Nosy Mangabe

Top choice in Eastern Madagascar

Part of Parc National Masoala-Nosy Mangabe, this thickly forested and mountainous tropical island is one of the crown jewels of the Antongil Bay. With huge soaring canarium trees arising from flying buttress roots, a rusty shipwreck piercing one side, waterfalls, a yellow sickle-shaped beach, foreign inscriptions and the omnipresent sound of the jungle, it is quite possibly the closest thing to a Robinson Crusoe experience you'll get. It rains a lot, though, so be prepared.

Reptiles and amphibians thrive thanks to the lack of predators, including the leaf-tailed gecko, one of nature’s most accomplished camouflage artists. You'll also find several species of chameleon, many frogs and several harmless species of snake, including the Madagascar tree boa. It is also home to various lemurs, including the elusive aye-aye, which was introduced here in 1967 to protect the species from extinction. It is highly unlikely you'll see one, but you'll no doubt see the white-fronted brown lemur, who like hanging out by the camp, and with a bit of luck, the black and white ruffed lemur too.

There are a handful of well-maintained trails: a popular option takes you to the summit of the island. Another leads to Plage des Hollandais, a beach with rocks bearing the scratched names of some 17th-century Dutch sailors. From July to September, you can see whales offshore.

The island is usually included in itineraries combining Masoala (either as a picnic stopover or an overnight stay) but you could also visit as a day trip from Maroantsetra.

MNP runs a very well-equipped beachside campground (camping per tent Ar5000) with shelters, picnic tables, a kitchen, showers and flush toilets. It’s an idyllic spot.

Entry permits can be obtained at the MNP office in Maroantsetra. Boat transfers can be arranged through your guide; the trip takes 30 to 45 minutes.

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