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FCO Know Before You Go

Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure

  • In Brief
  • The Project
  • What to Expect
  • Reviews
  • Gallery
  • Extras
  • Dates & Costs
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Download a PDF with details about Madagascar for you to keep or print out

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How To Apply

Simply fill in our no-obligation application form and we will get back to you with full project details

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Find out more about Madagascar

Start your adventure now by reading our country guide for Madagascar!


Frontier Group Project

Working in collaboration with institutions and NGOs with the country, projects are research-based, creating sustainable and biodiverse programmes.

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Frontier Research Publications

The Society for Environmental Exploration has published one or more research reports related to this project.

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The magical Island of Madagascar is famous for its bizarre assemblage of wildlife, its dramatic landscapes and its unique and varied ecosystems. No other island or place in Earth boasts such a combination of species richness and endemism! For example, every native terrestrial mammal species found on this huge island is endemic, and found nowhere else on Earth! Most famous of all of its inhabitants though are the Lemurs, primitive prosimians whose name, derived from the Roman Lemures, or 'spirits of the dead' exemplify the islands biological wealth, yet also its fragility.

There are currently 103 recognised Lemur species on the island, all of which are believed to have evolved from a single colonising ancestor, who reached isolated Madagascar some 50million years ago! Sadly however, recent assessments made by the IUCN now show that the Lemurs are now the most endangered group of vertebrates in the world, with 94 species being classified as threatened with extinction! However Lemurs are not the only group of animals in need of help! The Amphibian fauna of Madagascar is considered to be one of the greatest on Earth, with 238 recognised species and with another 182 candidate species currently awaiting classification! Madagascar has sadly already lost over 90% of its original forest cover though, and this has put increased pressure on all of the endangered species who live here.

Madagascar is also the centre of diversity for chameleons, with almost half of this old world fauna being found exclusively on the island! Including both the largest, and smallest species in the world! In Madagascar, there are weird, unique and wonderful forms of life everywhere that you look, and the more you discover about each of them, the more amazing they become! This sentiment was summed up perfectly by the 18th century French doctor and explorer, Joseph Philibert Commerson in a letter to his tutor in Paris:

"Of Madagascar I can announce to naturalists that this is truly their promised land. Here nature seems to have created a special sanctuary whither she seems to have withdrawn to experiment with designs different from any she has created elsewhere. At every step, one meets more remarkable and marvellous forms of life"

Despite these tantalising early accounts, Madagascar is still an island shrouded in mystery, and remains relatively un-studied to this day! Myths and legends abound in Madagascar, and remain deeply embedded in the collective imagination, adding to the sense of magic surrounding the island!

So journey with us to our current location in Northern Madagascar, an area which represents a transitional habitat between the floral communities of both the East and West, an area renowned for its high species diversity and high levels of endemism! One of the most threatened forest habitats in Madagascar - The seasonal humid forests of the Sambirano biome.

The Frontier-Madagascar wildlife conservation project is currently based on the 'scented island' of Nosy Be, famous for its vanilla, ylang-ylang and mangoes! Whilst on the wildlife conservation project you’ll discover a huge variety of Madagascar's exotic species, as you trek through rugged and remote regions of this hugely exciting island. Working alongside other dedicated volunteers, you’ll help to monitor the distribution and abundance of many groups of animal, and help assess how they are responding to human induced stress factors such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation and other forms of anthropogenic disturbance.

On this project you will directly contribute to important research, aiming to inform local government about how to manage the remaining forests and conserve their invaluable natural assets. You will learn an array of surveying techniques and have a chance to contribute to the to the local community through our education outreach days. But of course it is not all work, and after a hard days trekking and exploration you can always take advantage of the camp’s beach front location and relax on the golden beaches, snorkel in the crystal clear waters or play football against the local village!

