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 an interesting, brisk walk (pictured, by Daniel Austin), 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 a shared bucket shower and loo. (Currently it can has only 17 beds so when the camp it full, it struggles to cater for all guests). Visitors need to have a reasonable level of fitness due to the (sometimes very) steep slopes in some places. (Some of the trails cover challenging terrain).
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 very basic facilities, trips to the park must be planned carefully and well in advance. Baggage should be organised so as to leave some at the park HQ office storage facility: porters can be hired at the park to take luggage up to the camps; the limit per person is 15kg. There is no electric generator at Marojejy. All supplies are brought in from Andapa or Sambava. Camp 1 has 6 bungalows, and Camp 2 has four. Bungalows have 3 or 4 beds each. Please be aware that there is currently only one (cold) shower and one loo at each of the camps.
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