The relatively unexplored Masoala National Park in Madagascar is an expansive area encompassing 2,300 square kilometres of damp rainforest and 100 square kilometres of coastal splendour. As a result, the park boasts a range of diverse habitats. The protectorate comprises coastal forests, marshes, mangrove swamps, and pockets of marine parks with colourful coral reefs. It is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park holds great appeal for wilderness lovers seeking an off-the-beaten-track rainforest and beach adventure with abundant game viewing opportunities. Unexplored pockets of the forest combined with languid days on pristine, uncrowded beaches teeming with turtles is the order of the day at Masoala National Park. This park is ideal for an activity-based holiday where guests can enjoy snorkelling, kayaking, forest walks, and navigating waterways on traditional pirogues.
The town of Maroantsetra is the gateway to the park. Visitors can fly into the capital city and catch a connecting charter flight to Maroantsetra. The region is only accessible by boat and requires a relatively good level of fitness to truly explore the area.
Masoala National Park provides a haven for a wealth of wildlife, in particular lemurs. The national park is home to the endemic red ruffed lemur, the eastern fork-marked lemur, and the Masoala woolly lemur. This region of Madagascar houses a huge corridor of the untamed and unruly rainforest with an incredible bio-diversity. There are unique reptiles, amphibians and mammals that dwell deep within the forests. A few of the species include the odd-looking cat-like fossa, hedgehog tenrec, Uroplatus gecko and an array of chameleons. Madagascar is a sanctuary for birdlife, and eager birders flock to the island to view a few emblematic species, such as the Madagascar serpent eagle (extremely rare) and red owl. Additionally, the island supports a large population of localised species, the highest number in Africa.
Masoala National Park has a wet climate, which means torrential downpours can interrupt safari activities. The dominant wet season is from December to July. A good time to visit is from the end of July to September/October. July to September is when the humpback whales calve, and October is when lemurs give birth.
Masoala National Park is a playground for beach-goers, wildlife enthusiasts, and wilderness lovers. From whale watching boat trips to hiking in rainforests and spending languid days on pristine hidden beaches, there’s plenty to do in magnificent Masoala. The national park is for the adventurous. It can only be accessed by boat, and once there, visitors can enjoy private beaches and exploring unchartered rainforest areas. Antongil Bay is buzzing with whale activity from July to September when visitors can enjoy whale watching on boat trips. Other water-based activities in the area include snorkelling, kayaking, fishing from traditional pirogues, and swimming. The handful of lodges close to the beach in the area offer equipment and private guided tours for all of these water-based sports.
Kayaking is the perfect way to explore the islands, rivers and small bays. Being on the water also means abundant opportunities to spot shorebirds. The waters beneath are alive with brightly coloured coral reefs, making it perfect for snorkelling. There is a network of walking trails within the rainforest meandering through the gnarled forests thriving with lemur activity. Guided walks during the day and night offer ample opportunity for visitors to spot a variety of reptiles, lemurs, amphibians, and other wildlife.
The national park is quite remote and hard to access, but well worth the journey. Guests can choose between beautiful forest lodges or rustic beach lodges constructed from wood and thatch. Accommodation in the park is simple but has all of the amenities one would expect from lodge accommodation. Accommodation options have plenty of sporting equipment on-site, and a team of local, qualified staff. One of the lodges is located in a secluded area and opens out onto a beach. There are also a few campsites in the park in the major areas of Cap Est, Nosy Mangabe, Ambatolaidama, and in the three major marine parks.