Simply put, Masoala Forest Lodge is Heaven on earth.
Pierre and Maria have created a space on this planet worthy of being considered a true haven, a paradise, a place close to what it must have been like in the garden of Eden. This eco lodge is what other eco lodges should aspire to be.
Masoala National Park is a National Park located in a peninsula in the north east of Madagascar and is the largest of the protected areas on the island. The park consists of tropical rainforest, flooded forests, marsh lands, coastal forest, mangroves and coral reefs teeming with wildlife.
Our experience with Masoala Forest Lodge(MFL) began in Antanavarino where we boarded our semi private flight alongside our lodge mates to head to the airport in Maroantsetra, where we would be met by our ride to the boat dock.
The airport in Maroantsetra was most unique airport I have EVER landed in. After a flight full of breathtaking landscapes that seemed to change by the minute, we touched down on a landing strip in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by free roaming chickens and cows. I wondered how the cows knew to stay off the runway. I still wonder . . .
We then boarded the vehicle which transported us to a boat dock where we had access to snacks, drinks, bathrooms and views of a bay. This was our first encounter with the lush landscape we are about to be fully immersed into. This is also where we met our private guide for the duration of our stay. The boat ride was smooth and we saw island after small island as we made our way to our first stop, Nosy Mangabe(Giant mango island). Prior to boarding the plane to MFL, I wondered when I would see my first lemur, it didn’t take long as we saw our first lemur literally as we stepped off the boat on Nosy Mangabe and walked onto the beach. It was as if it was waiting there to greet us! it was AMAZING!!! Nosy Mangabe is where we would experience our first jungle hike, followed by a delicious lunch waiting for us at a table at the foot of the beach after our hike.
We hiked through the island spotting wildlife at every turn! We saw white fronted brown lemurs, leaf tailed geckos, red pinch crabs, yellow backed frogs, a tree boa, butterfly’s and centipedes! I felt as if I was walking through a nature show on National Geographic! We even got to meet a local fishermen at the waters edge who was enjoying a bit of the days catch.
After our hike, we made our way back to the table which was set up at the waters edge and were fed a delicious warm meal, which by the way catered to every single dietary restriction we presented to the lodge, we then re-boarded the boat and continued on our way to MFL. As if the incredible jungle hike full of wildlife wasn’t enough, we were blessed with a glorious show from the humpback whales on the water!!! We saw whale after whale breaching and playing along side our boat! I used to live in Maui Hawaii which is known for migrating humpback whales but even in all of my years on Maui, Oahu and Kauai, I have NEVER seen this many humpbacks whales and seen them so active at that! It was pure MAGIC!
After some time on the water, enjoying the whales and getting to know our fellow lodge mates, we arrived at the lodge, a beautiful lodge tucked away in its own bay hugged by the rainforest and so much wildlife, much of which can ONLY be found here in Madagascar but even more specifically, here in Masoala National Park. Let me drive that home even more, apart from visiting a zoo, you will not see much of this wildlife ANYWHERE else on earth! It’s still hard for me to wrap my brain around that. The lodge manager was standing on the beach waiting to greet us and lead us to the beach house, where he would give us the low down on what to expect and where is everything was located. Maria, one of the owners joined us during his talk and then showed me and my friend Kelly to our AMAZING tree house tents. When I say AMAZING, I REALLY mean AMAZING! If you never thought a tent could be amazing, I challenge you to visit Masoala Forest Lodge and allow them to TOTALLY change your mind. My heart literally skipped a beat when I caught my first glimpse of my tree tent. NOT kidding.
Dash, the Lodge manager giving us the low down.
A cute itinerary of the meals times.
One of two sitting areas at the beach house
Another sitting area located in the beach house
The set up of my tent cabin(and I assume all the others) was very charming. Below each deck is a sitting area with two chairs and a table facing the water. You can bury your toes in the sand and enjoy a refreshment or a snack in your very own private space. There are two entrances to the treehouse, to use the entrance in the front of the tent cabin, you simply enter directly from the beach, up a flight of stairs which has a shower area to the right of the staircase where you can rinse off the sand and are lead directly onto your front balcony with a sitting area and hammock and then into the sleeping area. To make your way in through the back, you make your way to the back of the tent cabin and go up your first small flight of stairs and are lead to the bathroom on the right with an open air shower(which has instant hot water, a HUGE plus in this area), a toilette, a sink, a mirror and all natural toiletries. Moving past the bathroom, the stairway takes a sharp left and you walk up a second flight of stairs to your magnificent treehouse tent cabin located RIGHT on the beach with views of the palm trees, ocean . . . and if you are lucky humpback whales passing by. Each tent is equipped with a robe, menu of activities, industrial strength flashlight, lights, bottled water and glass, hammock, comfortable chairs, end tables, electrical outlets, dresser and cupboard/shelves for storing items. Everything you need for a magical stay in what HAS to be the most beautiful place on earth!
