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.

 

In the Company of Amazonicas and Aldabras

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“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi


The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens…

Mostly, I really just enjoy saying it, even when I’m far from its stubby bottles and tall royals, giant Victoria amazonicas and aldabras, and the crimson hues of its Madagascar fody and resident deer. But when exploring the island of Mauritius, in particular the north around the capital of Port Louis where the gardens lie, I enjoy them for the escape they provide, an inner-city horticultural hideaway and one that has been there since 1735.

Named after Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the first prime minister of independent Mauritius, they were started by Mahé de Labourdonnais, a French naval officer and administrator, in the service of the French East India, as a vegetable plot for his Mon Plaisir Château. Nearby is the funerary platform where Sir Ramgoolam was cremated – his ashes are now one with the Ganges River in India.

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From vegetable garden to horticultural espionage

French horticulturalist, Pierre Poivre took over the gardens and used them in the same way the Kew Gardens were used. According to Lonely Planet, around the 1700s, Poivre took to its soils and began planting tropical trees, shrubs and plants he ‘acquired’ from all over the world. His goal was to end France’s dependence on Asian spices.

It was Poivre who introduced spice plants such as clove and nutmeg to Mauritius (as well as Reunion and the Seychelles). Since these commodities were at the time controlled by the Dutch, he undertook sneaky smuggling forays to obtain plants and seeds from the Indies.

While the gardens fell into neglect from 1810 and 1849, British horticulturalist, James Duncan transformed them into an arboretum for palms – talipot palms, which flower once after about 40 years and then die, and other varieties like the raffia, sugar, toddy, fever, fan and sealing-wax palms – as well as other tropical trees – the marmalade box tree, fish poison tree and sausage tree.

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Entering through the towering gates of this 25-hectare garden takes me right back to the dark cinema house where the film, Life of Pi dazzled us on the big screen. Before Pi ends up in the raft with a tiger, that is. Rather, the scenes featuring the impressive Le Jardin Botanique de Pondicherry, the botanical gardens used as the setting for the zoo where Pi’s father works.

Perhaps the similarity has to do with the French and Indian heritage both gardens share. Like the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens, Pondicherry’s was also created by the French, in 1826. The Mauritian gardens also retain strong cultural Indian links and nuances – a heritage originating from the labourers brought over from India to work in the country’s sugar cane fields.

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This is the story I see when I look at the gardens – one of great history, timelines intertwined, different nations and races and creeds coming and going, mixing together like the varied plants and trees from all over Africa, Asia, the Americas and Indian Ocean island that inhabit one of the world’s finest botanical gardens.

The protagonist of this story is surely the long pond of giant Victoria amazonica water lilies. These South American natives would make for a great tea tray – although at two metres, it would have to be a very special tea party. Lonely Planet recommends going to see them in the warm summer months, notably January, when they are at their biggest and best.

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On your visit to the island, hire one of the knowledgeable guides at the entrance (or hop on a golf-buggy tour if you wish) and peruse the grounds. Go in search of the different trees planted by various international dignitaries over the years – such as the late Nelson Mandela, Indira Gandhi and several British royals.

Where To Stay20° Sud boutique hôtel, a delightful colonial mansion in a coconut grove at the water’s edge in Grand Baie, Mauritius. Discover more about this hotel in our blog, The Perks of Paradise.

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20° Sud

The Love Nut. And Other Reasons To Visit The Seychelles.

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Nature’s will to be weird, as Jim Morrison called it, couldn’t be stronger than on an island. Islands may prescribe to some conventions, what with their hammocks and palm trees, the mix of heat and rum urging on that island idleness. But it’s their weirdness that really gets you. The distinct plant and animal life that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Some call it exotic. Or mystifying. I like “weird”. And one island that is much weirder than the postcards reveal is the Seychelles, that collection (gaggle? stream?) of over 115 islands that makes up the country.

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In the middle of the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of the African mainland, the Seychelles is very much the tropical island retreat you would expect – it has a warm, tropical climate and water hovering around 27ºC, with a 30 metre plus visibility.

But the unexpected is the true attraction – the jellyfish trees, the coconut crabs and the Aldabras – the ninjas of the tortoise world, as named by one Mexican biologist after observing their perilous acrobatic acts. For instance their attempts to reach high branches on tippy-toes – the risk of overturning be damned.

