My 3 Weeks as a Volunteer in the MRCI Forest Conservation Project
Rainforest in Madagascar, an adventure in itself. And a good adventure needs nice people to experience it with, and that’s one of the reasons why volunteering with MRCI was a great experience for me. I met so many amazing people with whom I share a lot of funny and great moments and memories.
I love hiking and being in the forest, which was the reason to take part in the forest conservation project. Taking part in the forest conservation project means going on one or two hikes everyday for minimum 2-3 hours. These hikes usually lead to a reptile or birds survey or to the plantation of a local farmer. My favorites are reptile surveys because I love spotting chameleons and geckos. Every week, one day is reserved for agroforest. All foresters go to the farm, every week another one, of a local farmer and help him by his work. That can be everything from weeding to planting vanilla. It’s a great thing to do, because you get an idea of how farmers in Madagascar work and you can really help someone.
For me, the most impressive agroforest day was, when we went to the plantation of a Lady who was sick for the last 3 months and because of that, she wasn’t able to weed her plantation. She couldn’t stop thanking us for helping her. For the birds and reptiles surveys I had to study the names of the animals we report to identify them on surveys. It’s a good feeling to walk around the island and being able to name every animal.
In my time on camp we did bigger hikes. One of them is called the Church-walk. We started the walk on Wednesday afternoon and went towards the top of the island. Around 20 minutes from the top is a church. We left our stuff there and went up to the top of the island from where we had a beautiful view. Dinner was at a local place. Delicious chicken with great-tasting coconut-rice. After Dinner we went on a night walk on which we saw many chameleons some leaf-tailed geckos and snakes. We slept in the church, got up early and went to the top to see a beautiful sunrise. The second big hike was a 10 hours hike around Nosy Komba with packed lunch. We crossed rivers and waterfalls, went through every type of forest and climbed through caves.
Nosy Komba is a beautiful Island surrounded by other paradisiacal places and islands. I made to weekend trips. The first one to Tanikely, a small island with a marine national park. I went snorkeling there and saw my first sea turtle. Beautiful reef with colorful fishes and corrals. The second trip was to Nosy Iranja, two islands connected by a sandbank only walkable at low tide. In the evening I joined a group of local teenagers and adults playing football on a sandy football field. After dinner we convinced our boat driver to help us lighting a bonfire. It was a great atmosphere sitting around a bonfire on a beach under the stars.
It was my second time in Madagascar but a different part of the country and it made me realize that I want to come back again.