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Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve ***
The island of Nosy Mangabe is located in the Bay of Antongil along Madagascar’s northeastern coast, about 5 km offshore from Maroantsetra. The island can be reached by boat, a ride that takes only 20–30 minutes. Stays at the well maintained but basic campsite can be arranged through lodges in Maraontsetra, such as the Relais du Masoala, or through an Antananarivo-based tour operator. Naturally-regenerated lowland rain forest covers the 520-ha island, which was heavily logged about two centuries ago. Nosy Mangabe is home to two diurnal lemur species, the white-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur albifrons) and the northern black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata subcincta), and both are quite easy to see. Three nocturnal lemurs also inhabit the island; an as-yet unidentified form of mouse lemur (Microcebus), the greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major), and the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), which was introduced to Nosy Mangabe in the late 1960s. Although sightings of the aye-aye are by no means guaranteed, this is one of the best places in the country to see this elusive creature. Although there is often a lot of human activity along the beach next to the campsite, the beach trail between the campsite and a fisherman’s camp a short distance away is nonetheless the most likely place to find them. Alternatively, ask the local guide if a ramy tree is in fruit, since this is one of the aye-aye’s favorite foods. A climb to the lighthouse at the top of the island is also recommended, both for the view and for lemurs that can be found along the way. Nosy Mangabe is also a delightful setting, a tropical island “paradise” at its best. In addition to the lemurs, it is excellent for a variety of reptiles and amphibians, and serves as a base from which to see migrating humpback whales from July to late September. Day trips from the island to the Masoala Peninsula are also possible.