This is kind of a ‘special mission’ to volunteer for the community. It is an amazing volunteer opportunity where you will sail around the Madagascar to help! Literally. Not everyone in this world is as happy as we are, living in the developed countries, having schools and available healthcare and similar. At the same time being like an adventure, the boat ‘the Spirit of Malala’ will bring volunteers around the Madagascar to the remote islands and villages. You will be a volunteer here for two weeks from where 10 days you will be involved in teaching, small construction projects and scientific research monitoring. Beautiful beaches, remote places and volunteer help. What can there more rewarding?
The organization you would volunteer for is undertaking environmental research, community development and education and is approved by the Government. With the help of volunteers and numerous international partners they actively contribute to the local communities and conservation. Especially, efforts are aimed to protect the unique flora and fauna of Madagascar. Volunteers have a crucial role to help towards the sustainability of Madagascar community and conservation project. The villages and their people need your input. Join us on this live aboard incredible volunteer opportunity!
Why volunteer for the community ‘out of the boat’?
Many of the island communities in Madagascar have very limited basic resources, being remote and having no transport possibility. Therefore this Island Outreach Program has a wonderful idea to bring volunteers to the remote villages by a boat! It assists to the local communities with access to education, resources and basic first aid assistance. You will be volunteering by helping in teaching, small construction projects and scientific research monitoring. Volunteers may choose to assist the local doctor in administering basic healthcare under his supervision. Another way of helping as a volunteer are also donations of much needed medical supplies.
Northwest Madagascar, Nosy Ambariovato Island
2 weeks from which 10 days are travelling aboard the boat
Airport of Arrival:
Nosy Be (NOS) via Antanarivo / Tana (TNR)
Community outreach in education, small construction in hardly accessible villages
18 and above
# of Volunteers:
between 10 – 12 International volunteers (e.g. USA, Australia, Canada, Germany, Austria, UK)
Health insurance is needed. Vaccinations are not typically required.
What is included?
Island outreach volunteers receive the most amazing experience on the water.
Volunteers have an included AP transfer to the project site.
Shared bungalows, with 4-6 other voluteners
All inclusive, three meals per day, seven days per week on camp. Tasteful Madagascan food.
Volunteers must provide their own comprehensive travel and health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage.
You can pay also in USD. After applying you will receive an email. Then please follow the guidelines about the price conversion.
This volunteering program starts on the 1st Monday in the month only. The best for arrival is Sunday.
Supervision and training/help by staff.
Overnight hike to a church village high up near the peak of Nosy Komba.
24h informative emergency and local in-country support is available for the forest volunteers.
Airport transfer at the end of the project. Help is provided in organizing it.
Health and travel insurance.
Get a chat about this amazing volunteer adventure by boat.
- Minimum age: 18
- Language: English
- Enthusiastic and a team player
- No vaccines are needed
- Background check is needed
The country is very beautiful and attractive however, like everywhere, precautions must be taken with your personal belongings.
I have had the incredible pleasure of being an intern for Great Barrier Reef: Snorkeling & Conservation during the summer period of 2017-2018. My initial intent was to find a site or a company that would form the basis of a three-month fieldwork period that would inspire the trajectory and the larger source of data input of my Master’s thesis in Social Anthropology.
Unsure of how the Great Barrier Reef: Snorkeling & Conservation team would see the potential in my proposed research project based in the social sciences, I was taken aback by the extremely warm welcome I received and in the infectious positive attitude of the volunteer project leaders. I was guided by another stuff person through the relevant aspects of the Marine Volunteer program and am entirely grateful for her patience with me through the entire experience. Her pedagogical supervision and fortitude will not soon be forgotten and have shown me example qualities that make an excellent educator.
No day was like any other at this project. The extensive efforts, passion humour and incredible knowledge base shared among the staff at Great Barrier Reef: Snorkeling & Conservation seemingly boundless. Their nightly information sessions are unforgettable and rank as some of the most enjoyable lectures/information sessions I’ve ever attended. I am now entirely inundated with fantastic data for my research, more than I could have foreseen and am entirely grateful for having been given the chance to work with such incredible individuals. I was entirely envious of the new intern who had just commenced their internship as I was about to return to my university city, as working with the project team has been a highlight in both my professional/academic career as well as in my own personal development.
