Northern Madagascar: Rainforests & Islands

Visit one of Madagascar’s key wildlife regions and home to more than 50% of the island’s biodiversity

Unbroken primary forests meet the shores of the Indian ocean and make this place a must for those looking to experience wild, unspoilt Madagascar.
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At 2,400 km2, Masoala National Park itself is the largest unbroken rainforest on the island, its iconic rainforests are home to prolific wildlife - red-ruffed lemur, white-fronted brown lemur, aye-aye and the diminutive, but intriguingly named tenrec are all present – as is the cat like and elusive fossa.

There are more than 90 species of bird, including the endemic helmet vanga as well as numerous exotic and brightly coloured amphibians. Much of the wildlife can be hard to spot in comparison to places like Andasibe, but the showy behaviour of the headline act – humpback whales – more than makes up for the shyness of the rest of the animals in this part of the world.

Humpbacks whales migrate here from Antarctic waters, gathering in large numbers to breed and mate in the shallow protected waters of Antongil Bay. Their elaborate behaviour makes for some of the most exciting and dramatic wildlife viewing imaginable.

The only way to reach Masoala is by boat and the journey from Maroansetra can be an excellent place to encounter the whales. Very little prepares you for your first encounter.

You might spot the tell-tale balloon shaped “blow” that can be as high as 3 metres and easily visible for many hundreds of meters, but frequently the first indication that the whale is there at all will be an elaborate piece of surface behaviour. Tail or fin slaps are common, where the whale lies on its back of front repeatedly slamming its fins or fluke onto the surface of the water with a loud report.

But humpbacks are perhaps best known for full breaches which see the entire whale (all 40 tons) launching at full speed out of the water only to land with a detonation like a depth charger exploding.

If you’re staying at Masoala then there are chances to hop into a kayak and watch as humpbacks glide past, occasionally just a few metres away. Alternatively you can watch from the comfort of the restaurant at the stunning Masoala Forest Lodge, which sticks out into the sea with a clear view of passing whales.

Masoala forms the eastern shore of Antongil Bay, one of the most productive bays in the Indian Ocean and an area of extraordinary fecundity fed by nine rivers. The bay covers almost 3,000 km2 (and includes a significant marine reserve along the shore of Masoala) and sits at the point where the South Equatorial Current divides around the east coast of the island.

Apart from the whales, the relatively shallow protected waters of Antongil along with huge numbers of pelagic fish make this a vital mating and nursery ground for a number of key marine species including 19 species of shark. In 2015 a new shark sanctuary was established in Antongil Bay with the aim of handing responsibility for management of marine areas into the hands of local communities that have a vested interest in their longterm sustainability. 








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Our experienced travellers include:

Olly Williams
Olly Williams
Andrea Hulme
Andrea Hulme
Vanessa Janion
Vanessa Janion

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.


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"First class! Natural High are experts in their field. All the boxes are ticked which leaves you to travel without any worries. Excellent destinations, superb accommodation and all the logistics are taken care of. Natural High tailor holidays exactly to your needs. Would highly recommend and we will be using Natural High again."


Perfect family Safari!!

"Our family Kenyan safari trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary was perfectly planned by Catherine from the moment we landed in Nairobi, to our last day. We traveled to Ol Malo in Laikipia, Lewa House in Lewa Downs, and Tangulia Mara in the Maasai Mara. Each place offered incredibly talented and informative guides, and gracious, loving staff. The variety of animals we saw was breathtaking. Our grand daughter celebrated her 14th birthday with special pancakes and singing in Ol Malo, and then a beautiful candlelit dinner under the starry night in Lewa. Our 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated at Tangulia Mara with an amazing day watching the migration of the wildebeest in the Maasai Mara, and beautiful intimate dinner party and dancing with the entire staff during the evening.
Thank you, Natural High, for the best trip of our lifetime!"


Fantastic Zambia holiday - South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi

"We cannot thank Natural High and Catherine enough for such a fantastic holiday. During the planning, Catherine answered endless questions from our family and supported us every step of the way in coordinating our separate itineraries (which can't have been easy when we were a party of 11 and all travelling from different locations!). The South Luangwa has become our favourite Africa destination - and Flatdogs our favourite camp! Catherine was very thoughtful in arranging extra surprises for our group as we were celebrating a special birthday. The staff at Flatdogs treated us so well, and they were very open to letting us have large family dinners at various locations around camp. The guides were so enthusiastic the entire week!
We had our own separate holiday afterwards for just the two of us at Chongwe River Camp in the Lower Zambezi. Catherine was so supportive and flexible in helping us identify a suitable camp within an easy distance of Flatdogs, which also provided a different range of activities (boat safaris, tiger fishing and canoeing in addition to game drives!).
All in all a brilliant holiday (Flatdogs and Chongwe were the perfect combination), and everything went so smoothly. We are very much missing enjoying our G&Ts whilst watching elephants in the sunset...!"

Edgar & Alexandra Bailey CR

Absolutely amazing Family Celebration at Flatdogs!

"Outstanding service from Catherine who really understands what we want from our holiday. Catherine always goes the extra mile to choose the very best camps for us; to make sure all arrangements are in place; and to make sure we are treated as special guests when we arrive. This trip was an extra challenge given the size of our group - 11 with age range from 4 to 64 and wide range of "Africa experience" and in choosing Flatdogs, she made the best call possible - it was an amazing trip and could not have been better! Jess, Adrian and all the staff made sure our stay was fabulous; the guides were superb; the accommodation wonderful; and the "treats" -sundowners; brai; pimms; picnic; evening meals together (with hippos, bushbabies and elephants in attendance) and drinks at the fire were all that we could have hoped for - all in all, a really special family holiday."


outstanding organisation and service

"really know the regions they deal with well, excellent organisation of our trip, great understanding of our needs, flexibility and quick follow up, outstanding local representatives, very good pricing. we used them before and will for sure do again."