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Island Outreach Volunteer Project in Madagascar

Apply now. The next available start date for this project is Jun 7, 2021

If variety is what you’re after, look no further! The Madagascar Island Outreach project offers volunteers a chance to participate in a 7-day island tour, enjoying everything the beautiful scenery offers as well as a great variety of volunteer tasks that make a difference to people and animals that live away from the mainland.

The trip takes place aboard a 50ft research vessel. You’ll spend your days visiting several of Madagascar’s remote islands and villages, spending your nights in rustic overnight camps. A key focus of the trip is rural community outreach to villages with limited and basic resources.

Island Outreach volunteer in Madagascar with IVHQ

You can be involved in beach and reef clean-ups, education support, small construction projects, donation distribution and battery collections. You can also assist with scientific research on forest hikes, snorkel surveys and beach patrols that aid the conservation of local wildlife. These activities all contribute to the ongoing efforts of our Marine Conservation, Forest Conservation, Teaching and Community Development projects in Madagascar.

You’ll also have a good amount of free time to explore tropical islands, snorkel in the turquoise waters or enjoy a fun game of beach soccer with the village children. It’s a truly unique and immersive experience!

It’s important to be flexible around the order of stops during the trip and to expect volunteer tasks to vary according to the research being undertaken at the time, as well as the needs of the various communities.

Your itinerary is weather-dependent, but the project will generally follow the itinerary below:

Volunteers start the program by meeting at the Oasis Coffee shop, in Nosy Be, at 9 am on the Monday morning. Once the group has gathered, transport will take volunteers to the Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques (the Oceanographic Research Institute of Madagascar) in Nosy Be, where volunteers will receive a short introduction to marine conservation by one of the institutes leading Malagasy marine researchers. This is followed by a fascinating tour of the marine museum, which has a large collection of specimens covering all aspects of marine life and its evolution in Madagascar. Thereafter, volunteers head to the port to join Spirit of Malala around noon. Shortly after arriving on board, volunteers will receive a safety briefing and local lunch. After lunch the boat will head to Nosy Mamoko, the first of the stopover points. The journey to Nosy Mamoko usually takes around 3 hours.

Nosy Mamoko Island:

This small unique island is situated at the southwest end of the greater Ampasindava Bay and is still ruled by a Queen. The pristine unspoiled forest canopy ends on white sandy beaches where you will often see wild lemurs and a 100-year-old tortoise play amongst the palm trees. Volunteers undertake a number of activities for the 2-day stay that can include construction projects, beach clean-ups, snorkelling for plastic waste, English classes, cultural interaction with the islanders. Leisure activities include a visit to the waterfall, swimming. Accommodation is in tents situated under a grass canopy on the beach.

Volunteers will stay on Nosy Mamoko for 2 nights before traveling to Ampoagna, approximately a 3 hour journey away.


Ampoagna is a small village located on a pristine long white sand beach flanked by tall pine and coconut trees. The beach is a favourite for nesting turtles. In Ampoagna volunteers will assist with the construction of the new school by making bricks and helping with general construction. Previous volunteers have already successfully constructed a clinic and water well. Volunteers also teach English to local children and conduct beach clean-ups. Leisure activities include swimming and playing soccer with the local villagers. Accommodation is in beach houses with modern local bathrooms.

Volunteers will stay on Ampoagna for 3 nights before traveling to Russian Bay, approximately a 1.5 hour journey away.

Russian Bay:

An area steeped in history dating back to the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, when a Russian warship anchored in the bay. Instead of attacking passing Japanese ships as instructed, the crew who enjoyed Madagascar so much, decided not to wage war or to return to Russian. The ship was kept hidden, but emerged twice to trade with pirate vessels in the Mozambique Channel. It finally sank years after running out of fuel. The last of these Russian sailors died in 1936 and their graves can still be visited today. Volunteers activities mainly focus on beach clean-ups and plastic remove from the many inlets and hidden beaches and bays. Leisure activities include beach bonfire on the last night, swimming, forest walk. Accommodation is in tents on the beach.

