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.
Request a detailed itinerary
How long
How much
staying in


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. 








Take the first step

Tell us where you'd like to go...

Please sign me up for your newsletter
Please post me your brochure

Talk to us

+44 (0) 1747 830950

Our experienced travellers include:

Vanessa Janion
Vanessa Janion
Catherine Ronan
Catherine Ronan
Rod Tether
Rod Tether

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.


Outstanding customer service well above the call of duty.

"Natural High arranged a trip to remember ...accommodation first class, transportation on very long road trips was excellent. Spotless . air conditioning .. food and water. Rhino and Tiger sightings to die for.. local agents left nothing to chance ... we felt in the safest hands ... then when we off grid the virus struck... Natural High and their local Agent Banyan took total control and got us from the back of beyond to UK in very worrying and uncertain times. All without us being able to do anything at our end ...outstanding attention to detail. Worth every penny."


Personal service and excellent organisation

"This was our first holiday to be organised by Natural High. We made the enquiry on New Year’s Eve for a departure in February and within a few days they had produced a wonderful-sounding itinerary in Costa Rica. There were helpful notes for packing as they seem to have someone there who has been to any chosen destination. We did do some groundwork for flights but left it to Dial-a-Flight who were also most efficient. We visited the office as it is very local to home and everyone there was cheerful and interested in our upcoming trip. We were presented with a leather file which turned out to be the most useful item en-route for all our paperwork ..... and it smelled lovely!
The holiday was one of our best ever. Not just because we saw a plethora of wildlife, but because there was always someone waiting to whisk us to another destination, be it to the airport, from the airport or a boat to a lodge etc. And they did it with great charm and humour and were always very knowledgeable about any queries we had.
For the last 8 days we had a driver/guide who was just outstanding. He was very familiar with the 3 remaining lodges where we stayed and his rapport with the other staff and guides helped to ensure that we were really well looked after. He was a skilled naturalist, had a great sense of humour and was always putting our welfare first - he made a wonderful companion for the trip.
All of the above meant that it was a really relaxing holiday so that we could maximise our time looking at the flora and fauna of Costa Rica.
We would highly recommend Natural High ...... where next?!"

Ken and Caroline

Natural High

"Brilliant, everything is so well organised. We have had two trips of a lifetime organised by Rod Tether who is also a guide extraordinaire!"

Antony & Jane Braithwaite RT

Fantastic Natural High

"Perfectly organised trip to two great Nomad camps in Tanzania!"


Natural High nailed it again

"Sledding in Sweden was our second wonderful holiday with Natural High. From the moment you speak to them to when you get home the service and attention to detail is wonderful.
Everything is so well planned and organised that you can just sit back and really enjoy your holiday. We couldn’t recommend husky sledding in the north of Sweden more. We all agreed it was one of the best family holidays ever."