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“Rain forest delight!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Vakona Forest Lodge

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Vakona Forest Lodge
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BP 750, Andasibe, Madagascar   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Andasibe
Certificate of Excellence 2014
New Ulm, Minnesota, United States
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Rain forest delight!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2014

While visiting our son last summer, he took us to Vakona Forest Lodge. AMAZING!! Our accomodations were clean, showers were hot and had plenty of pressure, and we enjoyed having a cup of tea on our bungalow terrace. The meals in the lodge were not only delicious, but the atmosphere near the central fireplace was never-to-be-forgotten. We hiked in Andasibe with an excellent guide (John Claude) and saw 5 different types of lemurs along with several birds. We took the night hike (guide Dule) and also went to lemur island where abandoned pet lemurs live without cages, but in safety. It was incredible to not only see these animals up close, but to have some of them jump onto our shoulders so we could feel their soft, leathery hands! One of the highlights of our trip to Madagascar!!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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289 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (52)
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Old basing
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2014

The room for our 3-night stay was a bungalow set in the interesting grounds of the hotel. The bedroom was a bit on the small side, but it was the only place we stayed in Madagascar that had a kettle to allow you to make the occasional cup of tea - a real bonus. Breakfast was reasonably good with some variety & choice. Lunch / dinner was slightly variable. Our first dinner was really very good with no problems catering for dietary requirements. Very pleasant service - even the local Madagascan wine was quaffable. Subsequent meals never quite achieved the same level - there seemed to be some difficulties when large parties were being catered for along with the other small groups of guests.
The wi-fi, when it was available (limited mainly because the power was off for much of the time) was a bit limited with slow download speeds and near non-existent upload capacity.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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London, United Kingdom
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 31, 2014

This lodge is in a beautiful position - east for walks into the rain forest(Jacques is a great guide if you can choose), but is spoiled by poor management . The electricity is on and off and any time the staff feel like it - food is poor to average - particularly breakfast . It rained whilst we were there and there was no means of drying wet clothes(it is close to a rain forest) packed lunches were uninspired cheese and bananas . Grounds are good , and the island lemur reserve is very good and gives a close up experience . Overall needs a management change , staff were willing but lacked direction or authority to do anything

Room Tip: No fitness centre and we didn't use room service room nearest lodge is easiest if it's raini...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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London
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2014

It's really interesting reading some of the negative reviews of this place as we had a great stay and loved it! Our room was fantastic (with none of the mouldy smells others have described) - we were given a family bungalow which was set up in the hill on the left as you come in to the lodge. We didn't use the upstairs section as it was just the two of us, but the downstairs was really spacious with a giant bed, it had a nice outside terrace with a good view of the surrounding rainforest, the bathroom was big and clean, we never had a problem with hot water, and didn't notice any issues with the electricity (I guess we were out / asleep if it did go off). I also thought the food here was excellent, probably the best of all the places we stayed on the mainland. Unfortunately they could only fit us in for two of our three night stay, so on the last night we moved to Grace Lodge which was a bit of a shock to the system having got used to the standards of Vakona!

We had great walks in Mantadia NP where we weren't lucky enough to see black & white ruffed lemurs but did see a beautiful diademed sifaka, a tenric, giraffe necked weevils, nightjars and brown lemurs (and a whole host of birds, some of which are apparently very rare but I'm afraid were wasted on me), and a great night walk, but the highlight had to be the indris - we had two fantastic encounters with them, including watching a very adventurous baby exploring, which were definitely among the highlights of our trip. We also went to lemur island, which I didn't enjoy but my husband did, and the reptile place, which both of us disliked. Personally I find it a bit weird having zoo-like experiences when you've come all the way to Madagascar to see animals in their natural environment but that's just me... It's worth noting that apparently the guides for both places at Vakona don't get paid and rely solely on tips.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Bristol, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
180 reviews 180 reviews
65 hotel reviews
Reviews in 93 cities Reviews in 93 cities
123 helpful votes 123 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2014

Vakona is perfectly situated being close to the park where there is a fabulous lemur experience. The grounds are quite nice and you are surrounded by rainforest.

Yes, the rooms are pretty basic - they are throughout Madagascar as it has not yet caught up with tourism. They are not really for relaxing in and do smell a bit of mould because they are in a rainforest. I know it's the same old story 'oh but it's in a rainforest' but it's true. We had experienced this sort of forest accommodation before on Dominica in the Caribbean, so perhaps we expected it. Also it was the rainy season. Yes, the electricity does go off in the morning and evening but it does explain this on a leaflet in your room so you should not be caught out unless there is an extra problem. It seems that some people have experienced a problem when caught washing clothes in your room. There is this ban in some types of accommodation in Madagascar, particularly in the rainforest, as it does not help with the mould smell and humidity. I feel this should be explained and not just written down in the leaflet as a ban.

The lodge itself is a giant place overlooking a lake. Quite nicely done but not memorable. The same can be said about the staff, very nice and helpful but no one stood out. The food was average and the breakfast not too good but you could at least have eggs. It was quite disappointing staying here because I am sure it would not take a lot to get it to a better standard.

The lodge has a 'Lemur Island' a little way down the road where you can actually have the lemurs on your shoulders while they are fed. Not quite to pet but almost. At first my husband and I did not want to go there as we felt it was a 'step too far'. We did go in the end and were quite glad we did because it was so nice to see the lemurs up close and very personal! It is all a little contrived as of course the lemurs will come to you when there is food about. I have to admit to enjoying their beautiful soft fur against my neck. But do beware, they are wild animals they are not pets and they can be very unpredictable even though there is a guide with you. Listen to him! Also, ladies look out. It can be quite a shock when they leap onto your shoulder, especially if you are like me 5ft and weigh 40kg, as they are rather large and heavy. Please do not scream or squeal. If you think you may behave like that then please do not go. You do get used to it but I wouldn't let it go on too long. Don't forget they are not toilet trained! We stopped them jumping up after a short while as we thought they should be left in peace. Also there were only two of us there so things were very calm but I can imagine if there was a crowd there it would be rather chaotic. Think before you go but dont let your prejudices spoil a nice experience.

Room Tip: I walked all around the site looking for better rooms and have forgotten the numbers. That's wha...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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SA
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2014

We just back from an awesome time in Andisbe National Park. The highlight was the Mantidia NP and Andisebe NP, seeing and hearing the Indri and the tame lemurs at Vakona Forest Lodge. Our guide Jacques was excellent, knew his birds very well too.

The lodge itself is well placed, however, the rooms were damp, moldy and cold. I would suggest they leave the generator on in the wet seasons to dry the rooms out and air the bedding (or tumble dry it). The dinner was very limited and only just ok.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Chessington, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2014

We did not stay at Vakona Lodge but went to Lemur Island and would thoroughly recommend it. The lemurs are pretty tame and will climb on you to get hold of any food you happened to be carrying - bananas were provided! There was a large party who had arrived just before us so it was not particularly quiet but we just held back and had the lemurs to ourselves. We also went on a kayak to see the ringtails as they live in a separate area. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and get close to the lemurs.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Vakona Forest Lodge

Address: BP 750, Andasibe, Madagascar
Location: Madagascar > Toamasina Province > Andasibe
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Andasibe
Number of rooms: 32
Also Known As:
Vakona Forest Hotel Andasibe
Vakona Forest Lodge Madagascar/Andasibe

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