Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve. Cocktails on the beach and camping with lemurs
The island of Nosy Mangabe, easily visible 5km offshore from Maroantsetra, is a must-visit for anyone with a smidgen of romance in their blood. This small mountainous tropical island totally covered by dense humid forests, with huge soaring canarium trees arising from flying buttress roots, with waterfalls, a spyglass hill - the highest point is 332 meters affording great views, a yellow beach, elusive animals, rock carvings, and the omnipresent sound of the jungle. The island is part of the Masoala National Park. For nature lovers, this is a real island of dreams and offers amazing wilderness experiences.
Nosy Mangabe has a rich history of trading and piracy and on the west side of the island, on a beach called Plage des Hollandais are rock carvings by Dutch sailors from the 16th-century. In the 17th-century the area was invaded by the French who established a trading post. Today the island has turned into Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve, famous because of the imperceptible and nocturnal Aye-Aye. These extremely rare lemurs were introduced by humans during the 60´s 20th century in order to create a reserve to protect them from extinction. It is preferable to plan one or two nights camping out there in order to be able to seize an occasion to approach them while they feed on small insects or coconut fruit during their night hunting. British science fiction writer Douglas Adams visited the island in search for the aye-aye for one of his books, Last Chance to See.
Other lemurs found in these dense and hilly forests and by far more easily to spot are the mouse lemur, gray mouse lemur, Eastern woolly lemur, white-fronted brow lemur and black and white ruffed lemur. Small mouse lemurs can be watched even directly on the campground in the evening.
There are also several species of birds and a good number of reptiles and amphibians: from Madagascar tree boas (Sanzinia madagascariensis) to countless beautiful frogs (among others Mantella laevigata), bright colored crabs and day geckos or pintsized pygmy chameleons (Brookesia peyriasi) or bigger, colorful panther chameleons, nothing leaves to be desired here. Nosy Mangabe is especially known for the biggest occurrence of leaf-tailed geckos (mainly Uroplatus fimbriatus) throughout Madagascar. There is no other place you can find these fascinating lizards as easy and as often as on this island. By day, they hide perfectly camouflaged on branches, and in the night they become active searching for insects.
From June to September humpback whales can be seen from the beach. This is why Antongil bay is often called “the cradle of whales”. Dolphins and sea turtles can also be found in the bay around the island.
Various hiking trails with different levels of difficulty lead through the island. Visitors can hike to explore the unique, moss and fern covered rainforest looking for lemurs, geckos, chameleons, snakes and frogs, or go to some ancient graves of the first inhabitants of the island, to rock inscriptions left by Dutch sailors during the 16th century on a beach called Plage des Hollandais, to a waterfall and to an abandoned lighthouse.
Nosy Mangabe is word for word a real paradise – not only for lemur and reptile friends. Aside from the hiking, you can spend some time just relaxing on the golden-colored beach under trees at the sea and swimming just a few meters away from the rainforest.
It’s an idyllic spot. If that doesn’t bring out the Robinson Crusoe in you, check your pulse.
Watch more photos about Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve here.