The sitting area under my tent cabin, facing the beautiful bay.
My jungle bathroom! I absolutely loved showering in here every morning!
Nothing quite like spotting wildlife(reptiles& amphibians) while you are washing your hair. EPIC!
One more picture, just because it was such cool setup!
I mean, seriously . . . . Right!?!?!? 💚
Wifi is available in the common areas but the signal is not very strong most of the time, so come with a goal of truly allowing yourself to unplug and connect with nature. With everything Masoala Forest Lodge has to offer, I honestly don’t know why you would want to be attached to your electronic devises anyway. From falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and listening to the frogs singing(the frogs even sound different here) to waking up to the birds chirping, I personally didn’t mind that my electronics may or may not be able to connect to the outside world because the connection I found here with nature was much deeper.
As mentioned above, each person/family/group is assigned their own guide, which is available to you 24/7. Together, you plan out your days and allow Masoala’s splendor to unfold before you. Whether you want to go kayaking, hiking(day or night – I suggest you do BOTH), snorkeling, waterfall chasing, whale watching, or even just play a board game at the beach house, they are willing to make your stay one you will never forget! Our guide Claret(pronounced Clary) was one of the kindest and most knowledgeable human I have ever met! He had such a patient and gentle spirit and was always willing to help.
Claret and I relaxing on the beach across from the “Sacred Island” while watching the humpback whales put on one heck of a show after kayaking along the most incredible stretch of coastline I have EVER seen! A scene scattered with breathtaking views of the lush green rainforests, blue skies, endless stretches of deserted beaches and the INCREDIBLE rock formation of Tampolo point. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!
The meals are all fresh and delicious. The bread is baked fresh daily, the fish is caught right in the bay(I don’t eat meat), and the produce is all sourced locally and is organic. You enjoy breakfast on the open air deck, which is stilted over the beautiful Indian ocean and has 360 degree views of either the water or the jungle! 😍 At lunch and dinner you all meet together at the beach house and select your meal from two menus, one local malagasy inspired cuisine and the other a more western option. Both options are winners! I you are planning on being gone for an all day excursion then they are more than happy to send you off with lunch or snacks to go. The beach house is also loaded with a variety of drinks available 24/7 including filtered water, tea, coffee, beer, wine, soda and a HUGE selection of homemade rums including Madagascar vanilla rum, coconut rum and about 10 other unique floors I wouldn’t have dreamed up in my wildest dreams, such as lychee and coffee(two separate flavors)!
At night, you will find one or both of the lodge owners and/or the lodge manager preparing a bonfire on the beach for sundowners and a time of relaxation in the beach chairs or on the sand and an opportunity to connect with the staff and other lodge guests. Snacks of fresh coconut and roasted peanuts are also almost always available if you find yourself hungry in between meals.
Should you decide to spend the day at the lodge and relax rather than heading out to explore, you are welcome to enjoy the hammock at your treehouse or one of the hammocks located on the beach, roam the property in search of wildlife right on site, lounge at the beach house playing board/card games, reading books from the library or sampling all of the drink options, sun bathing on the sand next to the resident dog Jaya – who may or may not be around or using this time to partake in your complimentary massage! The possibilities are endless! Each guest is given a massage as part of their stay. I did not use mine because I was too busy exploring and adventuring but if I had, I have no doubt it would have been wonderful!
Jaya, contemplating and relaxing on the beach right before I disturbed her with some love.
Because I HAD to get a selfie with sweet ole’ Jaya
I have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel to many countries and states(back home in the USA) in my life and I can honestly say that Masoala Forest Lodge provided an experience that was second to NONE! If you are looking for a unique, once in lifetime trip, I highly suggest you start saving you pennies and make your way HERE!!! I am also working on putting together a group trip to MFL in 2020(because I can’t stay away), so If you want to go and be in a group setting, send me an email and have me add you to my list of people to contact once that all starts coming together.
Than you Maria and Pierre, from the bottom of my heart, for the hard work you both pour into making MFL a truly magical experience for each and every guest! Your labor of love is apparent in every single detail! Masaotra Anao(Thank you) 🙏🏼.
Keep an eye out for more on my stay at MFL in future posts.
I will be posting details and photos of each excursion in it’s own post. 😊