  

  

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discover strange and beautiful Madagascar
  • Study wildlife in one of the world's most biodiverse regions
  • Make lifelong friends and return with incredible stories, photos and memories
Airport Pickup Camping Beach Emergency Physical Ground Transport Meals Research Terrestrial Qualification Trekking Wildlife Rainforest Snorkelling Encounter Beach
FAST FACTS
Location Madagascar
Discovering rare Madagascan wildlife
Activities Assessing the biodiversity
Compiling species lists
Setting up trapsites
Leaf-litter surveys
Mapping of vegetation
Assessing human disturbance
Recording how local communities use their precious natural resources
Beach R & R and snorkelling at the end of your trip
Transport 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
Accommodation Communal beach camp

WHAT'S INCLUDED
Before you go

Pre-departure support
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt

UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training FREE for 10 week+ volunteers (US$144 per person for those participating for less that 10 weeks)

In-country Food
Accommodation
Airport pickup weekly on a Monday. Alternative start date possible, additional US$63GBP applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation (weekly on a Monday). Alternative start dates possible
Local orientation and training 
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up
Vocational qualification diploma or certificate in Tropical Habitat Conservation or CoPE available (4 week+ volunteers)
PADI scuba diving courses available extra cost applies (subject to availability)

WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?

Help conserve species found nowhere else on earth

The projects aims are to contribute to the current understanding of the local environment and help monitor the spectacular array of wildlife found here. Madagascar has been isolated for over 84 million years, creating a biodiversity resource of global significance, with over 80% of species found nowhere else on Earth! Nosy Be's fauna includes three species of Lemur, including the diminutive Mouse Lemurs (Microcebus), the smallest primates on earth! Reptiles include rare Turtles, Snakes, Gecko's including the superbly camouflaged Leaf-tailed Gecko's (Uroplatus), Skinks and an array of Chameleon's.

There is spectacular bird life on the island, with the highest levels of endemism of any similar sized area in the world, as well as some elusive tenrecs – a group of small mammals that are incredibly diverse, filling niches in aquatic, teresterial, arboreal and fossorial environments, resembling everything from otters to hedgehogs.

Desertification & hunting

Madagascar's human population has doubled since 1960, leading to increased deforestation and overgrazing, which in turn has caused massive soil erosion and desertification. Only one tenth of the original forests remain, and this situation is rapidly deteriorating as the human population continues to grow. The forests are cut down to provide nutrients and land for agriculture, as well as being used as hunting grounds in the more remote and poor communities.

Empower Malagasy communities

You will be assessing the local flora and fauna of the region through biodiversity surveys of Mammals, Birds, Butterflies, Reptiles and Amphibians with the aim of informing and educating the local government and communities. It is our goal to leave a lasting impact in the region and to help the local communities appreciate and conserve their local environment, and to avoid the pitfalls of exploitation. You will interact with the community providing environmental education days. This will enable you to evaluate the impact of the human population on the wildlife, and help to develop ideas allowing the community to lead more sustainable lifestyles.

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

The main aims of the programme are to assess the biodiversity in this little-studied area and compare different habitat types and the effects of human disturbance, which may take several forms. We hope to gain insights into how each species, or family of animals is responding to human induced habitat modification and other anthropogenic stresses. It is our aim to discover which species are able to adapt and cope with human interaction and which species may be intolerant to any form of disturbance. By helping us to find out which species are most vulnerable to human disturbance, we can help design specific conservation action plans for better conservation management in the future, and inform the local Ministries responsible for managing the forests.

Our current projects involve carrying out extensive surveys of the local Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians that exist in the surrounding forests. These surveys are conducted in a variety of habitat types, ranging from primary forest to plantation type habitats along a gradient of human disturbance. Our survey techniques range from setting up canopy or pitfall traps, active searches during both the day and night and behavioural surveys to collecting morphometric data on Chameleons and Snakes and learning how to record Birds by identifying their calls. Madagascar is also one of the few tropical countries where snakes are relatively harmless, and handling techniques can be honed without the risk of serious envenomation! In addition we will also be doing mapping of vegetation, assessing disturbance and resource-use in the area to build up an accurate picture of resource use. For more details on our specific projects and methods, as well as our results so far please see our most recent Science Report.

