Introducing Réserve de Nosy Mangabe
The thickly forested island nature reserve of Nosy Mangabe (520 hectares) is located in Baie d’Antongil about 5km offshore from Maroantsetra. With its dark-green forested hills rising dramatically out of the surrounding sea, and a wonderful yellow sickle of beach, the island has a magical, otherworldly feel rather like a location from Jurassic Park. It rains a lot on Nosy Mangabe, however, so you could well end up seeing all this through a wall of water.
The main attraction of Nosy Mangabe is its flourishing population of aye-ayes, which were introduced in 1967 to protect them from extinction. Nosy Mangabe’s aye-ayes are fairly elusive these days, and a sighting is by no means guaranteed. Besides the aye-ayes, the island is home to mouse lemurs, white-fronted brown lemurs and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, all of which are fairly easily spotted if you stay overnight.
Walking through the forest in the dark, your torch will pick out a host of reptiles and amphibians – Nosy Mangabe is home to the leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus), one of nature’s most accomplished camouflage artists; several species of chameleons; many frogs; and several snake species, including the harmless Pseudoxyrohopus heterurus, which is believed to be endemic to Nosy Mangabe, and the Madagascar tree boa.
There are several walking trails on the island and a small waterfall. At one end is a beach called Plage des Hollandais, with rocks bearing the scratched names of some 17th-century Dutch sailors. From July to September, you can see whales offshore.