1. In Brief
Escape to Madagascar – the magical island which is home to some of the world's most spectacular and least explored tropical forests, white sand beaches and coral reefs. The crystal clear waters host a dazzling array of pristine marine habitats and support a huge diversity and abundance of marine creatures. The tropical forests support a huge diversity of rare and endemic creatures from lemurs to venomless snakes and chameleons.
The vivid multi-coloured corals and luxuriant sea grass beds provide rich feeding grounds for an extraordinary array of colourful reef fish, rays, sea urchins, anemones, octopus and even sea turtles. While barracuda, sharks, dolphins, migrating whales and shoals of pelagics cruise the deep blue waters offshore. You can explore this exquisite, untarnished underwater world as you swim and snorkel off the island of Nosy Be. Meaning ‘Big Island’ in Malagasy this location certainly lives up to its name.
Snorkel off the island's dazzling white sand beaches, swim among the clouds of tropical fish in every colour of the rainbow and wander along the empty shores. Let the vibrant culture and friendly communities warmly welcome you. Swim and snorkel from the beach to explore this pristine seascape and you'll discover extensive areas of undamaged coral, healthy populations of multicoloured fish, see turtles and marine mammals, and you'll learn to recognise a wide diversity of inter-tidal animals from tiny hermit crabs to pastel-hued anemones.
On shore apart from relaxing on the island's perfect, undeveloped beaches, you may have the chance to work in the lush mangrove forests, unique ecosystems which straddle water and land. Or you could learn about the activities of the traditional shark fishermen and the inter-tidal gleaning women, as well as discovering and reporting which marine organisms are being sustainably harvested and which are being dangerously depleted.
You will be joining an ongoing conservation and community development project, which means that you could be helping to assess the health of the reef while you snorkel off the beach, or helping local people to learn English to improve their employment prospects. Plus there will be plenty of time to relax under a palm tree and gaze at the sun-drenched ocean or laze in your hammock and enjoy the breeze.
Your days will be eventful; the work will be challenging, rewarding and fun. Your discoveries will be of huge benefit to the conservation of these fabulous coral reefs and you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped protect these precious natural resources for future generations.
The results from your investigations will supply vital information on the Madagascan coastline to enable the sustainable management of natural resources in the region and the protection of the marine wildlife.
Help to monitor & conserve coastal sea shore environments and spot rare Indian Ocean marine wildlife
Swim and snorkel from your perfect beach camp and explore the crystal clear Indian Ocean
Make lifelong friends as you enjoy life on this exotic tropical island and discover this spectacular marine wilderness
The Island of Nosy Be, Madagascar
Swim and snorkel off the beach to locate and explore near shore environments
Environmental education days in the local schools and community groups
Teach conversational English
Swim and snorkel out to observe the various coral reef communities
Discover beach and littoral zone organisms
Swim and snorkel to find reef & commercial fish
Observe the feeding habits & behaviour of a range of marine life
Discover the effects of global warming on marine communities
Observe the impact of the marine-curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates
Airport pickup weekly on a Monday
Alternative start dates possible, additional £35GBP applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport weekly on a Monday
Before you go
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training FREE for 10 week+ volunteers (US$168 per person for those participating for less that 10 weeks)
Airport pickup weekly on a Monday. Alternative start date possible, additional US$74GBP applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
Transfers to the beach camp (for first Monday of the month arrivals)
Airport drop off (dependent on end dates)
Dive training courses (extra cost applies) subject to availability & to length of stay
24-hour international HQ back-up
In-country emergency support
Vocational qualification diploma or certificate in Tropical Habitat Conservation available(4 week+ volunteers)
Free park & reserve entrance fees & research permits if applicable
CoPE qualification available (confers UCAS points)
Snorkelling and swimming off the diving boats (extra cost applies)
A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.
PADI DIVE TRAINING
On the Frontier Marine Conservation Group Projects, we will train you to PADI Advanced Open Water before you begin undertaking important biological surveys. Depending on how long you spend on the project, you may also have the option to take further courses up to Divemaster!
Please see the "Dates and Costs" tab for dive qualification prices or ask your volunteer advisor for more information.
Find out more about PADI qualifications.
2. The project
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Madagascar is an extraordinary and exotic island paradise. 165 million years of isolation have created a globally important biodiversity treasure with over 80% of species endemic to the island. But, an increasing population is having a devastating impact, causing deforestation and erosion; the red soil running into the seas has led to the sadly evocative name of "the bleeding island".
The Malagasy government is now working with international conservation and aid agencies to halt this destruction and save the island's invaluable biodiversity, and Frontier volunteers are an integral part of this effort.
Record Marine Biodiversity
Threats to the coastal environment on and around Nosy Be are on the up as unregulated tourism is on the increase and the local population is growing. Increasing competition for food means that artisanal fishing techniques such as seine-netting become inadequate and inefficient, encouraging use of less discriminate catch practices such as dynamite fishing. Other threats include the over-harvesting of shark fins, octopus and sea cucumbers and the over-collecting of shells and corals for the expanding marine curio trade.
Your project activities will depend on the time of year you join and the length of your stay but may include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal bird and reptile populations, an important part of the coastal ecosystem. If you are only able to join the project for 2 or 3 weeks your involvement in the research surveys will be limited but your conservation work will be valuable.
Malagasy Culture & Communities
Working alongside the Malagasy people will give you an insight into their extraordinary culture. You may even be invited to some of their ceremonies such as local weddings or the Donia street festival. Community work includes environmental education in local schools to explain Frontier's work, and accompanying local fishermen to record their catches of fish, sharks and turtles. The data from your investigations will supply vital information on the coastline for the Madagascan National Programme.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with L'Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marine (IHSM), with whom Frontier has been in partnership since 2000. The research and conservation project aims to provide the local stakeholders and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of this pristine marine ecosystem. To gather the data needed you will be working regularly (weather permitting) with Sunday off. You'll be locating and helping to map the important coastal zone habitats from mangroves and intertidals to offshore shallow reefs and you'll observe the various communities existing on them.