If this is your first time doing conservation work, don't worry! It will only take a short while for you to feel totally at home on camp and confident with the science work. Although the work is intense you'll find that living in such a beautiful and inaccessible environment alongside friends who share your passion for conservation will be the experience of a lifetime!
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages (usually between 18 and 25, though no age limit applies), and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many may have volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.

 

Sample Itinerary*

06:00 - breakfast; bread, sandwiches or cebada

06:30 - bird survey

08:30 - active search for reptiles/amphibians or lemur survey

11:00 - butterfly survey

12:30 - lunch; rice and beans!

13:30 - active search for reptiles/amphibians or lemur survey

16:00 - revision or presentations

18:00 - dinner; rice and beans, or option to eat out in the village

19:00 - night walk - active search for amphibians/reptiles

*This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect.  Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.

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 staff, receive some initial project briefings, including an introduction to the work programme and to the field research techniques used, as well as being given health and safety lectures, so make sure your medical kit is complete and start reading your Safety and Medical Guides now.

If you are joining for the 4 weeks project you will be transferred back to the town of Nosy Be from where you can reach the airport or start your onward independent travel. Independent travellers arriving on dates other than weekly on a Monday can arrange a separate airport collection (extra cost; US$63GBP) by contacting the camp staff in Nosy Be. 

WHERE WILL I BE STAYING?

Check out our Camp Tour video! 

During the project you'll trek each day from the main campsite on the beach at Nosy Be, along with other Frontier volunteers and staff, to distant and remote sites in the forest to conduct the field work. We aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience. The Frontier field camps are designed to blend in with the surrounding natural environments. They consist of a collection of tents and shelters sometimes incorporating simple local dwellings constructed by Frontier volunteers working with local staff, using traditional building techniques and locally sourced materials. Your beach camp will make no permanent or intrusive impact on the environment and will provide you with a special home during your stay.

Life on camp is simple and fun. We believe that part of the excitement of journeying to a foreign country comes from immersing yourself with the local communities and living at one with nature. In your beach-camp your "shower" may consist of a river-pool, jug or bucket of water or wash in the sea and you will be cooking over an open fire: so prepare yourself for the simple, low footprint, unencumbered lifestyle! When you are trekking away from the base camp you may stay on a "satellite camp" which may consist of a mosquito net pitched in a remote clearing. You will help run camp from day-to-day, taking turns to cook, collect firewood, purify water, and other essential camp maintenance duties.

At the end of your period of field work you will enjoy a few days of well deserved rest and relaxation with swimming and snorkelling in the fabulous crystal clear offshore waters.

WHAT WILL I BE EATING?

Camp food is basic and nutritious and consists largely of rice, vegetables, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased locally in order to help support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate must be imported from the local town, so make sure you stock up before heading to the field! Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking, so get your cookbooks out now and start practising! Also, with luck you'll be invited to local feasts and festivals – a great way to meet locals and enjoy local culture.

I SAW A HUGE AMOUNT OF WILDLIFE  | 13 Nov 2014
I spent 4 weeks on the forest programme in Madagascar and had an amazing time. We were met at the...

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YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO HOME  | 7 Nov 2014
The fast connections you make with people from all corners of the world in such a short time, the...

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I GAINED SO MUCH VALUABLE EXPERIENCE  | 31 Oct 2014
I had an incredible time as a two month forest volunteer in Madagascar and was able to gain valua...

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THE BEST WEEKS I HAVE EVER SPENT  | 22 Oct 2014
I have just spent 6 weeks doing the forest programme in Madagascar. I can honestly say that it wa...

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MADAGASCAR WAS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE  | 14 Oct 2014
Frontier Madagascar was easily the best thing I could have done since leaving school. From the se...

