Volunteer in Madagascar with Go Volunteer Africa and absorb the fascinating Malagasy culture whilst sharing your knowledge and skills with the country. The volunteer projects in Madagascar will provide an unforgettable eye opening experience for a gap year, vacation, spring break, summer holiday or career break for groups and individual travelers.
Go Volunteer Africa offers many fun and meaningful ways in which solo travelers, groups and families can volunteer in Madagascar. Whether your group is part of a mission trip, a corporate team, family, university or just a team of friends.
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles) off the coast of East Africa. At 592,800 square kilometers (228,900 sq mi) Madagascar is the world’s 2nd largest island country.
The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth- largest island in the world) and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation.
Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island’s diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.
Why Volunteer in Madagascar?
Since becoming an independent nation in 1960, Madagascar has struggled to find its footing and develop in the right way. The island nation’s economy and government have both historically proven to be fragile. However, Madagascar’s outlook has been looking up since 2013. The economy is responding with modest, but increasingly promising growth.
Unfortunately, poverty rates have held relatively steady despite these economic gains. In 2017, more than three out of every four citizens of the country lived on less than $1.90 a day. With numbers of poverty being this high, raising people out of poverty has to be the main goal of Madagascar’s government and the international community.
Poverty in Madagascar is complex and entrenched. Rates of poverty are high throughout the country, but they are worst in rural areas. The country’s poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities is most inconsistent in these areas, where only 35 percent of the population has improved access to clean water.
Electricity, food, and schooling are all hard to come by for the country’s poorest as well. Only 15 percent of the country’s population had access to electric power in 2015 and nearly half of Malagasy children are severely malnourished. These and other societal factors influence the low rate of children enrolled in primary education, which was under 70 percent in 2012.
Most Malagasy people work in agriculture, often producing cash crops like coffee and vanilla. These jobs are far from stable, however. Madagascar’s location off the Southern Coast of Africa leaves the country vulnerable to natural disasters. These disasters not only immediately impact the people caught in their path but contribute to the difficulties in maintaining infrastructure in rural areas.
Despite all these difficulties, the development in the last five years gives several real reasons for hope. The first of these reasons is related to political stability Madagascar has enjoyed since the 2013 elections. The international community was reluctant to invest aid money in Madagascar during and around the crisis of 2009, but that reluctance seems to have passed.
***Go Volunteer Africa’s volunteer projects in Madagascar are primarily on wildlife research and conservation, medical & healthcare, teaching and childcare. Our Madagascar volunteer work directly benefits the communities and animals that are part of our volunteer projects. We strive to be part of the social upliftment of the communities we serve.***
VOLUNTEER PROJECTS IN MADAGASCAR
EXTRAS AND SUPPORT
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres (250 miles) off the coast of East Africa. At 592,800 square kilometres (228,900 sq mi) Madagascar is the world's 2nd largest island country. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth- largest island in the world) and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation.
Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.
What to Do in Madagascar
Diving: Madagascar has some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs, and you won’t have to deal with the seaweed of eastern Africa or the ubiquitous tourists of other diving destinations. The most popular destinations for diving are Nosy Be, in the northwest, and the beaches in the southwestern part of the country. Both areas have a broad spectrum of accommodations, ranging from small hostels to large seaside resorts, and equipment rentals are easy to come by.
Famadihana: Every seven years, families in the Malagasy highlands exhume the bodies of deceased relatives for Famadihana, a traditional festival involving dancing, food, drink, and contemplation. In Antsirabe, it is possible to arrange an invitation to one of those gatherings through a local tour agency; families who agree to this are generally quite welcoming to foreigners, and it makes for a poignant cultural experience.
Isalo National Park: Tourists often claim that Isalo National Park, situated among the grasslands of Madagascar’s southwestern region, evokes the American West. While the park’s jaw-dropping sandstone formations, hot springs, and vast plains certainly recall the films of John Ford, there’s plenty to remind you that you’re not in Kansas anymore. The Canyon of Monkeys and the sacred Sakalava tombs are perennial Isalo favorites.
Restaurant Tour: Perhaps the most universally appealing attraction in Madagascar is the country’s cuisine, considered by many to be unforgettable. Incorporating a broad variety of influences that evoke the Indian and Chinese roots of the Malagasy, the food here makes broad use of seafood, rice, vegetables, and other meats. It is not uncommon for high-end restaurants in Antananarivo and elsewhere to add a Malagasy twist to French specialties, using such spices as cloves, cardamom, and even the famed vanilla bean, treasured by chefs around the world.
