Melissa Express fast boat service to Maroantsetra for Masoala NP
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Nov 19, 2012 10:08 AM Last Post By: TexasTea
Oct 31, 2012 6:35 AM
Melissa Express fast boat service to Maroantsetra for Masoala NPInformation that I’ve given in earlier posts about the Melissa Express boat service to Maroantsetra for Masoala National Park now needs updating.
In particular the contact details that I gave in May for the Maroantsetra end of the operation have changed.
Contact in Tamatave:
+261 32 447 43 03
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (pay attention to the “1” in this address)
Contact in Maroantsetra:
+261 32 025 81 85
or in person at the Botika Orange on the main street close to the Protestant church.
The main problem that I personally have with Melissa Express is that they have a two-tier price system, with prices for “non-residents” substantially higher than for residents. This is disgraceful discrimination! While I understand and support the need for not-for-profit organisations such as Madagascar National Parks to charge low entry fees for Malagasy nationals simply to get them into the parks and convince them of the value of preserving their natural heritage, I have no sympathy at all with a commercial company that surcharges visitors to the country. That is straightforward ripping off of foreigners.
The argument that they surcharge foreigners to enable them to offer lower prices to Malagasy nationals doesn’t hold water, as the prices they charge nationals puts them beyond the reach of large numbers who are obliged to take the dangerous alternative of a sea passage on a freighter.
However, if you can swallow your annoyance at the surcharge, Melissa Express does provide a means of getting to Maroantsetra that is:
Cheaper than Air Madagascar
Very much faster and more comfortable than taxi brousse
As already noted vastly safer than a sea passage by freighter.
They now run the service twice a week: northbound Saturday and Tuesday, southbound Saturday and Tuesday nights (actual departure time from Maroantsetra is 02.00 hours Sunday and Wednesday).
Sample one-way fares at September 2012 (the fares apply in either direction):
Maroantsetra – Tamatave: 170 000 ariary (“residents”: 120 000 ariary)
Maroantsetra – Sainte Marie: 220 000 ariary (“residents”: 130 000 ariary)
Maroantsetra – Mananara: 80 000 ariary (“residents”: 51 000 ariary)
Mananara – Tamatave: 120 000 ariary (“residents”: 81 000 ariary)
Tamatave – Sainte Marie: 80 000 ariary (“residents”: 40 000 ariary)
Passengers to and from Tamatave are transported between Tamatave and Soanierana-Ivongo by special bus.
In Maroantsetra, the boat docks at a place around 3 to 4 km out of town, but the Botika Orange now provides a free luggage transport service.
People on a tight schedule should be aware that if conditions are judged to be (or likely to become) too dangerous, the boat will not put to sea.
Oct 31, 2012 6:50 AM
Nov 10, 2012 7:59 AM
2Some feedback from friends who did the trip last week from Maroantsetra to S-I:
Boat was scheduled for midnight; actually left at 2:30 AM. Trip was relatively quick, arriving offshore at S-I around 9:30 AM. However, as the tide was out (and the sandbar blocking the river mouth exposed), the boat had to wait offshore for ~2 hrs before it could dock. This part was rough, with a lot of people getting seasick.
Although they were headed to Ile Sainte-Marie, this boat did not go to the island (wrong boat? Tides?). By the timed they docked, boats from S-I to Ile had already departed and they were forced to overnight in S-I. So best to be prepared for this eventuality.
Only other comment was that the seating was quite cramped (no room to extend legs).
Nov 19, 2012 9:59 AM
3Hi Marogisa and others,
I have contacted Melissa Express via Gmail and wanted to reserve for the Sainte Marie to Maroantsetra service which I thought left every Saturday (I have read this somewhere, probably here or in one of the guidebooks). They told me however that I have to take the service to S/Ivongo on Friday, stay the night there and leave for Maroantsetra the next day. Is there no direct service or does it not run on Saturday (anymore)?
Nov 19, 2012 10:08 AM
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