Volunteers will stay on Russian Bay for 1 night before traveling to Nosy Tanikely, approximately a 3.5 hour journey away.

Nosy Tanikely:

The Nosy Tanikely Island Reserve is famous for its pristine beach and incredible snorkelling and crystal-clear waters. Volunteers enjoy a short 3-hour stopover at the end of the program to relax and enjoy the sun or visit the lighthouse and local lemur population.

Volunteers will travel back to Hellville after visiting Nosy Tanikely, approximately a 1-hour journey, and arrive in Helville around 4pm on the Sunday afternoon.

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Project Highlights
What you need to know
  • Affordable set fee of $565 for 7 days
  • A 7-day trip, travelling to a range of islands around Madagascar on a 50ft research vessel

  • Contribute to a range of projects including environmental clean-ups, construction, research and teaching

  • Suited to adventurous volunteers looking for a unique experience

  • Accommodation in tents, on overnight camps

  • Volunteer for up to 5 hours per day

Destination Highlights
Madagascar at a glance
  • Based on the Madagascan islands of Nosy Komba, Nosy Be, Ampoagna Beach and surrounding islands

  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support

  • Accommodation in locally built huts

  • Between 20 and 40 volunteers start in Madagascar each month

Fill out the quick form below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Madagascar, based on your country of residence.

The IVHQ Madagascar ​volunteer ​abroad program is based on the slopes of Nosy Komba, an ​i​​sland off the Northwest coast of Madagascar, a few kilometers from the larger island of Nosy Be. Volunteers are required to fly into Fascene Airport (NOS) or Ivato Airport (TNR), which is a 10 to 12 hour flight from most major airports in Australia. Volunteers arrive in Nosy Be and are transported to the volunteer base on Nosy Komba by boat. Volunteer orientation and general administration is carried out by our​ local team on Nosy Komba. The Turtle Conservation project is located between Nosy Komba island and Ampoagna Beach on the mainland.

Volunteers can begin the IVHQ Madagascar volunteer program on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 12 weeks. The first day of the volunteer program is orientation, after which volunteers begin training/work at their placement. The Island Outreach project has a fixed 1 week duration.

Please note this program requires volunteers to be physically fit as the location of the accommodation and placements require volunteers to hike up difficult terrain​ ​including​;​ boulders, hills and stairs.

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers need to arrive in Nosy Be on the Sunday before orientation, before 1pm.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive in Madagascar. There are two options for flying to the Madagascar program - Fascene Airport (NOS) in Nosy Be is the most convenient for an airport pick-up, however, flights to Nosy Be are limited and often more expensive than flights to Ivato Airport (TNR) in Antananarivo. Some volunteers choose to fly to Antananarivo and take a connecting flight or overnight bus (and boat taxi) to Nosy Be. If you choose this route and are catching the bus the day you arrive, you will be met at the airport in Antananarivo by an associate member of our local team, who will assist you in catching your onward transport. There is a US$20 (approximately AU$26) surcharge for this service. If you want an easy arrival, we recommend flying to Nosy Be. However, if you are travelling on a budget and do not mind catching the overnight bus from Antananarivo to Nosy Be then flying to Antananarivo may be the preferred option for you. If you would like to fly directly to Nosy Be, Air Austral flies direct from some European airports and South African Airways flies direct from Johannesburg.

There is also the option of private overland transport from Antananarivo to Nosy Be. The cost of this depends on how many volunteers are sharing the transport and if you choose the 2-day transfer or the 4-day tour. Please contact your Program Manager for more information on these options.

If flying into Fascene Airport (NOS) in Nosy Be and arriving before 1pm, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation on Nosy Komba. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation. If your flight arrives after 1pm, you will still be met by the local team at the airport but will need to stay in Nosy Be for the night to then travel by boat to Nosy Komba the following morning. This night of accommodation will be at your own expense and you will need to book this in advance of your arrival. Your IVHQ Program Manager will be happy to send you recommendations of affordable hotels in Hellville that are within walking distance of many shops and restaurants.

