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Madagascar is more than lemurs. The giant island is also known as the Eighth Continent thanks to the diversity of plant and animal species. The forest is home to all kinds of lemurs, chameleons, butterflies, and an infinite amount of flora and fauna. Interestingly enough, around 75 percent of the animals that reside on the island can only be found in Madagascar! This is a country that is completely unique in every aspect, from Malagasy culture to the unbelievably large variety of terrain – mountain, jungle, forest, beach and desert. Madagascar lies off the coast of Africa, and as a result of the rich biodiversity of the country is a magnet for conservation volunteers. Choosing to volunteer in Madagascar is an opportunity to learn more about wildlife and environmental protection on the frontlines, where you’ll be involved in conserving some of the rarest and most precious species on the planet.
Why Volunteer In Madagascar
Volunteering in Madagascar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Because it is geographically and culturally isolated, the island has developed into a fascinatingly original country. The culture here is unlike anywhere else in the world. As a volunteer, you will have unique insights into a country that most people can only dream of. As well as Malagasy culture, a huge draw is the ever-changing terrain. In the north resides the highest peak of Maromokotro, in the west, miles and miles of grassy plains, in the south, deserts and forests abound, and in the east, stunning lakes reflect sunny skies. Populating these wonderful landscapes are endemic plants and animals, such as aye-ayes, fossas, and lemurs. As so much of Madagascar’s wildlife is found nowhere else in the world, it is one of the most interesting places to volunteer in conservation. Sadly, Madagascar faces challenges in the form of major climate events such as cyclones, recent political crises which have impacted the economy, and poor infrastructure. In the face of this, as much as 80 percent of the population lives in poverty. In response to this, many development projects are active in Madagascar, with excellent opportunities for volunteers.
What You Need To Know Before Volunteering In Madagascar
Madagascar is so unique it’s hard to know what to expect before you go. So, we’ve put together some essential information on volunteering in this wonderful country.
The climate in Madagascar is split into a cool dry season from May to October, and a wet season from November to April. This hot season is riddled with typhoons and heavy rainfalls. The island is beautiful during this time, but can be more difficult to travel.
Malagasy people all belong to distinct ethnic groups. There are about 20 ethnic subgroups who all contribute their own traditions, histories and stories to the Malagasy culture as a whole.
The two national languages are Malagasy and French. Malagasy originates from Indonesia and has English-letter characters. The French language became nationalized when the French government colonized the island. Today it is widely spoken in larger cities where people have better access to education.
Costs and budget
Madagascar is a relatively budget-friendly volunteering destination. When you travel to Madagascar as part of a volunteer program, you’ll have your accommodation, most meals, airport transfers, and 24/7 support provided. If you ask the local program staff for advice on how to live like a local, you’ll be able to get by very cheaply.
Where To Volunteer In Madagascar
The island of Nosy Be in the north is one of the most beautiful locations in the whole country. It’s also one of the most exciting places to volunteer. It’s an adventurous destination, with endless diving, swimming, and snorkelling opportunities. However, the glossy natural beauty of the island is threatened by various environmental and developmental challenges. Volunteers will find plenty to keep them busy here as they contribute to the local community and explore the stunning surroundings. Nosy Be is considered one of Madagascar’s top tourist destinations and even has an international airport, so it’s very well connected and has a wide range of amenities. Despite this, it’s still relatively laid-back, so you can enjoy being immersed in the island lifestyle.
Volunteer Programs In Madagascar
Due to the island’s rich ecology and ocean life, the majority of volunteer projects are related to the environment: think wildlife conservation and sustainable development. Other opportunities are in healthcare and teaching, specifically teaching English. Volunteer with endangered lemurs in a center where they have been rescued from illegal trafficking. After being kept as pets and sometimes abused, these lemurs need a lot of love and care as they can’t be returned to their wild habitats. You’ll be helpless to resist their furry charms. Or, go diving and carry out marine research on coral and mangrove ecosystems. On scuba and snorkel surveys you’ll collect data that will help guide the management of fragile and precious environments. If you’re interested in wildlife conservation, you’ll love learning more about the fascinating plants and animals in Madagascar by assisting with research projects. Surveys of the birds, reptiles, amphibians, and vegetation in the forests of Nosy Be are a great way to learn detailed conservation methods. No prior knowledge or skills are required to volunteer in Madagascar. Just be ready to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into hard but rewarding work. This is an adventure that will be full of the extraordinary. Browse our Madagascar volunteer programs below or get in touch with us to find out more.