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Madagascar: Conservation Volunteer Project

8th Oct 2022 - 22nd Oct 2022

15 days/Madagascar /Project Trip

Overview

Our conservation programme is based in the beautiful coastal region of Sainte Luce, surrounded by extremely rare and threatened fragments of littoral (coastal) forest which is one of only three significant areas of this type remaining in Madagascar, having been reduced by over 90% largely by the mining industry. The programme aims to integrate scientific research with community-led conservation to ensure sustainable conservation efforts and the protection of the forest for generations to come.

You will combine hands-on conservation fieldwork on endangered species including lemurs, reptiles and amphibians, with community initiatives and environmental education.
Currently research focuses on collecting data about species, their distribution, density, behaviour and habitats. The data is used to manage forests, support the local community and protect the species concerned. You will also have the chance to get involved with environmental classes for local children, and assist with English teaching.

No experience is required, just a willingness to get involved and make a difference!

There are a number of elements that add to the difficulty of this trip, and these are quite subjective so may not be considered challenging for everyone.

Environmental

  • Hot and tropical climate with high humidity
  • Insects and tropical wildlife are common
  • Attitudes towards time-keeping and plans can be relaxed and may change at short notice
  • Remote locations with limited communications
  • Basic camping facilities

Physical

  • The days travelling, and at the project, can be long
  • Trekking through the forest to the research sites in different weather conditions can be tiring

Mental / emotional

  • You may experience culture shock
  • You may experience homesickness in your first few days
  • You will be working and living with a diverse group of people of different nationalities and backgrounds

You will be accompanied by a team of local support staff co-ordinating the project, and a Different Travel tour manager.

The maximum expected daytime temperature in October is 30°C, dropping down to 10°C at night. October is the dry season but the climate is very humid and intermittent downpours are possible, so you are advised to bring good waterproofs and warm layers for evenings.

Please note: the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate for this time of year; climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience conditions during the trip which are uncharacteristic and out of our control. If unexpected climate conditions occur the guides will make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and safety of the group.

You will be served freshly prepared meals from locally sourced ingredients. At the conservation project breakfast options usually include local ‘mofo’, (crisp fried donut balls), bananas, rice pudding, local honey and cake.
Lunch is a filing portion of rice and beans, varied daily.
Dinner is normally rice or spaghetti with a vegetable sauce or vegetable curry and meat; fish or eggs are usually on the menu once a week. A short walk from Sainte Luce camp is a small shop selling soft drinks, biscuits, snacks, locally brewed coffee, mofo, washing powder sachets etc.

Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if requested in advance.

During your time in Antananarivo, Fort Dauphin and Andasibe you will stay in a hotel. In Sainte Luce you will camp in tents (2 people per tent) at a permanent camp site on the edge of the forest and a short walk from the village of Sainte Luce. There is a typical Malagasy style open sided long house where you take meals, and a research centre which has solar panels where you can charge electronic items (weather dependant). A short walk from Sainte Luce camp is a small shop.

At the hotels you will find twin or triple-share rooms, with en-suite facilities. At Sainte Luce campsite things are a little more basic. You will find long drop pit latrines and a screened shower block where you can take a cold water bucket shower.

A limited amount of toilet paper is provided but you should bring your own supply, and you are recommended to bring a small pack of baby wipes (biodegradable). Used toilet paper should be placed in the bin provided.

Feminine hygiene products can be obtained in Antananarivo and Fort Dauphin but these are limited and may not be what you are familiar with at home. You are recommended to bring your usual products with you from home, even if you are not expecting your period as travel can disrupt your cycle.

Madagascar is a developing country and mobile reception and internet connections are patchy. We advise that you tell friends and family that ‘no news is good news’ then if you are able to contact them it will be a nice surprise.
Wi-Fi may be available at the hotels, and you can sometimes get mobile signal near the shop next to Sainte Luce camp (subject to your mobile handset, your contract roaming capabilities and other factors). You should check with your contract provider about roaming costs.
There is solar power at Sainte Luce so you will have the opportunity to charge items but you will need to bring your own plug adaptor. The sockets are two round pins (European style). It is advised that you take an adaptor which also has a USB charging port.

If guaranteed access to power is of great importance to you, you are recommended to bring a portable power pack (also known as a power bank or battery pack) which, when fully charged before departure, allows you multiple recharges of USB-powered devices such as phones. You should buy a power pack with a min. capacity of 12,000mAh (max. 20,000mAh) and these are widely available and inexpensive to purchase online on Amazon.

