Madagascar - Masoala advice please

Old Apr 28th, 2008, 01:49 AM
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Madagascar - Masoala advice please

I'm off to Madagascar in June with 3 friends and have some questions about Masoala, Nosy Mangabe and Maroansetra

1. Anyone have a reliable, fairly priced source (name, phone, e-mail) for boat transportation and/or camping gear for an overnight excursion from Maroantsetra to Nosy Mangabe? What did you pay? Is one night on Nosy Mangabe enough, in your opinion?

2. We're looking to get into the rainforest on Masoala but don't want to do a many day trek with porters, etc. and so want a base/accommodation on the coast that isn't luxurious, but has guides and can arrange an overnight walk/hike (i.e., 2 days, 1 night). What are the tradeoffs between Masoala Forest Lodge, Arrolodge and Tampolodge? Other suggestions?

3. How long does it take to get from the cluster of accommodation providers at Tampolo on Masoala to Maroansetra? Can we overnight on Masoala and still get to our 13h00 flight in Maroansetra, or should we plan to overnight in Maroansetra before our flight?

Thanks in advance

Kurt
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 07:09 AM
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Have you read the new Lonely Planet guide to Madagascar or Hilary Bradt's guide? Both discuss these destinations, perhaps not in the detail you desire, but they give useful information. ZZ
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 09:17 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion, ZZ. I've read them both and they lack the detail I'm looking for.
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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 06:52 AM
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Kurt: I hope other people who have actually been to Madagascar write in because there are a few of us planning trips there this year who are in your shoes. It seems difficult to find them. ZZ
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Old Apr 29th, 2008, 10:27 PM
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bump
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Old May 16th, 2008, 08:14 AM
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We arranged our guide through an agency in Madagascar called Boogie Pilgrim. Strange name but great vehicle and driver. They were not cheap but high quality.
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 06:33 AM
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We spent a couple of days last year in the Arollodge.
Good meals and bungalows in the edge of the Masoala Primary Forest. They are working with the villagers on a small marine reserve project.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 05:46 AM
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one day in Nosy Mangabe, 3 days in Masoala NP, about 400eur in 2008
Arollodge is in the edge of the Masoala primary forest, a good spot for the Red Ruffed Lemur and the Helmet Vanga.
2 hours from there to reach Maroantsetra airport
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Old May 29th, 2009, 09:00 PM
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For those interested (now that this thread has been bumped back to life by a self-promoting tour guide), I wrote some fragments of a trip report on my blog about a year ago. Text is below, photos and links are at http://afrikatourism.blogspot.com/20...oantsetra.html

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My recent trip to Madagascar included 7 days in the northeastern region of the Masoala Peninsula, including the island of Nosy Mangabe.

The town of Maroantsetra is the gateway and staging point for any excursion, and I highly recommend flights on Air Madagascar as opposed to braving the notoriously lousy road from Tana. All of our arrangements were made via Olivier Forneaux of Arol Lodge in advance, who we chose because of his hands-on involvement in responsible tourism. Olivier started in Madagascar as an eco-tourist, fell in love with Masoala, returned, fell in love with a Malagasy woman as well, and he's a lifer. Good thing for the region, I must say.

While we booked ahead, I do think that it would be possible to show up at the airport in Maroantsetra, catch a taxi into town (to the harbour, such as it is, adjacent to the collapsed bridge over the river...) and organise nearly everything from there, assuming there was availability. You'd need to allow for an extra day while the provisions were gathered, staff secured, fuel purchased, and so on. Some recommend going to the ANGAP offices in town, but that will get you a guide who then has to run around making all the arrangements. Unless you're looking to camp in the park facilities (which requires you have your own gear, food, etc.), I'd suggest you go directly to one of the 3 lodges that operate on the peninsula and work through them. All have offices on the other side of the river: Tampo Lodge, Arol Lodge and Masoala Forest Lodge.

Getting to Nosy Mangabe in good sea conditions is a half-hour affair. In bad sea conditions...well, first you find a brave enough captain with a good motor and watertight hull, convince him to head out in a squall, then turn back at the river mouth because the waves are too high for the shallow water and you're sure to bottom out and snap your propeller, head back to the harbour and wait 3 hours for the tide to come in, try again in another squall, get nailed by a succession of nasty waves and limp into the island cove soaked to the core. (guess which experience we had?) Even the snazzy 'Blue Fin' boat that takes tourists to the high-end Masoala Forest Lodge had to turn back and put their guests up in the rather tired Coco-Beach Hotel -- with the trip from Maroantsetra to Masoala (Tampo village) being 2.5 hours under good conditions, there wasn't enough time for them to make a second attempt into the teeth of a churlish sea. Such are the contingencies you have to be ready for in parts of Madagascar.

During our wait in Maroantsetra it poured buckets but then cleared enough for us to have a stroll through the harbour area and buy our lunch from a handful of street vendors and roadside stalls. This was cheap and good, if a bit fried (as one travelling companion was fond of saying "cauterized", which he meant as an indicator of food safety). Crevette cakes, fried manioc and coconut, bread rolls, rambutans (fruit like litchis), banana and rice steamed in a banana leaf, peanut brittle and sesame brittle. Lunch for 4 ran to 2000 ariary, or about $2 per person.

There's a bit of a market in town, about 1km from the river. It's for the locals, which makes it an interesting stroll. Worth looking for are the woven rattan baskets, which come in different sizes/shapes/colours and are of a style not found elsewhere. They're also cheaper (without haggling, around $3 for a typical 'tote' size).

Overall, Maroantsetra is a non-touristy staging point for excursions elsewhere, and it feels caught in a 1950's time warp, lending it an atmosphere of sad if friendly nostalgia. Anything more than a day here while arriving and departing would be a day wasted. There's only so much time one can spend watching the foot traffic across (and pirogue traffic under) the makeshift bridge from the terrace of the Coco-Beach Hotel or strolling the streets to an unending chorus of 'bonjour vazaha!'
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 09:57 PM
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Hello Kurt
When will you be in Mada ( date & time ) , lf you want l will pick you up at the airport & help you on organizing you Masoala trip. Send me a PM ( private message) we can get in touch.
Sincerly yours
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