giovedì 14 agosto 2014

Ile Sainte Marie (ENG)

Sainte Marie is a long and narrow island (40 km by 5 km) located at a  short distance from the east coast of Madagascar. This is a typical tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean, with coral beaches and crystalline waters. It is almost unknown if compared to other places invaded by tourist resorts such as Nosy Be island. That is why Sainte Marie is an exceptional place where it is still possible to establish a genuine relationship with the local population. With her sister located on  the south, Ile Aux Nattes, provides more interesting
opportunities than a simple holiday on the beach.
If today Ile Saint Marie is recognized internationally only as a holiday destination, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it has been identified in a different and more serious way. Ile Sainte Marie was known by all as  island of pirates, real pirates, not mythical person belonging to novels. They were pirates who have faces and names : Captain William Kidd, "Billy one hand" Condon, Robert Culliford, Olivier "La Buse" Levasseur, Thomas Tew ... are some famous pirates who inhabited the island and sailed these seas. Through the centuries, geographical position of the island was a landmark and an ideal base to hide and launch onslaught of commercial vessels of India, the Arabian Peninsula and Europe. Pirates were so comfortable in  Sainte Marie to  dream a birth of a pirates Republic under the name "Libertalia". On the island, you can visit the cemetery of some members of the crew  with strange epitaphs, headstones with skulls and crossbones.

In recent years, story of pirates seemed to be the fruit of the imagination of the inhabitants and a bright strategy to catch the attention of tourists. In 2011 the wreck of the pirate Barry Clifford discovered through a series of satellite photos objects they believed could be a lot of ballast stones deposited on the sea-bottom near Sainte Marie. A research expedition with a team of experts from different disciplines was undertaken to verify this hypothesis. During the fifteen days research approved by the Malagasy government,  group of researchers has discovered the wreckage of three galleons pirates and evidence of the nature of these vessels such as cannons, gold coins, high value Chinese ceramics, table games, etc. ... Always on the island, the team of geologists has detected the presence of tunnels and fortifications that must have belonged to a den of pirates and erected to protect the colony. In the novel "The Return of the Pirate", James Nelson talk about a pirates’ story based in Sainte Marie.

One of the main attractions in Sainte Marie are the whales, precisely  humpback whales. They make long migrations between where they find their food, tiny crustaceans that form the krill, and places for breeding. Each year, these whales with "great wings" (translated from the Greek of “Megaptera”, due to these two long pectoral fins) undertook a long journey from  regions of Antarctic regions to the warm tropical waters in mid-winter (July to September), an ideal place for parties, feeding babies  and matings. During these  months the adults can not feed themselves due to the absence of their main food source, and females are busy on milking, and they lose a lot of weight. Humpback whales are famous for two things: the first is the complex and articulated song produced by males, a subject of ongoing study. The second is the incredible evolution that these animals of thirty tons can perform out of water, even jump off the surface of the entire length of their bodies.
The sea channel between Sainte Marie and the east coast of Madagascar are the ideal place to observe these animals, where the calm and warm waters are just right for the birth of young humpback whale and mating for adults.
A long deserted beaches, crystal  sea plenty of life, forests habitat of rich and unique wildlife of Madagascar like lemurs and chameleons,  warm and friendly people, a sanctuary for whales, are the magic ingredients to make your stay on the island an unforgettable life experience.
Ile Sainte Marie is part of the Responsible Tourism Program promoted by T-Erre and VolontariA. Visit our website.

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