highlights and main attractions of masoala national park

Known for its incredible array of biodiversity, the Masoala National Park and its offshore island reserve of Nosy Mangabe represent the largest of Madagascar’s protected land areas and some of its least visited. The habitats you are likely to come across here are wide-ranging, from flooded forest marshland and coastal forests to mangroves, which collectively teem with life and provide a fascinating look at the island’s many natural wonders. 

Established in 1997, the rugged landscape of the park, combined with the best known marine parks and some of the most pristine rainforest, makes it a good choice exploration and with fewer visitors and a larger area you are likely to enjoy the nature in relative isolation. 

This is also one of the few places in Madagascar where the rainforest meets the sea, giving the area, arguably, the biggest, most unique and exhilarating variety of circuits of all the national parks.

where is masoala national park?

tanjona, ambodirafia and marofototra

Keen divers and marine enthusiasts should consider the main reserve of Tanjona, in addition to Ambodirafia and Marofototra, which all offer great swimming. The coral reef system has a vibrant array of colourful fish, accessible to snorkelers and divers, and there are some stunning beaches to explore once back on dry land.

The primary rainforest areas of Masoala provide sanctuary to the rare, brightly coloured and endangered red-ruffed lemur, as well as the nocturnal, aye-aye. These are just two of the primate species found here, and other wildlife is in abundance too, with chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos, tomato frogs, Madagascar red owls and serpent eagles. Many of these intriguing creatures are more easily spotted here than other parts of the ‘Red Island’.

The special reserve of Nosy Mangabe, located just 2 kilometres off the coast, is small and easy to navigate. Covered in dense forest, this island has its own wildlife viewing potential; Brookesia (the smallest chameleon found in the world) and the eerie aye-aye are regularly seen, as well as humpback whales between June and September, as they migrate from the Antarctic. 

Spotting the black and white ruffed lemur and white-fronted brown lemur are also more likely on Nosy Mangabe.

Access to Masoala is from the towns of from the towns of Maroantsetra or Antalaha. It is possible to arrive by motorboat from Maroantsetra or by road to Cap Est from Antalaha. Staying at the Relais de Masoala provides both close access to the park and authentic, charming accommodation, but the best accommodation in the park itself is Masoala Forest Lodge. 

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