Whilst swimming and shore snorkelling, you may encounter an extraordinary array of animals from turtles to rays, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, and spiny urchins to octopus. If you're there in the right season your work may even allow you to observe dolphins or gigantic whale sharks.
You will also have the chance to get involved in our community work, perhaps by helping with environmental education days or by helping to teach English to villagers. By the end of your stay you should be able to identify a number of coloured and patterned reef fish, you will have made friends with the local villagers, especially the children, and have obtained an enviable tan. The work is intense and challenging and you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived your beach camping experience and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. You will return home with the new friends you've made and a wealth of incredible photos, videos and memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and saving endangered wildlife. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many have also volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
For further information about Frontier marine conservation work please refer to the publications section of this website.
3. What to expect
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ARRIVE?
Volunteers arriving weekly on a Monday will be welcomed by a Frontier representative at Nosy Be airport. From here it's a short taxi or minibus ride from the airport to the centre of this vibrant town. If you arrive before noon, you will transfer to your project site and be introduced to the Frontier-Madagascar programme on the same day. If you arrive later in the day, you will stay overnight at the Frontier volunteer house in town and transfer to your project site the following day. You will meet the staff, receive some initial briefings, including an introduction to the conservation programme and techniques used, as well as health and safety lectures, so make sure your medical kit is complete and start reading your safety and medical briefs.
The transfer from Nosy Be to the Frontier beach camp is by the local village boat and depending on the weather both you and your kit will get wet so make sure you have sufficient dry bags to waterproof all your belongings and something to waterproof yourself! It is worth having suntan lotion at the ready as the boat trip can be in the midday sun.
Independent travellers arriving on dates other than weekly on a Monday can arrange a separate airport collection (extra cost; US$74GBP) by contacting the camp staff in Nosy Be.
At the end of your stay we will transfer those of you who are on the monthly program, back to Nosy Be from the camp in time for you to head back home or continue on your independent travels. If you are joining for less than 4 weeks you will make your own arrangements to return to Nosy Be from where you can continue your own independent travel or return to the UK.
WHERE WILL I BE STAYING?
During the project you'll live on the beach camp in the village of Ambalahonko alongside other Frontier volunteers and staff. We aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience. The Frontier camp was built by Frontier volunteers working with local craftsmen, using traditional techniques and locally sourced materials. The camp which is situated in a clearing on the beach has been designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Camp life is very simple, unsophisticated and fun.
You will be sleeping in simple communal bandas, local style dwellings, there are a couple of outdoor showers, water supplied from the local village. You cook over an open campfire: so prepare for the basic, virtually footprintless, unencumbered lifestyle!
WHAT WILL I BE EATING?
Food on camp is simple and nutritious and consists largely of locally sourced fresh vegetables and fruit, rice, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased from nearby communities thereby helping to support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate are only available in the main town, so make sure you stock up before heading to your field camp.
Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking. Creating spectacular meals over an open campfire or baking bread in the campfire oven will become second nature: so get your cookbooks out now and start thinking up recipes! Also, with luck you'll be invited to local feasts and festivals – a great way to engage with local communities and discover local cuisines and cultures.
4. The reviews
AN INCREDIBLE EYE OPENING EXPERIENCE
14 Nov 2014
I've just completed 4 weeks in Madagascar on the Beach Conservation project. Having never don...
SMALL THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT
17 Oct 2014
I spent one month doing Beach conservation in Madagascar and it was amazing. I really had no expe...
MADAGASCAR HAS BEEN AN INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE
3 Sep 2014
Before this summer I had never travelled outside of Europe and never on my own, so I was feeling ...
A PERFECT PROGRAMME FOR MY FIRST TIME TRAVELLING
27 May 2014
I loved my time in Madagascar, saw so many amazing things! I was there doing Beach Conservation, ...
SAW SO MANY AMAZING THINGS
19 May 2014
I loved my time in Madagascar, saw so many amazing things! I was there doing Beach Conservation, ...
I WOULD NOT CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE
11 Mar 2014
I spent 10 weeks volunteering with Frontier Madagascar on the Beach Conservation project from Jan...
TOTAL CULTURAL IMMERSION IN MADAGASCAR
11 Dec 2013
Having spent time overseas previously, I would say without a doubt, that my time with Frontier in...
A GREAT EXPERIENCE IN MADAGASCAR!
2 Oct 2013
I loved being here in Madagascar! The staff are lovely and were happy to help and were always ent...
UNIQUE BIODIVERSITY, GREAT PLACE & WEATHER
19 Nov 2012
Overall the project was very good. The location is great for marine-related projects, and there w...
THE MOST BENEFICIAL PROJECT FOR ME!
6 Nov 2012
I was worried that I would struggle with camp life as I had not ever travelled before, however, I...
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7. Dates and Costs
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
Flights are not included in our trip costs. However, we have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with us. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.
We recommend that you obtain a quote using the following contact details rather than book online, as our partner will offer you the most competitive fares. To receive your quote or to seek any advice for your flights, please contact our dedicated team of travel experts on 0800 082 9994 (or +44 800 082 9994 outside the UK) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:
Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.
You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the
project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check
to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration
of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best
to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project.
Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.
Your insurance should include the following:
- Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
- Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
- Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).
If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up
to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider
obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to
do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain
cover for your baggage and personal effects.
8. How to apply
To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.
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