Madagascar Forest Volunteer: A Unique Vacation
“Being part of the forest conservation project on Nosy Komba has allowed me to experience and appreciate some of Madagascar’s tremendous biodiversity. It is incredible – despite its relatively small size, the country holds 5% of the world’s species. What amazes me the most though, is the way Evolution has carved life forms in bizarre and marvellous shapes and colours – unlike anywhere else on Earth – designing them to perfectly blend in with their surroundings.
However, being here for as long as I have, it was inevitable that I would witness one of the country’s major problems – environmental degradation. As one of the world’s poorest countries, its people’s survival depends upon natural resource use. They are forced to live off the land, destroying primary forest for plantations, cutting down trees to make pirogues, which is justified through a need to fish. Native species are being aggressively hunted and collected by people, desperately seeking to provide for their families.
We can’t really blame the Malagasy for what they do, what we can do instead, is go to Madagascar, either as volunteers or tourists, not to see it before it is too late, but to invest in its preservation, even by simply enjoying a one of a kind vacation.
There is no doubt that once in Madagascar, anyone is bound to fall in love with it. I definitely did, and not only because of its ‘million shades of green’, but the Malagasy too – their beauty, their hospitality, and most of all, their ability to enjoy life despite all.
I come from a place with traffic, people, big buildings, and smog. The strangest part about being in a place so foreign as this is that, quickly, it all becomes old hat, old habit, routine. Of course we take cold showers and wear flip flops and watch the sun set every day over the ocean. That is our life here, and as I have lived it, it has become just as much mine as the traffic and people and smog.
Many folk like to call this place paradise, and it is but not because of its beaches, the jungle, and the sea. Nosy Komba is paradise because I came here a stranger, a vazaha, a foreigner, but I have, nevertheless, been received by here people here on camp and in Lemur Island’s many villages with an ‘mbola tsara’, maybe a bowl of rice, and a friendly smile to let me know that though this place is not home these people are still family.
I have gotten a lot from the people of Madagascar (free food, a necklace, a place to rest my weary head) and the more abstract things too like happiness, companionship, and goodwill. The people here have given and I have received. My only regret is that I may never be able to repay them for it all.
When I decided that I wanted to volunteer on a faraway island, I never thought that it would have such a big impact in my life. Madagascar will always be close to my heart because it taught me so much about myself, about other cultures and, most importantly, it taught me how little I really need to be happy.
I was on Nosy Komba for two months in the Marine Conservation program and I can say that it was the best decision of my life. My day consisted of diving, learning about the ocean, and being around people I love and will never forget. I will always regret not staying longer because saying goodbye to this little piece of paradise and to all the people I met was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
To anyone who is looking for a volunteering experience, I extremely recommend this organization for marine program – you will have the time of your life, and stay as long as you can, because time flies in paradise.
The most important things that I have learned from the South African Shark volunteer program are for sure shark work experience and data analysing. I enjoyed the most being on the water and doing fieldwork, as well as I was amazed by the cage diving. I felt greatly integrated in the volunteer environment, where it was always a positive and encouraging attitude. It was great to get the constructive feedback and staff member were always available. I found this programme also intellectually stimulating and I learned practical knowledge during my placement. There were many outcomes emanating from this programme which will be useful for my skill development. I would strongly recommend this volunteer programme to another volunteer or a student. It all made a big difference to me and I certainly had wished that I could stay there for a longer time.
Working with sharks everyday is feeling like I was actually contributing not just doing busy work! I enjoyed about various species and about conservation efforts. Of course working out in the field was also amazing but I also enjoyed the quiet days getting things sorted around the lab.
I think I was trained very well while I was at your program although I need to improve my listening skills!
This program will certainly make a difference to my future studies. I had the most amazing time and I am very sad that it has come to an end so soon! I wish that I could stay for longer! Thank you so much for everything, everyone has been so kind and incredible to work with. I have learned so much since I have been here that no doubt will help me along my way through marine bio! I am so thankful to my new Shark research family for teaching me so much and making me feel at home! I am going to miss everything about the South African Shark program! I would rate this program overall definitely as excellent!