If you are travelling in Madagascar prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Nosy Be before 1pm on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our Madagascar team at the volunteer accommodation on Nosy Komba. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Madagascar – Introduction to Madagascar, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Island Outreach volunteers will spend the Sunday night on Nosy Be, at their own expense, with their project orientation taking place on Nosy Be on Monday morning and includes visiting the Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques (the Oceanographic Research Institute of Madagascar), where volunteers will receive a short introduction to marine conservation, followed by a tour of the marine museum.

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with. Volunteers work for approximately 5 to 8 hours per day.

A typical schedule is as follows:

6.00 - 7.00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer house prepared by the local in-house chef.

7.00 - 8.00 AM Volunteers travel to their placements either by boat or by walking. Start time and daily workload depends on the project that the individual volunteer is participating on.

12.00 PM Volunteers break for lunch. Volunteers either travel back to the volunteer house or eat a packed lunch at their placement, prepared by the in-house chef.

1.30 PM Volunteer work continues for the afternoon.

4.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to study/plan for the following day’s activities.

6.00 PM Dinner at the volunteer camp prepared by the in-house chef.

Please note, this schedule will vary depending on the particular project the volunteer is participating on. The above schedule also does not apply to Island Outreach volunteers.

Volunteers are accommodated in locally built huts on Nosy Komba and can expect to share a hut with up to five other volunteers of the same sex. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds and there are basic cold shower and flush toilet facilities on-site. Volunteers are expected to contribute to ensuring the bathrooms and huts are kept clean and tidy. Lockable storage boxes for volunteers are available in the main house, however volunteers should also bring a padlock to secure personal items in their luggage when not in use. Volunteers are required to bring their own towels and bedding (sheet, pillow, pillow case, mosquito net and thin sleeping bag/top sheet). It is hot in Madagascar and most people only require a sheet to sleep under, although in the cooler months (June to August), a blanket or sleeping bag may be required. Power for lights is supplied from solar panels and there is a backup generator for staff use that may run 1 - 2 hours per week. Volunteers are encouraged to minimise the amount of electronic equipment they bring as the camp only has limited power points available to charge devices. We recommend volunteers bring solar chargers to charge their devices, if possible. The accommodation is fairly isolated and only accessible by boat or a 30-minute walk across boulders and uneven terrain to the nearest village for WiFi and charging.

WiFi is accessible in the local village and you can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone when you arrive in Madagascar.

Turtle Conservation volunteers will be accommodated in basic beach bungalows with solar power lighting, flush toilets and cold water showers. You are required to bring your own light sleeping bag, sleeping roll mat or hammock, pillow, pillowcase, mosquito net and bath/beach towels.

Volunteers on the Island Outreach project should expect accommodation to be a mixture of beach houses and rustic camping in tents during the 7 day journey, with the boat fitted with flush toilets and showers. You are required to bring your own light sleeping bag, sleeping roll mat, pillow, pillowcase and bath/beach towels. For volunteers on the Island Outreach project there will be no WiFi during the trip, however there is cellular reception for a large part.

Volunteers are served three meals per day, prepared in the traditional Madagascan style by an on-site Malagasy cook. Breakfast ranges from pancakes to eggs or bread with condiments. Lunch is rice or pasta based, and dinner is rice based. Both lunch and dinner is served with either beans, chicken, zebu (beef) or fish, all with vegetables and sauce. Supplies in Madagascar are limited and meals will change seasonally depending on the ingredients available on Nosy Be. Volunteers working on a placement which requires them to be away from camp during lunch time can organise a packed lunch, through the local team, the night before. Please note that the local team is not able to cater for special dietary requirements​ or requests​, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home and there is the need to be flexible or prepared to supplement the food provided. If supplementing food, volunteers must note that the kitchen is not available for volunteer use as it is a traditional kitchen. Volunteers can store non-perishable items at camp or can eat out at local restaurants.

Volunteers on the Island Outreach project will also be served three meals per day prepared in the traditional Madagascan style by the onboard chef. Depending on the location, volunteers will eat most of their meals onboard or in some cases at local diners.

