The Art of Honeymooning at Anjajavy l’Hôtel

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The art of honeymooning is like much else in life. It has become only better, sweeter, with age. In the beginning, far back in the 1800s, honeymoons weren’t post-wedding trips aimed to get away from it all.

“They were social journeys, demonstrations of a couple’s new status,” in the words of The Believer literary magazine. “Like so many marriage traditions — diamond engagement rings, white dresses, rice throwing, Jordan almonds in little net bags — honeymooning is relatively new. In early nineteenth-century England, it became common for newly married upper-class couples to take a ‘bridal tour’, often with friends or family, to visit far-flung relatives who couldn’t attend the wedding.”

Today, honeymoons are a lot more fun. The change began in the Belle Époque, considered the golden era before the two world wars and a time of great joie de vivre – the essence, similarly, of the honeymoon itself. At least to modern minds.

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Savouring this joie de vivre recently was Relais & Châteaux traveller, Jacqui Hemphill and new husband, Graeme Marais. Their destination: Anjajavy l’Hôtel in Madagascar, far, far away from friends and family, just in case one of them were considering a traditional celebration. Discover more about the couple’s Indian Ocean island experience in these 10 Questions below.

1.     What was it like celebrating a honeymoon at Anjajavy l’Hôtel?

Honeymooning at Anjajavy was the most surreal experience. You are treated like you are the only two people at the whole lodge. The GM, Cédric de Foucault and all of his staff are incredibly attentive and look after your every need.

2.     What surprised you most about Madagascar?

How breathtakingly beautiful and remote it is.

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3.     The highlight experiences at Anjajavy?

Kayaking from Anjajavy into the Mangrove forests all on our own to search for the elusive Madagascar Fish Eagle. We kayaked a couple of kilometres from the lodge and never saw another person. Another big surprise and highlight was sleeping out under the stars on the edge of the beautiful rock face overlooking the ocean.

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4.     The best thing you tasted in Madagascar?

All of the seafood at Anjajvy was absolutely delicious.

5.     How does it fare as a photographer’s destination?

The landscapes are breathtaking and photographing lemurs is an absolute must especially when they move across the short grass allowing for excellent low angle images. There are also beautiful birds to capture and of course the most incredible sunsets. Not to mention baobab trees.

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6.     Don’t miss…

Spending time walking along the deserted beaches and being the only people swimming for miles.

7.     Don’t forget to take…

Your camera!

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8.     What animals, insects and birds captured your attention most?

The lemurs were by far the most intriguing creatures. We loved observing and photographing them in and around the lodge. In addition to lemurs what struck us most about the bird life was how we have many similar species in South Africa with only one or two difference like the colour of a beak or a small crest. For example the Madagascar king fisher is identical to the Malachite King fisher apart from the colour of its beak. This inspired many thoughts and conversations about evolution between us.

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9.     A word on the Madagascan people at the lodge…

Very friendly people that go out of their way to ensure you have a wonderful time. Nothing is too much trouble. When we came back from our Kayaking adventure we landed back on shore far down the beach from where we had intended to come in. one of the friendly staff members spotted us having some trouble with the kayak and came running to assist us. This really stuck out for me as he was far away at the time and he made sure he dropped what he was doing to help us get to shore properly. Just another moment that proved to me that the team at Anjajavy are dedicated to looking after their guests’ every need.

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10.     If you could go back what one thing would be sure to do again or make more time for?

We would have spent more time exploring the area surrounding Anjajavy, they have spent years planting huge forests of trees. Their focus on conservation and preserving this area of Madagascar for future generations of wild inhabitants is something I admired most. With lemurs, birdlife, fauna and flora all endemic to Madagascar, Anjajavy is very conscious of creating a wild safe space for the future.

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All images by Jacqui Hemphill

The 10 Commandments of Lemur Life (Or, How To Be A Lemur)

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There are many things lemurs can teach us about life. Like how to keep the mystery alive (new species of lemur continue to be discovered even to this day); how to dance like no one’s watching (case in point: the coquerel’s sifaka that make the garden at Anjajavy l’Hôtel their own dance floor, while guests look on from afternoon tea); and how to look at life from different angles (the sifaka are wont to dangle upside-down languidly from tree branches).

Here are 10 more lessons in lemur life that can be observed while at Anjajavy l’Hôtel and exploring the greater island. Consider it The Law of the Lemur, the only self-improvement guide you’ll ever need.

Thank you, lemurs, thank you very much.

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10 Commandments of Lemur Life

1. Learn to raft

It is believed that lemurs first arrived on the island of Madagascar eons ago, via raft – in the most basic sense of the word, “raft”, as in large buoyant logs or floating carpets of vegetation, according to National Geographic. Following their arrival, they continued to live, and evolve, in isolation for centuries.

* Lemurs weren’t the only animals to journey to Madagascar in this way. About 50 million years ago, they were followed by hedgehog-like tenrecs and then mongoose-like carnivores such as the fossa, and finally rodents 24 million years ago.

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2. Speak up

Lemurs are not quiet animals. They like to make themselves known using a range of sounds – from the grunts and swears of brown lemurs and sifaka and the chirps of mouse lemurs to the eerie, wailing call of the indri, which has been likened to a cross between a police siren and the song of a humpback whale, according to Wild Madagascar.