Nosy Be and the Islands: Hands down, the best beaches to be found in Madagascar are along the northwestern island of Nosy Be, which is large enough that, with a little effort, you can avoid the crowds even in the high season. The island’s main city, Hell-ville (no, no, it’s not what you think; the town is named after Anne Chrétien Louis de Hell, a 19th-century French military officer), has several good resorts. It also has access to the island’s other sites, including an ylang-ylang perfume distillery that’s open to visitors, and the highland crater lakes. Several small islands can be reached by water (usually on small boats called pirogues) from Hell-ville, including Nosy Komba (Lemur Island), popular for its pleasant village, crafts, and luxurious accommodations, and Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Iranja, both of which offer superb snorkeling and diving.
Trekking in Central Madagascar: There’s a reason that, after Antananarivo and Nosy Be, this region is more frequented by tourists than any other in the country. Some of Madagascar’s best local art and crafts can be found here, and it is home to several of the country’s national parks, including Andringitra National Park. One of Madagascar’s most beautiful and diverse parks, Andringitra has trails and mountains that are appropriate for a broad range of skill levels in trekking and climbing; experienced climbers may want to attempt the Tsaronoro Massif, a sheer rock face that is considered one of the most challenging in the world. The park has well-appointed campgrounds with running water and rental facilities.
Antsirabe: Historically, Antsirabe was a popular vacation destination for French colonists and wealthy locals, who sought out its temperate summer climate and spas. Today, this highland city is famous for the workmanship of its arts and crafts; it also provides access to camping at the beautiful Lac Tritiva, which is rumored to rise mysteriously in the dry season and fall during the rainy season.
The Vanilla Coast: Madagascar exports enormous amounts of vanilla, and the aroma hangs in the air all along the country’s eastern coast. The tourist infrastructure here is less developed, but adventurous trekkers should know it’s a fairly untouched destination. Mananara Nord National Park, though lacking the facilities of parks in central and southern Madagascar, is a pleasant place to visit; it affords access to watching aye-aye (a kind of lemur) on Aye-Aye Island, as well as Nosy Atafana, which has excellent snorkeling and the country’s only remaining coastal forest.
Lemur Watching: Madagascar is the only place where lemurs exist in the wild, and even if you don’t think you’re an “animal person,” these adorable, large-eyed primates are bound to impress you. The best places to spot them are Montagne d’Ambre National Park, Ankarana Special Reserve, and Berenty Reserve.
Rain Forest Helicoptering: It may require a splurge, but a helicopter tour provides a unique view of Madagascar’s rain forests, mountains, and coral reefs. Helicopters leave from Antananarivo and Nosy Be.
Avenue of the Baobabs: The dirt road linking Morondava and Belo Tsiribihina in Madagascar is framed by dozens of rare and ancient baobab trees creating a setting so beautiful and unique that it may become the country’s first official natural monument. These giant, dry season-deciduous trees (members of the Mallow family), many of which are more than 800 years old with trunks that are over 150 feet.
Tsarabanjina: This a small island located off the northwest coast of Madagascar. It’s a great place for those looking for an escape or a honeymoon spot. It received a small amount of fame in 1994 when BBC Reality TV programme Girl Friday featured Joanna Lumley spending 10 days on the island and living firstly on an A Frame bed, and then in a cave “The Albert Hall”.
Whale Migration: Watch The Whale Migration Around Baie D’antogil. This bay plays a crucial role each year to the humpback whales as they make their yearly migration that takes place from the months of June through to September.
Dhow Sailing: Nosy Be is one of the main islands in northern Madagascar that provides a unique sailing experience. During the sailing journey, visitors can participate in various activities such as snorkelling, a marine reserve tour and fishing.
Zoma Market: Did you know that Zoma Market is the second largest market in the world? Join the locals and blend in through the central plaza and adjoining alley ways to experience the magic of this amazing open-air market.
Currency: Malagasy ariary
Population: 27,245,726 (approx)
Language: Malagasy and French
Country Size: 587,041 sq km
International Calling Code: +261
PROJECT LOCATIONS & QUICK FACTS
The Mozambique Channel isn’t the only geological feature that separates Madagascar from Africa. With a natural environment that has evolved in relative isolation and a culture that’s influenced not only by neighboring African countries but also by India and Southeast Asia, this expansive island offers a singular, enjoyable experience to visitors.
The local cuisine, heavy on seafood and marked by French, Chinese, and Indian flavors, is delicious and not to be missed. Madagascar’s wildlife ranges from the rare (giant jumping rats) to the adorable (aye-ayes) and the bizarre (canopy chameleons).
Tourists are rarely seen in the cities, which they often use only as jumping-off points from which to visit Madagascar’s world-renowned beaches and nature reserves. Madagascar’s cities nonetheless offer excellent shopping, topflight accommodations, gorgeous scenery, historic palaces and churches, and opportunities to experience the country’s extraordinary culture through festivals and open-air markets.
