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Reviewed 29 November 2019

We knew that MFL would be the nicest lodge during our 3 week trip so we saved it for last. We ended up spending 4 nights which was about the right amount of time. You should know that this lodge is NOT cheap. Our 4 nights were about 1/3 of the entire budget for our 23 day trip so our expectations were rightly pretty high.

This lodge has a lot going for it and if it wasn't for one huge logistical issue and some other small things our stay would have been perfect.

You need to be sure to have the correct expectations regarding your room. You stay in tents, not cabins. Since these are tents there are no places to hang anything except under your tent on the beach. But, they do provide a lot of shelves to store things and a nice charging station. You also need to be aware the the bathroom is outside and down a short flight of stairs. So, that can make the night time "visits" a bit challenging but we found our tent (#3) to be nice and we loved that there was a chameleon hanging out at eye level a couple days.

The only thing we didn't like about our tent was that the afternoon sun shown in it for the last few hours of the day and made it so hot that we couldn't stay there. A sun shade would be nice as well as a ceiling fan.

The food is fantastic and it's great that the beer, soda, and most spirits are included in the price. However, wine is not which is weird. For the price, you would think that would be included as well. I do need to call out the fantastic breakfasts on the sun deck. Fresh bread, fruit, juice, and eggs to order were the perfect way to start the day.

I also love that there is no plastic at this resort. They provide a lot of drinking water in your room but you are also free to refill a reusable water bottle anytime you want in the main dining room.

They provide so many nice touches like extra towels, private guides and local rums. For meals they offer both local and international menu choices so if you want to try some malagasy menu items you are encouraged to do so. They were also great when it came to accommodating dietary restrictions.

MFL does so many thing right that it is shocking to me that the have an absolutely horrible initial transfer to the lodge. They maintain the same schedule on arrival in that guests climb into the boat and go to Nosy Mangabe for some hiking and lunch. This island is worth a visit since it's the only place you will see the B&W Ruffed Lemurs not to mention some awesome reptiles and amphibians.

But after lunch, you then have to climb back into the boat for a 1.5 to 2 hour boat trip across the bay. The problem is that the boat is the most uncomfortable we have ever been in for that long of a trip. There are no seats so everyone sits on cushions (no backs) in the middle of the boat facing sideways. Due to the wind and surf anyone on the right side of the boat gets wet and is in the blaring sun for the whole trip. They do warn you about the spray and provide ponchos but wouldn't it just be better to have an awning on the boat that can come down to protect people? Also, even though the surf was only "average" on our trip the swells were high enough to cause the boat to slam down so much that I would catch air and you had nothing to hold onto so you bang into the person next to you. And, because you are facing sideways it's really awkward on your back and I was lucky that mine was only a little sore after this trip. It was truly a miserable 1.5 hour boat ride to the lodge.

They need to find a different boat that has front facing seats and where everyone can be reasonably comfortable for the transfer. Since you always leave the lodge in the morning before the winds come up the transfer back wasn't that bad but it was still uncomfortable.

For as upscale and nice as this lodge is that transfer in has GOT to be improved.

The only other thing that bothered us a bit during our stay was our guide who didn't communicate very well with us and left us behind on more that one occasion as we took photos. When I got home I also realized that he got quite a few wildlife identifications wrong. I expect a guide at a lodge like this know the different species of mammals and herps that are seen or to say "I don't know" when asked instead of giving the wrong ID. He did seem right on with birds though.

So, while this was still the best leg of the trip this lodge needs to fix that initial boat transfer while still keeping the trip to Nosy Mangabe intact before I can say it was up there with some other world class lodges we have visited in our travels.

