Madagascar in photos

Take a glimpse into a castaway world of secluded beaches, laidback Malagasy charm, rare wildlife and oceans teeming with colourful marine life.

Follow the diverse island coast

Follow the diverse island coast of Madascar

Soak up the Madagascan sun

Soak up the Madagascan sun

Traditional Malagasy transport

Traditional Malagasy transport

Experiences words can't describe

Experiences words can’t describe

Embrace the laid back charm of Madagascar

Embrace the laid back  Malagasy charm

Teeming with wildlife: the green chameleon

Teeming with wildlife: the green chameleon

The ring tailed lemur

The ring tailed lemur

The "Organ pipes' rock formation

The magnificent ‘organ pipes’ rock formation

The beautiful coastline of Constance Tsarabanjina

The beautiful coastline of Constance Tsarabanjina

The extraordinary avenue of baobabs

The extraordinary avenue of baobabs

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Spotlight on Constance Tsarabanjina: Madagascar

It may only be a small, remote island off the northwest shore of Madagascar but Constance Tsarabanjina has become a by-word for barefoot chic among those seeking authentic Crusoe seclusion with a dash of luxury.

The castaway island of Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

The castaway island of Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

With perfect white sand beaches encircled by vibrant coral reefs, an interior of richly bio-diverse hills and forests, and just 25 palm-thatched villas spread over two beaches, Constance Tsarabanjina has all the ingredients for an idyllic holiday hideaway.

What the papers say

This perfect mixture of authentic castaway charm blended with discreet modern luxury has proved a popular combination.

Accolades in recent months have included awards from Tatler for Best Barefoot Adventure 2014, Harper’s Bazaar – who declared it best for a secluded honeymoon – and Condé Nast Traveller whose reviewer Jenny Zarins, described it:

‘This is a no-shoes, no-news, hang-loose place. The air-conditioned thatched bandas, newly revamped by the island’s owners, Constance Hotels and Resorts, have all the basics – hot showers, capacious wardrobes, fridges with cold drinks – as well as outdoor banquettes and hammocks for afternoon snoozes, and fragrant coconut oil to drench sunburnt skin.’

From desert island to exclusive resort

Before 1990 Tsarabanjina was completely uninhabited. The island was then only known to neighbouring islanders as the location of the tombs of their Sakalava kings (the tombs still exist today, a protected spot on the east of the island where Mitsio islanders come to bring offerings).

But in 1990 things began to change for Tsarabanjina when South African adventurer Richard Walker came to the island and fell in love with the place.

In a bid to protect the stunning unspoilt beauty of the island, Walker bought it and built a small resort of 8 bungalows so others could share the unique experience of Tsarabanjina.

A multi-million pound renovation

In 2006 he passed the mantel of protector of his beloved island on to us at Constance and in 2013 we undertook the delicate process of renovating the resort while carefully retaining its authentic castaway appeal and environmental considerations.

Beach Villas draped in Malagasy charm

Beach Villas draped in Malagasy charm

The first decision we made as part of the multi-million pound makeover was to ensure that in rebuilding the 25 beach villas to include modern luxuries such as air conditioning and spacious bathrooms, they still retained their rustic Malagasy charm.

We worked with architects who understood local Malagasy design and the importance of using sustainable local materials from the mainland.

We then employed local tradespeople with a tradition of Malagasy construction techniques and local craftsmen specialising in traditional weaving, art and sculpture to create items to decorate the villas.

In supporting the local Malagasy trades we are upholding traditions in building and crafts that have been handed down from generation to generation.

A boutique hotel with laidback Malagasy charm

The result – simple, stylish rosewood villas with traditional palm-thatching, large comfortable terraces, decorated with Madagascan art and sculptures inspired by the island itself.

In keeping with the laidback vibe of the island, each villa has its own private hammock slung by the trees surrounding the villa and its own sandy path leading down to the beach.

While the idyllic setting of crystal waters and lush, verdant interior have always been an important part of Tsarabanjina’s appeal, we believe that the special charm of the place comes from its people too.

At Tsarabanjina there is no dress code, shoes can be kicked off on arrival and put away for the duration of your holiday and the service is friendly and relaxed.

Time for a digital detox

Guests tired of the hustle and bustle of modern life can seize the opportunity on Tsarabanjina to undergo a digital detox.

With WiFi only available in the main building you can leave your phones and modern technology in your suitcase and begin to move at the slower pace of island life.