A dolphin research organization where I took part was like a blast for me! You can be a volunteer and have an amazing experience with other volunteers from all around the world and with a lot of fun. The work for dolphins comprises of team work everyday: every volunteer gets a task they have to do daily. Before we first went with the boat to the sea, we had two presentations about dolphins and on dolphin conservation. When we first saw the Dolphins on the sea everyone was excited about it. It was such an amazing moment when the first dolphin jumped out of the water. We also saw a dolphin with her calf. That was a really amazing and emotional moment. There are about 150 dolphins, and each dolphin has its name. When we helped in the analysis we compared the dorsal fins to know which dolphins we have seen. When we were at sea there were a lot of dolphin watching boats that drive very near to the animals whereas the research boat always stays a distance away to prevent the disturbance. And when they drive so near to the dolphins they don’t jump anymore and we can’t see them again because they are scared. It’s really important to solve the problem so the Dolphins can live in peace. It makes a lot of fun to work in a group of international volunteers and to learn biology of Dolphins, other languages and volunteering for the nature and the Dolphins.
I have come to do the volonteering for dolphin conservation because I have been fascinated by the dolphins since my childhood. While volunteering we have learned so much about these wonderful creatures – and to see them LIVE in the nature was an absolute highlight!
Last but not least, especially our team was so unique because it team was the oldest ever J and we had one younger volunteer that we at once ‘adopted’ and called her »our baby«. So we have harmonized very well. We have worked together, cooked, cleaned, harvested even olives and did also the tours. Almost like in a family! We laughed until our bellies hurt! Everything fitted just perfectly! And then, of course, there is a team leader, who, by her cordial, open manner and her presence is a real personality! It is absolutely a joy, that you can, through the love to the dolphins meet even so dear people!
I have always been into the sea and dolphins so I was really excited when I found out this project for dolphin conservation. I thought to volunteer for such a purpose would be a good thing. When I had to choose what to do for my matura, final work exam at school, I asked if I could do it about dolphins and from what they are endangered and the project leaders agreed with it.
By volunteering for dolphins I learned more about the research work. But not only this, I also had a good time during doing my work with the other volunteers.We went swimming in the sea, sunbathing at the beach or just drinking a beer and get to know each other better.
But what’s the best of all: you see dolphins in the wild. It’s so great to see them swimming in the wide ocean free and their movements. I can’t believe people are catching them and put them into an aquarium.
I would recommend this poject to everybody who wants to have a closer look at the researcher life and wants to do something good for the sea and its amazing inhabitants.
After a short search on volunteer opportunities I became quickly aware of the project for the bottlenose dolphins, which was, in my opinion, a total jackpot. From the first day on I got the feeling I was into something important. From the little tasks like washing the dishes to gardening I was always feeling the spirit. We did good work on research comparing dolphin fins on the pictures we took. In our free time we enjoyed the underwater world of the Adriatic Sea, snorkeling for hours! Of course, the most beautiful time I spent here was when we went out on our boat trip to get new pictures and data of our lovely dolphins.
I will always remember the first time when I saw a fin breaking through the surface of the sea and the joy I felt having a look into the eyes of an animal that is so intelligent and free!
Madagascar, island Nosy Ambariovato
Forest conservation volunteer project is based in Northwest Madagascar on the small island of Nosy Komba (‘Lemur Island’) also known as Nosy Ambariovato (‘Island surrounded by rocks’). Situated between mainland Madagascar and the large island of Nosy Be, this volcanic island offers a unique peace and tranquility as there are no roads or cars.
The Madagascar Volunteer research centre is built into the steep slopes of Nosy Komba as a multi-level compound overlooking the spectacular coral reef. The forest volunteer project facilities are nestled between a beautiful tropical forest and a pristine beach overlooking Nosy Be and the world famous Lokobe Forest Reserve. Just meters away, volunteers can experience incredible coconut tree fringed beaches with home coral reef, now declared as a Marine Protected Area by the Department of Environment in conjunction with our volunteering organization, the local community and the Department of Fisheries.
Volunteer for the forest, bird, lemur & reptile biodiversity of Madagascar combines a scientific research and community education. But it brings volunteers also into the field of biological research techniques, biodiversity data collection and the valuable hands-on experience. The biodiversity research work aims to further local and international knowledge on the health of the tropical forest but also island ecosystems of Nosy Komba. With the help of volunteers the project concentrates on the animals found in forested and agricultural areas. The forest volunteers will also work with local communities to reduce pollution, encourage sustainable land use and inspire an interest in the natural environment. Volunteers can expect to get their hands a little dirty with tasks such as rubbish clean up, seed collection, planting and transect setup. But that’s exciting, right? We don’t get each day dirty hands of writing on the computer. So it’s special volunteering as well.
You can check out our IG account Volunteer EcoTravel for more ideas as well.