One of the largest tortoises in the world, the males can weigh up to 250 kg and the females 159 kg. Both are known to live long after 100 years. They may be classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, but one thing is for sure, the Aldabras have paradise honed, with their very own island home in the Seychelles. Aldabra Atoll is one of the the most remote island environments in the world. At 34 kilometers long and 14 kilometers wide, it is the largest raised coral atoll in the world.

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Even more curious is something called the love nut. The biggest nut in the world, seen in the third stamp in the image above. Belonging to the coco de mer palm tree, which can grow up to 34 metres tall, the nut is endemic to only two of the Seychelles’ islands – the Vallée De Mai palm forest in Praslin Island, with its vanilla trees and rare Black Parrot, and neighbouring Curieuse Island.

The nut’s curvaceous figure, resembling a woman’s derriere, a rather pert derriere at that, is what earned it nicknames such as love nut or butt nut, and its fertility symbol status. It is the Marilyn Monroe of fauna, with its flesh a celebrated aphrodisiac once worth its weight in gold. The nut was nearly hunted to extinction before being protected.

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Where To Stay

The island of the love nut, Praslin Island, is also where you will find the Relais & Chateaux Le Chateau de Feuilles hotel, a short stroll from the beach of Anse Marie-Louise. There are a number of things to do using the hotel as your base, including seeking out the weird and wonderful life forms inhabiting the archipelago. Take a look below for ten of our top suggestions.

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10 Things To Do In The Seychelles

1. Have an island to yourself

“The island is ours. Here, in some way, we are young forever.” ― E. Lockhart

Visit Le Chateau de Feuilles’ private 84 hectare island, called Grande Soeur, all by yourself during weekends. Trek with the friendly giant land tortoises or head into the water, snorkelling and diving in waters where the marine life is prolific, with sea turtles and a variety of fish, and protected by a coral barrier.

2. Scuba diving

With the assistance of a 5 star Padi diving center, beginners or advanced divers can discover the most beautiful diving sites.

3. Deep-sea fishing

Go on personalised fishing trips.

4. Cycle

Explore the sea front by bicycle.

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5. Snorkeling

On all of the beaches…

6. Island Hopping

Visit the other islands that make up the Seychelles, including:

  • “La Digue”, superb island where huge pink granite rocks rise above warm white sand beaches like the famous Source d’Argent.
  • “Curieuse”, national park, home of abundant large land-turtles that can live longer than 100 years.
  • “Coco” and “Saint Pierre”, national parks, with very rich submarine life.
  • “Cousin”, national park, inhabited by over a million birds.
  • “Aride”, national park, famous for its land fauna and beaches.

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7. Relax

“To take a good rest in life time to time, you must know the ways to make yourself a remote island! An island no one can reach…” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

You don’t need much help relaxing in a setting like the Seychelles but Le Chateau de Feuilles‘s swimming pool with its clear natural mineral water, massages and jacuzzi with its 300º view will help you along. As will the fresh fruit cocktails served to you in your pool chair.

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8. Eat

Get a taste of the Seychelles at the Château de Feuilles’ restaurant, considered one of the best in the Seychelles. Using fresh produce from his organic fruit and vegetable garden, exotic and natural ingredients, and fresh ocean fish, the Chef’s creations are based on quality and authenticity.

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  • Try the Passionfruit smoked marlin, mango and octopus salad, Gambas tempuras, Grilled Lobster, Roasted Seychelles giraffe crab, Creole-chicken curry and green papaya chutney, grilled fish fillet with creole sauce and hearts of palm au gratin, Coconut mille-feuille with mango sorbet, Papaya tart with cinnamon ice cream… among other typically Seychellois dishes.

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9. Get Married

Oh, to be invited to a wedding in the Seychelles! Do your friends and family a favour, or simply yourself, and tie the knot at Chateau de Feuilles. Their wedding package offers creative, individual attention and includes fresh flowers arrangements and decoration of the wedding setting in the tropical garden with a panoramic view over the ocean and the neighbouring islands; a ceremony in English with the civil minister; marriage certificate; witnesses and translation in Italian or German, if necessary.

  • Optional extras: Professional photographer and videographer, wedding cake, champagne, bridal bouquet and buttonhole, solo guitarist, hair styling, make-up, manicure and pedicure.

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10. Go On Honeymoon

Follow in Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s footsteps and retreat to an island in the Seychelles for your honeymoon. For Honeymooners, Chateau de Feuilles organises a special welcome in your suite, a bottle of Champagne, a sunset lounge with cocktails and appetizers, and transfers in a private car from the airport or the harbour of Praslin to the hotel.

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Contact us to find out more about Chateau de Feuilles and travelling to the Seychelles.