience offers luxury holiday experiences in Mauritius, the Maldives, Madagascar and the Seychelles. See our hotel links on the right for more information.

Picture credit: to see more shots like our main featured image, the Tortoise, please see Joachim Mueller’s photostream on Flickr.