Embrace the ‘mora-mora’ way of life…
The schedule will vary widely depending on boats, tides, actual arrival time, etc… The following is an example only. Follow the instructions of in-country staff for actual times and stay flexible. Daily life in Madagascar revolves around family, boats and tides. Embrace the ‘mora-mora’ way of life and don’t get into a hurry. Just try to relax and enjoy the beautiful volunteering journey.
ARRIVAL DAY: You will be met at the airport (or port) on Nosy Be by the project driver or a project staff member.
If you arrive before Sunday, you will be dropped off at your hotel after a tour of Hellville. On Sunday, you will meet a staff member at a predetermined time and place for transfer to the volunteer camp on Nosy Komba.
As is nice as it should be for each Sunday – to have it relaxed, also here the volunteers will start their tour of Hellville (if not already done);
In the afternoon volunteers will have a boat to camp on Nosy Komba accompanied by a staff member;
This will be followed by a Camp tour upon arrival, time to unpack, settle in and meet your forest volunteer mates;
The day closes with the dinner and a volunteer briefing for the following day.
Volunteer forest project leads will, after the breakfast, give you the orientation presentation.
Still – as you will work as a forest volunteer – health and safety presentation will follow;
Volunteers will also need to complete and sign forms /paperwork;
After the lunch, a staff member will lead the volunteer team for a walk to the neighbouring village; for the return you can either walk or take the teacher boat back to camp (costs 2,000 MGA/person).
With Madagascan food for the dinner, a briefing with the volunteer appointments will follow, since the first official day on the project will come!
Generally, as a forest volunteer you will get hands-on activities integrated with staff and other more experienced volunteers. Staff will go over activities and times after dinner on Monday so you know where to go.
Forest conservation volunteering in the forest conservation project is a rare opportunity to experience one of the world’s most unique ecosystems and encounter the iconic creatures for which Madagascar is famed. Volunteers receive training on species identification, conducting field surveys, equipment set up and data collection. Also personal volunteer projects or university studies are welcomed!
There are currently long-term projects running on black lemur, birds and reptile biodiversity. Beautiful animals that with their presence show us the health of the forest.
- Black Lemur ecology (Eulemur macaco macaco) – the forest volunteer project studies 3 groups of lemurs, all located in closed canopy forest close to villages and human presence. It focuses on the lemur habitat, home range and group size. This forest conservation project hopes to estimate the lemur’s tolerance against the habitat fragmentation and disturbance. In addition, forest volunteers together with a project team conduct behavioural comparisons between wild and habituated populations at the local lemur park.
- Bird Survey – forest conservation volunteer project also comprises an attractive topic of bird population surveys on the coast, in plantations and in the forest. Point counts are conducted where birds are identified both visually and vocally. Here the help of volunteers in surveys allows the forest conservation group to study seasonal occupancy, habitat preferences of the impressive birds. These forest activities provide updated data on the endemic bird species present on Nosy Komba and help towards the essential subtropical bird conservation.
- Reptile Survey – this volunteer sub-project uses two different methods, each focusing on different niches. In transect surveys, volunteers walk along set 250 m transects using visual search to identify all reptiles and amphibians. During plot searches, volunteers actively search through a pre-defined plot looking for more cryptic species. In addition to the intensive transect and plot searches, sometimes volunteers help in using pitfall traps to study ground dwelling reptiles and amphibians. Most surveys happen during the day however weekly night walks are carried our for nocturnal species using the same methods. The forest volunteer project studies reptile populations in the following habitats: open plantation, coffee plantation, shrubby forest, closed canopy forest, primary forest.
Generally, forest conservation volunteers have morning and afternoon activities. After dinner each day, there is a briefing to go over activities for the following day.
NOTE: The schedule will vary widely depending on the project, tides, etc… for that day.
Sample Volunteer Schedule:
05:00-07:00 Breakfast on camp prepared by the in-house cooks
06:00-08:00 Start of morning activities on project
12:00 Lunch on camp prepared by the in-house cooks
14:00 Start of afternoon activities on project
16:00-17:00 Volunteer activities for the day conclude
18:00 Dinner on camp prepared by the in-house cooks
18:45 Board Briefing to go over volunteer activities for the following day
The volunteer research centre is built into the steep slopes of Nosy Komba as a multi-level compound overlooking the spectacular coral reef below. A volunteer can climb stone stairs up from an idyllic beach to main house situated above the dive deck and can have the stunning view of the ocean extending far across all the way to Lokobe Forest Reserve on Nosy Be. The Main House accommodates senior staff members and serves as a meeting place and hangout for volunteers during the day.
