Madagascar Turtle Conservation
Help protect critically endangered sea turtles
Book now for £49
Group Size: Maximum 24
Trip code: MGTC
Duration: 2-8 weeks
Head off the beaten track and join this amazing turtle conservation programme in magical Madagascar. Hawksbill and green sea turtles are already endangered here, and they’re at further risk from poaching and other threats. If we don’t do something now, they may well become extinct. By taking part in this programme, you’ll get up close with these incredible animals, while helping to conserve the species for future generations. You’ll stay on the unspoilt tropical island of Nosy Kombe (a side of Madagascar that most tourists don’t see) with incredible views over the rainforest and ocean. Make friends for life, get some great conservation experience on your CV, and help protect one of the world’s most unique ecosystems.
- Get hands on experience with hawksbill and green sea turtles
- Visitsecluded beaches on the islands off Nosy Be to identify and monitor turtle nesting sites
- Stay in the volunteer camp in Nosy Komba with spectacular views of rainforest and reefs
- Get training and support from the project team and gain valuable work experience
- Explore beautiful Madagascar during your weekends and free time
The Sea Turtle Monitoring Programme has been established to protect Northwest Madagascar’s hawksbill and green sea turtle populations.
The programme involves identifying and monitoring nesting areas on the beaches on islands surrounding Nosy Be, gathering data about the turtle population, and getting local communities involved in conservation work. You’ll get up close with these incredible animals, while helping to conserve the species for future generations.
The program begins on the first and third Monday of every month and you’ll be given comprehensive training to prepare you to undertake activities.You’ll stay in our volunteer HQ in Turtle Cove on the beautiful island of Nosy Komba with views over the spectacular coral reef below.
Volunteer work varies depending on the time of year:
- October to March (Nesting season) – The project focuses on preventing the poaching of mothers and nests, collecting data on the nesting turtles, and moving nests that have been set in unsuitable locations.
- April to September (Dry season) – Programme work involves collecting ID and behavioural data on turtles while they’re in the water, rehabilitating nesting areas, and educating local communities on the importance of protecting turtles.
Your responsibilities during your stay on the programme may involve:
- Identifying and mapping nesting areas
- Recording species diversity and numbers
- Building relationships with the local community to involve them with turtle conservation
- Carrying out beach cleans around the nesting sites
Weekends are yours to explore the stunning local area. Popular activities/places to visit includeLokobe Forest Reserve, Tanikely Natural Reserve, Nosy Iranjaand Nosy Sakatia, whale shark watching (seasonal), hike up Mount Passot (Nosy Be), Lemur Land Park (Nosy Be), Ankarana National Park, Amber Mountain National Park, and Diego Suarez.
Typical day on the programme
05.00-07.00: Breakfast on camp
06.00-08.00: Start of morning activities on project
12.00: Lunch on camp
14.00: Start of afternoon activities on project
16.00-17.00: Volunteer activities for the day end
18.00: Dinner on camp
18.45: Board briefing to go over activities for the following day
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You'll need to arrange your flight into Nosy Be Fascene Airport (NOS). You need to arrive in time to catch the last ferry at 3pm the day before your programme start date (Sunday). If your flights do not get into Nosy Be Airport with enough time for you to catch the ferry, you will need to fly in two days before the programme start date (Saturday) and stay overnight in Hellville. Most flights from the UK do not arrive in time on the Sunday to catch the last ferry, so you will have to arrive on the Saturday to start your programme on time.
If arriving the day before the programme start date (Sunday), a local member of the team will collect you from the airport and transfer you to the volunteer camp on Nosy Komba.
If arriving two days before the programme start date (Saturday), you'll need to book a hotel for this night. Speak to a travel advisor for our hotel recommendations! The local team will collect you from the airport and then transfer you to your hotel. After spending a night in Hellville, you'll meet the local team at the meeting point in the town centre ready to catch the ferry across to Nosy Komba at around 9am.
If you can’t fly directly to Nosy Be, you can get a connecting flight from Antananarivo (TNR) Airport to the island or travel overland via taxi brousse or private car. Ask your travel advisor if you need help with travel arrangements. If you’re travelling overland, please be aware that the journey can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.
When your programme comes to an end, you’ll need to arrange your own transport back to the airport. Local staff can help you book this.
All accommodation is included during your stay on the project. You’ll stay at the project HQ, which is a multi-level development, built into the steep slopes of Nosy Komba. You’llstay in locally built bungalows, sleeping 4 – 6 in bunk style beds. Bathrooms are shared and have running water, flush toilets and cold-water showers.
A shared kitchen and dining facilities can be found nestled in vibrant gardens, and the main house (where senior staff members stay) is used as a meeting place and chill out area for volunteers during the day. With a designated workspace, storage lockers and a large deck with beanbags, hammocks, and benches, it’s a great place to hang out and the views across the coral reef and the Lokobe Forest Reserve are stellar.
A hand washing laundry station is provided with a clean water tap, concrete work surface for scrubbing, and bucketsand you can either do your own washing or pay one of the local staff for a laundry service.
The camp is eco-friendly with solar powered lighting and no charging facilities for electronic devices. We’d recommend bringing a solar panel and battery pack to keep your devices charged. We do have an onsite generator for staff use, and you’re welcome to charge small devices (no laptops) from this if there is space. However, in a bid to be as sustainable as possible, use of the generator is minimal, sometimes only once per week or less. Please note that Wi-Fi on the island is limited but you’ll have access to the internet at weekends on the neighbouring island of Nosy Be.
When packing, please keep in mind that there are no waste disposal or recycling centres in this area of Madagascar. Please minimize the amount of disposable, plastic, or one-use type items you bring and opt for rechargeable batteries instead of single use batteries as there is no way to safely dispose of batteries on the island.
Please note that bedding and towels are not included so you’ll need to bring your own. We’d also recommend that you bring a padlock for storing your valuables in your locker.
Three meals a day are included during your stay on the project, seven days a week. Each meal is prepared on site, using traditional Malagasy cooking methods and locally grown, seasonally available produce. Most meals have a rice base with beans and vegetables on the side and some will include fish or meat. Breakfast usually consists of bananas, baguettes and jam, eggs or crepes.
Please inform us of any dietary requirements before you travel. There is a vegetarian option for all meals, but due to the limitations of the remote location, a vegan option cannot be supplied. If you’re vegan there are vegetable-based foods you may enjoy, but you might need to supplement your diet with foods purchased off camp.
Filtered drinking water is available on camp. Please bring a refillable bottle with you to minimise plastic waste
You’ll need to be a minimum of 18 years old to participate in this trip.
You should also have a reasonable level of fitness as there are no roads or cars on the island and volunteersmostly get around on foot.
You can buy a 30- or 60-day tourist visa on arrival at the airport in cash using US$, Euros, or Malagasy Ariary, or apply in advance of travel to the Madagascar Embassy in London for a tourist visa. You will be asked for evidence of onward or return travel at check-in and on arrival in Madagascar. Make sure an entry stamp is recorded in your passport, and that your visa is valid for the period and purpose of your journey. Tourist visas can be extended during your stay up to a total stay of 90 days.
Your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive, and with at least 2 blank visa pages. You should be able to show confirmation of your travel dates.
Please note: Visa rules are subject to change. Please check for the most up to date information before you travel.