3. When hungry, eat

While the different species of lemur each have their own individual diet of choice, lemurs are known to be less fussy when hungry. In these instances, they are known to eat anything edible, whether or not it is their preferred food. Ring-tailed lemur live mainly on fruit, but also eat leaves, flowers, tree bark, and sap. When hunger strikes, insects and small vertebrates will suffice. Opportunistic much?

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4. Get used to girl power

Females rule the social sphere in lemur scoiety, compared to most other primates and mammals where males are dominant. Read more from: The World Animal Foundation.

5. Use your body language

Lemurs might do well in their own island environment, but they’d never succeed around a poker table. Their facial expressions are distinct and aplenty – the threat stare, the yawn threat, pulled back lips for submission, and pulled back ears along with flared nostrils during scent-marking. Even their tails are in on the action, and help to communicate distance, to warn off neighbouring troops and to locate troop members.

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6. The family that plays together, stays together

Lemurs are social beings and live in groups that usually include up to 15 individuals. While nocturnal lemurs are mostly solitary, foraging alone at night, they are social during the day, nesting in groups. Similarly, the lone forager dwarf lemur also prefers to sleep among its social group. When not nesting together, lemurs like to keep in touch with their brood through both vocal and physical communication.

7. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you do it

…whether it’s trying to run your first 5 km race or taking up salsa dancing. Just look at the sifaka, whose attempts to walk on splayed feet resemble something more like the dance scene in Pulp Fiction. Nonetheless, they continue on their path, hopping sideways on hind legs with bellies thrust out and arms held outward.

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8. Make time for down time

Another of the lemur’s peculiar habits is their own form of hibernation… Madagascar’s fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the only primate known to hibernate for extended periods. The island’s seasonal environment has led to mouse lemurs and dwarf lemurs adopting behavioral cycles of dormancy to match the changes in weather. To conserve energy and water, they lower their metabolic rate and body temperature while hibernating. They also accumulate the fat reserves in their hind legs and the base of their tail before the dry winter season, when food and water are scarce. The ring-tailed lemur, ruffed lemurs and sifakas don’t hibernate, but they are commonly seen sun-tanning, using solar radiation to warm their bodies instead of metabolic heat.

Read more from: Live Science

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9. Keep your secret weapon close

While some might believe the pen to be mightier than the sword, the ring-tailed lemurs prefer to outstink their opponents. Their powerful scent glands emit a unique odour which they use as both a communication tool and a kind of weapon.

“Lemurs mark their territory by scent, serving notice of their presence to all who can smell. During mating season, male lemurs battle for dominance by trying to outstink each other. They cover their long tails with smelly secretions and wave them in the air to determine which animal is more powerful.”

Read more from: National Geographic

10. Dress to impress

Looks are not everything – the aye-aye proves that very well – but sometimes you just want to fling on a coat and top hat and pretend like the world is but a stage… Like the indri lemur, with its button nose, round ears and small eyes that lead many to compare it to a teddy bear. The red ruffed lemur with its spectacularly rich russet coat. The ring-tailed lemur, its racoon-like black and white fur, continuing down to a series of black and white rings around its tail. Or the unique coquerel’s sifaka with its long, handsome body and bright puppy-dog eyes.

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All images courtesy of Anjajavy l’Hôtel

Madagascar For Kids

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In our Relais & Châteaux online magazine, Instants, we featured a piece, entitled, Water Babies: Indian Ocean Islands For Kids, an introduction to the beautiful island getaways between Africa and Asia that welcome young ones of various ages.

You can read the full article here. But we still had a few images to share – from one of our travellers, Royal Chundu Owner & MD, Tina Aponte, taken on a recent family holiday on the island of Madagascar. Here they are below – from learning to surf on upside-down kayaks and head massages with lemurs to sunsets so beautiful they won’t be lost on you or your little ones…

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Where to stay:

IN A NATURE RESERVE ON THE NORTHWEST COAST OF THE ISLAND, Anjajavy l’Hôtel welcomes kids from one year of age. Its rosewood villas stretch out over the beachfront beside the Mozambican Channel in the otherworldly Moramba Bay. Little ones are encouraged to join the family on catamaran and snorkeling adventures, fishing trips, splashes in the pool or water-skiing out in the open seas.

Read below: for our list of five kiddie favourites at Anjajavy l’Hôtel

Best time of the year to visit Madagascar: April to October

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5 Things Kids Can Look Forward To At Anjajavy l’Hôtel…

1. The Indian Ocean only a few sandy footprints away…


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2. Meeting animals they might never have heard of before…

Lemurs, chameleons, tortoises, humming birds… “There are probably few places on earth that offer such an authentic, up-close contact with nature. You might discover a new, as-yet unknown native species yourself, like several visitors each season do!” –  RADO RASOLOFOSON – Anjajavy l’Hôtel, HEAD OF GUIDES AND MOUNTAIN PATROLMEN


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3. Getting in touch with their inner explorer…

Madagascar is one of the last remaining unspoilt oases on the planet. A world of wonder to curious little minds with virgin forests, savannas and tiny islands to explore and new plants to discover – cocoa, vanilla, ylang-ylang, papyrus and other carnivorous species…


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4. Making new friends…

during visits with the local community that work closely with the hotel and on festive nights at Anjajavy l’Hôtel.


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5. Countless “that one time” stories to go home with…

Whether fishing, swimming, water skiing, mountain biking, nature hikes, catamaran cruises or otherwise.


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Should you be interested in finding out more or travelling to Anjajavy l’Hôtel with your own brood, feel free to contact us.