Move It Move It in This Marine Wonderland

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.

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Places You'll Visit

Our programs cover three different areas of Madagascar, as well as several remote islands.
Nosy Be
Nosy Be: The Largest Island

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
Nosy Komba: The Lemur 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.

Remote islands
Four of Madagascar's Most Remote Islands

Nosy Iranja The Nosy Iranja Archipelago is 40 km south of Nosy Be. Comprised of two islets, Nosy Iranja Be and Nosy Iranja Kely are linked together by a sandbar at low tide. Both are utterly stunning and characterised by crystal-clear waters and large white sandy beaches that are important breeding sites for the Hawksbill and Green Sea turtles.

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.

How You'll Contribute

Check out the volunteering projects that you could help us work on whilst you're in Madagascar.
Forest Reserve
Animal Conservation on Nosy Komba

The forest on Nosy Komba is home to the black lemurs and 300-recorded unique species known to Madagascar, many of which are now on the UN threatened list, predominantly due to habitat destruction.

Early in the morning you’ll head up the hill with a leading conservationist to track, study, observe and monitor their social and behavioral characteristics, whilst enjoying being up close and personal to these iconic creatures.

There are no roads and the steep trails to and through the forest are not always well trodden, so a good level of physical fitness is required for this phase.

Nature Reserve
Marine Conservation at Lokobe Nature Reserve

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 protected waters around Nosy Komba. All done by snorkelling or scuba diving 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.

PADI Dive Training

To participate in the marine conservation you need to be scuba trained to advanced level, which can be learnt whilst in Madagascar. Included in the 10 week program 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 four 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.

Community Teaching
Teaching English in the Schools of Nosy Komba and Nosy Be

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.

 Madagascar boat
Island Adventure on a 50ft Monohull

Doesn’t get much better than this. Hop on board a 50ft monohull boat and set sail for two weeks to visit a few of Madagascar’s remote islands - a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

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.

You will be exploring by day - on and off the boat and will camp on the islands at night. Heaven.

Awesome Things You'll Do

When you're not volunteering, try some of our backpacker favourites.
Backpacker Favourites
Heaps of Other Popular Backpacker Activities

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.

Gap Year Programs in Madagascar

If this looks like your dream destination, the next step is to pick one of our programs
Can't Wait to Get Started? Fantastic.

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.

We have a great little brochure for Madagascar

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