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Located in Madagascar's most biodiverse region, Masoala is the largest National Park of the island, protecting the last large expanse of coastal rainforest in Madagascar. Mammal species encountered include the red-ruffed lemur, the red-fronted brown lemur, the aye-aye, the greater hedgehog tenrec, the fossa, the fanaloka, the falanouc, and whales which visit Antongil Bay around the breeding season in the austral winter and spring. The park is also home to various species of brightly colored Mantella frogs, and all manner of extraordinary chameleons of all sizes. Masoala is also the refuge of the endangered Madagascar red owl and Madagascar serpent eagle, along with many, many endemic bird species. The flora includes the Masoala pitcher plant and the very rare ravim-be palm (Marojejya darianii, listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the 12 most endangered living organisms in the world). Coral reefs teeming with life are protected in three adjacent marine parks. The peninsula also features many beautiful deserted sandy beaches. The name of the area derives from Masoala Cape at the tip of the peninsula, where navigating the treacherous straits requires good visibility ("maso" means "eye" and "hoala" -- with a silent "h" -- means bay or safe haven in the local vernacular).

Mangabe island was set aside as a reserve in the early 60's, in part to protect the fascinating nocturnal aye-aye which had been introduced there. This is the best place in which to see the black and white ruffed lemur, as well as the white-fronted brown lemur. The rainforest which covers Nosy Mangabe also shelters, among others, the cryptic fringed Uroplatus gecko, the largest of the 10 species in this endemic genus. Some look like dead leaves, some mimic bark, and this remarkable ability to literally fade into the woodwork makes them a particular delight to spot.

Masoala is arguably the area where your chances of seeing an aye-aye in the wild are highest (though they are not very high at all). A visit to the coastal rainforests of the area is a "must" for all naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts: this is Madagascar at its most authentic.

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