From the access town of Sambava, Madagascar’s ‘vanilla capital’ on the north-east coast, an hour’s drive inland towards the Andapa basin followed by a walk, will take you to the rugged and rainforest-clad Marojejy National Park. Marojejy contains lowland, mid altitude and high altitude rainforest, as well as the island’s most intact remaining mountaintop moorlands.
The national park is part of the World Heritage Site of Atsinanana, which UNESCO has placed on its endangered list. This cluster of rainforests contains the highest biodiversity of any of the island’s protected areas. Facilities in the park consist of three small camps at different elevations. The first, Camp Mantella, has simple bungalows and bucket showers. Visitors who want to ascend to the summit of the mountain, need to have a reasonable level of fitness. The floral and faunal diversity in the park is bewildering, with the star attraction on the lemur front being the critically endangered Silky sifaka, one of the world’s rarest primates.
The park’s iconic bird is the Helmet vanga, with its massive blue beak. Birders stand a chance of seeing all four the rainforest-dwelling species of ground-roller and asity. The best months to visit are late April and May (autumn) and September to early December (spring). Bear in mind that aside from having a reasonable level of fitness and the basic facilities, trips to the park must be planned carefully and also well in advance, as the three camps cater only for a small number of visitors.