Farewell Masoala – back to Tana

Wednesday 5 June 2024 – And so it was time to say goodbye to everyone at Masoala Forest Lodge: to Jessie and Alban, who had made us feel so welcome and run everything so efficiently; to Ursula and Pascal, who had shown us so much wildlife and taught us about it; and to Tom, who had added so much context and background to what we were seeing.  We were lucky in a way; the high spring tides forced a later-then-usual departure of 9am, which gave us time for a more leisurely breakfast and to say our farewells.

Before we left, though, Jessie showed us the two tree boas, who had now separated.  The male, still, presumably in a post-coital glow, didn’t seem to mind us taking a few more photos of him.

Tom went off kayaking

and we left on the boat to Maroantsetra.

You really can hardly see any sign of the lodge, it is so nicely blended in.

The boat trip was, as before, bumpy and almost devoid of interest.  Towards Maroantsetra, one passes a couple of islands, the largest of which is called Nosy Mangabe and which is heavily forested.

looking closely, you can see egrets, too many to mention,

and then the waters calm as you reach the shallows around Maroantsetra.

It was clear that the boat had to negotiate some very shallow water in order to reach the landing point; we presumably couldn’t set out until the tide had come in sufficiently to enable the boat to get through.

But then, there we were at the dock

and it looked like quite some shopping had been done for stock to take back to the lodge.

Paola and Kenny were there to meet us and take us back to the airport.  As before, the route took us through the periphery of the town

and we eventually bumped our way into the airport

where Fury was waiting for us again, with an aeroplane that looked the same as the one we arrived in,

but which was actually a Cessna 182, rather than the 206 of our previous journey.

Clouds obscured the landscape for a part of our flight, but cleared as we went along, and we took another load of photos of the landscape as we went.  Reviewing them later, and given the extra information we’d gleaned from Tom, it was actually quite difficult to understand what was going on below us.  For example, parts of this landscape look ravaged, but is it erosion? Was that caused by over-exploitation? There’s plenty of other agriculture happening over to the right.

What are the little lighter-coloured pit marks that dot this landscape?

What’s the story with the grey areas?

These gouges in the landscape: was this mining for something like sapphires? Whatever, if you look carefully, you can see lots of terracing, so there’s clearly still some level of agriculture going on.

This landscape looks terribly scarred, but is it just natural erosion? Or has it been exploited for mining? Again, there’s plenty of agriculture going on around it on the flat bits.

This final photo of Jane’s gives a great insight into the amount of rice planting that goes on, to support this important part of the Malagasy diet.

So many questions, so few answers.  Anyway, Fury got us safely down and we were escorted back through the domestic terminal where a driver called Adza (again, ?sp) was awaiting us.  He took us back through the colourful streets of the outskirts of Tana

and explained that he would be our driver for the next 12 days or so whilst we explore parts of the island south of Tana.  We meet our guide, Kenny, tomorrow and head off eastwards to Andasibe and Mantadia.  The next few days should prove to be as educational and absorbing as our time in Masoala, and quite possibly as busy and involving as many photos of wildlife.  Stay tuned to find out how our onward journey unfolds.

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