Marine conservation in Madagascar

“Spend between three and twelve weeks as a marine conservation volunteer, diving, collecting data and supporting community initiatives in a patch of Madagascan paradise. ”


Pre-expedition overland tour from Antananarivo to Toliara | Live at expedition base at Andavadoaka | Intensive scientific and dive training programme | Dive surveys and community work

Description of Marine conservation in Madagascar

This marine conservation holiday in Madagascar is an opportunity to work on conservation and research projects with an award winning volunteer organisation, based at a remote and beautiful research centre in Andavadoaka, south-west Madagascar for between three and twelve weeks.

Andavadoaka is accessible only from the sea or via winding and narrow sand tracks. The journey there is slow, but varied and beautiful, twisting through the globally unique spiny Mikea forest before passing empty white beaches with an unbroken line of fringing and barrier coral reefs visible just offshore. In Andavadoaka you will stay in comfortable self-contained wooden eco-cabins situated on a coral outcrop overlooking white sandy beaches and the blue lagoon beyond.

In a region where people are reliant on the health of the ocean, marine conservation is a priority. By joining this project as an expedition volunteer you will contribute to research that guides local management plans and local understanding of the status of marine resources. Expedition volunteers receive marine ecology training through lectures, workshops and in-water activities. You will be diving and collecting data five days a week, living and working alongside the traditional fishing community, and playing a direct role in supporting local conservation and community development initiatives.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Holiday type

Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

The south west coast of Madagascar is home to some of the most biologically diverse and yet least explored marine systems on earth. The local community relies on these systems for food, transport, cultural identity and income. But these habitats face growing threats from pollution, physical degradation and overexploitation of marine resources. Through regular and continued data collection, carried out by field scientists and volunteers, sustainable local environmental management plans are created and the effectiveness of conservation strategies aiming at maintaining the biological diversity and productivity of the reefs are monitored.

Our volunteers are trained in monitoring techniques and collect meaningful data which is used to develop sustainable local environmental management plans for the unique reef systems. These plans focus on improving the quality of life of the local communities who depend on these marine resources, while maintaining the biological diversity and productivity of the reefs.

Through work conducted so far, we have already set up Madagascar’s first short-term fishery closure for octopus and this has led to successful replication with more than 250 closures throughout Madagascar.

The Impacts of this Trip

The marine conservation expedition has been based in Andavadoaka since 2003, working closely with the community to develop programmes that respond to local issues and needs. As well as marine conservation projects the host organisation also supports other projects; aquaculture initiatives to develop sea cucumber and algae farms, education programmes, family planning services, marine protected areas and carbon science.

Instead of generating financial gains for shareholders, profits from the expeditions are used to fund grassroots conservation efforts and volunteer fees are directed into the community through the development and support of alternative livelihoods programmes.

As well as a buy local policy, the host organisation has a hire local policy with more than 80% of its country staff being Malagasy nationals. Employment opportunities extend beyond the core team and the expedition itinerary includes volunteers joining local fishermen for sailing lessons, excursions to nearby islands and fishing trips.

All our volunteers are given guidance about local culture and environment prior to their trip in guides and during site briefings. Our volunteers in Madagascar spend time with Vezo families in homestays where they are immersed in local culture. The homestays are a highlight of the trip for many volunteers.


3 Reviews of Marine conservation in Madagascar

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 30 Jul 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Diving everyday and enjoying the life of the Madagascan people!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I packed a bit to heavy in the end and they had alot of equipment there already, so maybe check what you actually need and not what it says on the guides.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, i think the work we were doing was valuable and the locals loved us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Was the best thing ive ever done in my life...and if i could afford it i would go straight back

Reviewed on 13 Jul 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Meeting people and scuba diving/snorkelling.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do not have a strict schedule on getting there or leaving. Leave a period of time open (maybe plan on staying in Tana at the beginning and end of your trip or be flexible with your flights.) Just let the journey happen.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. I especially think that the sex education/health for the locals was particularly useful.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was fantastic! I would highly recommend it for people of all ages with a sense of adventure and love for learning.

Reviewed on 04 Jul 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The most memorable? Too many! The whole trip was simply amazing! A year ago today I'd be there. For anyone thinking of going, or is mulling over to or not to, DO! Words cannot do it justice. Firstly the camp is set in the most beautiful place, and on a good night the stars are unbelievable. I've never seen so many! Must have seen at least 5 shooting stars a night as well as the cosmos! Although the coral reefs are not as eye catching as what you might see on tv, mainly due to the water not being that crystal clear of the Caribbean, the variety and the fish were more than exciting enough for me. If I had to pick a most memorable moment of the holiday it would be either the night dive or the recreational dive at the end. Diving down canyons, swimming along sea fans three times my size, or having a squid hover between me and my diving buddy before suddenly squirting off into the distance was A-MAZING.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack spare stuff, and bring some portable ipod speakers! Cannot stress how much music cheered everyone up and brought people together in the evenings for jamming sessions!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Hard to say. In terms of teaching English in the school I was primarily with young children, which was mostly chaos. They had no basic understanding of English so it was pretty hard. Would have been better if there was someone to translate maybe.

With regards to the coral and fish mapping I don't know. It would be nice to occasionally receive e-mails on how the areas my group visited are doing since we've been there. Are the ecosystems becoming healthier?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Best holiday I've been on by far. Had so many jokes, met some amazing people who I'm still in contact with. Learnt to scuba dive, which is probably the best thing I've done in a while. Unfortunately I had to leave a week earlier than most was a shame because I wasn't ready to leave!

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks for taking the time to write this review. We're really glad you had such a great time with us in Madagascar.
We've actually greatly improved our Saturday School programme and have made it very structured with translators on-hand for every lesson. Attendance has soared and the children's English has vastly improved. We've also nearly doubled the amount of school scholarships we offer since last year.
For updates on our work out in Madagascar and in other areas, you can always take a look at our Research Updates on our website or let someone in the office know if you would like to be added to the mailing list.

Thanks again!

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