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TWO MONTHS IN PARADISE WITH AMAZING WILDLIFE  | 13 Oct 2014
I have just returned from two months in paradise with a host of awesome people and amazing animal...

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ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN MADAGASCAR  | 7 Oct 2014
The opportunity to survey in unchartered territory is a privilege. It’s like taking on a re...

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I will remember it!  | 6 Oct 2014
We did a really good job and everyone should be proud of it. It’s so nice to try something ...

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MOST ENLIGHTENING, FUN & UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE  | 2 Oct 2014
I was part of Frontier's terrestrial research programme for 10 weeks on the beautiful island ...

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GOT A TASTE OF ALL THE PATHWAYS IN MADAGASCAR  | 12 Sep 2014
I went to Madagascar last year between June and August, I was on the Adventurer pathway. It was p...

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1 to 10 next >
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ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

The Frontier-Madagascar camp is great fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim in waterfalls, play football and beach / river volleyball against the mostly unbeatable local teams. You can socialise, sit around the campfire, enjoy a traditional Saturday night themed camp party, play chess, poker or backgammon or join in a camp quiz night. After a long hard day of trekking and working in the field you may wish to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock, if you've made one, chatting to your new friends under a tropical sky lit by a million twinkling stars, before drifting off to sleep to the exotic calls that fill a tropical night.

A range of adventure and cultural activities like visits to remote villages, dive trips, and quad biking are available. Talk to our local staff teams to fix these with local providers and tour operators.

Scuba diving courses may be available (subject to availability of spaces and time constraints).

Dive courses run monthly commencing on the first Monday of the month

  • Single Day snorkelling off the boats US$18
  • Single Day Dive US$54
  • Double Dive US$90
  • 4-dive package US$180
  • 10-dive package US$360

COURSES*

  • Discover Scuba Diving US$117
  • Open Water Dive Course US$450
  • Advanced Open Water US$414
  • Emergency First Responder US$180
  • Rescue Diver US$540
  • Dive Master US$900

*Medical certificate is mandatory for participation in dive courses

Modern conveniences

Hellville - 1 hour boat journey at own cost

  • Attractions e.g. Lemurland, Donia Festival
  • Banks / ATMs; Bank of Africa (BOA), BFV-Société Générale, BNI-CL
  • Bars / cafes
  • Boats to the mainland & Boat Hire
  • Hostels and hotels
  • Internet cafe
  • Medical clinic
  • Nightclub
  • Pharmacy
  • Post office
  • Street food
  • Supermarket
  • Taxis to the rest of the island
  • Telecom office
  • Traditional markets
  • Western style restaurants
  • Western Union

COSTS

1 week US$ 1,445

2 weeks US$ 1,695

3 weeks US$ 2,195

4 weeks US$ 2,545

5 weeks US$ 2,695

6 weeks US$ 2,895

7 weeks US$ 3,095

8 weeks US$ 3,245

9 weeks US$ 3,445

10 weeks US$ 3,595

20 weeks US$ 5,695

Extra week US$ 295

DEPARTURE DATES

Every Monday throughout the year

Ideally flights to Madagascar and connections to Nosy Be (Fascene) should be arranged for this arrival date.

DURATION

From 1 week

This project is available throughout the Christmas period

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Before you go

  • Pre-departure support
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt
  • UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training FREE for 10 week+ volunteers (US$144 per person for those participating for less that 10 weeks)

In-country

  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Airport pick-up weekly on a Monday
  • Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation (for volunteers arriving weekly on a Monday)
  • Local orientation
  • Project training
  • Project equipment & materials
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Nearest airport(s): Nossi-Be (NOS)

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Flights

Flights are not included in our project costs. However, Frontier have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with Frontier. 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 Frontier’s dedicated team of travel experts on 0800 082 9994 (or +44 800 082 9994 outside the UK) or email frontier@flightcentre.co.uk .

Visas

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.

Insurance

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.


LEGAL STATEMENT
Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.