After a day of wonderful meals, magical diving and close up encounters with chameleons – I truly didn’t think that my time at Miavana could get any more special, but I was very wrong.
So, with just under 24 hours left at Time + Tide Miavana, I was very excited to see what my last day in Madagascar would hold.
As the daylight hours began to dwindle, we took out one of the boats and ventured across to another nearby island. It allowed me to catch a glimpse of the local Malagasy life, as well as providing an opportunity to explore the impressive mangroves and the wildlife which call them home.
After knocking back a boat beer, I arrived back at the resort just in time to head to the central villa and catch the sunset. The imposing stone walls of the piazza are made all the more impressive by the extensive water feature, which gives the illusion that this structure is floating – an illusion which is only heightened by the magical light of sunset.
The central piazza is the undeniable heart of Miavana. It is where your meals will be prepared, where you can indulge in a private wine tasting with the in house sommelier, where you can take a dip in the main pool and where you can treat yourself to a bespoke cocktail experience.
The sunset bar is where guests and staff alike congregate in the evening to meet, discuss the events of the day, and of course – to drink!
The resident bartender can make any cocktail imaginable, but if you don’t actually have a specific drink in mind, rest assured, you will be well taken care of. The bartender will ask you numerous questions to gain an understanding of your palate and from there, will craft you something truly spectacular.
One cocktail and a rather lot of tsaky tsaky (the Malagasy term for snacks, it loosely translates to fromage blanc in French) later it was time to make my way to a poolside corner of the piazza where I was to eat my last dinner on the island.
The setting for my last Miavana dinner was perfect. Lamplight guided me to my table, whilst a near full moon beamed down in all its glory.
The first course was delivered to me without delay, and oh what a way to start a meal! The freshest linefish sashimi was served, adorned with caviar and a wasabi-esque peas.
Now, I have always been a lover of sashimi, but up until this point, have really only eaten tuna and salmon in such a manner. Linefish sashimi wasn’t something I would have expected, which made it so much more exciting when it became one of the best things I had eaten in all of 2019.
Then, in that satisfying moment between courses, I heard a bit of a commotion break out towards the kitchen. I heard my butler yell out emphatically “she needs to see it! She must see it!”
All of a sudden several staff members came running over to me – what could possibly have been the reason for such an interruption?
Well, it was a bloody great reason, let me tell you that!
I was quickly informed that a turtle had been sighted laying eggs in front of villa #5! No sooner than the words had registered in my ears, I was up and I was running. Not even running, I was fricking sprinting!
I wasn’t even the only one doing their best impersonation of Usain Bolt. Two of the chefs, several of the serving staff and a few other members of Miavana staff also came running to bear witness to this phenomenal occurrence.
When we arrived, she was hidden in the bushes and nearing the end of the egg-laying process. I got there just in time to actually see the last one fall out of mum and into the nest!
We soon found out that was certainly a protective mum. After covering up the nest, she spent ages digging and refilling a second decoy nest! Only then did she emerge from the bushes and start making her way back to the ocean. We waited until she got close to the water before we approached her (we didn’t want to scare her after all) but the few minutes of unencumbered views were well worth all the running, waiting and being eaten by mosquitoes. Seeing her slip into the water made me feel pure and unadulterated joy.
I could not have asked for a more special way to end my last night on the island.
After all the commotion and excitement had died down, I remembered that I still had two more courses waiting for me!
Once back at my table, I sipped on a glass of perfectly paired wine, devoured lobster gnocchi and a ridiculously well caramelised pineapple tart, all whilst remaining totally unable to wipe the smile from my face.
I was so elated, so overjoyed and utterly content.
I slept that night with dreams of turtles, lemurs, crazy chameleons and endless dolphins – it was one of the best sleeps I had had in a long time.
I awoke the next day as the first embers of morning light began to drift into the sky. It was my last sunrise on the island, so I quickly jumped out of bed, grabbed my camera gear and raced back to the central villa. I wanted to give Droney Boi one last flight for the year, and I wanted it to be one to remember.
Well, I succeeded.
What ensued was an utterly magical sunrise. The sky seemed to go through a near constant change of colours. It was my own private kaleidoscope in the sky. One minute, all I could see were warm yellows, the next moment it seemed like the sky would turn to a vibrant ginger, and then it seemed to turn into a swirl of cotton candy pinks and purples.
It was just ridiculous, and, as I was alone at the central villa, it really felt like the sky was putting on a show all for me.
I mean, guys, is this not just like something from a dream?!
Three fully charged drone batteries later, it was time to sit down for my last Miavana brekkie. I absolutely demolished the eggs benedict and then planned to visit the shop and museum before heading back to my villa for one last dip.
The museum, also known as the Cabinet de Curiosites is a small private collection of Malagasy history. This mini-museum is a celebration of the history of Nosy Ankao, as well as of Malagasy heritage and traditions. It houses the skeletons of two now extinct species (the pygmy hippo and the elephant bird) as well as a truly incredible collection of butterfly species.
Upon the completion of my perusal through the museum, I decided to head into the shop to see if anything took my fancy. However, upon entering, the shop girl and I quickly realised that we weren’t alone…
Much to my excitement, this little fella had come in to do some shopping too! Judging from our reactions, I was much more excited about this than the shop girl. I started crouching down and taking photos, she screamed and ran clean out of the store! It was really quite hilarious, and given how lucky I had been with wildlife sightings, I couldn’t even bring myself to feel surprised that the wildlife had just kept coming.
Once Mister Snek had been gently ushered out of the store, I headed back to my villa for one last swim. I tried to soak up as much of the atmosphere as physically possible, but I couldn’t deny the truth – I just really did not want to leave.
All too soon it was time for me to say goodbye to the dream that was villa #8. With a heavy heart I said farewell to one of the most special places I had ever stayed, but not before being treated to one last meal, because you know, this is Miavana after all!
The turqouise Indian ocean, unparallelled wildlife and jaw-dropping luxury had all combined to make this trip easily one of my 2019 highlights, and likely, one of the highlights of my entire life.
I will never forget the amazing three days that I spent marooned on Nosy Ankao at Time + Tide Miavana.
Getting to Time + Tide Miavana: Flights to the capital of Antananarivo can be booked via Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines), Johannesburg (SAA), Mauritius (Air Mauritius), Moroni (Air Madagascar), Paris (Air France), Nairobi (Kenya Airways) and Istanbul (Turkish Airlines). From Tana you will fly with Tsaradia to either Nosy Be or Diego Suarez where you will then fly via private helicopter to Nosy Ankao
Time + Tide Miavana: For more information about visiting Time + Tide Miavana, click here
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses and a DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Remember: Bring the most heavy duty deet-filled insect repellent if you visit during the more humid seasons, the mosquitoes in Madagascar are fierce!