The programme will typically involve time conducting research in the forest, helping with ‘Conservation Club’, where local children learn the importance of conserving the environment, teaching basic English to the children, and also attending a series of evening talks from staff members. Research activities may include:

  • Lemur transect which involves walking through a pre-determined fragment of forest and, once spotted, recording critical data such as the number and sex of the lemurs and observing their behaviour.
  • Reptile transect
  • Tree nursery work
  • Botanical monitoring and habitat data
  • Herpetology sweep

You will be fully briefed each day and all safety aspects will be covered by the local team. No previous experience is necessary and although a willingness to get involved is important, you should only take part in activities you are comfortable with.

You must be aged at least 18 to participate unaccompanied. It may be possible for you to participate if you are aged 16 or 17 years old if you are accompanied by a parent or guardian–please contact us for advice. There is no upper age limit.

The ideal candidate would be someone in good physical and mental health, who is open-minded, patient and adaptable with a positive attitude towards living in a rural setting and working in a team. You should be willing to embrace the challenges of the project and have an appropriate level of fitness, physical capability and mobility for the conservation work which can require long treks on forest trails over rough uneven ground, up to 10km a day in hot humid conditions.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff is adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow-up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP. We must be informed if there is any change to your medical conditions or medications, or if any new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

In the event that your medical issues represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your deposit will be refunded. Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.

Essentials

Passport with 6 months validity
Documents + cash for visa on arrival
Pen for immigration forms
2x photocopies of passport
Cash and ATM card(s)
Flight tickets
4 passport photos
Travel insurance information
Mobile phone + charger
Adaptor (Euro 2 round pins)
LED head torch + batteries
Sunglasses

Clothing & Footwear

Hiking boots/trainers for project*
Supportive sandals/trainers for educational project
Flip flops for use in shower
Trainers/shoes for sightseeing
Clothes for project (long leg/sleeve)
Warm jacket/fleece/hoody
Clothes for evenings + sightseeing
Plenty of socks and underwear
Waterproof jacket
Waterproof trousers
Protective gloves for project
Sun hat
Buff or bandana (buffwear.co.uk)
Swimwear

Hygiene

Toilet paper (1-2 rolls)*
Shampoo + conditioner*
Shower gel + loofah*
Sun screen (SPF 30-50)*
Hand sanitizer
Toothbrush + toothpaste*
Antiperspirant deodorant*
Wet wipes*
Travel towel
Face cloth/flannel
Skin moisturiser
Hairbrush/comb
Nail brush
Feminine hygiene products*
Biodegradable disposal bags for used toilet paper*

First Aid Kit

Your own medication
Anti-malaria medication
50% DEET insect repellent
Paracetamol + Ibuprofen
Plasters/adhesive dressings
Loperamide (e.g. Imodium)
Blister plasters e.g. Compeed
Rehydration (e.g. Dioralyte)
Antiseptic powder or spray
Antiseptic wipes
Indigestion remedy
Anti-histamine cream/tablets
Lip balm with SPF protection
Anti-fungal cream
Nail scissors + tweezers
Spare glasses/contact lenses

Optional

Camera + charger
Video camera + charger
MP3 player/iPod
Portable power pack
Book / guide book /phrasebook
Playing cards/journal

Luggage

Large luggage (to check in on flights)
Small daypack /rucksack
Kit bag for project (no suitcases)
Combination padlocks x2
Ziploc bags
Packing cubes/luggage organisers (optional)

Eating and Drinking

Energy snacks
2-litre water bottle (e.g. CamelBak)
1-litre standard water bottle
Water purification (optional)
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. NUUN)

Sleeping

Sleeping bag (2-season)
Sleeping bag liner (silk or cotton)
Sleeping mat (e.g. Thermarest)
Travel pillow (optional)
Ear plugs
Pyjamas

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and does not account for your personal taste or preference. It should be used as a guideline only. If you have any questions or queries regarding this list which are not answered in the sections above please contact info@different-travel.com.

*Please ensure you pack your boots in your hand baggage in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed or goes missing.

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.

Itinerary

Day 1-2 (Saturday 8 – Sunday 9 October): London –  Antananarivo
Fly from London to Antananarivo on an overnight flight. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel. This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Meals: Dinner.

