Masoala National Park, situated in Northeastern Madagascar, boasts unspoiled beauty and exceptional biodiversity. As the island’s largest protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it encompasses a diverse expanse of pristine rainforest. What sets this park apart is the harmonious convergence of lush rainforests and immaculate white-sand beaches, crafting an almost untouched paradise. Masoala teems with a remarkable diversity of wildlife, featuring an impressive variety of lemurs, tenrecs, and reptiles within its captivating landscapes.
In the mornings, you’ll be greeted by the calls of Greater Vasa and Lesser Vasa Parrots, while nights are serenaded by the haunting melodies of Rainforest Scops and White-browed Owls. The tour’s highlight is undoubtedly the incredible Helmet Vanga, offering excellent sighting opportunities, alongside the highly restricted and elusive Bernier’s Vanga. Additionally, this location provides better chances to spot challenging species such as the Brown Mesite, Scaly and Short-legged Ground Rollers, and the elusive Madagascar Pratincole, which are trickier to find elsewhere on the main Madagascar birding circuit.
*Please see our 15-Day Best of Madagascar – Birds & Wildlife, which can be added as an extension before or after this tour.
On arrival at Ivato International Airport, a Sustainable Birding representative will meet you at arrivals and do a quick meet and greet, before transferring you to your hotel in Antananarivo, so you can relax and get some sleep ready for a great adventure ahead.
Where you will be staying: Au Bois Vert Lodge
Today we will be flying to Maroantsetra, where on arrival we will transfer to our hotel for some lunch. Birding is limited on this day, unfortunately, but the next day will be worth the wait.
Where you will be staying: Relais Masoala
In the morning, we will take a boat trip across Antongil Bay, the largest bay in Madagascar. Our journey will pass by the scenic island of Nosy Mangabe, eventually leading us to the Masoala Peninsula. This peninsula houses Madagascar’s extensive lowland rainforest and hosts the country’s largest national park, known as Masoala National Park.
Upon arrival, we swiftly delve into the nearby rainforest trails, targeting species such as the Brown Mesite, Blue Coua, Madagascar Spinetail, Madagascar Blue Pigeon, Velvet Asity, Red-tailed and Chabert Vangas, White-throated Oxylabes, Long-billed Bernieria, and others. In Masoala’s rainforests, the elusive Madagascar Ibis lurks amidst the forest floor. Mornings are prime for birding hikes, while afternoons are leisurely around the lodge, potentially spotting Greater Vasa and Lesser Vasa Parrots or Eastern Lesser Bamboo Lemurs. Evenings bring chameleon sightings and the possibility of encountering the rare Aye-aye during night walks.
Over the next couple of days, we will be transecting the forests and the secluded tropical beaches, where we hope to see some of Madagascar’s most sought-after birds, with the Helmet Vanga topping our target list! Among our sought-after sightings are the White-headed and Nuthatch Vangas, Red-breasted and Red-fronted Couas, Short-legged and Scaly Ground Rollers, Brown Mesite, and the elusive Cuckoo-roller.
During one day, we’ll explore a distinct littoral forest within Masoala National Park, characterised by a lower canopy and dominated by pandanus palms. Our focus here will be the range-restricted and highly distinct Bernier’s Vanga, often reliably spotted in this habitat. Other species, such as the Blue Vanga, Common Newtonia, Stripe-throated Jery, and Malagasy Green Sunbird, are typically easier to locate and observe in this forest. Coastal rock formations may reveal sightings of the elusive Madagascar Pratincole.
Moreover, while birding during the day, we’ll keep an eye out for remarkable lemurs, hoping to spot the Red Ruffed and White-fronted Lemurs amidst our hikes.
Where you will be staying: Arol Ecolodge
Today marks the conclusion of our stay in the stunning Masoala National Park. We’ll return via boat across Antongil Bay as we did on Day 3 to Maroantsetra. From there we will fly back Antananarivo, where we’ll drop you at your hotel to get a good night’s rest before flying home the next day.
Where you will be staying: Au Bois Vert Lodge
*Please see our Best of Madagascar – Birds & Wildlife, which can be added as an extension before or after this tour. Our scheduled group tour runs directly before on 15th – 28th October 2024.
Slow– this tour has been designed to go a steady pace, leaving plenty of time to get all the target species at Masoala National Park. Anyone that has been birding in Madagascar knows that sightings do not come ‘thick and fast’ compared to mainland Africa, although the rewards are much higher.
Easy– lots of on-foot birding in difficult terrain, but nothing overly enduring
Secure your place on this trip with a 25% deposit.
The above cost is based on a group of 6 people. Please get in touch if you’d like us to arrange a private tailor-made tour
At Sustainable Birding, our goal is to ensure that every birding holiday we create contributes positively to bird conservation efforts and local communities. Our determination to promote sustainable travel led us to become founding members of Tourism Declares Climate Emergency. As part of this commitment, we have established the world’s pioneering carbon scoring and offsetting framework for tailor-made holidays. Feel free to request us to carbon score your individual trip!
The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.