Date of stay: October 2019
    • Location
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1  Thank EDH_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 November 2019

I really can’t sing enough praises for Masoala Forest Lodge- everything was spot on and a true inspiration! Since it was my 2nd time to Madagascar, I wanted to focus on one pristine area for wildlife encounters and natural beauty/scenery, and there is probably no better combination in Madagascar, particularly given the low numbers of tourists you don’t have to maneuver around with. Masoala Peninsula is unique with rainforest abutting against the coast, allowing for a diverse array of wildlife and activities.
I was so fortunate to soak up this environment and eco-lodge for 11 nights and I really cannot imagine spending less than 1 week here. Give yourself time, because the rainforest has its own language and your body will seep into the natural rhythm of the surrounding environment and you will come out feeling AMAZING afterwards! There is SO much to do and you also want to give yourself a window of time to do certain things on the best weather days when possible, and a week is more likely to offer that flexibility.
The tree-house cabins are tastefully and functionally designed (without compromising comfort!) and I loved sleeping on the 2nd story at bird and lemur level. Bonus is that you fall asleep to both forest sounds AND the lapping of ocean waves on the beaches. There are SO many activities to choose from with Masoala Forest Lodge, and I usually had the weather and my guide’s recommendations dictate our schedule. Allow yourself to slow down and be patient in order to spot the wildlife (guides are incredible and sometimes that requires stopping to just listen and pick up clues). You don’t even have to go too far to spot some great wildlife, as MFL has incredible walks on their premises! Lemurs were the focus of my trip, so I also took advantage of the evening walks 10 out of the 11 nights to maximize my chances of seeing the nocturnal species. But we witnessed so many incredibly creatures and phenomena by seizing as many opportunities as possible. I also recommend looking for the shy Bamboo lemurs just after cabin #7 around dusk and dawn. I was lucky to be with them 7 different times on this trip, and it was really special due to how timid they typically are. I saw a total of 8 species of lemurs on this trip out of the 10 in the area (did not see Aye Aye or Masoala Fort-marked lemur), and many of them included close-up encounters. Birders will also have a fulfilling trip!
My guide, Ursula, was fantastic! She was incredibly personable with a fabulous combination of having keen eyes and stellar instinct. Ursula is also truly passionate about the wildlife herself, and described how much she misses the primary forest when she’s on off-days. The best part was the fact that the majority of our wildlife encounters were shared just between the 2 of us, which is such a contrast to my first trip to Madagascar on the “classic” route including Andasibe and national parks in the SW. My favorite excursions were the primary forest and all day boat trip to an incredibly healthy coral reef, followed by a long coastal walk back to the lodge crossing countless streams and passing through a quaint village. The sunset piroque sail is spectacular, as is the Tampolo River boat trip just before sunset.
As a wildlife conservationist by career, I’ve lived/worked in many “destinations” where nature-based tourism is one of, if not THE predominant economic driver, so I’ve seen the full spectrum of how tourism can operate in such places. Masoala Forest Lodge is doing a fabulous job and is truly integrated into the local community and culture. While it’s not cheap to fly to and stay at such a remote and pristine eco-lodge, it is heart-warming to see how much MFL truly contributes to the communities and conservation. I applaud the conservation work they are doing in a country with such tricky and complex dynamics (not to mention corruption)- what they are achieving is also a testament to their true dedication and perseverance. They are a very positive example of nature-based tourism done properly and it’s unfortunate that this is so rare to come across in the realm of tourism.
They source as much as they can locally, while still offering very gourmet and beautifully composed meals. I’m vegetarian (mostly vegan at home but more flexible when traveling) and LOVED the diversity and freshness of menu and the option to taste local food dishes, presented beautifully.
I traveled on my own as a recent widow, and most of the other guests were couples. I was so grateful for the wonderful hosting of Sam and Maria- they strike the perfect balance of professionalism, being helpful and also making you feel at home with their genuine warmth and generosity. You can choose to be more private or social, with opportunities for sunset tea/coffee time on the gorgeous sea deck, and evening beach bonfires to rehash the day with the others and star gaze before dinner. I won’t ruin the surprise, but Friday nights make for a very memorable experience!
Experiencing the paradise of Masoala Peninsula was a dream come true and Masoala Forest Lodge sticks out as one of my life’s travel highlights. It’s exciting to hear they are opening up a camp at Cap Masoala and I truly hope to return there with friends or family in the future.