VOLUNTEERING IN MADAGASCAR QUICK FACTS
- The program is open all year-round
- Very flexible start and end dates (arrive any day of the month)
- Over 6 oustanding sustainable project options
- Projects are based across the country
- Accommodation available at the beautiful guesthouses overlooking the ocean
- Program fees include pre-departure support, airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- We are the most affordable organization in Africa, because we are the locals!
Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, desert, hiking and diving: Madagascar is a dream destination for outdoors enthusiasts – half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions.
Madagascar is unique: 5% of all known animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. The island's signature animal is the lemur of course, but there are many more weird and wonderful creatures and plants: baobabs, insects, sharks, frogs, orchids, palms, birds, turtles, mongoose. The list goes on. Much of this biodiversity is under threat, from climate change and population pressure, giving each trip a sense of urgency but also purpose: tourism can truly be a force for good.
The remarkable fauna and flora is matched by epic landscapes of an incredible diversity: you can go from rainforest to desert in just 300km. Few places on Earth offer such an intense kaleidoscope of nature. There are sandstone canyons, limestone karsts, mountains, fertile hills cascading with terraced rice paddies, forests of every kind – rain, dry, spiny – and a laterite-rich soil that gave the country its nickname of 'Red Island'. With 5000km of coastline, the sea is never very far, turquoise and idyllic in places, dangerous in others.
Making the best of Madagascar can be challenging (and expensive): it is the world’s fourth-largest island and its roads are dismal. For those who relish an adventure, however, this is a one-of-a-kind destination: the off-road driving is phenomenal, there are national parks that only see a few hundred visitors a year, regions that live in autarky during the rainy season and resorts so remote you’ll need a private plane or boat to get there. There are also more activities than you'll have time for: hiking, diving, mountain biking, kitesurfing, rock-climbing, you name it. Oh, and there are plenty of natural pools, beaches and hammocks on which to recover, too.
Madagascar has been populated by successive waves of migrants from various corners of the Indian Ocean. It is unlike anywhere else in Africa or Asia. There are fantastic sights to discover this unique history, but also numerous opportunities to meet local people and immerse yourself in their world: in village stays, long-distance trails, festivals, taxi-brousse (bush taxis) and Friday night discos.
VOLUNTEER TOURISTS REQUIREMENTS
Participants need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless visiting with a parent or guardian. All participants are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to Go Volunteer Africa's local Coordinators on arrival in the country.
SAFARIS & TOURS
Safaris, day and cultural tours can be organized over the weekends for volunteers. This is a fantastic opportunity to see the beautiful beaches, wildlife and culture. There is a lot to see and do in Madagascar.
BEFORE YOU GO
§ Pre-departure support & documentation
§ Travel & medical advice & documentation
§ Advice on visas & equipment advice
§ Project orientation
§ 3 meals a day
§ Airport pickup
§ In-country emergency support
§ 24-hour HQ backup
§ Free GVA t-shirt
MADAGASCAR PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Volunteer Guest house
ARRIVAL & AIRPORT PICKUP
After you have booked and confirmed your placement, please book your flights to arrive at Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo. A member of staff from our local partner organization in Madagascar will meet you on arrival at the airport and take you to the volunteer guest house which will be your base for volunteering.
Orientation and Placement will be done the next day. This airport services numerous regional and international. Madagascar has good connections to destinations throughout Europe, the Asia- Pacific region, USA and Africa.
ACCOMMODATION & LIVING IN MADAGASCAR
Participants in our programs and tours in Madagascar are provided accommodation in a nice well organized guesthouse managed by the local coordinating team in Antananarivo. Three meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) are provided to the participants from Monday - Sunday. Life at the accommodation facility is simple, unsophisticated and fun, perfect for unwinding from a busy day!
The accommodation is neat and clean. Accommodation is shared amongst volunteer tourists on the ‘same gender sharing’ basis rooms. Wifi internet, warm water is not guaranteed. The facility has western style toilet and shower facilities are shared between 4 or 10 people.
The accommodation is very close to useful amenities like banks, ATM’s, currency exchanges, restaurants, cafes and shopping places. All placements are around 10 - 30 minutes from the accommodation. Its equipped with a lounge, TV, Kitchen, hand washing facilities and spare electricity sockets.
The accommodation has a private beach and organize lots of activities during the day, so you can do things like go diving, snorkeling, swim, go on a hike and so many other activities
APPLICATION & BOOKING
To participate in this program, you have to fill an online application form, and submit it for consideration. After application process and acceptance into the program, you will be required to pay 50% of the program fee within 14 days of your acceptance. Failure to make the placement booking and confirmation payment will lead to cancelation of your program.