Madagascar is one of the most unique and diverse destinations in the Indian Ocean with amazing wildlife encounters on offer, scenery like no other and some of the most exceptional beaches to be found in this part of the world. It is incredibly important to travel to Madagascar with an open mind and realistic expectations, so that you make the most of your time here and don’t come home feeling disappointed. Here we give our rundown on how to prepare and what to expect.
Our guide to Masoala National Park
A trip to Madagascar is high on the list for many wildlife enthusiasts, with over 80% of the flora and fauna found there being endemic to the island. Described as a kaleidoscope of nature, there is plenty of amazing species to go in search of. With aye-ayes, lemurs and whales, we believe Masoala National Park has it all! Here we tell you why we love this protected park in the far north of the country.
Situated in north-eastern Madagascar, Masoala has been dedicated as a national park since 1997. From rainforest to coral reefs, the abundance and variety of wildlife here is second to none, offering those with a keen interest in nature a definite once in a lifetime opportunity.
The rainforest is home to two species of Madagascar’s signature animal – the lemur. The flamboyant red ruffed lemur is native to the peninsular and the park is also the best place to try and catch a glimpse of the elusive aye-aye. Together with the lemurs visitors can spot many other animals in all shapes and sizes. Lizards such as geckos and chameleons, birds including the red owl and the Madagascar serpent eagle, and the tomato frog all inhabit this beautiful corner of the country.
The marine parks, with their lively coral reefs, are home to all kinds of sea creatures. Dolphin, dugong, turtles and thousands of brightly coloured fish can be spotted when snorkelling in the tropical seas. However, the biggest attraction for visitors to the area is its annual whale migration. From mid-July to mid-September the warm protected waters of Antongil bay are set upon by hundreds of humpback whales on their long migratory course.
A spectacle not to be missed, the whales arrive to join the other beautiful varieties of sea species which swim peacefully in the local waters. Their acrobatic characteristics including breaching and slapping the water, and their distinctive knobbly head make them one of the most interesting marine creatures to view; Masoala is one of the lucky places that is treated to this show every year. The park is the perfect habitat for the whales’ breeding and calving seasons which makes viewing these fascinating mammals almost guaranteed during this period.
The whales are seen almost daily from the nearby lodges’ windows; in August alone up to ten a day pass by, an experience rivalled by no other. Guests can enjoy boat trips or even go kayaking in the sea, offering the opportunity to view the whales up close in their natural habitat. This truly is one of nature’s most impressive spectacles.