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Category: Island Life

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Nosy Be Dojo Young Courage Challenge


MRCI’s very own financial manager, Franck Randimby, embarked upon an epic 110km challenge on Nosy Be with his dojo students. Franck and his students walked 110km around Nosy Be, with the journey lasting two and a half days.

Franck is the owner of the Tao Shi Bei Nosy Be Dojo and is the Kung-Fu Master, referred to as Sifu. The purpose of this challenge was to learn and practice survival skills. Qualities such as endurance and self-discipline were put to the ultimate test.


Franck and his students made do with only one meal in the evenings, forgoing breakfast and lunch. They didn’t have any specialized clothing, shoes or equipment. The rough conditions also included sleeping without any bedding or mattresses at night. Although, they were able to eat whatever fruit and vegetables they found along the way. 

They left Hellville on the Friday at 6pm, marking day one of their journey. After that they made their way toward Marodoka, Ambatozavavy, Fascene, Andimakabo, Mbombory, Bemagnondro Be, Antsakolagny, Andrianakonko, Mangirankirana. 


On day two they found themselves passing through Mahazandry, Ankalampo, Antsatrabevoa, Navetsy, Belamandy, Befotaka, Ampasindrava Befotaka, Mont Passot, Madiro, Antanamitarana, and Andilana.

On their third and final day they ventured toward Antsoha, Maromokotra, Orangia, Ambaro, Antsatrakolo, Ambodimangasoa, Dzamanjary, Ambondrogno, Madirokely, Diego lely, Jabala and then returned back to Hellville.


The demanding Nosy Be Challenge was enjoyed by all but not all were able to complete the task. On day one they were a group of 23 but ended the third day with 17. Next year we are certain all 23 will be able to complete the challenge.

For the next Nosy Be Young Courage Challenge we will incorporate a fundraiser event, including our volunteers and the local community. Check out our donations page to see what we are currently fundraising towards.

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BlogCommunity DevelopmentForest ConservationIsland LifeIsland OutreachMarine ConservationSea Turtle MonitoringTeaching

Volunteers with Silver Linings

January 2020


Our volunteers and programs came to an unfortunate halt this past week. A tropical storm passed over, which made way for an unusual week. Due to poor visibility and high swells our marine volunteers were unable to dive. The turtle conservation volunteers didn’t get to do their active turtle surveys. The muddy and slippery trails meant no hiking for the forest volunteers. Teaching and community volunteers were confined to Turtle Cove Camp, as boat rides and hiking to Ampang became too risky.

Wet season is no joke, and we take all of the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. Despite everything, the positive energy displayed by our volunteers shined through and saved the week. Vibrant new volunteers gave it their all and carried out beach cleans, strengthened their species knowledge through games and lectures, countless bamboo straws and eco brick were also made!


The most significant event of the week was by far our beach clean. We had volunteers from all programs join in and take part. It is the middle of turtle nesting season, and although we have been eagerly awaiting any sign of turtle activity, we’ve received no indication of turtles nesting. So, when we came to find a beach littered with about fifty eggs, it was equally devastating and exciting. Turtle Conservation Manager, Russel, was part of the beach clean-up crew. He was able to offer valuable insights into what had occurred and what it meant for the baby turtles.

Unfortunately, due to the fragility of turtle nests (or clutches), the beached turtle embryos had no chance of survival. Two important and sensitive factors when turtle eggs are laid in their nest would be their orientation within and temperature. These factors ultimately affecting their survival. The harsh storm and exposure on the beach meant that there was no chance of survival for the turtle eggs that we had found. Russel opened a turtle egg and talked everyone through turtle development.


Although a sad experience, our volunteers found it very informative and left with a greater understanding of the many challenges that these animals face. We left our beach as clean as possible and continued our clean ups as much as we could throughout the rest of the week. The energy of our volunteers is unparalleled and we wouldn’t be anything close to what we are without them.


Browse our volunteer programs Here

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Whale Shark Season 1
BlogIsland LifeMarine Conservation

Whale Shark Season is Here!

Whale Shark Season 1

Swim with a Whale Shark in Madagascar!

Our Volunteers have the opportunity to do a large variety of trips and activities during their free time on the weekends. This time of the year just so happens to include getting to swim with whale sharks! These gentle giants are filter feeders, meaning that they sieve plankton through their gills to feed. This diet of plankton, krill and sometimes small fish, makes whale sharks no danger to humans. Although they are very docile creatures it is still important to respect them and practice responsible eco tourism while swimming with them. If you get the chance to swim with whale sharks (which we HIGHLY recommend) be sure to keep a respectful distance from them. You should never touch the whale shark. If the whale shark is comfortable and not stressed by your presence, (because you’re behaving respectfully so) chances are it will stay at the surface longer, allowing you to spend more time with the amazing creature!

Madagascar is a great place to knock swimming with whale sharks off your bucket list! The waters around Nosy Be have been identified as a hotspot for juvenile whale sharks to feed. A study by the Madagascar Whale Shark Project, which was initiated in 2016 by researchers from the Marine Megafauna FoundationFlorida International University, and Mada Megafauna has been tracking whale sharks in the Nosy Be area. Lead author and project leader Stella Diamant said: “We’ve found that whale sharks regularly visit Nosy Be between September and December. That has led to a growing ecotourism industry, as people travel to see and swim with these gigantic, harmless sharks. We’re still learning about their population structure and movement patterns, but it’s clear the area is an important hotspot for the species” (

Whale Shark Season 3

Unfortunately, there is still little known about this species. In recent years more studies have developed to actually learn about this previously over looked animal. Hopefully with more exposure this insanely beautiful animal will become more protected and understood.

