Marine Conservation Volunteer Project in Madagascar
Ready to don your dive gear as a Marine Conservation volunteer in Madagascar? International Volunteer HQ’s Marine Conservation project enables volunteers to assist oceanographic organizations protecting sea life and the natural marine environment in the crystalline waters of Madagascar. Volunteers gain marine conservation and scuba experience by diving to carry out a wide range of conservation activities that contribute to the health and sustainability of the coral reefs, endangered turtles and other marine life.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from $1520 for 4 weeks
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
- Scuba dive to help protect the underwater world of Madagascar
- Explore Madagascar's stunningly beautiful islands
- Stay with other volunteers in simple, open-air huts
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Madagascar is home to an amazing ecosystem that is a stunning mixture of its African and tropical influences. However, like many coastal areas in the world, the effects of human development and climate change mean it needs intervention to remain at its best. This is a great chance to help with conservation efforts, learning and using scuba diving skills to get hands-on experience.
As a Marine Conservation volunteer in Madagascar you will help to protect the natural plant and animal life by assisting different oceanographic organizations in a range of initiatives, including:
- Reef surveying - helping to monitor the biodiversity, health and growth of the reef system around Nosy Komba through fish, invertebrate and coral surveys.
- Turtle monitoring - helping continue collecting data on Madagascan turtles to help assess the success of conservation efforts.
- Nudibranch research - conducting underwater surveys to determine the population and biodiversity of nudibranchs and other molluscs.
- Beach cleans - removing damaging litter that can harm local marine animals.
- Community - educating the local community about environmental issues such as conservation and the protection of biodiversity and marine resources
- Reef regeneration - helping coral reefs to grow and become healthier, and creating artificial reefs to help provide more habitat space for reef fish.
All volunteers receive comprehensive training to prepare for carrying out research-based activities at sea. This involves identification training for marine wildlife such as turtles, fish, corals and invertebrates. You’ll also be taught about coral baseline surveying, a key skill in marine conservation and the accepted approach to monitoring the state of coral reefs.
You can expect four one-hour dives per week, with the rest of your work hours spent collating or inputting data or monitoring turtles, and one day spent on other activities such as snorkel surveys and dry activities.
You’ll need to be a competent swimmer and have Open Water Dive Certification and Advanced Open Water Dive Certification. These courses can either be completed before you arrive in Madagascar, or you can do them when you arrive.
This project has a minimum duration of four weeks to allow sufficient time to complete the training required to make a meaningful impact on the project. When you apply, please specify whether you have diving certifications, or whether you will be taking the Open Water Dive/Advanced Open Water Dive course in Madagascar. The courses can be completed in Madagascar for the following:
- $400 for the Open Water
- $320 for the Advanced Open Water course
Please note if you’re receiving your certification in Madagascar, you’ll also need to purchase and complete the PADI online theory courses before your arrival.
All Marine Conservation volunteers are required to bring the following items to Madagascar, as these are not available for purchase on the island of Nosy Komba: a snorkel; a mask with tempered glass; dive fins - open heel with booties are more comfortable for frequent use; a wetsuit - long or short, 3mm minimum; 2 mouthpieces to be used with regulators; and towels.
Additional recommended items for Marine Conservation volunteers: surface marker buoy (DSMB), reel (a small finger reel is fine), waterproof watch (resistant to 200 metres), dive computer/watch, dive compass, and dive torch.
Why do Marine Conservation volunteering in Nosy Komba with IVHQ?
When you volunteer in Marine Conservation in Madagascar you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Helping to protect and preserve the marine environment
- Learning about the effects of climate change
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining marine conservation experience
- Diving in the stunning waters around Madagascar
- Immersing yourself in Malagasy culture
- To join the Marine Conservation project in Madagascar you’ll need to be a competent swimmer and have Open Water Dive Certification and Advanced Open Water Dive Certification. These courses can either be completed before you arrive in Madagascar, or you can do them when you arrive. You’ll also need to be able to bring your own diving equipment.
- Volunteers aged 16-18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- All volunteers are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 16-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
PADI Dive certifications
For the Marine Conservation project in Madagascar you’ll need Open Water Dive Certification and Advanced Open Water Dive Certification. If you aren’t already qualified, you can train in Madagascar for the following prices:
- Open Water: $440
- Advanced Open Water: $320
This can be paid to the local team when you arrive in Madagascar. If you’re receiving your certification in Madagascar, you’ll also need to purchase and complete the PADI online theory course before you arrive. Other dive certifications may be available for more experienced divers.
