The remote 240-sq-km Parc National de Mananara-Nord encompasses some of the last remaining lowland rainforest in the country. An additional 10 sq km of islets and surrounding reefs are protected as a marine park, the largest being Nosy Atafana. While lemurs are not always seen, Mananara-Nord contains indris, brown lemurs, ruffed lemurs and aye-ayes, and is the only known habitat of the hairy-eared dwarf lemur. There is also a variety of geckos, including the endemic uroplatus and day geckos. Offshore there are dugong.
The MNP office is in Sahasoa, about 30km south of Mananara. Come here first to arrange your visit. Guide and porter fees start from Ar12,000/8,000 per day. Many guides speak some English. They will print out a map upon request.
The park has two main circuits, one terrestrial and the other marine. The terrestrial circuit begins 6km south of the park office by foot. It takes two hours to get there, two to do the circuit, and another two to get back. The marine circuit includes a trip to Nosy Atafana, and costs an additional Ar120,000 to Ar150,000 for boat and fuel. The cost per person thus declines with the size of the group (maximum eight). A third circuit takes two full days and covers both land and sea. For any trip in the park, you’ll need to be self-sufficient with food and water, and, if trekking, in good shape. Camping is Ar5000 per tent. A limited amount of camping equipment is for hire at the park office.
Mananara-Nord sees very few tourists. This region is not only difficult to reach, but the park itself is not great value. The two-hour terrestrial circuit requires four hours of hiking to get there and back. The marine circuit is a quick 15 minutes to Nosy Atafana, but the circuit is only an hour – not long for the price.
If you are coming from Maroantsetra, the large, mountainous and lush Nosy Mangabe (7 sq km) offers a lot more than the small and flat Nosy Atafana (0.23 sq km).