What we do know about whale sharks is that they are the largest fish on the planet and have been known to reach up to 14 meters in length and can weight over 12 tons! Getting in the water can be intimidating regardless of the fact that they pose no threat to humans simply due to their massive size. Remember to get into the water slowly and feel free to keep your distance if it makes you more comfortable. You do not need to be next to the Shark to enjoy the experience. Due to the fact that they are so large means that in good visibility you can keep a comfortable distance and still have a great view of the animal. Overall the point of swimming with whale sharks is to have fun and enjoy the experience!

Want to learn how to dive? Check out our PADI Courses and our Volunteer Marine Conservation Program.

Whale Shark Season 2

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Madagascar Taxi Brousse 1
BlogIsland Life

Taxi-Brousse: Antananarivo to Ankify

As you might have noticed yourself, if you have done some research, you can find plenty of horrible stories from people about taking a taxi-brousse in Madagascar. It is not always like that! For us taking the taxi-brousse from Antananarivo (Tana), up north, to Ankify turned out to be a unique, unforgettable experience.

Not knowing what to expect when we were planning our journey from Tana to camp, we decided to take on the adventure of travelling by taxi-brousse, instead of by plane or private car. Fortunately we got the help of the Director of Operations of MRCI (Lucy Prescott)  in organising the trip. She put us in touch with Christian, a local staff member of the organisation in Tana. All we had to do was send him our arrival details and the name of our hotel in Tana so that he could arrange a taxi to take us to the bus station.

When we arrived there, we were slightly overwhelmed by the chaos on site. Fortunately the drivers of our taxi-brousse were already waiting for us to guide us to the right bus. As they did not speak English, nor French very well, our taxi driver was the perfect translator. He arranged us two seats each. We highly recommend doing this to make you more comfortable during the 18-hour drive. We paid 120 000 Ar each (which comes down to about €35). Compared to the airplane or the private taxi, this is really cheap! The taxi-brousse we took was a national one from Tana to Ambanja which is a village about 20 km or a 30 minute drive (2 000 Ar/seat) from the port of Ankify where you take the boat to Hell Ville, Nosy Be.

The drive is a great way to see parts of mainland Madagascar before you head to the islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Komba which are very different in scenery. During daylight, we loved looking at the variation in the landscapes and views. Sunset and sunrise were definitely the highlights of the drive. At night we saw the most beautiful star-filled sky through the window of our bus. This all makes the 18-hour drive more exciting.

Our taxi-brousse had 3 drivers that switched places every 4 hours. During these stops we had a quick leg-stretch and pee-break before we hit the road again. Contrary to our expectations, we did not waste a lot of time on breaks like these. During the night there were some police stops to make sure everything was legal and safe, because of all this we never felt unsafe during the journey.

We had a great experience, but there are a few thing you have to keep in mind when taking the taxi-brousse. First of all: food & water! Bring food for lunch, dinner and breakfast as the bus only stops in a local ‘highway restaurant’ for dinner. We ordered sandwiches in our hotel and bought water and snacks in a shop near the hotel.
Secondly you will want to take a sleeping bag/blanket with you on the bus as it gets chilly at night.
Our drivers loved their up-beat music, even at night, so we were very happy we brought earbuds with us on the bus. Having toilet paper and hand sanitiser in your backpack will come in very handy as well!
And last but not least: get used to the Malagasy time which means that the bus might leave later as they always wait until all the seats are sold. So do not worry about that, get comfortable and enjoy the mora mora lifestyle!

– Margot Lootens and Marlouk Van Es


Madagascar Taxi-Brousse 1 Madagascar Taxi-Brousse 2

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketball
AchievementsBlogCommunity DevelopmentIsland Life

Volunteers Bring Communities Together With Basketball

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballMadagascar Research and Conservation Institute’s Community Co-ordinators, Niamh Flynn and Rojo Andofinoana Razafisalama, came together with volunteers and villagers to rehabilitate the old basketball courts in Ampangarina, Nosy Komba. The team reached out to several groups to raise funds, reconstructed the goal posts and court, and held a community tournament all within 3 short weeks. This was an impressive feat that couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of Marsellin and other members of the Nosy Komba community.

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballNiamh and Rojo reached out to Noelle Couper at Warriors Basketball Club in Dublin, Ireland requesting support for this project. The club responded generously, being the main contributor to the near $500 raised for the project. With these funds, new goal posts could be constructed with new hoops and nets, and the courts were cleaned and repainted. Once the funds came through, the community and volunteers came together and completed the work in mere 10 days!

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballVolunteers wanted to mark the opening of the courts by holding a tournament and the response from the community was overwhelming. Four teams were formed; BB Aliomo, BB Chicago, AS Jetno, and of course the volunteers’ team – Camp. The dedicated teams practiced continuously and were in tiptop shape for the big day. To ensure a fair match, a referee from Nosy Be was brought in to oversee the tournament. People from all over Nosy Komba came to support their teams which resulted in a fun and festive day all around! In round one BB Aliomo beat out BB Chicago and AS Jetno beat out Camp. BB Aliomo won the tournament over AS Jetno in the shootout. The day was shrouded in fun and excitement for sure!

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballSince the reconstruction of the basketball courts and the tournament, people have been seen enjoying them every day. Villagers young and old, boys and girls can be found shooting hoops and having a great time all day and even into the night with the moonlight! It has truly brought so much joy and togetherness to the villagers of Ampangorina and Nosy Komba. Thank you to all who contributed physically and financially, your contributions will be lasting in the hearts of those who get so much enjoyment with these new courts.

To find out more about how to join our volunteers in Madagascar, contact us today or complete our online application form.