Encompassing 2,300 square kilometres of rainforest and 100 square kilometres of marine parks, Masoala is Madagascar's largest protected area. The park was established in 1997 to preserve this unique ecosystem comprising coastal rainforest, flooded forests, marsh and mangroves from the serious threatens by encroachment from the local communities that depend on the area for agricultural land and firewood, and from international logging companies seeking to harvest timber.
That the Masoala peninsula is truly exceptional is not new: two percent of all of planet earth's animal and plant species resides here. Some species like aye-aye, red-ruffed lemur, Madagascar red owl and the extremely rare serpent eagle are endemic to the peninsula and thus found nowhere else. Masoala harbours also many other novelties.
The park forests abound with chameleons, geckos, frogs as well as several species of butterflies and fish which are new to science. As if that weren't enough, the forests, filled with rare, endemic species, tumble down to the edge of a pristine, unspoiled shore peppered with unexplored golden beaches and the three marine parks that protect over 10,000 ha of coral reefs, marine plants and mangroves around the peninsula. Presently, more than 3,001 fish species have been inventoried in the marine parks. Moreover, the Antongil Bay itself is used also as a sheltered place by humpback whales that gather here during breeding season. During the months of the austral summer, Antongil's waters literally froth with cetaceans. The region also supports one of the most diverse groups of palm species in the world.
The hiking and trekking opportunities are immense. The main trails for visitors are at Nosy Mangabe, Tampolo/Ambodiforaha, Cap Est, and a several-day hike is possible across the peninsula. One of the best areas is the Alohatrozana, trail, a stunning virgin rain forest located about midway down the western side of the peninsula. On the Western coastal trail, Lohatrozona is a paradise for ornithologists. The marine reserve of Tanjona grows a wonderful mangrove forest. The marine reserves of Tampolo, Ambodirafia and Marofototra have superb corals and nice, clean beaches perfect for a swim. Exploring the coastal trail, the path between Alhoatrozana and Antalavia weaves in and out of golden-sand beaches, rocky coves, and lush forest in which is probably the most beautiful site in Masoala.
The driest months of the year on Masoala are October until the end of December. It is rare that a jersey is required in this season, temperatures ranging from 20°C at night to 35°C on the hottest days.