When we had bought our tickets the day before, the cashier had urged us to buy business class tickets because they were cheaper than economy tickets. How, we're not quite sure, but the price was below what we were expecting, so we agreed. Her logic was that there are different tiers to ticket prices - Malagasy citizens in economy get the cheapest price, then it increases as such. At any rate, we were the only people in business class. We giggled as they pulled the curtain across and brought us food that no one else got. Craig relished being able to sit with his knees together and not have them touch the seat in front. We enjoyed the hour-long plane ride and were afforded views of the countryside. Approaching Sambava, we could see lush hills, mountains, and water. Close to the town was the ocean, turquoise waves crashing up on shore where on the other side of the bank a red-brown river flowed.
We made our way to Hotel Orcheada and were pleased to find they had a room free, though not the cheap bungalow on the ocean. The staff was friendly and the food delicious (we enjoyed our second taste of Zebu, the local cow relative, as much as our first). We were told that we couldn't just show up the next day at the National Park, and when calling the number in our Lonely Planet, we discovered the number was wrong. So it was recommended that we visit a cafe with a tourist office. We're not sure we learned anything new, but the operator was friendly and helpful and confirmed a lot of what we already thought.
In the end, we decided to leave some things behind at the hotel so that our bags wouldn't exceed the 15 kg maximum for porters. We were anxious when we realized the power was out and it seemed we wouldn't have a working camera or video camera for the trek, but it came on right before bed so we could sleep soundly!