”I loved living on camp, it felt like something out of a movie. The diving was truly unique and learning about cool and rare species in study groups to later identify them made the best interactive learning I’ve experienced. People have an easygoing vibe, we’re all there to help, learn, and enjoy and I’ve seen no better place to do it. The moments in which I was laughing with joy or amazed by what I encountered are countless, and I will cherish my memories here for the rest of my life.”
Read reviews from Marine Conservation volunteers in Nosy KombaSee more reviews
There’s far more to Madagascar than its famous lemurs. As well as its impressively vast diversity of wildlife, the island nation off the south-eastern coast of Africa has an interesting marriage of French, African and Southeast Asian cultures; breathtaking scenery and dreamy beaches.
It’s also a place where the majority of people don’t have good access to food, healthcare, education or other basic necessities. While there are steps being taken to improve this situation, Madagascar remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Volunteers can be part of the solution by choosing projects that have a meaningful impact on the lives of local people and support communities to help themselves.
The IVHQ Madagascar volunteer abroad program is based on the slopes of Nosy Komba, a small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar and only a few kilometers from the larger island of Nosy Be. Marine Conservation project work mainly takes place on coral reefs and in national marine parks in and around the island of Nosy Be.
Arrival and orientation
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 2pm.
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 $20 surcharge for this service. If you want an easy arrival, we recommend flying to Nosy Be. However, if you are traveling 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.
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 2pm, 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 2pm, you will still be met 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 traveling in Madagascar prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Nosy Be before 2pm on the day before your program orientation. You will be taken to Nosy Komba by boat.
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 – an introduction to Madagascar, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities and an introduction to project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers.
Volunteer schedule example
You will be introduced to the project staff you will be working with and begin your training.
Volunteers work for approximately 3 hours per day, but start times and daily workloads depend on the tides and dive schedule. Volunteers will be assigned a morning or afternoon dive and this will change throughout your time on the program. A typical schedule is as follows:
|6:00 - 7:00 AM||Volunteers with a morning dive depart.|
|7:00 - 8:00 AM||Breakfast prepared by the local in-house cook for volunteers not on morning dives.|
|8:00 - 9:00 AM||Morning divers returns for breakfast at volunteer camp.|
|12:00 PM||Volunteers break for lunch. Volunteers either travel back to the volunteer camp or eat a packed lunch at their placement.|
|12:00 - 2:00 PM||Afternoon divers depart.|
|4:00 PM||Afternoon divers return.|
|6:00 PM||Dinner at the volunteer camp prepared by the in-house chef.|
While not diving volunteers can assist with work at camp including: collation of data, turtle monitoring, artificial reef creation; or assist volunteers on the Teaching project and study and plan for the following day’s activities.
Accommodation and WiFi
Volunteers are accommodated in locally built open-air huts on Nosy Komba and can expect to share a hut with up to five other volunteers of the same gender.
Bedrooms have 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 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 from 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 that may run 1 - 2 hours per week. Volunteers are encouraged to minimize the amount of electronic equipment they bring as the camp only has limited power points available to charge devices. As there is no other electricity at camp we recommend volunteers bring solar chargers for 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.
Volunteers are served three meals per day, prepared in the traditional Madagascan style by an on-site Malagasy cook.
Meals are basic, but nutritious and tasty. 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 will usually be either chicken, zebu (beef) or fish, all with vegetables, beans and sauce. Volunteers working on a placement which requires them to be away from camp during lunch time can organize a packed lunch, through the local team, the night before. Supplies in Madagascar are limited and meals will change seasonally depending on the ingredients available on Nosy Be.
Please note that the local team is not able to cater for special dietary requirements or requests and meals are usually carbohydrate heavy. 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 there is no refrigerator and 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.
A small canteen is available on Nosy Komba for volunteers to purchase snacks. Snacks should be stored in containers located in the dining area.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|4 weeks||$1,520 Equivalent to $55/day|
|5 weeks||$1,750 Equivalent to $50/day|
|6 weeks||$1,980 Equivalent to $48/day|
|8 weeks||$2,440 Equivalent to $44/day|
|10 weeks||$2,900 Equivalent to $42/day|
|12 weeks||$3,360 Equivalent to $40/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Madagascar generally find US$50-100 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
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Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Languages||Malagasy and French|
|Currency||Malagasy Ariary (ARA)|
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).