Monday, October 15, 2007
Getting there is a little tricky. To reach Nosy Mangabe and see the many treasures found on this gorgeous island, you have to deal with some transportation hassles. You take a plane from Antananarivo to Maroansetra. You can overnight at the Hotel Coco Beach (highly recommended, and they have a pet cat who is well treated, outgoing, and great to cuddle with if you are missing your own).
To reach the hotel you have to take a little boat across the river because the bridge collapsed last year. Then, to reach the island, you take the little boat to a bigger boat (transferring from one boat to the other in the middle of the river I was sure I was going to get wet, but I made it). The bigger boat takes you to Nosy Mangabe (about an hour) and then you wade from the boat to the island, and hope that someone will come pick you up in a few days as arranged. You can camp on the island in relative comfort because there is a guard house with a kitchen and tent platforms and some tables and chairs, as well as showers and flush toilets. My package included transport to the island and the services of a cook and a local guide. The cook was excellent and this was some of the best food I had in Madagascar. I believe the camping was arranged through a hotel located on the Masoala Peninsula, but not one I was staying at so I don't know the name.
Although it is a bit hard to get to, the island is well worth the effort and was the highlight of my trip. Oddly enough, the lemurs on the island were not...it was the island itself. The hiking is great, the rainforest is stunning, and the myriad of frogs and other creatures is awesome.
The first night I was here it was quiet. The second night was a bit of a letdown as the ocean was rough and a large group of South Africans headed for the Masoala Peninsula stopped over at Nosy Mangabe instead. Therefore, every campsite was full and there was a lot of noise - people yelling and screaming in the waterfall, a radio playing, people talking, laughing, getting loud over too much beer, shining lights into my tent in the middle of the night, etc. That was a bummer, and there is no system of reservation to know if you are going to be on the island with only a few other people or with a rowdy group of 50. But take your chances, it's worth it.
You can do nocturnal walks as well as day time hikes. There is a hike up to some ancient tombs, which are under a huge rock and have been there for centuries. They are pictured above. The other photo is of one of the waterfalls on the island. Sadly, photos do not BEGIN to do any justice to the beauty of this island.