The densely forested Masoala Peninsula contains the largest remaining block of protected rainforest in Madagascar and harbours a wealth of rare and unique species.
2,300 km sq of the magnificent Masoala (pronounced 'Maswahl') lowland forest is now protected by National Park status, although sadly logging and clearing for agriculture still persists and it is not quite the virgin green paradise that it's sometimes portrayed as.
For those that make the journey here there are undoubtedly rich rewards - the glamorous Red-ruffed Lemur is only found here - and for birders the best chance on the Island of seeing Madagascar Serpent Eagle, Madagascar Red Owl (although finding one of these will always require a large dollop of good luck), Short-legged Ground-Roller as well as the incomparable Helmet Vanga is here.
There are however a couple of caveats - firstly Red-ruffed Lemurs are almost exclusively a high-canopy dweller - this and the fact that the area receives a fraction of the number of visitors that Parks such as Isalo, Ranomafana and Andasibe-Mantadia do, means that while you are likely to find them, it is unlikely to be the in-your-face experience that you get elsewhere. Secondly, while walks in the forest are rewarding the terrain can be steep and tough, and - being the wettest place in Madagascar with an annual rainfall exceeding 500cm - often slippery.
The Masoala peninsula can only be reached by crossing Antongil Bay (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) by boat, this can be rough and you are more than likely to be sharing your craft with camp supplies. This is very definitely part of the adventure and a real demonstration of how off-grid you are getting. Once there you can relax and spend your time swimming, sea-kayaking and snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching as well as undertaking guided walks into the forest.
There is now a great place to stay here, we simply stress that just because they offer spa treatments doesn't mean it will be a pampered experience. The food is likely to be good, not gourmet - and to get the most out of Masoala you'll need to be reasonably fit and have a well developed sense of adventure.