Day 3 (Monday 10 October): Antananarivo to Fort Dauphin
After breakfast, we take a short internal flight to Fort Dauphin where we transfer to our hotel. You are free to relax or spend the afternoon exploring the local area independently.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 4 (Tuesday 11 October): Fort Dauphin to Sainte Luce
Today we transfer to Sainte Luce (approx. 3 hours’ drive), which is our base for the conservation activities. Upon arrival we will set up camp then later this afternoon we’ll take a walk along the beach to familiarise ourselves with the area. We will make a start on our research activities with a nocturnal walk this evening.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Days 5-9 (Wednesday 12 – Sunday 16 October): Sainte Luce conservation project
The itinerary will vary daily but tends to start with breakfast at 7 am followed by a 3-4 hour expedition in the forest conducting research, until just before midday when you will return for lunch. You will take a long lunch break during the heat of the day then continue the afternoon session from approx. 2pm-5pm. The evenings are relaxed and sociable. Sometimes there will be talks from visiting staff members or research assistant, or perhaps the chance to enjoy some nocturnal expeditions. In addition, at least one day will be spent with the local community helping with ‘Conservation Club’, where local children learn the importance of conserving the environment, as well as teaching some basic English. Research activities are likely to include the following:
A lemur transect involves walking through a pre-determined fragment of forest and, once spotted, recording critical data such as the number and sex of the lemurs and observing their behaviour.
Reptile transect
Tree nursery work
Botanical monitoring & habitat data
Environmental education
Herpetology sweep
Help and guidance is supplied by the local team at all times.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 10 (Monday 17 October): Sainte Luce – Fort Dauphin
Today we will return to Fort Dauphin (approx. 3 hours’ drive) and check into the hotel. This afternoon is free for you to relax or explore further at your leisure.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 11 (Tuesday 18 October): Fort Dauphin
We will spend today visiting a number of community projects in the area, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the country and the region.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 12 (Wednesday 19 October): Fort Dauphin – Antananarivo
Today we fly back to the capital, Antananarivo, and enjoy a sightseeing tour.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 13 (Thursday 20 October): Antananarivo
Today is free for local sightseeing. There are lots of things to see in the Antananarivo area such as visiting the local markets, interesting galleries, museums, parks, and nature areas. You could also take a trip to the royal palace and World Heritage Site, Ambohimanga.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 14 (Friday 21 October): Antananarivo – Andasibe National Park
Today we transfer to Andasibe National Park (150km drive) for our final day and overnight, where we will have some amazing wildlife viewing opportunities. The National Park is a protected area with vast biodiversity including many rare and endangered species, including 11 lemur species.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 15 (Saturday 22 October): Antananarivo – London
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to the UK, possibly landing the next day depending on airline schedules.
Meals: breakfast.

N.B. We will do our best to keep to this itinerary however we cannot be held responsible for changes that might occur outside of our control, such as flight schedules, hotel availability, the needs of the community at the time, etc. In all such circumstances, your guide and tour leader will have the final say in the interest of the health and safety of the group.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £475 and then one of either…

Self-funded: £2275 balance
or
Sponsorship: £4550
or
Flexi: £2275 trip costs balance plus £2275 sponsorship for a charity of your choice

SELF-FUNDED

This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves. There is no sponsorship required although if you wish to raise sponsorship for a charity you are welcome to do so.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel 10 weeks prior to departure.
  • You are welcome to fundraise separately for any charity of your choice but this is not mandatory. Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

SPONSORSHIP

This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.

FLEXI

This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves while still raising some funds for the charity.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel, and the fundraising is payable to the charity, 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

What's included

  • Return flights from London to Antananarivo
  • Airport taxes and charges
  • Local transfers and transport in Madagascar (inc. domestic flights)
  • Accommodation throughout as per itinerary (twin/triple share in hotels, camping at the project)
  • Meals as per itinerary (from dinner on day 2 to breakfast on day 15)
  • English-speaking local guides and support crew
  • Project materials and co-ordination
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Any necessary vaccinations
  • Optional single occupancy room (£175 – hotels only)
  • Independent sightseeing costs (e.g. entrance fees, refreshments, transport)
  • Spending money (tips, drinks, souvenirs)
  • Transport to/from UK airports
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal kit and equipment
  • Visa

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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