A small canteen is available on Nosy Komba for volunteers to purchase snacks. Snacks should be stored in containers located in the dining area. Volunteers on the Turtle Conservation project can purchase snacks from a small shop in and Ampoagna village and Island Outreach project volunteers will have the opportunity to purchase snacks on Nosy Be before their departure.

Read verified reviews from Australian IVHQ volunteers in Madagascar:

“Absolutely loved the experience! I would highly recommend to any teacher interested in voluntary teaching in paradise. The students certainly appreciated the teachers and there was a genuine need for teachers assistance. This is a worthwhile project and should be encouraged! Voluntary work changes people for the better and IVHQ is a great way to volunteer! Accomodation is pretty basic but to be expected in such an isolated place. Meals were also basic but wholesome. I loved meeting with people and being immersed in the culture as well as hoping that I have made a difference. I loved the experience and am looking forward to my next experience with IVHQ!” - Anne Vella, Australia (Teaching Volunteer in Madagascar)

“Being in the forest with the lemurs was such a surreal experience. I met so many amazing people and the wildlife was incredible, I’m so glad I took this opportunity.” - Evie Hooper, Australia (Forest Conservation Volunteer in Madagascar)

“I had the most amazing time doing the Forest Conservation program in Madagascar. I met so many amazing people and had so much fun. I really wish I could have stayed longer, 2 weeks is not enough! Get ready to fall in love with the whole experience!” - Jessica Respall, Australia (Forest Conservation Volunteer in Madagascar)

Discover more reviews from IVHQ Madagscar volunteers here

Due to its unique nature, the Island Outreach project has a stand-alone Program Fee of US$565 which includes meals and accommodation

There is no shortage of things to do on Nosy Komba or Nosy Be, so volunteers can fill their free time with adventurous activities, or simply take in the slower “mora mora” Malagasy way of life. Nosy Komba itself is a popular tourist spot for buying local crafts from the winding markets and beachfront stalls. There are also opportunities to join local village guides to encounter friendly lemurs and meet other Malagasy wildlife and plants. The neighbouring island of Nosy Be can be reached in 30 to 40 minutes by boat taxi and is a popular destination for volunteers during the weekend. Taxis are available on the island and can be taken to most areas including the sacred lakes, beaches and waterfalls of Nosy Be.​ ​Volunteers staying for longer durations, or who wish to travel before or after their program, can visit areas further afield on the mainland of Madagascar. The most popular destination is Diego Suarez in the North. En route from Nosy Be to Diego Suarez, volunteers can visit the Ankarana and Mont d’Ambre National Parks. In Diego Suarez, there are plenty of adventure-sports activities on offer, such as kite boarding or quad biking on dunes, or snorkeling excursion in the Emerald Sea. Horse riding and deep sea fishing trips can also be arranged from Nosy Be.

See our Madagascar Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Madagascar!

Capital Antananarivo
Population 22.29 million
Languages Malagasy and French
Currency Malagasy Ariary (ARA)
Time zone UTC+03:00

Weather and climate: The climate of Madagascar varies due to the topographic differences and trade winds from the Indian ocean. Typically the climate is tropical along the coast, temperate inland and arid in the south. There is a wet, warm season from November to April with most rainfall covering the eastern coast. There is a cooler, dry season from May to October. Temperatures fall between an average of 18°C (64°F) to 30°C (86°F) throughout the year, with the lowest temperature dropping to 12°C (54°F) and highest reaching 36°C (96°F).

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over, with a great level of fitness and agility to participate on this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.

All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ. Additional requirements apply for Marine Conservation volunteers, please read the project description.

Fluency in French or Malagasy is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Madagascar volunteer program, however we recommend that volunteers learn some basic French and Malagasy prior to departure, as this will help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work (particularly on the Teaching project) and communicating with local people. After registering to volunteer in Madagascar, volunteers are provided with a list of helpful French and Malagasy vocabulary and phrases to assist with learning before departing for Madagascar.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

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