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Masoala National Park ***

Madagascar’s largest national park (240,000 ha), Masoala is in the northeastern part of the country on the Masoala Peninsula. A visit to this remote area is a must for any naturalist interested in Madagascar, but it requires both time and organization. Quality lodging is available on the mainland at Maraontsetra (which can be reached by regular flights from Antananarivo and Toamasina), notably in the excellent Relais du Masoala Ecolodge, and boat trips to the Masoala Peninsula can be arranged through hotels in Maraontsetra or through an Antananarivo-based tour operator. Accommodations are now available on the peninsula as well, at Andranobe, Ambanizana, Lohatrozona, and Tampolo. A rewarding package trip is to spend one night on the island of Nosy Mangabe, which is quite close to the peninsula, and then do a one- to three-day visit to Masoala to any of the above mentioned sites. The highlight of your visit will be a sighting of the red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra), which is endemic to the peninsula and relatively easy to find due to its loud vocalizations. The white-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur albifrons) is common, and the northern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur occidentalis) can also be seen. Night hikes in the forests near the Lohatrozona campsite offer the opportunity to see the Masoala fork-marked lemur (Phaner furcifer), the Masoala sportive lemur (Lepilemur scottorum), and the Masoala woolly lemur (Avahi mooreorum), the latter two also endemic to the peninsula. Other species reported in the park include an undescribed form of mouse lemur (Microcebus), hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis), greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major), and aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis). As with Marojejy, this park suffered illegal logging in 2009, but we are not yet sure to what extent this has impacted tourism. Be sure to check with tour operators and with Madagascar National Parks upon arrival in Antananarivo.