Room tip: Chalet 7 is more private and a bit more in the forest but has its own beach and better chance to see forest creatures from your cabin!
Date of stay: October 2019
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
2  Thank DreamOcean
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Maria_Bester, Owner at Masoala Forest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 27 November 2019

It feels fantastic to read how much you loved your stay and that you appreciated the place and our lodge so much! Thanks a million for taking the time to write us such a great feedback!
Dash, Sam, Pierre, Maria & Team

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Reviewed 11 November 2019

Masoala Forest Lodge is an amazing way to experience Madagascar. The property accommodations are wonderful with fantastic views of the water. The trails around the property are terrific. The staff is attentive and in tune to everyone's needs. Transportation to the lodge is great. The food is wonderful

However beware if you plan to visit the National Forest. MFL seems to have their own treacherous entrance to the National Forest. Our guide has been to Madagascar 12 times and has never entered the NF on the most dangerous trail that MFL requires it guests to use. Entangled roots, extremely slippery rocks, running water, and nasty mud have to be overcome to get to the entrance of the National Forest. There is beautiful sandy beach access with the entrance to the National Forest that all the other lodges use. It takes at least 20 minutes of horrific maneuvering to get to the entrance that all other lodge guests use. You will also have to use this trail to exit. Why would you put the safety of your guests at risk using this trail? It is an unfortunate accident waiting to happen that is not required by anyone except Masoala Forest Lodge. For guests that have never visited the National Forest before they would not know that there is a very safe way to enter the NF. Please rethink how you have your guests enter. There is a very safe alternative.

Date of stay: November 2019
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Gypsy055
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 September 2019

We had a really great time staying at Masoala Forest Lodge. The location could not be better, located on a little cove with bungalows overlooking the forest and the beach. The food was always delicious, fresh and healthy. We loved the fresh juices and tea in the late afternoon on the seadeck. There is a nice variety of activities ranging from forest walks (the two walks we did we saw Critically Endangered red ruffed lemurs!), snorkeling, kayaking through a mangrove forest to special sundown cruises. We wish we had more time to do them all! MFL owners and managers were always great company and very helpful. Evening by the fire drinking a beer and chatting after a fun day out in nature makes you realize it doesn't get much better than this.

Date of stay: September 2019
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank Andrew_ug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Maria_Bester, Owner at Masoala Forest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2019

Thank you for taking the time to write a review Andrew. Well appreciated! It was a pleasure having you at the lodge! We hope to welcome you again soon! You MFL- team

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Reviewed 15 September 2019

The flight by Sky Services from Antanarivo was delightful. It was a very small plane but the views over Madagascar were amazing. I had not realised how hilly it was. You certainly get to see the country well from the air.

We were met at the airport and taken by minibus to get the boat. On the way in the minibus it was interesting to see the villages and local life. We had a breakfast before going on the boat.

We first went to an island where we went for a walk in the forest. We did see a couple of lemurs and a couple while we were eating our lunch.

Then it was back on the boat to Masoala Lodge. Though it was a sunny day the sea was very rough and the three hour crossing was not pleasant and we were very glad to get there.

We had tent number 2. It was a very interesting place to stay and even better when we asked if some of the branches could be pruned back a little so as to have a view of the sea. The bed was very comfortable to sleep in. The bathroom was down stairs in a wooden room and had everything you needed and a generous supply of towels. There was a laundry basket there which was a very efficient system to use wile we were there. Make sure to take the rechargeable Torch supplied when you go to the bathroom at night!! Make sure you take the torch over in the evening as it is exceptionally dark going back to your tent at night.!!!!

The breakfasts were very good with a great choice of things to have and a very good range of teas too. The views from the sea deck were very good and on two occasions we saw whales onl a brief sighting but a lot of people were unlucky. We had rather believe from the website that you would see more at this time of the year. Sadly there do not seem to be hardly any there. Perhaps they have changed there migration roots.

