I recently traveled to Zambia & Madagascar. You can read my trip reports here
- Review: Kenya Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class from Amsterdam to Nairobi
- Review: Kenya Airways B737 Business Class from Nairobi to Lusaka
- Review: Time + Tide Chongwe Suites, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
- Review: Time + Tide Kakuli Bushcamp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Review: Time + Tide Chinzombo Lodge, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Review: Helicopter flight to the world’s most exclusive resort (today)
- Review: Time + Tide Miavana, Madagascar
- Review: Air France B777 Business Class from Antananarivo to Paris
Today (December 11, 2019): Helicopter flight to the world’s most exclusive resort, Time + Tide Miavana (Madagascar).
Time + Tide Miavana is an incredibly luxurious resort located on remote Nosy Ankao island, which part of a five-island archipelago off the north-east of Madagascar. Surrounded by vibrant coral reefs and the Indian Ocean’s spectacular maritime wonders, Miavana consist of only 14 one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas strung along the island’s western pure white beaches. Miavana’s palatial villas have been perfectly designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the star architects who also designed North Island Seychelles (which I reviewed here), and allows guests to step directly onto the powder-soft sand from their private decks to enjoy spectacular panoramic Indian Ocean sunsets extending to the far contours of mainland Madagascar. I will publish my review of Time + Tide Miavana next week; today I share with you a review of the transfer to the resort, which is only accessible by helicopter.
The helicopter flight to Time + Tide Miavana always originates at one of the following two airports:
- Fascene International Airport, which is located on Nosy Be island off the north west coast of Madagascar. The helicopter flight from Nosy Be’s airport to Time + Tide Miavana takes around one hour and costs $1200 USD per person (one way). Since Nosy Be is one of the most developed tourism destinations in Madagascar, so the airport is one of the busiest in the country and served by several airlines:
- Airlink (codeshares with South African Airways): flights to Johannesburg (3 hours)
- Air Austral (codeshares with Air France): flights to La Reunion Island (1 hour and 30 minutes)
- Ethiopian Airlines: flights to Addis Ababa (4 hours)
- Neos: seasonal flights to Milan, Roma and Verona (9 hours)
- Tsaradia (domestic airline): flights to Madagascar’s capital city Antananarivo (2 hours)
- Arrachart Airport is an airport located near Antsiranana (formerly Diego-Suarez). It’s connected by domestic airline Tsaradia with the capital Antananarivo (1 hour and 40 minutes). The helicopter flight from Diego Suarez Airport to Time + Tide Miavana takes around 30 minutes and is charged at $400 USD per person (one way).
Although the helicopter flight from Nosy Be is double as long and more expensive compared to a departure from Diego Suarez, I still recommend Nosy Be as your point of departure, as it allows you to fly an international carrier in and out of Northern Madagascar. The region’s other airport, Diego Suarez, is only served by domestic airline Tsaradia, which is highly unreliable (often canceling and delaying flights without previous notice, as I experienced myself). For your information, I flew in via Nosy Be with Airlink (which was a smooth transfer), but I flew out via Diego Suarez where I was stuck for most of the day, since Tsaradia unexpectedly delayed my flight to Antananarivo by nine hours.
Whether arriving via Diego Suarez or Nosy Be, guests are met at the airport by the Time + Tide Miavana staff and whisked to the helicopter. The resort has its own fleet of two privately owned and state-of-the-art Robinson R66 helicopters, which are flown by pilots who work full time for the resort. The helicopter’s exterior is painted turquoise with white stripes to match the resort’s interiors. On the inside, it features a modern design with 5 leather seats, two in the front (one is the pilot seat) and three in the back. The helicopter’s cabin is airconditioned and all passengers get noise-cancelling headphones for the duration of the flight (which play a dreamy, ambient soundtrack).
A perfectly relaxing journey, the helicopter flight offers breathtaking vistas of the wild landscapes of one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers, including bird’s eye views of humpback whales in the Indian Ocean below if you are lucky. When you fly in and/or out via Nosy Be, the flight path will take over two of Madagascar’s geological wonders:
- Ankarana National Park – created in 1956 – is a spectacularly eroded limestone fortress of sharp ridges, patches of dense tropical jungle, deciduous forest, deep caves and canyons (actually the biggest underground network of Africa) and rushing rivers. A bird’s eye view from the helicopter of the park’s unique limestone tsingy rock pinnacles is truly spectacular.
- Analamerana (or Analamera) is located near the east coast. The reserve is mainly covered by dense deciduous dry forest mixed with rocky formations up to 700 m (2300 ft).
The trip’s highlight is of course when Time + Tide Miavana comes into view. The island on which the resort is set – Nosy Anko – is the largest of five islands in the Ankao archipelago, offering turquoise Indian Ocean waters, pristine beaches, and untouched wilderness. Nosy Ankao has an interesting history. A transient location for seasonal fisherman, the island’s one small village lost its entire population (of around 10) after they ate turtle meat which was poisoned by seasonal algea. In the 1990’s the island was used by ‘pirates’ as a way to avoid police control on the roads in northern Madagascar (until police stepped in and cleared the island from criminals). Today, it’s home to the world’s most exclusive beach resort.