Category Archives: Country Walks in Malta

Visit Malta: Majjistral Natural & History Park

Hedgehog

The Majjistral Natural & History Park is located in the Northwest part of Malta, extending from Golden Bay to Popeye Village, or Anchor Bay. Majjistral Park is the only natural park in Malta and it includes coastal cliffs and a rich ecological and rural heritage.

The park contains a diverse of habitats that include: clay slopes, boulder screes, maritime and clifftop garigue, agricultural land, a sandy beach and an associated dune. Native trees, shrubs and smaller plants are being planted and taken care of in the area after it was cleared of rubbish. In Majjistral, you can also find cart-ruts, rubble walls, farmhouses, tombs dating back to the Classical period, caves and a number of ‘giren’ that were used by hunters for storage and shelter. You can explore remains of British military architecture, dating to the early 20th century, amongst which is a military shooting range.

Girna

Majjistral Park was declared a National Park in 2007 and since then over 1300 plants were planted including olives, Evergreen oak, Carob, Myrtle, Golden Samphire and more. There are around 430 different species of plants in the park, including some very extreme species and other plants endemic to Malta – such as Maltese Spurge, Maltese Sea Chamomile, Maltese Pyramical Orchid and the Maltese Sea Lavender. The park is also home to 9 bird species known to breed there and several migratory species who visit. You can also come across different reptiles and mammals such as hedgehogs, various bat species, weasels and wild rabbits. The area is mostly composed of Blue Clay, the rock layer sandwiched between the Globigerina limestone and the Upper Coralline Limestone. Being one of the softer rocks, clay erodes easily with the action of the elements, collapsing limestone structures and leaving a stretch of scattered boulders. Erosion created the sandy beaches of Fomm ir-Rih, Gnejna, Ghajn Tuffieha, Golden Bay and Paradise Bay. The relative inaccessibility of these beaches makes them less frequented and they remain amongst the most pristine and picturesque bays of the island. The amazing landscape at Majjistral Natural Park
attracts several trekkers during autumn, winter and spring.

You can explore the site at your own leisure or join guided nature walks held every Sunday from October to May, subject to a minimum participation. You can book your walk by sending an email to walks@majjistral.org.

Find out what’s happening in Malta by contacting the Concierge Desk at this luxury 5 star hotel and they will definitely give you some great tips on Where to Go and What to Do during your next holiday to Malta.

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Malta: the Land of Honey

Malta is well renowned for its pure honey. In fact beekeeping in Malta has a long history. Proof of this is the name the Greeks gave Malta. They called the island ‘Melite’ (Μελίτη) which derives from the Greek word ‘meli’ (μέλι) that means honey.

bees

Photo credits: Times of Malta

A sub species of the honey bee (Apis Mellifera Ruttneri) is endemic to the Maltese Islands. This type of bee used to live in the wild. Nowadays you can still find some but they have become very rare due to diseases.

In the past Maltese honey was considered a delicacy and it also used to be exported from the island. It is believed that the Phoenicians introduced the domestication of beekeeping in apiaries and earthenware jars. In fact some Punic apiaries remain. In the Maltese countryside one can still find apiaries called ‘Miġbħa’ that date back to Punic times. One of them is the Xemxija apiary that is one of the oldest in the world. In theory this apiary is still in a state of use, however nowadays the beekeeping technique is different with movable frame hives.

Apiary - Honey making in Malta

Photo credits: Cordyline on Panoramio.

In Malta, until the 1950’s bees were kept in earthenware jars. These type of jars were made of clay and without a bottom. At the top they had a closure with small holes. These jars were kept under carob trees in order to get a good shading from the sun. Sometimes they were also placed in niches in rubble walls made especially for these jars. But those who had the means used to build apiaries in their fields. These apiaries were specially built rooms or caves which had their opening closed by a wall. An opening in the wall would allow the bees to enter the cave.

Honey was gathered once a year after the wild thyme honey season, usually around the Feast of St. Anne which falls on the 26th July. The honey making process is quite a busy one for the beekeeper. He needs to observe the bees at work in order to add extensions to the jar. The gathering of the honey was a little messy too. A long knife was used in order to cut off the combs with honey. The liquid was then placed in a pail or a pot and covered. Before bee smokers were available, the beekeepers used to burn some grass in old cooking pans and extinguish it to make some smoke in order to enter near the bees and not be stung.

These techniques started to change in the 50’s as the first movable frame hives and other tools began to appear. These were generally imported from Britain. The hives were then copied from them and crafted locally. Till today the British Standard hive is common in Malta.

Maltese Honey

Photo credits: Viewing Malta & Mario Galea

In old times honey was a commodity for the general household. Before the invention of sugar refining, honey was the only means of sweetener. It was also cheaper than cane sugar. Although nowadays the whole process has changed, one cannot forget our fathers that without any modern knowledge and tools managed to place Malta in the world map of honey. In fact Maltese honey is still regarded as one of the best around the world.

If you would like to witness some local traditions during your holidays in Malta be sure to speak to our Transport desk during your stay and they will guide you through our list of self guided tours and excursions.

Photo credits: Times of Malta, Viewing Malta & Mario Galea and on Panoramio.

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Things to do in Malta this Winter

Visiting Malta this Winter? There are several things you can enjoy whilst exploring the islands. From country walks to visiting museums, there is surely something for everyone to enjoy. Have a look at some of our tips that will make your holiday in Malta worthwhile.

Hagar Qim Temple

Hagar Qim Temple – © Viewing Malta

1. Visit Hagar Qim, Malta’s prehistoric freestanding Megalithic temples situated in Qrendi
2. Practice your photography
3. Go out cycling one morning or afternoon
4. Have you tried painting? There are so many beautiful sceneries around Malta and Gozo
5. Go karting in Ta’ Qali
6. Try horse riding at least once in your life

Ggantija Temples Gozo

Ggantija Temples Gozo – © Mick Cundy & Viewing Malta

7. Go back to the past; visit the ‘Ggantija Temples’ in Gozo
8. Dance the night away at one of the nightclubs in Paceville
9. Visit the ‘Kordin 111 Neolithic Temples’

War Museum

War Museum – © Rene Rossignaud

10. Go to the ‘Malta War Museum’ in Fort St Elmo in Valletta
11. Visit the ‘Museum of National History’ in Mdina
12. Visit the National library in Valletta

Mgarr ix-Xini Coastal Tower

Mgarr ix-Xini Coastal Tower – © Pauline Dingli & Viewing Malta

13. Go to Mgarr Ix-Xini cove in Gozo
14. Visit the Royal Navy Prison Museum in Corradino
15. Take a trip out to the newly opened National Aquarium in Qawra
16. See the ‘Fat Lady’ at the Tarxien temples
17. Admire ‘The Magesterial Palace & Armoury’ in Valletta
18. Take time to explore at least one seasonal cultural event

The Grand Hotel Excelsior’s prime location allows easy access to all tourist locations around the Maltese Islands. The main bus terminus provides services to all towns and villages and is only a few minutes away from this luxury 5 star hotel in Malta. If you’d like to explore places around Malta, kindly contact the chauffeur driven service at this superior hotel.  With a list of tours and excursions they will surely help you enjoy a unique and memorable Malta holiday.

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