Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, beaches, desert, trekking and diving are all to found on the world’s fourth largest island. The remarkable fauna and flora is matched by epic diverse landscapes - you can see rainforest in the morning, and desert by tea. Topping that, there is over 5000km of coastline, 450km of barrier reef and 250 islands, so pack your snorkel to marvel at coral ‘cathedrals’, shipwrecks, rays, whale and reef sharks.
With waves of migrants arriving from various corners of the Indian Ocean, the island’s population is a rich cultural melting pot of people - each bringing their own customs and beliefs, filling the island with historic sites.
Our programs are based in the north, in and around Nosy Be Island, the nearby forests and other remote islands. You’ll take part in marine, forest and animal conservation work with an injection of community education and teaching - all with a view to protecting this unique ecosystem.
Nosy Be is the largest Island just off the northwest shore of mainland Madagascar. It is a little slice of paradise with idyllic beaches, clear waters and the buzzing town of Hell-Ville.
Inland you’ll find sugarcane plantations, rum distilleries and a single-gauge railway; you could almost be in the Caribbean. So the message is this – use your weekends to explore some beautiful out-of-the-way corners of this accessible island.
Nosy Komba (Island of lemurs) is a small volcanic island lying midway between Nosy Be and the mainland. The volcanic hills fold dramatically down into the water creating sandy coves. The island’s main settlement is the village of Ampangorinana, strung out with winding lanes lined with embroidered table cloths, woven baskets and wood carvings.
The Turtle Cove research centre is located on Nosy Komba and is adjacent to a pristine white beach allowing easy access to the wider surrounding waters and directly opposite the world famous Lokobe Forest Reserve and the National Oceanographic Research Centre.
Bararahamay River Verdant hills behind sunny, white beaches. The villages are known for their blacksmiths, boat builders and wild honey.
Mamoko Island Very remote and traditional with their ‘Queen’ still appointed as head of the islands small village population.
Russian Bay Full of mystery and intrigue. The bay's name dates back to 1905 during the Russo-Japanese war when a Russian warship anchored there and quite simply refused to return home, as life was just so good.
In conjunction with the Oceanographic Research Institute of Madagascar, we have been tasked to assist with the collation of reef data to help assess the biodiversity and growth of the reef system around the Lokobe Nature Reserve. All done by snorkelling or scuba diving (course included) so pack you swimmers.
This involves; identifying species and populations of fish, invertebrates and coral, reef baseline surveys, beach cleanups and protecting the beloved sea turtle.
You’ll get stuck into studying and monitoring the diversity and abundance of species to identify changes in forest dynamics, populations and their habitat health – identifying, where possible, potential local threats.
Doesn’t get much better than this. Hop on board a 50ft catamaran and set sail for two weeks to visit many of Madagascar’s remote islands to help with our outreach project and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Many remote island communities in Madagascar have very little resources and benefit a great deal from this outreach, bringing local communities basic materials to develop their area.
As a taster, on Mamoko Island you’ll be able to observe the 100-year-old tortoises and a small lemur family on this tiny island with a community of just 40 people. Next stop, the idyllic Russian bay, where you’ll hike to see breath-taking views and snorkel amongst some of the most exotic marine life. On Iranja you’ll bathe in the pristine waters, wander the traditional markets and relax on the incredible sandbar.
There is great demand among the island communities on Nosy Komba and Nosy Be to learn English in order to enhance their future job prospects and enable them to communicate with the growing number of tourists. Despite this enthusiasm, opportunities to learn the language from native speakers are scarce.
Here you’ll venture out to the local schools on Nosy Be and Nosy Komba to teach both kids and adults conversational English.
To participate in marine conservation you need to be scuba trained to advanced level, which can be learnt whilst in Madagascar. Included in the cost is one PADI scuba diving course - beginner, advanced or refresher, depending on your skill level upon arrival.
If, like many Leapers, you have no diving experience, you’ll first complete a five-day Open Water Level 1 training course, at our Turtle Bay facility, with our on-site diving instructor, before taking a further three-day advanced course for an additional fee of £200. If you’ve already completed Level 1 or the advanced course elsewhere, then you’ll take the advanced course either for the first time or as a refresher at no additional cost. For each course you'll need to also register online for the padi training packs.
We aim for you to dive five days a week for four weeks, at least one dive a day. All dives, apart from the PADI training, are marine science or conservation related.
If diving’s not your thing, don’t worry. Instead you’ll go snorkeling on the reef, take part in beach and reef clean ups, work with turtles or help on local community projects.
Typically you’ll be kept busy on the various projects 5 days per week for 5 - 8 hours each day but you’ll have evenings and weekends free to get exploring in and around the local area of further afield.
Nosy Komba Markets Close to your house (10min by boat) is the main village Ampangorinana where you‘ll find many handicraft shops and markets selling local vanilla, rum, yang yang oils, wooden crafts and street food.
Lemur Park Just a short walk from the village into the forest is the Lemur Park, where a guide will take you around and call some regular black Lemurs to come down from the heights of the trees for bribes of bananas.
Horse riding, whale shark snokelling, remote island day trips, waterfalls, sacred lakes and great nightlife are also all available a short distance from where you’ll stay.
We have different departures for Madagascar throughout year: Jan, April and September are for the full ten weeks, taking in all the sights and experiences you’ll find described on this page with plenty of downtime for you to explore the country as you please.
In addition we have six and four week programs which aim to pack as much into that shorter period as possible, without the scuba. The July departures are ideal for the gap between A-Levels and results day. The others work well for those looking for a shorter program throughout the year, maybe after a ski season or part of cross-continent itinerary.However, if you want to join any of our programs but need to leave early or arrive late? No problem, get in touch and we'll help you sort something out.