Guest blogger Caroline Edwards, of NGO Frontier, profiles an exhilerating volunteering holiday in exotic Madagascar…
Madagascar – the fourth largest island in the world and home to plants and species found nowhere else on the planet. The country has been isolated for over 165 million years which makes it a magical place for those wishing to experience a unique culture in stunning natural settings.
Frontier’s Madagascar Teaching, Wildlife and Diving project gives volunteers the chance to help out the local community as well as working towards protecting and conserving the island’s pristine wildlife and marine life.
Life as a volunteer on the project
The project offers a varied experience for travellers keen on experiencing life in Madagascar from a more local perspective. Upon arrival in Nosy Be Airport (I almost read that as ‘Be Nosy Airport’! – Ed) you will be welcomed by Frontier’s staff who will take you to the project site followed by a two day orientation.
Most volunteers start off on the Frontier beach camp where they take part in the marine project, learn to dive in the clear Indian Ocean and see various marine species as they work on surveys with the team. After exploring the sea, volunteers move on to forest surveys and wildlife conservation. Here you get the chance to spot rare species whilst trekking through a remote environment.
After life in the forest volunteers move on to the town of Hellville to help teach English to local people. As a teaching assistant your help is highly valued as the schools generally suffer from a lack of foreign language teachers in the rural communities.
The best bit about volunteering on the Madagascar Teaching, Wildlife & Diving project is the fact that you get to explore living in beautiful natural settings as well as in a vibrant town like Hellville. During your marine and wildlife conservation projects you will be living with other volunteers on a cosy camp near sea and forest and later on you get to experience the volunteer house in town.
Volunteers are provided with three meals a day throughout the programme. Like many other developing countries, Madagascan cuisine is nicely flavoured but basic with a lot of rice and beans to fill you up!
Recommended for… Anyone who is keen on immersing themselves in a different culture and help out local communities as well as wildlife.
Beware that… It’s important that volunteers are ready to live under basic conditions, as well as being ready to contribute with a positive attitude throughout their stay. If you wish to take the PADI open water qualification and additional fee of £250 is needed.
For more information, including a full programme, prices, departure dates and booking, visit www.frontier.ac.uk
About the author: Caroline Edwards is an Online Media Intern at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO. Check out Frontier’s blog ‘Into the Wild’ for more gap year ideas to help make your time out meaningful. For more information about travel and volunteering opportunities available please visit www.frontier.ac.uk.