Creating unique, fresh dishes for all our guests

Creating unique, fresh dishes for all our guests

Traditional Malagasy cuisine

Even dining is a laidback island affair with seafood caught by local fishermen and delivered by fishing boat to the shore in front of Tsarabanjina’s only restaurant.

The fishermen of Mitsio, the only other inhabited island in the Mitsio Archipelago, still fish the same way their ancestors have for many generations.

Using hollowed out wooden boats called pirogues, they cast their nets over the water and only when they’re satisfied with their catch do they travel the 3 or 4 hours to Tsarabanjina to hand over their catch to our chefs.

Our local chefs create a unique menu based around what the fishermen have caught together with the fresh fruit and vegetables they were able to find that day in the market at Nosy Be.

Using local herbs and spices to create dishes of warm curries, grilled fish and other delicious treats, our chefs understand the delicate blend of Southeast Asian, African, European and Chinese flavours which go into creating sumptuous Madagascan cuisine.

Explore the underwater ocean life

Guests are even encouraged to try their hand at fishing the local waters themselves from a traditional pirogue. In true island style, whatever you catch can then be handed over to the chefs to prepare Malagasy-style for your dinner that night.

Those searching for a little more high-octane excitement can pit their wits against the giant sports fish that call the waters around Tsarabanjina home.

Marlins, giant trevally, yellowfin and dogtooth tuna, wahoos and sailfish can all be caught in our waters making the area a Mecca for sports fishermen.

The other ocean pastime which continues to bring visitors to our shores is the opportunity to dive in waters still largely unexplored by scuba divers. One of the last accessible places where you can discover virgin reefs rarely dived before, sponge gardens few but you have ever seen.

The waters around Tsarabanjina offer a rich variety of dive sites for scuba divers of all levels from beginners exploring the house reef to more experienced divers swimming through the tunnels at the Tétons.

The unique bird life of Madagascar

The unique bird life of Madagascar

The rich biodiversity of Madagascar

Of course nature lovers have always been drawn to the appeal of Madagascar with its famously unique biodiversity, a trait Tsarabanjina shares with the mainland.

Walk around the island and you’ll discover Madagascar’s famous Traveller’s Palm, the Pachypodium and a wide variety of birds including the dazzling fody bird, the beautiful long-tailed Madagscan flycatcher (the emblem of the island) and fish eagles. Biologists even claim to have found the world’s smallest chameleon species on Tsarabanjina.

Our staff share our passion for the island and are happy to give guided nature walks with an explanation of the local flora and fauna to interested guests.

Bird enthusiasts can take a boat ride to the neighbouring Quatre Frère, a series of rocks in the ocean which are home to a rich colony of seabirds including northern gannets, frigate birds and white-tailed tropic birds.

Don’t forget to take your snorkel and discover the plethora of marine life living in the reefs below the waves.

A dash of luxury Crusoe wouldn’t have had

Of course we wouldn’t be a favourite exclusive retreat without a little hint of luxury but on Tsarabanjina luxury is delivered in unique laidback style. So our massage room is a rustic beach villa with a stunning outdoor shower hewn into the rock of the island itself.

Or if you prefer you can have a massage on the beach as you watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

The question of how the tiny island of Tsarabanjina became one of the world’s most desirable hotels is difficult to answer. It has a lot to do with the beauty of the island itself, a little to do with the luxury we were able to add, but most of all, it’s down to the spirit of the island itself, a spirit of laidback charm, slow island living and warm welcomes.

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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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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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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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Working with local fishermen at Constance Tsarabanjina

At Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar you can enjoy fresh fish caught from the ocean in the same traditional way it has been for hundreds of years.

Local fisherman in his pirogue

Local fisherman in his pirogue

One of the many delights you’ll discover on the remote Madagascan island of Tsarabanjina is watching the daily arrival of the local fishermen delivering their catch to our chefs.

Mitsio fishermen

The fishermen live on the neighbouring island of Mitsio, the only other inhabited island in the archipelago, and they travel and fish in traditional boats called pirogues.

The pirogues are hollowed out wooden boats powered by oars. It’s from here that the fishermen cast their nets into the waters around the archipelago. Following the catch they make the 3 to 4 hour journey to Tsarabanjina.

Fishing in pirogues has been a way of life in Madagascar for hundreds of years with fishermen teaching the family craft to their children, and passing their skills down through the generations.

We at Constance are proud to support such a long held tradition and our guests enjoy the freshest fish caught from just beyond our own shores.

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