We felt that the choice of food was poor. There was a slight choice at lunch with a choice between green or blue menu. However both had the same starter and usually one seemed to be Beans and rice on most days. In the evening there was no choice at all.

There was a good supply of Alcohol that was include and some great flavoured rums to try. Such a pity that there was no such choice in the food.

We did go to the primary forest with our guide and saw two lemurs a Chameleon, leaf Gecko and some frogs and birds. It would have been good to see more wildlife. The biggest problem was that some of the sections were not only tricky but at times dangerous to the point that I hurt my knee to the extent it was difficult to go up small steps and was in a ot of pain. I was surprised to find there did not appear to be any first aid there especially as you are some way from the nearest town.

We had taken walking poles that we used and would certainly recommend taking one to help with the paths. Also wearing Aqua shoes gave you grips and at times when you went through small rivers they were perfect.

We did do a couple of night walks but again the condition of the paths was a concern and also the lack of wildlife. We never saw any Lemurs on the night walks nor did any other guests who were there at the same time. We saw a couple of sleeping birds, some crickets, and frogs.

WE went on the day trip that was included and that was good. We were glad to be able to use the boat to come back rather than the long walk back. I did go snorkelling but found that although there were some fish and sea urchins I have been spolt by Snorkelling in amazing settings elsewhere in the world. The waterfall was beautiful and good to go in the pool at the base. The problem being that the last part of the path is very very difficult even with walking poles.

The picnic on the beach was fun even when it rained we just put up the umbrellas and the rain soon stopped.

The trip to the village was one of our most enjoyable days. The children sing and dancing in the school were a delight to watch. Then we went into the village where the ladies sang and danced. They were amazing and seemed to really enjoy their performance as much as we did. After this we had the opportunity to buy items that they had made and they were very reasonable. In the evening there was a Madagascar evening and we were supplied with a sarong style cloth to wear in any way we liked. The food was served on a table covered in Travellers Palm. The rice was directly on this and you ate from it in Madagascar style. We did feel it would have been good to have some Madagascar dancing and singing to accompany the meal.

We did go on the sunset cruise in the outrigger canoe which was wonderful and we were lucky to have a glorious sun set.

One of the biggest problems was that we both had stomach problems that continued on our return too. We were not the only ones to suffer when we were there. So make sure you pack Imodium style tablets when you go. Also walking poles and a first aid kit .

Room tip: Room 2 is near the beach
Date of stay: September 2019
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank swift-simba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Maria_Bester, Owner at Masoala Forest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 25 October 2019

Dear Sarah,

We are glad to hear you enjoyed your stay and we thank you for providing honest criticism. We have taken note of all your suggestions and comments and will use them to improve the experience we provide.

We are glad you enjoyed your flight and got a good impression of the landscape of Madagascar.
We often do receive positive feedback about the flight and our guests comment on how greater the experience is than on a big plane, as you get to fly lower and therefore see more of the land below you.

We are happy to hear that you were satisfied with our transport from the airport to the boat and the breakfast we provide before boarding the boat. Fantastic, that you did see lemurs on the island and during the picnic again!

You mentioned you had rough seas, which is absolutely possible to happen as it is the open ocean. The bay can be calm and flat like a lake and the sea can be rough. This is important to know when you decide for a Masoala Tour. We would like to mention here that the journey is always safe, it is “just” a question of comfort.

We are glad to hear you enjoyed your bungalow.
We would like to inform the readers that we do provide our guests with torches. There is one torch per person in the bungalows. If you happen to forget the torch, when you come to dinner, just speak to the manager, as we have spare torches in the reception, that we can quickly get for you.

