The main attractions in the northeast of Madagascar are the Masoala National Park and the Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve. Maroantsetra, a market town located on the Bay of Antongi, is the main point of access to both.
Whilst the 230,000 hectare Masoala National Park is the country’s largest, it is the least visited as it is usually only reached by a 2 hour boat journey from Maroansetra. Due to an extraordinary biodiversity of lowland rainforest, coastal forest, mountain ranges, marshland, mangroves and deserted beaches it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is a birder’s delight as it is home to both the critically endangered Madagascar serpent eagle and the Madagascar red owl. The park also encompasses three marine parks to protect delicate coral reefs and an abundant diversity of marine life.
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Maroantsetra is a market town located on the Bay of Antongil on the east coast of Madagascar. It is the main point of access to Masoala National Park and the Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve. Access to this town is mainly by air as the road conditions are poor. There are no roads into the town from north or west.
Nosy Mangabe is a rainforest reserve and sanctuary for the endangered aye-aye lemur which was introduced in 1966. This is the best place in Madagascar to see these fascinating creatures and an overnight stay is recommended to give you the chance to search by torchlight. Other lemurs on the island include black and white ruffed lemur, white-fronted brown lemur and the brown mouse lemur.
The whole experience of Nosy Mangabe is other-worldly and dramatic from the minute you step on to the beach and notice how the dark-green trees rise almost from the sea, leaving virtually no space for the sand. The forest is noisy at night with the calls of frogs reverberating around the trees. In the early morning there is often mist enveloping the forest. The air is moist and damp, the trees dripping and the calls of birds, lemurs, frogs and more fill the air.
To enjoy it to the full we recommend you have a good raincoat, plenty of dry clothes (in waterproof bags), insect repellent, a torch, some comfortable walking shoes/boots and a few snacks. Paths through the forest can be steep so its a place for nimble walkers.
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"Seeing animals unique to Madagascar in their natural environment and able to photograph them as they fed and interacted with each other [was inspirational]. The tour guide, Tokey, had an amazing knowledge of all of the wildlife, plants - latin names included - and the history of the country and its people and customs."