From the back of main house, follow more stone steps up another level to a separate kitchen and dining hut nestled among vibrant gardens. Volunteers can expect to share a hut with four to six other volunteers.
The volunteer camp is eco-friendly with solar powered lighting throughout. There are no charging facilities for electronic devices; volunteers are encouraged to bring a solar panel and battery pack to keep their devices charged. Charging ports are available in the neighbouring village of Ampang, about a half hour hike from camp. The volunteer project has an onsite generator for staff use and volunteers are welcome to charge small devices (no laptops) from this if there is space.
If we go for a volunteer experience and we want to help in our ecological mission, then, when packing, please keep in mind that there are no waste diposal or recycling centres in this area of Madagascar. Therefore, volunteers should please minimise the amount of disposable, plastic or one-use type items that you bring. We suggest also bringing a solar panel and battery pack if you have any electronics you want to keep charged (i.e. phone, laptop etc…).
You need to bring your own beddings and towels with you. If you bring a sleeping bag you still need to bring your own sheet.
Most meals have a rice base with a serving of beans, usually cooked in a sauce with vegetables. Some meals will include seafood or chicken. Meat, when part of a meal, is typically prepared with a sauce, breakfast usually consists of either baguettes and jam, eggs or crepes.
There is a vegetarian option for all meals. Vegans can help themselves to the vegetable-based foods prepared, but will also need to supplement their diet with foods purchased off camp.
Wi-Fi is not available on camp, however there is Wifi access in the neighboring village of Ampang,
A hand washing laundry station is provided on a volunteer camp with a clean water tap. Volunteers can either do their own washing, or pay one of the local kitchen staff to do it for them. Typically, it costs 10,000 MGA per bag of laundry, plus soap.
Volunteers can arrange their own travelling around before or after the volunteering session that they make in the forest conservation. Here are some ideas:
Nosy Mamoko Island
This island is at the southwest end of Ampasindava Bay. The small, unspoiled forest ends in sandy white beaches with excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkeling in the bay to explore the delicate coral reefs. This traditional island still has a Queen as head of their population and a 100 year old tortoise.
The name of this fascinating area dates back to the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, when a Russian warship anchored in the bay.
The spectacular marine life in the bay offers superb snorkelling and diving. Whales and whale sharks are common in the bay from October to December and there is an abundance of lemurs, birdlife and reptiles in the tropical forest with a choice of hiking trails.
Ankazoberavina Marine Reserve
Ankazoberavina (meaning “island with big-leaved trees) Marine Reserve lives up to its name with a forest of large trees and mangroves which is home to some species of lemur, flying foxes and chameleons. The snorkeling is outstanding with spectacular coral formations teaming with tropical fish and resident turtles.
This little-known island is so small that it is used solely as a lemur rehabilitation centre and safe-house. It is currently home to six lemur species. This private island has a tropical rainforest and is one of four large lumps of silver basalt that makes up “Les Quatres Freres” (The Four Brothers) which also includes Nosy Betalinjona, Nosy Beangovo and Nosy Betanihazo.
The Nosy Iranja Archipelago consists of two islets (Nosy Iranja Be and Nosy Iranja Kely) linked by the now world famous sandbar at low tide. The clear waters offer excellent snorkeling and swimming. Nosy Iranja Be is the larger of the two and home to an abandoned lighthouse that was designed by Gustav Eiffel (best know for designing the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty).
Lush hills behind sunny, white beaches are the main features of Baramahamay River. Visitors to this remote area may even spot the extremely rare Madagascan fish eagle feeding off fish basking in the river. The villages are reknown for their blacksmiths, boat builders and honey.
Nosy Tanikely draws both bird enthusiasts and snorkelers alike. The crystal-clear waters are perfect for viewing the amazing variety of marine life. At low tide, one can walk all the way around the island, during which you may spot lemurs, flying foxes and white-tailed tropical birds.
About Spirit of Malala
The Spirit of Malala is a 50ft research and conservation vessel with cooking facilities, seating/dining area, showers, and flush toilets. This boat was built in support of Malala Yousafzai, an incredibly courageous young girl, who stood up for the rights of all young women to receive equal educational opportunities. In so doing she almost lost her life. Malala is the youngest person to receive a Nobel Prize and she continues to inspire and promote equal education for women globally. The meaning of Malala in Malagasy is “My Darling”.
Apply now and secure yourself a place in this amazing volunteer project.