Maroantsetra – the Mecca for nature lovers
Maroantsetra is also the gateway to the Masoala peninsula and is a showcase for unique animal and plant life not found anywhere else in the world. Maroantsetra is the main entry point to the Masoala National Park and Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve. This is the perfect base for exploring the entire bay, including the humpback whales that visit and give birth from July to September.
If you were going to make a movie about old Madagascar, this would be the place to film it. Maroantsetra is located between the sea and the humid and luxuriant tropical forest, 100 km north from Mananara at the end of the “road” from Tamatave, at the apex of the Baie d’Antongil, near the mouth of the Antainambalana River, it is full of languid charm, and enjoys both river scenery and ocean views. From here only forest trails through the thick jungle or the coastal line lead northern to Antalaha. Locals will tell you that very little has changed here in 30 years. And yet there is a lot for the visitor to do.
Maroantsetra is the starting point for many trips on foot, by boat and even sea kayaking. It is here that you will have the occasion to experience an untouched Madagascar. Immaculate and endless beaches of fine sand, fantastic sceneries, an intact traditional culture wait the tourists daring to come to the extreme northeast part of Madagascar. From Maroantsetra, we can organize small walks on the various rivers which surround the town, from one hour till several hours, they are a sweet and pleasant approach of the life.
Also, the town is a point of departure for trekking allowing to join the other regions, as Antalaha or Andapa, they are very often true expeditions where it is necessary to be used to walk in sometimes difficult conditions. We shall not speak about it here. The town of Andapa, in the region of the SAVA, the other attic with rice of Madagascar as Maroantsetra, is also a very interesting anchor point for the discoveries of the primary forests of mountain as the Marojejy National Park or the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve.
The town, which is of a rather average size, is rather pleasant. Like every areas of Madagascar, life in Maroantsetra is peacefully. It consequently makes it possible to offer to you a few days of relaxation, perfect rest and feeling of well being, far from your daily worries. Maroantsetra will completely make you feel strange with its luxuriant lush green and natural decoration as in the countryside. Under the murmur of coconuts tree leaves agitated by a constant sea breeze which strokes your face and the rustling of the large waves of the Indian Ocean, serenity is absolute there.
The easiest and surely quickest way to reach Maroantsetra is by plane. As Air Madagascar approaches Maroantsetra only ... times a week using a small plane, free seats are often sold out. Spontaneous travelers there have always a problem obtaining a ticket. The high costs of the air tickets, the low number of seats in each aircraft, and the overall difficulty of access restrain the flow of visitors, which definitely contributes to preserve the authentic town of this unique region!
If you prefer more adventure, it is possible also to connect the town starting from Toamasina by wooden boats called “boutres” usually called “lakana” which make coastal traffic on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We also suggest using boat between Toamasina and Maroantsetra. The boat leaves from Soanierana Ivongo, a small town 163km north of Toamasina. The transfer to the boat takes about 4 hours. From Soanierana Ivongo the boat leaves after midnight usually between 2am and 3am and arrives after a stop in Mananara about 8 hours later in Maroantsetra.
For the most enthusiastic for big thrills, one can take the highway N5 which runs alongside the coast in the car, VTT... but surely not ideal for everyone. The northern part of the RN5 running along the east coast is often impassable. The usually 2 days car journey between Toamasina and Maroantsetra can easily change into a 3-4 days adventure… however it is rather risky because the road is very dubious.
Watch more photos about Maroantsetra here.