We are happy to hear that you appreciated the great choice of breakfast options and the ambience on the sea deck and that you even got to see humpback whales twice from the sea deck.
The number of whales does vary from year to year. However, Masoala is known as the best whale watching are in Madagascar together with Sainte Marie (it’s the same whales coming here first and then moving on to Sainte Marie. There are hundreds coming through every year.

We are sorry to hear that you weren’t satisfied with the meal choices.
We do offer two main courses for lunch: one being the lodge menu (called “blue menu”) and the other one is the meal that the staff kitchen cooks for our staff (called the “green menu”). We offer the green menu in order to give our guest the opportunity to try local dishes. It is true that on the green menu beans and rice feature a lot as they do feature a lot in traditional Malagasy meals. We did not change the recipes to match the tourists like. It is exactly how the locals like and cook it. The “blue menu” however is a combination of European, American, Asian and African influences with a tropical note that is meant to meet our guests wishes. We do get a lot of good feedback on our menus, which we are happy about.

As an extremely remote lodge operation, that tries to rely on the locally available fresh produce, it is not feasible to offer a wide choice for every meal. We do take note of all dietary preferences and endeavor to provide our guests with the meals that they request.

We are happy to hear that you very satisfied with the range of included types of alcohol and flavored rums.
We are sorry that you injured your knee. We do have an extensive first aid kit at the lodge and provide first aid to all our guests as well as the local population in times of need.

The foot paths in the forest are in keeping with our principles of disturbing the natural beauty of the forest as little as possible. While there are roots and humps and bumps and small streams to cross without bridges, we endeavor to make sure that there are no branches or big logs across the trails, to have to climb over or under. We also route the trails away from potentially dangerous terrain, other than at the waterfall where it is not possible. We do warn all guests to take great care and not proceed if they feel insecure on the potentially slippery rocks. The guides are always on hand and willing to assist the guests whenever the guests require.

Walking poles are a good idea for those who like using them. We do have wooden ones available at the lodge for our guests. Aqua shoes are liked by some people, others prefer a light sport shoe in the rainy season some guests bring their gum boots. The post important is that you are comfortable in the type of shoe you bring.

We are sorry to read about your stomach ailment that you suffered. We take great care of cleanliness at the lodge and hygiene in the catering is a maximum priority.
We agree with you that a type of Imodium should be in any travelers travel kit.

You were very lucky. Additionally to the more common animals you saw all the Masoala wildlife highlights: whales, the endemic red ruffed lemurs, the helmeted Vanga and the Parsons chameleon.

We are sorry that you had such bad luck with lemurs on the night walks. We have had several occasions when some guests saw up to 4 lemur species while other guests a few minutes earlier or later on the same night walk saw none. Wildlife spotting in nature does require some luck, but often the harder one tries, the luckier one gets. There are in fact 8 species of lemur in the private forest reserve.

Nice to hear that you enjoyed the day trip to Antalaviana and the option of boating back.
The hike is very beautiful, and we do recommend taking the opportunity to those who like longer walks. The walk takes approximately 3 hours and Is 11 km long.
En route you will ford rivers, explore the village of Marofototra and surrounding plantations where the locals grow vanilla, cloves, pineapple, cinnamon, and pepper. You will also see the remnants of a colonial railway and learn about the history of the region.

It is true that the path back from the waterfalls is not flat. In fact; there isn’t an official path. We just make our way up to the waterfalls. This is an area that is rarely visited by people and we hope it stays that way. That makes it so special, we believe. We would not want to have a well-established trail there.

We like to hear that you did enjoy the picnic on the beach.

Nice to hear that the trip to the village was one of your most enjoyable days.
That the children sang and danced. We have enjoyed our school project. The pre-school was formed and is funded by Masoala Forest Lodge in 2017 and is running successfully since.

Good to hear you enjoyed the traditional evening. We thank you for your suggestion of adding something it. We did and we are very happy with the result.

Lovely to hear that you did go on the sunset cruise in the outrigger canoe and that it was a wonderful experience.

We thank you again of taking the time to write us such a detailed feedback.

Best regards

The MFL – team

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